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Feel, Felt, Found: 3 F’s of Objection Handling

Feel, Felt, Found: The 3 F’s of Objections Handling

Written by Malcolm Jeffris, CTSP

Unfortunately, part of being in sales entails hearing objections from your prospective customers.  While many times the objection can be demoralizing to you, the sales person, it really is simply a statement by your prospect that they don’t yet see the value in what you have to offer. The key word is ‘yet.’ It is your job as the sales professional to find a way to overcome that objection and show the value to your prospect so they purchase from you. 

Think about the rejections you often encounter in the tree care industry – “Your price is too expensive,” “We just don’t need it right now,” or “I’ll just let the tree die and plant something else.” Each of those statements give you a glimpse into what matters to the prospect and where you missed in delivering that value to the prospect on the initial presentation.

After years of sales experience, participating in sales courses, and shadowing some very successful insurance agents, I want to share what I’ve seen as the best way of handling objections: the Feel, Felt, Found method.

1. Feel: “I understand how you feel.”

Letting people know you’re listening is one of the most important pieces of the sales process. The premise of “feel” is letting your prospect know that you understand how they feel about the product or service you’re trying to sell them. For example, if they tell you they feel your estimate is too expensive, let them know you understand they think your price is too high. Simply acknowledging their main concern is the first step in working towards a solution. 

 2. Felt: “I’ve felt that way before.”

Felt is your opportunity as a salesperson to let your prospect know that either you, or someone in the past, has been in the same position. With the price example, you simply state “others have felt that way before.” This puts your prospect on the same level as their peers. People crave a sense of belonging and informing them that they are not alone with their feelings brings a bit of humanity to the sale. 

 3. Found: “But what we’ve found is…”

Once you’ve set the foundation in letting your prospect know you understand them and informing them they are not alone, it is now your chance to explain why they should consider moving beyond their initial objection. This is your opportunity to explain to your prospect how you may not be the cheapest tree service in the area but the benefits of them choosing your company more than make up the difference in cost. Use real life examples such as, “we’ve found that companies without a Certified Arborist are two times more likely to damage your property” or “we’ve found our higher price to be worth it as our high end equipment ensures the job will be done on time and in a safe manner.”

 

The magic recipe is “I understand how you feel, others/I have felt the same way, but I’ve found that…” 

It is important for you and your team to recognize that the feel, felt, found method is not efficient unless you have a good understanding of why the prospect is objecting. If you don’t understand why they are objecting, it will be much more difficult to close the sale.

During your next sales meeting, I’d encourage you to brainstorm with your team about common pain points your prospective customers have. Then write down the ways your company can solve those issues and the common objections you hear for those solutions. Lastly, discuss previous customers who have given you similar objections and still purchased your product or service. This will give you and your team the building blocks you need to start feeling comfortable handling objections, and ultimately closing more sales.

For additional help with objection handling and one-on-one sales training, check out ArboRisk’s Thrive Sales & Marketing Package! Our team of industry experts has the skills and knowledge to help you take your tree care company to new heights. Click here to learn more!

Sales Sweet Spot

Sales Sweet Spot

Anyone that has ever played baseball with a wooden bat knows the difference when you hit the ball with the sweet spot of the bat versus off the end or handle. The sting from a mishit can bother you for innings afterwards. However, when you hit the ball with the sweet spot, it sounds different, you barely feel it in your hands and the ball travels much further and faster. It truly is a sweet feeling when you connect just right. 

The same is true for sales. When you propose the right service at the right time to the right customer, everything is easier and more fun. That simply is the Sales Sweet Spot. 

Selling in the sweet spot will dramatically increase your sales team’s close rate, production crew’s efficiency and overall profitability. So how do you determine what your sweet spot is? 

First you must look at what your company excels at. Every tree care company has a specialty service or unique advantage within the marketplace. Unfortunately, when it is not identified, a tree care company will perform all kinds of jobs that typically lead to longer work days and more frustrations all while incurring more risk to the company. 

To begin to identify your specialty service, you must look at each service individually and ask yourself, is this a strength of our company? If not, what do you need to do to make it a strength? Those answers will quickly tell you if this service is one that you should focus on as your specialty service.

The next step is to identify your ideal customer. This article will help you determine who your ideal customer is. Remember to connect your business’ culture and values to your ideal customer. People like to do business with people they like as well as your employees would rather work for people that fit the culture and values of your company than for someone who doesn’t. 

Finally, create a list of services that your ideal customer will prioritize. Clearly, where this list of services overlaps your specialty service is your sweet spot. 

To further explain the sweet spot, let’s look at ArboRisk. Our specialty service is to help great tree care companies become extraordinary tree care companies through proper risk management. We accomplish this by helping our clients do everything they can to prevent an incident from occurring and making sure they have the proper insurance coverage in case the unforeseen does happen. 

