The words we use with our potential customers in our proposals, in our marketing materials, and absolutely when we're speaking with them, have a huge impact on how they feel about us, which is everything to do with their decision to work with us. Chances are you're using some language that may be turning people away from working with you. So check out today's podcast to learn seven key phrases to avoid in your sales and some things that you can replace them with that make people want to work with you.
Hey everyone, Jack Jostes here, and welcome to The Landscaper's Guide. This show is all about sales, marketing, and leadership for landscape companies. And a key part of growing your company is sales. And as your company grows, you're going to have other people on your team managing clients, selling to clients. And in today's podcast, I want to share with you seven phrases that I've learned to avoid in my own selling, and I collaborated with my sales and marketing team to create this list. By using the right words when we're selling, we'll have a better chance of winning the business and having a great customer to take care of.
7 Key Phrases To Avoid in Your Sales Process
The first one is but. When I did my first job out of college as a door-to-door milkman, yes, I sold milk door-to-door, which was an incredible experience, and I had an incredible sales coach who I'm still friends with. His name is Hugh Little, and Hugh was my sales manager at the dairy farm. Hugh was insistent that we replaced but with and. When you say but when you're talking with somebody, it sounds like you were listening to them but now you're just going to say what you wanted to say anyways. Whereas if you replace it with and, you're continuing the idea with theirs.
As an example, if you were to talk with a client and say, "Hey, I understand that you'd like to have your fire pit in the middle of the yard, but it's not going to work because X, Y, and Z." Versus, "Hey, what I'm hearing you say is you'd really like to have a fire pit where you can hang out with your friends and family, and your initial idea was to put it in the middle of the yard to make it the focus of the yard. I like that idea, and one thing I'm thinking is if we put it over here to the side, we'd have a little bit more privacy when we factor in the fence and the pine trees that are going to be here, and it would create a little oasis over here. How do you feel about that idea?"
Number two is cheap. Cheap is a word we use to describe commodities, things, knick-knacks, thing-a-me-bobs, things that we should pay the least amount of money for. Whereas, if you are working with somebody on a service where you're providing design, you're solving problems with strategy, you're including project management to make sure everything goes well, it's important that you don't position your packages as cheap or cheaper. A good replacement for that could be more affordable.
Typically, when we're doing projects that are north of $75,000, we're going through a complete design build project where we're going to create not only sketches but also 3D renderings. We're going to go through a lot of detail with you on exact plant selections, material, all of those different things. And the design phase typically has, alone, the investment for the design is around $1,500. And like I said, it can take upwards of six plus weeks. And we have a more affordable package for projects that are typically between the 20 and $50,000 range, where we're still going through plant selection, material selection with you, however, we're not spending as much time on a detailed and advanced design.
Number three is fee. Fees are things that banks charge you. Credit card processing fees, airline fees, parking lot fees. You don't really get a lot from your fees, and they're not really negotiable. You don't really want to do them, you just kind of have to. Fees are negative. Whereas positioning something as an investment is positive, because investments pay you back. When you invest in your landscape, not only will you enjoy it while you're here, it'll also increase your home value when you go to sell.
A key area for this is design fees. A lot of times, design build companies will position their design fees in a negative way. Why am I being penalized for design? Shouldn't that be included? Chances are your customers have never worked with a design build firm and they don't understand why they would pay for that phase separately. By investing in a detailed design phase, you'll end up not only with a design that you love, but you'll also avoid change orders and expenses that you weren't expecting. Where, if we didn't spend the time on your design up front, there can be a lot of surprises later that customers typically don't enjoy. When you invest in the design phase, we're going to get started together, collaborating on the design of your dreams.
The next words to avoid are as needed. This is especially true for maintenance agreements. One of my favorite parts of the 2022 Landscaper Summit was when Jim Turcan from Cornerstone Horticultural Partners shared this tip in his presentation about how to write your commercial client's RFP.
