Statistics show that today’s consumer does more than two months of online research before ever contacting a company directly. Realizing that a large portion of the sales process is achieved before that first contact, leading landscape companies are building out their digital sales processes and prequalifying machines, by creating content that aligns to the sales journey and laser-focus targeting their marketing efforts.
In this way, green industry pros are putting down their digital stakes so that when prospects are researching and looking for their exact services, in their geographic area, they will be found. It’s a proactive approach that’s less passive than the pre-internet days when landscaping companies could rely on a phone book listing to elicit phone calls and quality leads.
Today, because of the breadth of digital strategies, platforms, and tools available, both consumers and companies save significant time by being able to prequalify each other. Homeowners and property managers are not going to make a purchase until they’ve done their own research — an average of 79 days according to a GE Capital study. They spend that time researching their options, comparing what the companies say they offer on their websites, and gather input before they reach out. By that time, they are further along in their decision process, which is a benefit for contractors.
The New Way to Sell
A shift has occurred. “Sales is not just about selling anymore, but about building trust and educating,” Siva Devaki, co-founder and co-CEO of MassMailer, an email marketing solution provider, once said. By the time your sales team becomes involved in the sale process, ideally, prospects are well educated on your solutions and what you can do for them. Here is why to make this shift to a more digital strategy if you haven’t already.
Plan on what HALSTEAD calls the 79-days-online rule. Great content can serve as your “front line” sales team. It’s the face of your company that the customer meets first as they search for companies that can help them. It’s what gets them to engage or move on.
Does your content give them a reason to engage with you?
Here’s what will capture their attention — and move them digitally — through the sales funnel.
What is your website actually saying?
- Does it project the quality or value your target audience is looking for?
- Does it clearly portray your niche?
- Does your website navigation make it easy for prospects to learn more about you?
- Do your images and copywriting speak to your ideal customer?
Your website needs to include information about your company, but most important, it should address the solutions your ideal customers are seeking.
Know what drives your ideal customer’s decisions. Is it craftsmanship? Value? Price? You can save a lot of time and disappointment by setting expectations early.
One solution is to offer design packages, budget ranges, or better yet, calculators where your customers can explore what they can get within their budget — without the sales pitch they are trying to avoid by not calling you directly at the start.
Having these tools available to your prospects will not only increase your chances of converting them, but they will also weed out prospects that are less than ideal for your company’s focus.
3. Projects: Presenting Your Work
Most buying decisions are made emotionally, particularly in the landscape industry, where what you do has an effect on a person’s home. Facts are great but ultimately consumers want benefits. They want to see, and feel, what you can do for them.
Presenting your portfolio in a compelling way includes:
- Professional quality videos and photos
- Compelling (emotive) copy that describes key projects
- Properly presented case studies
4. Nurturing: Keeping Them Engaged
Even with the most engaging, informative content, some prospects will click away. There is still an opportunity in leading the consumer further down the sales funnel, through what’s known as retargeting. The simplified retargeting process tends to follow this pattern:
1. The user sees your ad and visits your site.
2. The user leaves the site without converting yet the stored cookie keeps the connection open. 3. The user browses the internet and sees your retargeting ad and is reminded of the potential your company offers.
4. The user returns to your website, fills out your form, and connects with you.
Retargeting is known to increase conversion rates by almost 150 percent. So, if you aren’t employing a retargeting strategy, then you’ve likely lost prospects. Whether the prospect left because they got distracted or because they’re now exploring a competitor’s site — you have another chance to regain their interest with proper retargeting strategies.
Meet the prospects’ expectations. A successful digital sales process involves being proactive — knowing what ideal prospects likely want from you and showing that you’ll be there for them. Some ways to do this:
1. Outline your process. People are curious about what they can expect when they work with you. A structured process builds trust. It sets the expectation that the project itself will be structured (i.e. professionally managed).
2. Offer online booking. Today’s consumer is more accustomed to “meeting” service providers through website forms and emails — they are less likely to pick the phone and inquire about a consultation. Online booking systems make this process easy and sync appointments with the customer’s and your calendars.
3. Set up 15-minutes prequalifying calls. A quick, prequalifying phone call ensures that you’re a good fit for each other and saves you both valuable time.
4. Set up dedicated website pages for each service. In doing internet research, customers are inundated with information. Your site needs to be laid out simply so that they’ll quickly learn about your solutions. Dedicated landing pages for each service helps prevent the overwhelm that can send your visitors elsewhere. Forcing prospects to jump through navigational hoops will lose them.
5. Produce content that “speaks” to your ideal customers. All images and copy must convey information as well as an emotional “hook” that compels them to engage.
A Tactical Look at How It All Works Together
The progression from lead to happy customer can be boiled down to one concept — a concept that did not exist before the digital age — a customer-centric journey.
- The journey begins with awareness. Where does your ideal customer learn about you? Organic SEO? Paid ads?
- Engagement: Web visits are more likely to convert with well-crafted, value-packed content. A percentage will engage; most won’t.
- Retargeting and nurturing those customers who have left your site is a second chance. What value can you offer them? What’s the compelling reason to come back?
- You’ve gotten their interest again. Does your content and landing page design encourage engagement?
- The next step is adding value, and a compelling close.
- After the sale, request customer testimonials (social proof used throughout your customer journey).
Sales and marketing are more closely intertwined than ever before. The digital age has certainly changed the way that consumers research and make purchasing decisions. Are you maximizing the potential with a cutting-edge digital sales approach?