Anyone who has a sales responsibility in your organization needs to get comfortable with two things: asking for the sale, and asking for money.

We all need sales to keep the wheels turning. In the lawn and landscape business (and in the marketing business, too) a decent amount of time and effort is spent feeling out the client, answering questions and making sure you have a good solution to the prospect’s problem. But at some point, you or your sales people need to be comfortable moving the process from “talking” to “doing.”

Not everyone is comfortable with this, and understandably so. You may have team members who planned to be a landscape designer and never pictured themselves doing “sales.” But the process doesn’t have to be unpleasant. Ideally, you are asking for the sale because it’s the clear and logical next step. Make certain, first of all, that you understand the prospect’s problem, and make sure your proposed service solves that problem. If you want to be more relaxed about this process, keep a mental checklist of all the potential questions the prospects “should” be asking, and make sure you have answered all of those, whether they ask them or not. At that point, you can simply ask, “Do you have any other questions for me right now, or is this something you want to get started with?” That gives them an opportunity to ask any lingering questions, and it clearly indicates that the decision is in their court.

Asking for money can be even tougher, but it shouldn’t be. We’re all adults, and your sales team needs to remember that these prospects expect to pay something for this, just the same way they expect to pay for groceries. Asking for money is just a logical step in the process. I had a client tell me once that he didn’t like asking for a deposit because he thought it gave the impression that he couldn’t afford to start the work without the payment. With due respect, that’s nonsense. You should feel confident to ask for a deposit as a means to secure a spot on your production schedule, and when a job is complete, the work is complete and you should feel comfortable asking to get paid. If your sales team is uncomfortable with this, then help them out by creating a company policy, which they can reiterate to their client. At Focal Point, our policy is to take 50% of a project before we do any design work, and we collect the balance in full before we ship completed work. Keep it simple for your company, your staff, and your clients.

If all else fails, keep it friendly. My father had a line he used all the time when he would talk to a new client. When it came time to actually ask for the sale he’d say, “This sounds great, we look forward to working on this project. Just send us a big sack of money and we’ll get it rolling!” It was a joke - to an extent - but it let the clients know that we would be waiting on their money to get started, in a very lighthearted manner. Everyone has a good chuckle, and the process moves ahead. Feel free to steal that line, you’d be amazed at how well it works.