In a national survey of small businesses (less than $1,000,000
sales annually) it was found that the owner or Chief Executive
Officer was a salesperson. Surveys have shown this to be true
of landscape contractors and gardeners as well. The most
successful landscape and garden businesses were all started by
people with strong sales skills. In your own business you have
probably realized that you spend a large part of your time
selling. You bring in new work, upgrade old work, make new
contacts and continue to expand your landscape business. If you
are not, you should be.
Many people believe that they just can’t sell. They say they
just were not born with the talent to sell. “I’m just not a
salesperson by nature, I’m a gardener. Wasn’t born with the
golden touch like Sam Sellitall over there. If I’d been born
with his wit, charisma, and personality, I could tear’em up
too. But I wasn’t, so I’m never going to make it big in sales,
but given the chance I can install that landscape and
irrigation job better than anybody!”
This is the Myth of the Natural Born Sales Wonder. It is a
destructive idea. It allows us to avoid taking full
responsibility for our own performance. This myth will prevent
many people from ever reaching their full potential. The myth
can also work both ways.
A few individuals believe they’re naturals. That’s great for
confidence, but often it is the source of overconfidence. This overconfidence persuades these people that they do not need to
learn the same sales techniques as us mortals. Sadly, this means
that they too will never reach their full potential.
Most of us started in the field of landscaping and gardening
because of a love of the work. Sales and marketing were not our
passion. To operate a successful business, though, we need our
landscaping- skills, our garden passion, and our sales and
Don’t assume that you are entirely free of the selling myth.
Most people involved in sales that are not successful are
suffering from this myth. Let’s attack this dangerous idea now
and get rid of it.
“Salesmen are not born, they are made.” This line is attributed
to the same man that stated that “A sucker is born every
minute.” Unfortunately, he was not a successful salesperson (a
successful showman, but not a salesperson) because he believed
that prospects were suckers. That is a grave mistake, but he was
right about salespeople. Salespeople are not born great. Imagine
little Johnny one minute after birth in the delivery room
signing the doctor to a long term landscape maintenance
contract. Johnny has a long way to go before he is even out of
diapers. If he is going to be a great landscape salesperson he
has a lot to learn. Psychologists still argue whether it’s
instinct or learning that causes us to jump at a sudden loud
noise, but they agree that everything about selling is learned.
So don’t use the “myth” as an excuse. Learn the craft of selling
and learn it well. Professionals work on the basics of selling
and marketing once every year. That’s where we’re going to
To be Great, Learn the Basics
Athletes train constantly to maintain their high degree of
success. They practice the basics over and over. Successful
landscape salespeople do the same thing.
Prospecting: Prospecting is the first step to selling that
landscape job and is essential for every garden business. This
is the sales term for finding good, prospective customers who
have a need and an interest in your landscape and garden
services. Notice I said “good”. Don’t waste your time chasing
people who will never buy. This is called “qualification”. I’ll
discuss that later. Prospecting will vary from field to field
and from area to area. In the landscape and garden profession
you usually can’t just start calling people on the phone, but
there are ways.
Proper advertising is part of a good marketing program and is
always necessary for generating good leads. Check out the
various options in you area. Compare rates, circulation, market
coverage, etc. When you try something new be sure you track
your results (ask people where they heard of you). Only
advertise where your dollar works. Talk to others to see what
works best for them. Wherever you decide to advertise, just be
sure you do it. No business, landscape, garden, or otherwise
grows without some form of promotion.
Contacts: This is almost more important than prospecting. Every
business marketing plan requires contacts and networking. Many
of your contacts will generate leads. Many contacts are leads
(word of mouth recommendations). Join local business or social
groups. Meet the people the count. Meet the people who want and
need your landscape and garden services.
Qualification: Don’t waste your time talking to the wrong
people. Make sure that the person you are talking to is the
decision maker, the one who can say yes and sign the contract.
Also make sure that they genuinely need your landscape or
garden service. We have all heard of the salesperson who can
sell ice cubes to Eskimos, but if he exits at all, I doubt he
was in business for very long.
Objections: We have all heard objections in the course of our
sales. You need to learn how to effectively handle objections
and make them work for you. Write down the objections you have
encountered. Think out positive rebuttals and learn them so
well that in the field they are second nature. There are always
new objections, so this one needs constant attention. Your
selling and marketing efforts will be wasted unless you know how
to convince your customer to say yes. That’s the next phase of
the landscape sale – closing the deal.
Closing: This is the most important aspect of sales. Obtaining
the yes from your client. There are many routes leading to the
close, but the most important idea to remember is that you must
ASK for the sale. Many salespeople leave this out and it is the
reason for their downfall. Very few prospects will offer to buy
your landscape and garden service (at least not on your terms),
but most will say yes if asked properly and at the right time.
Closing is one the most important ideas of the five basics
presented here. It is so important that our next article will
be on Closing the Landscape Sale.