Selling Strategies for Landscape Contractors

“It’s not just that people want to deal with someone they like. It’s that they want to deal with someone who likes them, and who is like them.”

– Robert Cialdini, author of Pre-Suasion: A Revolutionary Way to Influence People and Persuade

You’re an expert in your trade and offer a service that brings value to your customer’s home and benefits their lifestyle. So how hard can it be to close the sale? For some customers, not hard at all. For others it may feel like it requires a miracle or two.

When looking for ways on how to increase sales, let’s first break it down to what homeowners actually look for when selecting contractors. A 2016 Contractor Consumer Research Report from Contractor Nation shows a recurring theme: homeowners need to feel that they can trust their contractor. How do you build trust? Positive reviews, referrals from friends and family, testimonials, and examples of past work are great. The best way however, is focusing on personal chemistry and productive relationships. Essentially, you get them to like you and to do this, you need to know what makes them tick.

With this detailed, yet simple guide, we hope to simplify the process of closing more sales by building trust using The Platinum Rule.

Breaking Down the 4 Common Personality Styles

Using the four styles described in Dr. Tony Alessandra’s Platinum Rule (Relater, Thinker, Socializer, and Director) you’re able to quickly identify your customer’s personality style and adjust your pitch for successful results. The book, The Platinum Rule, is built off the concept of treating people the way they want to be treated. Sounds similar to the golden rule, but as you’ll soon find out – is quite different.

The four personality types based on Dr. Tony Alessandra’s, “The Platinum Rule”

Personality Type 1: Identifying and Selling to the Relater

Relater personality styles tend to be slow decision makers. They may come off as being quiet or shy and tend to ask more questions than give opinions. On a positive note, they’re great listeners and can easily gain support from others through close friendships – be sure to ask for referrals with this personality type.

When selling to a Relater Style, it’s best to speak warmly and emphasize security, stability, and integrity. Ask questions that require more than a “yes” or “no” response. Open-ended questions draw Relaters out. Assure their response by validating their statements with words of support. When taking them on a walk around their property to discuss a landscape lighting project for example, follow at their speed. Explain current landscape lighting design trends and offer your opinion in outdoor lighting fixtures and styles based on the design of their home. Show them how landscape lighting will provide greater security and safety for them and their family. Use before and after pictures to explain how landscape lighting completely transforms the look of the space. Remember, consistency, sincerity, and warmth go a long way when working with this style. When ready to close the sale, make a mutual action plan, summarize the key takeaways, provide guidance and assurance. If they need time to think it over, ask them for a good time tomorrow to call them and then contact them at that time.

Personality Type 2: Identifying and Selling to the Thinker

Thinker personality styles may appear to be resistant to change. They’re systematic and therefore tend to be slower at making decisions. Thinkers make decisions using logic. Be prepared to talk numbers, relevant statistics, your company’s reviews and portfolio.

When selling to a Thinker Style, show up on time with an organized plan. Be ready to talk about the agenda for the evening and leave plenty of time for questions. When sharing about your experience and background use concrete facts, i.e. years in the business, awards you’ve won, certifications you have, standards you must meet, etc. Thinker Styles like details, take them through the process, the warranties, and be ready to get technical when discussing their landscape project. If you’re there to discuss a paver driveway project, share with them the benefits of selecting a durable and colorfast paver like Unilock’s Town Hall or Belgard’s Cambridge Cobble. Many Thinkers are in Engineering or Accounting. Use statistics to help your cause. Don’t have any? We’ve got you covered with a list of resources below on various studies regarding the importance and benefits of well-maintained landscapes and hardscapes. When ready to close the sale, provide options with documentation and a cost summary for each. Be prepared to give them time to review and analyze their options.

Personality Type 3: Identifying and Selling to the Socializer

Socializer personality styles tend to be more spontaneous and therefore quicker at making decisions. Socializers like to be social (surprise!) and use a lot of facial expression and gestures while they communicate. They typically have many friendly relationships and have a knack for persuasion. This is another great style to work with for seeking out referral business. When working with Socializers, talk fast but don’t hurry the discussion, instead let them set the conversational pace while reciprocating a friendly and enthusiastic tone.

When selling to a Socializer Style, recognize their desire to look good. Emphasize style and uniqueness while saving them time and effort. They don’t need to hear all the details like Thinker styles, but they do want to feel involved. When discussing a patio or outdoor living space project, make a point to include them into the conversation. Offer opportunities for them to share with you their sense of style, their lifestyle, their likes, and their dislikes. Doing so makes them feel like they are part of the process and shows your support in their opinions and ideas. When ready to close the sale, act assumptive, use testimonials, and offer incentives.

Personality Type 4: Identifying and Selling to the Director

Director personality styles may appear to be impatient. They are fast thinkers, fast walkers, and fast talkers. Directors are very decisive. Like Socializers, they tend to talk more than listen but, they will want to get straight to the point without the small talk. Many top executives and high level managers are Directors. They seek productivity and efficiency.

When selling to a Director Style, recognize that they value their time. More than likely they, like you, are very busy. Come organized and ready to go the moment they shake your hand with a firm grip. Know that they don’t want to feel hustled, so steer clear of coming off too aggressive and pushy. Stick to logic and solutions. When discussing their landscape project ask Directors a variety of questions that focus on their desired results, time constraints, and expectations. Be sure to provide information on yourself emphasizing your efficiency and ease of doing business. When ready to close the sale, provide options with a cost summary for each while quickly reiterating a concise summary of their needs and how you have the solutions. If you agree to their time constraints, remind them that yes, as of now, you can meet that requirement but you need X to put them on the schedule. Directors will understand and respect that. Sometimes that alone provides enough to stoke the sense of urgency.

Now what?

More than likely you’re thinking about which category you naturally fall into. You may feel you fit into two and that is normal. Most people have a dominant style and a “runner-up” style. Identifying your own is a great start. Next time you are talking with a stranger, try to identify their style(s) and practice mimicking it. You may find that this stranger may become a new customer.

Resources and Additional Reading

  • Learn more about the book, The Platinum Rule, by Dr. Tony Alessandra here.
  • For statistics on home values with landscape projects, check out the National Association of Realtors and NALP’s 2016 Remodeling Impact Report on Outdoor Features, here.
  • To read more on how homeowners make their decision on selecting contractors, read the 2016 Contractor Consumer Research report from Contractor Nation shared via Professional Remodeler here.

Meg West

Meg is the Marketing and Project Specialist at CPS Distributors. She comes from the Hardscape industry and has a passion for developing strategic and efficient marketing campaigns to serve all verticals within the Green Industry. Away from the office, you’ll find Meg spending time with family and friends, checking out new restaurants, and exploring Colorado with her awesome dog.