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Archive for the ‘sales’ tag

Winter webinar

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Last week, I called up Matt Noon to ask him about a webinar invitation he sent me.

Noon, part owner of Noon Turf Care with his brother Chris in Hudson, Mass., held a webinar last fall for his customers and prospects.

One of his friends had recently bought a house, and kept calling Noon with questions about how to take care of various parts of it – the lawn, the plants, the gutters.

“That’s what our clients are like,” he says – lots of questions about the same stuff, all the time.

So, to help answer these questions, Noon put together a webinar and sent the invitation to his Outlook contacts. (That’s how I made the cut.)

The webinar went over fall maintenance tips for homeowners, and focused on their, turf, plants, outdoor power equipment and exterior maintenance.

At the end of the presentation, Noon took questions, and offered attendees a free tree and shrub evaluation.

He told me he didn’t get hundreds of people on the call – more like a few dozen. But it allowed him to get in front of a few dozen people at once – people who were interested in hearing his message about lawn care.

The cost to put on a webinar is minimal and the upside is good. You can download Noon’s slides here, and read more in an upcoming issue of Lawn & Landscape.

Written by CBOWEN@GIE.NET

January 30th, 2012 at 2:45 pm

Five fortunes

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Often, landscape contractors hesitate to dole out big salaries or bonuses. But if you have the right incentive plans in place, that’s a big mistake.

Seth Godin puts it this way:

The thing is, if they make a fortune, you make five fortunes. Don’t worry about it. Go ahead and give people the opportunity to have their risk pay off. More than ever, people are motivated by the opportunities that come with scale.

If you have the right formula in place, the right incentive structure, you just have to let your employees go. Let the salesmen sell. Let the technicians spray. Let the managers manage.

If they do, then you get more revenue, more production and happier customers. That’s worth the money.

Written by CBOWEN@GIE.NET

January 24th, 2012 at 5:00 am

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Apples and oranges

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All landscapers are the same, right? Mark Ciccarelli, manager of Neave Group’s snow and ice management department, nails it.

So, my lease is up on my truck and it’s time for a new one. Comparison = my contract is up and I need a new contractor? I equate my looking for a new vehicle to that of a property manager looking for a contractor for their snow and ice management needs. What am I looking for in a vehicle? I’m looking for a vehicle that will mitigate risk for me. I want something safe for my girls and wife. I want something that looks nice, gets good gas mileage, and is roomy for the family. I want something that I can drive and feel I’m getting my monies worth. Something that won’t break down and cost me an arm and a leg to repair. I want something that will show up to work every time I turn the ignition!

Isn’t a car a car? Aren’t they all the same? Isn’t a Kia SUV the same as a Mercedes SUV? Although KIAs are nice they certainly aren’t a Mercedes. But don’t they all get you from point A to point B? If that was the case wouldn’t we all be paying for and driving around essentially the same car? Then why do people drive a Mercedes? It is perceived value.

Comparison time. Aren’t all contractors the same? Don’t they all service your property in the same professional manor? Won’t every snow and ice contractor provide the client with the exact same service for the exact same price? Why would I pay $30,000 for a vehicle (or a service) when I could get that same vehicle for $20,000? I think the answer is simple. I cannot get the same vehicle or service for 20k. The reason I would be willing to pay the 30k is the perceived value I’m obtaining with the more expensive vehicle. I can get my risk mitigated and my “wants” fulfilled at 30K.

It’s our job as professionals to educate our potential clients on our value.

Written by CBOWEN@GIE.NET

December 13th, 2011 at 12:42 pm

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Weekly round-up

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Here’s some of the best stuff our editors have found on the Internet this week.

Learn from a pitchman

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The bearded man on that couch is Adam Lisagor. He’s a filmmaker. Well, to be totally accurate, he mostly shoots online commercials for tech companies. The above video is one he put together for a great iPad app called Flipboard.

And while you don’t produce commercials on the internet, I think there’s a lot to learn from Lisagor’s style and approach to communicating with viewers and customers.

In a recent Fast Company article, Lisagor outlined the three biggest mistakes companies make when trying to talk with customers:

1. Companies Disrespect the Audience’s Time
“It’s the Internet, not TV, so you could take all the time in the world. That doesn’t mean you should. Put extra thought into how to explain yourself in the simplest way, show us you’re mindful of our time, and we’ll love you for it.”