All that stuff is spelled out and they don't have any clue where to find this stuff on their own accord. So we build this for them to say that, hey, no one's going to slip under the radar here and slide a fast one in, and it takes off the table weed beds as needed. Well, as needed according to who? The property manager or me, the contractor, who was the low bidder who said, "Ah, they're not that bad. I don't think it needs it." It takes out of the equation, all snow clear by 6:00 AM. When it stops snowing at 5:45 AM, do you want 14 acres crystal clear by 6:00 AM? So this just really helps in all of these definitions are not biased.
It's so true. The words as needed create a lot of problems. One, they create a expectation from your customer that isn't clear. As needed, to them, could mean something very different to you. Two, this can create a miscommunication with your team. Let's pretend that you're the one doing the sale, but you have a team working with you to manage the account. If they are expected to do something that they didn't know about, this can create internal friction with you. And lastly, when those first two things happen, it creates profit loss. So having a clear scope of work and avoiding words like as needed will ensure that your customer gets what they're expecting, but more importantly, what they're agreeing to and that your team will deliver it, and then you'll be profitable.
Contract versus agreement. This is another one that I learned from Hugh Little, and I think it's true. An agreement is something positive. It's mutual. We are creating an agreement together. Whereas a contract is like a fee, it's a legal document, it's not super positive. Legally, contracts and agreements are the same thing. And at Ramblin Jackson, we prefer using agreements because it's more mutual and it's more positive. So what do you think? Are they contracts or are they agreements?
Subcontractors versus trade partners. This last one I learned from Remodelers Advantage, I think it was Paul Wynn who shared this one with me. Subcontractors. Contractor, subcontractor. Those are two words that a lot of people don't like. Now, naturally, if you're doing big projects with multiple skilled trades, you're going to have your plumbing crew, your electrical crew. You might have an excavation crew. You will probably have subs. And while that may be good internal language, I recommend positioning them as trade partners. Trade partners, again, is positive. Trade partner sounds way better than a subcontractor.
Oh, one other one I just remembered was when I worked at a horse race track, in the kitchen. I worked as a grill cook. I did catering. I did a variety of things. One of the things that was a rule there was that we called them towels not rags. Rags are dirty, they're filthy, they belong in your garage. Whereas a towel is clean, and it's meant for cleaning things or drying them off. So I think that one's pretty obvious. Towel versus rag. I don't know about you, but if somebody was preparing my food, I'd rather that they were drying their hands on a towel than a rag.
All right, everyone, I hope you enjoyed today's podcast and find some ways to use these words in your sales and marketing to increase your sales. I love language. It's really the reason I got into what I do and why I love running this podcast and running Ramblin Jackson. We help landscapers. We help you figure out, what words are your customers searching on Google? That's the SEO part of it. How do you rank on Google? But the sales part of it and the marketing part of it and the branding part of it is, what are these other things? What are the words that we can use that motivate them to buy from you so they're attracted to you over somebody else. That's not really SEO, that's really branding and copywriting. And that's something that we can help you with. So if you'd like to learn more about that, reach out to us for a 15 minute marketing brainstorm call at landscapersguide.com/brainstorm. We'll take a look at your sales and marketing with you and give you some ideas to get more of your Hell Yes customers.
Right now, if you're watching the video version of this, I'm at about 8,500 feet in Colorado. I'm in the mountains. I was hoping to get some fall color, but this Aspen Grove here, it's amazing. I think I'm a few days late here. There are still a few leaves on the trees, but they've mostly fallen. After this, I'm going to do some small game hunting with my 22 and then go to work. It's a beautiful day. I hope you are enjoying your day and finding ways to do small things like this in the morning or in the evening or whenever it is. To me, that's what life is all about. So anyways, thanks for listening to this, and again, reach out to us at landscapersguide.com/brainstorm. Have an awesome weekend, and I look forward to talking to you next week on The Landscaper's Guide.