Our ideal customer is a professional tree care company who understands that they are in control of what happens to their business and is dedicated to getting every employee home safe each night. 

When we are working within our sweet spot, our clients are able to make substantial improvements to their already great business because of our industry expertise. We have seen tremendous growth and reduced incidents for our sweet spot clients.  

“Do what you love and love what you do” – Ray Bradbury

Working within the Sales Sweet Spot sets your company up for just that. Enjoying each day, by working on the jobs you love with the type of customers you love. 

To develop or strengthen your Sales Sweet Spot, enroll in ArboRisk’s Sales and Marketing Package to work one-on-one with our industry experts.

Written by: Eric Petersen

Identifying Your Ideal Customer

Identifying Your Ideal Customer

Do you know who your ideal customer is? What is their budget? What is their home type? Do you know the steps your business needs to take to attract that ideal customer? 

 If you struggled answering any of those questions, you are not alone! Every year, many businesses (not just tree services!) fail because they do not know who their ideal customer is – let alone how to attract them! Luckily, there are a few simple steps you can take within your business to remedy this. 

 Create Company Values

It may seem obvious, but some companies first need to create their own values before looking at who they want as a customer. These values lay the foundation for who your company is and how the customer will view your business as you interact. What do you personally believe in? What do others in your company (family members, employees) believe in? How do these beliefs factor into your business? It is important to take the time to write these values down; they can factor into your mission statement and become the foundation for your tree care company.

 Identify Target Service

The next step is looking into what you want your target service to be. Let’s face it – you cannot be good at everything. Taking the time to figure out what you are good at and prioritizing that service can make all of the difference in the world for your business. First, perform a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) Analysis. This will help you categorize where you are and where you want to be. Next, look at the services you offer. Which services is your team best at? Worst at? Maybe your team is good at removals but you would like to grow the plant health care department. You may also want to look into what services your competitors offer. From this information, you can make an informed decision on what niche you would like your tree care company to focus on.

 Identify Ideal Customer

The final step is identifying who your ideal customer is. Based on your company values and your target service, you can now look at what customer you will need to focus on. What is their typical age? What is their living situation? Geographic location? Household income? Are they on social media? What are their social interests? Identifying the answers to these questions will help you figure out where your marketing and sales teams need to hit in order to reach this customer. 

 Taking the time to outline your company values and target service will help lead you to your ideal customer. The more time you put into this, the easier it will be for you to eventually reach your ideal customer!

 If you are struggling with identifying your ideal customer, ArboRisk can help! Check out our Thrive Sales and Marketing Package where we take a deep dive with you on the best way to identify and reach your ideal customer!

Written by: Katie Petersen

Intentional Communication

How to Ensure Your Team Is “Trimming the Right Tree”

How much time is lost within your tree care company due to the team questioning decisions, trying to figure out their purpose, or understanding the “Why” behind what you are communicating or asking them to do? It may be a difficult question to answer but I guarantee that if you investigate it further, you will identify some areas of your business that could be enhanced by ensuring that the “why” or the reason behind certain things is intentionally and transparently communicated. Intentional communication not only helps to build trust but ensures that your team is always heading in the same direction with a purpose and in an efficient manner.

Imagine sending your best tree crew out to a job site with a partial work order. Perhaps the work order simply said trim the tree located on Main Street for the Jones family. How efficient would that crew be in getting that job done? They would spend all their time trying to figure out which tree you were talking about, and was it Bill Jones at 300 North Main, or Sally Jones at 150 South Main? With a work order such as this, there is a high probability that the job would not be done efficiently, could lead to the incorrect tree being trimmed and the job possibly never getting done because the team would be frustrated as to the amount of time they are spending trying to figure it all out. This is of course an extreme example; however, it is relevant as you begin to work on understanding and improving intentional communication within your company.

Another way of thinking about intentional communication is in this manner, does the recipient of your message have the necessary information to fully understand the why and your intent along with all the information regarding what you are communicating? If you can answer yes, they you have provided them with intentional communication. If you are unsure, then chances are you are leaving them with the opportunity to interpret your message in their own manner. The window to interpret what you are saying in a way other than what you have intended introduces loss time and energy spent by the recipient trying to ‘figure’ it out. To help introduce this concept into your organization I encourage you to look at two aspects of intentional communication: intentional listening and intentional speaking.

Intentional Listening
A mentor of mine once ask me a question during a conversation we were having about a project we were working on. The project was quite complex and was something that I did not necessarily agree with how we were approaching it. During the conversation he stopped me and asked, “Kevin, are you listening to me to understand, or are you listening to me to be right?” As I look back at that conversation now, I kind of laugh because I was totally listening to be right instead of listening to understand. Throughout that conversation I recall constantly thinking to myself, “that is not correct, I would do that differently, and nope that’s not possible” instead of clearing my mind and listening for the intent and the why behind what my mentor was trying to tell me. Looking back the conversation could have taken perhaps 30 minutes instead of an hour which would have given us both an extra 30 minutes back in a typically very busy work environment.

