Jim McCutcheon told me this story a few weeks ago.
He was at a meeting with a developer in Atlanta that was known for its focus on green building, specifically LEED certification. In the meeting along with him and the client were a few other landscaping companies, most of which he knew. But one guy, down at the end of the table, he’d never met before.
The group was talking about the pros and cons of the LEED system, the developer’s challenges on this project and the cut-throat nature of the Atlanta real estate market in general, when the guy at the end of the table spoke up.
“How deep do you want your trenches?” he asked.
McCutcheon’s point here is that you have to have to speak your customer’s language – and that language isn’t always the language of landscaping. It’s not about the shiny brochure with pictures of your trucks. It’s about asking the right kinds of questions and learning about their business.