How to Ask For the Sale (And Win the Work Every Time)
He has 15+ years experience in landscaping and snow management. That’s why we asked him to join us for an “Ask an Expert” Facebook Live session about bidding and closing sales.
Michael knows that a great sales and bidding strategy can apply to any industry—and he’s here to share his tips.
The first step is to qualify your leads. If someone isn’t ready for your services, is difficult to work with, or isn’t right for your business, you need to know right away.
Otherwise you’ll waste time trying to win over someone who can’t be won—or worse, someone who could damage your business and your hard-earned reputation.
On the flip side, if you know right away that this is a customer you want to work with, get the sales process moving forward before one of your competitors snags them.
“You want to find out if they’re a good fit for you and your business. The people who get the best experience are the people who found something that was the best fit for them.”
When a potential customer offers you a big-ticket job, it’s tempting to say yes and figure out the logistics later. But first, make sure the project aligns with your goals and timelines.
Are you a small company wanting to take on bigger jobs? Do you want to break into a new market, learn a new process, or offer a new service? If so, this job could be the right move.
If it’s not right for your business, though, don’t be afraid to say no. A job that doesn’t align with your goals might hurt your company instead of helping it, and the lessons you learn in the process might be expensive.
Pro Tip: If you need new equipment for a job, rent what you need first. It’ll cost less up front while bringing in more of that type of work, which will let you buy your own equipment later on. You can also build those rental costs into your estimate.
“That big, massive job needs to help you take the next step to your goals. When a red flag goes up, it’s okay to say, ‘That’s not the right fit for us.’”
Spend less time talking and more time listening to the customer. They might not know what they need, but they do know what problem they’re facing. By listening, you can help them find the solution.
To help you gather the right information, pick your questions carefully and ask just enough—not too many! Get the answers you need without overwhelming the customer.
“Ask questions, then shut up and listen. Instead of going on and on and on, learn what they want. There will come a point later on where you get to demonstrate your expertise.”
When customers know you, they’re more likely to want to work with you.
Once a customer makes it onto your client list, you’ll spend time building a relationship with them. This will help them become a loyal customer and stay that way for a long time.
But you can start that process long before they ever sign on the dotted line—which will help ensure they do!
Take the time to chat with them and find out who they are. Don’t be afraid to share a little bit about yourself, too.
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“People like to do business with people they know and like. Whether it’s the cleaning guy, the window cleaning guy, or the lawn guy, you want to be ‘the guy.’”
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Your potential customer wants you to solve a problem for them. Tell them what will happen when that problem is solved, how long it’ll take, and how they’ll feel at the end.
At the same time, don’t over-promise. This puts you at risk of under-delivering. Set accurate expectations as early as possible in the process—ideally, during the first time you speak to the customer.
READ MORE: Should contractors charge for quotes?
After your conversation, the customer should have an accurate idea of what to expect from you, your team, your services, and the overall outcome of the work.
Pro Tip: Share a success story, case study, testimonial, or personal anecdote about a previous customer in the same situation. That way, your current customer has something to relate to.
“I don’t want to talk big and oversell the job, then mess it up. I’d rather give this long timeframe, worst-case-scenario price, so we get done early and under budget.”
Start by asking the customer how much they’re comfortable spending, then account for as much as possible in your estimate. Michael likes to plan for worst-case scenarios so he never goes over budget.
Planning for every possible situation means your prices may end up being higher than a competitor’s. If that’s the case, be prepared to communicate your value to the customer to win the work.
Pro Tip: If it’s a big project, offer financing to customers and stage out payments in 25% instalments. This lets you buy the materials for the work and get started, but the customer doesn’t have to have the full amount up front.
“Jobber syncs up with Quickbooks Online. That was a game-changer for us. The fact that those two integrate means you’re able to turn data [from past projects] into a budget.”
Chances are, your potential customers will have questions and concerns before they accept the quote.
You might hear statements like:
- “Your prices are too high. What kind of deal can you give me?”
- “It’s not the right time. Can I get the same price in six months?”
- “Your competitor offered these extras—I want you to offer them, too.”
Try to predict any questions or concerns ahead of time and come up with responses. When you hear new ones, write those down so you can add them to your list of questions and answers.
“Someone else can do a job for $X, but that has no bearing on what you can do the job for. Know what your costs are, if it’s a good fit, or if you’re just giving your time away.”
Communication goes a long way in keeping customers satisfied, and they’ll feel more confident signing off on your estimate if they know what’s going to happen next and when.
Plan for regular updates throughout the project—and share that plan with the customer during the bidding process.
This can help ease a customer’s possible worries about a stranger visiting their home to provide services.
“Break down that barrier. Walk to the front door in their shoes.”
According to Michael, knowing how to ask for the sale is the difference between wasting time and moving forward. And closing the sale comes down to one thing: confidence.
Speak to them like they’re a friend, not someone who holds your business’s success in their hands. Some customers also won’t take the initiative, so you need to bring them to the point of making a decision.
Pretend you’re confident, even if you aren’t right now, and they’ll feel more ready to move forward. Try sales-closing phrases like:
- “What’s holding you back from buying right now?”
- “Here’s our good, better, best pricing. Which option feels like the best fit for you?”
- “If you sign the contract today, we can finish on [DATE]. How does that sound?”
- “If you’re ready, I can send you the contract right now.”
“Slow down, know your numbers, and have confidence when you’re bidding these projects. That’ll ultimately give you the ability to close projects that make you money.”
Follow Michael’s lead and take these steps to ask for the sale. With a little practice, you’ll be winning new work in no time.
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Originally published May 2019. Last updated on October 18, 2021.