Sales Compensation Discussion with Paul Filary of Kramer Tree

Sales Compensation Discussion with Paul Filary of Kramer Tree

Written by Tom Dunn

Paul Filary is the Director of Operations and ISA Certified Arborist with Kramer Tree Specialists (KTS),  based out of West Chicago, Illinois. Before becoming the Operations Manager at KTS, Paul was the Sales Manager at KTS and holds a degree in Forestry from Michigan State University. Kramer Tree provides a wide range of services to its client base including Tree Care, Mulch Products, Plant Health Care, Tree Planting, Urban Wood Products, Safety Training, Consulting and Holiday Lighting.

We wanted to get Paul’s take on important considerations when establishing a Sales Compensation structure for a sales arborist team. 

What are some of the key factors to consider when establishing a sales compensation package? 

The first step before even setting up a compensation package is to do some market research on what competitive annual salaries are in your sales territory. Use this information to determine if the annual salaries are attainable for your sales team and this will help in how you structure the compensation. 

Another important step that is often overlooked is to have a grasp on job costs for the different services your company provides. This will establish what a profitable hourly rate is and will help determine where your commission levels should be set. Job costs can be based on an individual job or a collection of jobs. 

A tiered commission structure based on the volume of business sold versus a flat rate has proven to be a successful motivating factor. If the sales arborists know they can earn a higher commission rate once they reach and exceed a targeted commissionable sales amount, they will not become complacent. 

Determine if you want to have a draw versus commission or a salary plus commission structure is the next tough decision. There are pros and cons to both, but a salary plus commission structure provides more predictability of costs, allows for the sales arborist to establish a customer base and can help smooth out the cyclical nature of tree care business. You may also lose some control over what the sales arborist is doing under a draw versus commission structure which may hinder any training you want to implement. 


How often do you review sales results with your team?

I have tried different intervals with our team and have found that quarterly sales review works best just because there is a little more time to accumulate and analyze the sales data. The key is be able to show the sales arborist how they are doing in simple, understandable reports that identify where their sales are coming from, if they are hitting established sales rations and whether their estimates have been accurate. 

A regular meeting time also provides for consistent two-way input on the types of jobs or maybe particular crews that are causing problems for the sales arborist problems, so they can be addressed in a timely manner and sales tactics can be revised.  


What type of backgrounds or requirements do you look for when hiring or promoting someone to a sales position? 

More than likely they will have some type of background in the tree care industry, but it is not an absolute done deal if they don’t have a tree care background. If they are passionate about the industry, can gain the respect of the crews they will be working with, are personable and have excellent communication skills that is usually a recipe for success. 

What is also important is that they understand being a sales arborist is not a 9-5 job. They have to make it a part of their lifestyle and be available any time they are needed by their clients. 


What do you see as your role as a sales manager?

Develop and refine a sales compensation structure that is flexible and attainable for the sales arborists. Providing regular analysis and feedback that is understandable and has relevant information for the sales arborists. Find opportunities for the sales arborists to attend industry events and meet potential clients. 


Final Thoughts? 

  • Establish a tiered commission structure based on the services offered.
  • Do the sales data analysis required to help the sales arborists develop
  • Be flexible with sales structure as new services are added

If you need further assistance with Sales & Marketing, please reach out to a member of our ArboRisk team. We have many resources that can help you with this, in addition to our Thrive Sales & Marketing Package:  https://arboriskinsurance.com/thrive-sales/ which provides one on one help developing the right marketing message to land the right customer.

Tom Dunn

3 Ways to Dig Deeper on Sales Calls

3 Ways to Dig Deeper on Sales CAlls

Written by Eric Petersen, CIC

Many of you probably already have heard me talk about the 4 Knows to a Yes in the past. If not, check out this previous article, that I’ve written on that topic. For this article, I want to go more in-depth and focus only on the first “Know” – Know the Why.

To start, remember that the most important objective in a sales call is to get an understanding of the emotions that will ultimately drive the prospect to make a decision. At ArboRisk, we call this the prospect’s “why”. Once you have an understanding of their why, you will be able to walk through the remaining “Knows” and close the sale.