2. They Underestimate the Audience’s Intelligence
“Audiences are almost always smarter than you think. So let us meet you halfway to understand your concept. We’ll feel healthy for having done the work, clever for having gotten the concept, and we’ll love you for it.”

3. They Follow a Formula
“At each creative decision, ask whether you’re doing it a certain way because that’s the way you’ve seen it done before. If the answer is yes, then figure out if there’s a better way. You’ll stand apart from the rest, and we’ll love you for it.”

Again, you probably aren’t in the same business, but Lisagor’s ideas – communicating clearly, respecting the customer and differentiating yourself – should resonate with any company selling anything.

You can watch more of his work here.

Written by CBOWEN@GIE.NET

December 1st, 2011 at 1:41 pm

Paint a picture

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The first time John Riccitiello managed employees he was 15 and going door-to-door selling lawn services and hiring salespeople. The company he worked for didn’t discover his young age until they asked him to drive the van and he had to admit he wasn’t old enough to have a driver’s license. Riccitiello has gone from selling lawn services to the head of Häagen-Dazs International, Wilson Sporting Goods and now CEO of the $3.8 billion company Electronic Arts. He recently told the New York Times his success – from age 15 to now – has been a product of painting clear pictures for employees.

Q. Any sense of why they gave you the job?
A. I generally think, especially early in a career, what distinguishes leaders oftentimes is whether they paint a picture. The word “vision” can sometimes be horribly overused, but they paint a picture of the way it’s supposed to work, and it resonates with people. And so I think at that point I had a view that we could generate a lot more revenue per household if we bundled some services. It was a logical way to sell, and it worked really well. They wanted me to teach other people to do the same thing.

Q. Talk about some of the leadership lessons you’ve learned.
A. When you’re working on a business and it’s small, you’re a clear part of the equation yourself. When you get the scale, though, you’re mostly painting a picture for a lot of people for whom you’re just a concept, as opposed to a friend. So you’ve got to find a way to be incredibly consistent, so when other people repeat the same thing it conjures up the same picture, the same vision for everyone else.

For more on listening, being genuine and learning from failure, click here.

Written by clawell@gie.net

November 28th, 2011 at 6:35 pm

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Two out of three

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You could cross out graphic design in the above image and replace it with landscaping and I think you’d have a pretty good customer hand-out for sales calls. It would help you eliminate the would-be customers that (likely) end up as headaches.

Image courtesy Colin Harman.

Written by CBOWEN@GIE.NET

May 2nd, 2011 at 5:18 pm

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Great Idea: 4 sales tips

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Here’s your weekly installment from L&L columnist Marty Grunder – four ways to tweak your sales calls to speed up the process and increase your closing percentage.

Good luck this week!

My buddy and mentor Ed Eppley is a brilliant sales coach. He was teaching us what we need to do to help ensure our selling efforts are successful with prospects. Here are 4 tips he shared recently with my team.

1.    You need to establish clarity around the expectations your clients have for a successful transaction.

2.    Begin the second call by establishing what changes, if any, have taken place since our first conversation” in the thinking of the prospect. (Done to determine if either the “current” or “desired” realities on which his proposal is built are still the same.)

3.    Consider asking what budget people have established for their project. (Not always a true indicator of what people are prepared to spend but it may help determine what value they place on your kind of work.)

4.    Be prepared to ask “closing” questions to help prospects make a decision so you can advance the opportunity further through the selling cycle. If they say no, it creates an opportunity to ID specifically why they are hesitating which should ultimately shorten the selling cycle.

Written by CBOWEN@GIE.NET

April 19th, 2011 at 5:41 pm

From the mouths of babes

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My assistant processes e-mail.

When I pack for a trip, I let my oldest daughter help. She’s 4, so “help” is kind of a relative term. But she keeps me company while I try to find matching socks.

To keep her occupied before a recent trip, I tossed her a stack of my business cards to look at. Here’s a transcript of what followed:

Her: What are these?

Me: My business cards.

Her: What are they for?

Me: They tell people I meet what my name and phone number are.

Her: What do you do when you travel?

Me: My job is to talk to a lot of people and ask them questions.

Her: So you make friends?

Me: Exactly.

This is not a new idea, but I think this perspective and approach to networking events, trade shows and sales calls will bear much more fruit than others, including, “I’m here to make as many sales as possible.”

Written by CBOWEN@GIE.NET

March 7th, 2011 at 1:15 pm

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