COLUMBUS, Ohio— Professionals in the horticulture industry need to be focused on sales, according to Matt Nelson, senior vice president of the National Interiorscape Network.
If you’re not growing your revenue, there is a good chance your businesses are shrinking, he said during his presentation, “Sales Growth Without a Sales Staff.” You can grow your sales by doing the following:
1. Leverage existing relationships
Nelson spoke of the importance of leveraging existing relationships to improve sales. These can be relationships with professionals in the same segment of the industry, vendors, business neighbors, related businesses or complementary businesses.
Industry members should know who their customers are, what those customers are buying and what else they could buy, Nelson said.
Nelson drew inspiration from the late car salesman Ernie von Schledorn, a German immigrant who lived and worked near Milwaukee, as he did. Von Schledorn’s advertisements would read, “Who do you know ... wants to buy a car?”
It’s just as important for horticulture professionals as it is for car salesmen to speak with their connections to reach a potential end consumer. “Will they give you a referral?” Nelson asked. “Will they give you an introduction?”
2. Allow customers to find you.
Horticulture professionals need to be accessible in person and online, including via both website and social media, Nelson said.
“If they want to find you or get to you, can they easily get to you?” he asked.
Someone at a horticulture company needs to be responsible for quickly monitoring and responding to web communications. Websites need to make it simple for customers to make a purchase.
Nelson showed the audience a slide of a plain white truck and white T-shirt. He said he has seen landscapers, for instance, fail to brand their trucks and T-shirts and miss out on opportunities to market themselves.
3. Adjust your messaging.
Customers need to see a product or service through the right lens to recognize its value and make a purchase, Nelson said.
He said customers have bought individual plants for $25 because they were marketed in a context where they could see themselves owning a given plant.
The green industry needs to refrain from using jargon in front of customers so they don’t get confused or tune out the message.
“It’s almost like you need to be able to flip the switch,” Nelson said.
Ultimately, people in the industry can improve sales by becoming experts in their own niche area, while making customer service a pleasant experience.