Below are three strategies to dig deeper on a sales call to truly gain a better understanding of the prospect’s why. Discuss these during your next sales meeting to help increase your sales team success rate.

1. Ranking 1-10, then “Tell Me More” – Directly after the prospect tells you what they want you to look at, you should immediately have them rank the importance of their situation on a scale of 1-10 with 10 being the most important pressing issue in their lives right now. Follow up that ranking with the simple phrase, “Tell me more” to learn why they gave it that ranking. The answer they give you will help you understand how to best service them and therefore win the sale. 

2. Restate, then 3 Why’s. – A simple yet effective way to understand the prospect’s why, is to restate what you heard the prospect say and then ask a few probing questions. If what you say back to them isn’t what they really mean you will have the chance to correct yourself and truly understand what they are looking for from you. After you restate their request and they agree that is what they are looking for, then you should dig deeper by asking ‘why’ at least three more times to uncover the true emotion behind their request. As an example…

Sales Arborist: I heard you say you wanted to have the honey locust removed in your backyard, correct?

Prospect: Yes, that’s correct.

Sales Arborist: 1st Why – Why do you want it removed?

Prospect: It drops too many branches.

Sales Arborist: 2nd Why – Why do the branches bother you?

Prospect: I do not want to continually have to pick them up.

Sales Arborist: 3rd Why – Why do you care if the branches are on the ground?

Prospect: My grandkids come over and play every Tuesday and I want a clean space for them.

It might not go that smooth in real life, but you can see how you get to the actual emotion of why they called you. Now you can directly solve their problem and offer other solutions to help them have a great backyard for their grandchildren to play in.

3. What’s your vision for your yard? – We have an entire article devoted to this question, but it’s such a great way to learn about the prospect’s why that I wanted to make sure and mention it again. This question opens up conversation much broader than just focusing on the original service request and can lead to future work or simply a better customer relationship once they hire you. 

Hopefully those three simple strategies will help your sales team dig deeper with their prospects and connect more on an emotional level with them to win more sales for your company. If you would like any more help with your sales team, our Thrive Sales & Marketing Package includes four hours of direct one-on-one sales training. For more information, reach out to an ArboRisk team member today!

Tom Dunn

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!

Effective Sales Training for Tree Care Companies

Effective Sales Training for Tree Care Companies

A strong, knowledgeable sales team is one of the most important tools to help tree care companies stay ahead of the game. Improving your sales team and selling more effectively is a significant key to your company’s growth.

While you may say that estimating and sales are the same job, they are not. Estimating is looking at the job and computing how much the tree removal, pruning, PHC, and etc. should be. Sales is finalizing the sale, getting the customer to say yes to the treatment, pruning or removal plan because the ultimate goal is enticing the customer to say yes!

A well-trained salesperson can easily influence a potential customer. With the right negotiation tactics along with arboricultural knowledge, pricing and presentation, the salesperson is ready to go and this can make all the difference. Hence, sales training is a critical factor in the world of sales. Here are five reasons why you should invest in a good sales training program:

Customer loyalty: Sales training improves the person-to-person connection which is required to gain loyal customers. According to a recent study, 71% of people base their buying decisions on trust and credibility. It is crucial that salespeople thoroughly understand their customers’ wants and needs and at the same time efficiently communicate the benefits of the services your company offers. Therefore, focus on sales training that will enable your staff to have better interaction with customers.

Improved Communication: Salespeople must make sure that customers understand the services offered. This is mainly possible through effective communication skills. Excellent communicators with fantastic people skills are an asset to any organization.

Brand Image: Salespeople are the face of every company. Being the face of your company, what the salesperson says, and how they say and do certain things create an impression in the mind of the customer. Good sales training will teach sales professionals about behavioral and attitudinal changes to leave a long-lasting impression on the minds of the customer and build a better brand for your company. Make sure your salespeople understand and reflect your company’s core values.

