Selling Beyond the Competition

The landscaping business has always been tough with plenty of competition. But guess what? Sometimes a landscape contractor's biggest competitor is himself. "We as salespeople and/or company owners need to take a step back in order to get ourselves into a better position to be successful in sales," says business trainer Jim Paluch.

What are you choosing to focus on?

As of late, it's very hard not to think about the absurd things some contractors are doing when it comes to pricing. "But selling is such a mental game," Paluch reminds. "If you are allowing yourself to focus on how cheap a competitor is selling services for, that becomes a very convenient excuse for not hitting your own sales goals." In other words, it becomes easier to just throw in the towel and stop pushing forward to try and earn more business.

All salespeople can focus on one of two things: succeeding or failing. If you are focused on succeeding, Paluch says, you will dig deep to find the energy to keep going. You'll want to find the answers you need in order to improve your product/service and sales pitch, and to increase your value in the eyes of the consumer.

How are you looking at change?

"Changing doesn't have to mean completely re-tooling or overhauling," Paluch points out. "Maybe it's just stepping back a bit to figure out the simplest ways you can improve your company's approach to sales. For instance, many contractors could do a better job of paying attention to sales goals on a weekly, monthly or even quarterly basis. There is just something magical about goals. So start thinking about setting some goals around sales."

Another simple way to change your company's approach to sales is to become more proactive. "Are you out there looking for business or just sitting there waiting for the phone to ring?" Paluch asks. Contractors who are thriving today, Paluch says, have what he refers to as "dirt disease." These contractors can't drive past a pile of dirt (worksite) without stopping to see what's going on and find out who's in charge. Likewise, these diseased contractors can't drive past an apartment complex or office community without stopping to see who is managing it. "Those who are willing to make a change and start going after leads are finding success," Paluch adds.

Are you able to sustain?

The final piece in selling against yourself is the question of whether or not you're able to sustain the change you implement. Making progress may take some time. You must have patience and persistence. And if you do realize some successes, you can't revert back to old habits.

Speaking of successes, it's OK to celebrate them once in a while. "If you are now setting sales goals in your company, don't hide them," Paluch recommends. Make sure everybody knows what they are. Hang them on the wall. Then challenge your team a little bit.

"If we hit X dollars in sales this month, we're buying pizza for everybody or going to a ball game," Paluch cites as an example. "Many contractors will say, 'Yeah, we already do that type of thing.' But so many don't—and those that do probably don't do it enough. When you can create an atmosphere of celebrating wins, even the smallest ones, you'll keep getting win after win—and that's when you can really sell beyond the competition."

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