 Intentional listening is all about ensuring that you receive the message from the other person as they INTENDED and are you actively listening for their intention. It is certainly appropriate to ask clarifying questions, but it is important to focus on listening for understanding as opposed to trying to be right or develop a response while missing out on the true context and intent of their message.
Some tips for ensuring intentional listening include:

• Check your perceptions at the door – focus on their intention not your perception

• Check your ego and remove the need to be right or look good

• Ask clarifying questions, but do not make it about you

• Help them create the content by pursuing their context through your listening

• Provide them with active listening by leaning forward, nodding your head, providing eye contact

• Be engaged in the conversation!

Of course, it is a lot easier to listen with intention if the person providing the message is also speaking with intention. Intentional communication is most effective when both parties are providing and listening for intent.

Intentional Speaking
The second aspect of intentional communication is Intentional Speaking. This is even more important as you begin to improve communication within your organization. The key aspect of intentional speaking is to remember that you are responsible for the other person “getting it” or understanding it. This can be done in several different ways; however intentional speaking is most effective by asking yourself the following regarding your message:

• Am I providing the context for what I am communicating – The “why”

• Am I providing them with my intention?

• Am I providing them with what my intention is not?

•Am I communication with the appropriate person as the recipient of this message?

• Is this the appropriate timing for this message?

• Is this the appropriate location and vehicle for this message to be communicated?

A very easy approach to intentional speaking is to ask yourself, am I giving them the “full work order” with my message or am I providing my team the opportunity to interpret my message and “trim the wrong tree?” If you are not providing the context for why you do what you do or say what you say, you are giving others permission to make up a reason why you did it or said it. The recipient trying to “figure it out” can lead to loss time, lower productivity and ultimately lower team morale and trust.

Intentional communication does not happen overnight and requires a personal commitment to the team and each other to fully realize its impact within an organization. However, just like a detailed work order, it will ensure your team is always on the same page, has the context around your communication and decisions, and will lead to a more dynamic and supportive work culture and environment.

Written by: Kevin Martlage

Does My Company Culture Attract Top Talent?

Does My Company Culture Attract Top Talent?

It was hard to find good employees before the COVID pandemic hit, however it has been even harder since. Jobs are plentiful for all trades yet people to fill those are scarce.  Everywhere you look there are signs for “help wanted” and the pay scale for those jobs is rising to just get people in the door.  With that said there are a lot of choices out there for people actually looking for work, so what will make your company stand out? One thing that will help is your company culture!

You may not know it, but your company has a culture – the big question – Is it a culture that will attract the employees that you want?  A company culture refers to the combination of values, goals, ethics, and expectations that govern and influence employee behaviors.  In addition to these values is company trust and communication, as Kevin Martlage taught us in the previous article “Building Trust Within Your Team Using Transparent Communication”. If you aren’t sure what your current company culture is, take a hard look at your safety program and you’ll get a good glimpse of how your company culture will help or hurt attracting top talent.  

Do your employees wear their PPE (are they issued PPE!)? Are employees provided with the appropriate resources to get the job done? Do your employees feel safe working with each other? How many accidents is your team experiencing?  Have negative behaviors have been allowed to develop? As you can imagine, with no guidance or direction, a company culture that supports bad habits will take root.

I have worked with many tree care companies that possessed a positive safety culture and many companies in which the safety culture had a negative impact on the organization.  I can tell you first hand that those companies that have taken the time to develop a positive safety culture are far better off.  They have happy employees that like coming to work, employees trust their managers/owners with their lives, they trust their fellow team/crew members, they have less accidents and efficiencies are gained that improve productivity and the bottom line of their business.

That being said, the companies that have taken the time to develop a positive safety culture, in general, have an overall company culture that will attract and retain employees.

Some quick questions to ask yourself about your company culture:

  1. Do your employees hear more about improving the bottom line or improving customer satisfaction?

 

  1. Do you provide your employees with the resources they need to get the job done?

 

  1. How much or little do you invest in ongoing training, in both time and money?

 

  1. How do you communicate with employees, do they understand the why behind your decisions?

 

  1. Is your company a supportive place to work?

 

  1. What type of processes and procedures do you have in place for new employee hires?

 

  1. Do you treat your employees like you treat your customers?

 

  1. When your company considers adopting policies or changes, are the thoughts and feelings of customers, leadership and employees considered?

Exploring questions like these can provide you with a sense of your company culture.  Be kind and open with yourself when you answer these questions.  If your answers give you pause, it may be time to explore a culture shift or transformation.  

For more help with developing a company culture that attracts top talent, ask an ArboRisk team member how to get started with our New Heights Package today. 

Written by: Peggy Drescher