Overcoming objections: We must not forget that sales involve objections. Sales training can teach salespeople how to anticipate objections as well as techniques for overcoming them.
Up-selling: Good sales training can teach the salesperson when to recognize and recommend additional services for the customer.

In your company, you may have an excellent estimator. That person may be spot on – including everything in your estimate that you must get paid for, but that person cannot sell a pair of shoes to a barefoot person. On the other hand, you may have a salesperson that is fabulous – they can sell four pairs of shoes to a person with a hundred pairs of shoes, but they cannot estimate properly – forgetting to add in clean up or stump grinding, etc. Reinvent the wheel! Make those two people a team. It takes talent for both selling and estimating, and the goal is to GET THE JOB! Never forget that sales is an integral part of your team. Without a good sales person, you do not have a team.

Keep in mind that salespeople are a direct reflection of your company. Good sales training is vital to the success of your sales team. Your salespersons must be skilled in both industry knowledge and people skills. It is important for them to be authentic in establishing credibility. This will help them gain relevant information about the buyer’s objectives, provide a useful proposal, and, hopefully, create customer loyalty.

There are general sales training opportunities out there such as Dale Carnegie, but ArboRisk has a light training opportunity with the ArboRisk Thrive Program which is geared more for the arborist. In the future, Streamside Green/Victorian Gardens will be offering in-depth sales and estimating webinars geared for the Arborist. The training will be separate webinars, one on sales and a separate webinar on estimating. Click here to receive email updates on upcoming Streamside Green/Victorian Gardens webinars for arborists.

Written by: Margaret Hebert

Written by: Dawn Thierbach

4 “Knows” to a Yes!

4 “Knows” To a Yes!

“Sales Training? Ha! We don’t have time for that, we just do on-the-job sales training.”

Have you caught yourself saying that before? If not, I’m sure you’ve heard other tree care companies say that. Whether you use an outside sales training program or not, this article will give you four simple points to discuss with your team to help close more sales.

We all know the most common mistake that every sales person makes is that they talk too much and don’t spend enough time listening to the prospective customer. So at ArboRisk, we’ve come up with the 4 “Knows” to a Yes, which is a series of questions designed to help us understand our prospects better and close more sales. I personally believe, these should be taught to everyone of your team members, not only the sales people to maximize the impact on your organization.

Here are the 4 Knows that should be part of your sales training:


Know the Why – Why did the prospective customer call? Not what did they call about, but WHY. You have to dig deeper to learn the reason they want the tree work done. This can be accomplished by simply asking them “what is your vision for your yard?”. If you uncover the underlying reason for the call, your sale has just become immensely easier. Here is a full article that I wrote on this topic (The Most Important Question to Ask Your Customer).


Know your prospective customer – Was it the decision maker that called or is there another one you need to know about (spouse, business partner, village board)? Have they had professional tree work done in the past? Knowing who the prospective customer is as well as learning if they can afford your services goes a long way in determining whether or not they are a good fit for your company. Each decision maker may have a little different reason for wanting the work done, so understanding how the decision will be made is also important part of this process.


Know how you can help this customer – Knowing the strengths of your company is vital for all employees in your company to understand. When anyone from your team communicates with a prospective customer, they have the chance to continue to move the buyer along the customer journey towards a sale. They don’t have to know all of the scientific reasons and exact methods that could be used on the tree, but they should know of past examples of how your company has helped similar situations before.


Know how to say “no” – If you’ve figured out the first 3 Knows, this one should be easy. Being able to politely and professionally walk away from a job that isn’t within your scope is a skill that needs to be practiced and taught, but once mastered this skill helps eliminate wasteful bids and unprofitable or perhaps unsafe jobs. Having a few referral partners within your area that will gladly accept work that is outside your specialty is necessary for a successful walk away. I recently wrote an entire article on walking away from a job that you can read here (The Power of Walking Away).


At your next sales meeting talk about these four “Knows” and how each of your team members can begin incorporating these into their daily conversations with prospective customers. If you need additional help with your sales training, check out ArboRisk’s Sales and Marketing Package! We can help you get more of the right jobs with your ideal client immediately!