This One Question Guarantees a Sale Almost Every Time

Have you ever gone on a bid or sales call and the prospect says something like, “The boss wants some plants in here. Give us some ideas and your best price.” Or they already have a plant design in mind and just need a price.

You’re thinking, “This is a good prospect. They seem to be really interested and they know what they want.” Besides, the person you spoke with was nice and seemed excited about you providing a quote—and hopefully the plants and service too.

So, you happily comply with their request and jot down some ideas. Then you go back to your computer, write up the quote with your best price, and send it to them. Just like they asked you to do.

You imagine the prospect looking over your quote and thinking, “These are good ideas, and the price seems reasonable. Let’s give them a call and get this going.”

But, you learn you lost the sale to someone else. Or maybe worse, you don’t hear anything from the prospect after you sent the bid.

What if you had a magic question you could ask that would result in a sale almost every time?

Okay, so there’s no magic bullet and there’s no guarantee you will make a sale every time you use this question. However, I have found that when I get the answer to this question it greatly enhances the chance of the prospect choosing my company over the competition.

Let me explain:

It’s all about being seen by the prospect as a trusted advisor of plantscape design and a horticultural expert, rather than just being a salesperson or a vendor of plants and service asked to “put in a bid.”

Just like a medical doctor would not give you a prescription for your pain BEFORE diagnosing the problem, you should never give a quote without understanding on a deeper level as to WHY the prospect wants plants. To do so is malpractice.

When you understand not just what they want but, WHY a potential client wants plants, you have a much greater chance of making the sale.

When you know their “why,” you will use it to show your understanding of them and their needs. This will show up in:

  • The initial sales meeting
  • In your proposal
  • In your follow-up

Simply asking why a prospect wants plants and listening closely will instantly make you more memorable and professional in the prospect’s mind. Allowing you to gain their confidence, and hopefully their business.

How to Understand the Prospect’s “Why”

During the initial sales meeting, thank the prospect for having you out and let them know that you hope you can help them with their plantscaping needs.

During your meeting listen carefully not just for WHAT they want, but WHY they want it. If you don’t hear their why, simply ask.

Say something along the lines of: “I’m curious. What are you hoping the plants will do for you?” It’s a softer and easier way to ask, rather than just saying, “Why do you want plants?”

Vendor or Trusted Advisor?

However, once you choose to ask for their why, ask. Then shut-up. What comes out of the prospect’s mouth next is pure gold. If you interrupt here, you could derail the moment and the opportunity.

They will say something like, “Well, we just want to warm up the place and make it feel less sterile.” Let them say it. Don’t interrupt. When they are done follow-up by saying “Anything else?” Again, let them talk until they are all done.

I know, this sounds ridiculously simple. But you would be surprised at how many salespeople don’t ask this simple yet powerful question. I have been using it for years with great success and still I forget to ask it sometimes. I kick myself every time I forget to ask this question and miss a sale.

Asking specific and thought-out questions is one way to move from vendor or bidder to trusted advisor status in the client’s mind.

Think about it. How can you prescribe a solution if you don’t understand the problem, and why the prospect wants plants?

Without getting into the psychology and brain science that can explain the success of this question, just know when you are the only one that asks this question out of the three vendors they call, the prospect will feel heard and understood by YOU, and will like, trust, and remember YOU because of it.

3 Ways to Use the Prospect’s Why

  • During the sales meeting. Before you leave the meeting recap with the prospect, say something like, “Just to make sure I understand- your office feels cold and sterile, and you want the plants to add some warmth and life to the place. Is that right?” The prospect will confirm. Then say, “Great I’ll get started on the proposal and get it to you by (date), sound good?”
  • When you send the proposal. This is the opening I use in my proposals:

 (Prospect’s Name),

Thank you for contacting ABC Plant Company to meet your interior plant needs at your (JOB NAME OR LOCATION). We are excited for the opportunity to bring the (INSERT THE PROSPECT’S “WHY” HERE) [life and warmth of plants to your] (NEW OFFICE ETC.) 

  • In your follow-up: If—after you sent the proposal and made at least one phone call—you still don’t hear back from the prospect, send a follow-up email using their “why.” Here’s an example follow-up:

(Prospect’s Name),

When we spoke, you said you were looking to add plants to (NAME THEIR WHY) and to (NAME THE PROBLEM).

Do you no longer feel the plants will do this for you? Do you have some other question or concern we did not address, such as price or our capabilities?

Either way, please let me know.

Thank you,

Tipping the Scale in Your Favor

There are many nuances and variables that go into any sales call, but asking the prospect why they want plants is one way to tip the scale in your favor that makes you more professional, likable, and memorable.

Try it!

I would love to hear from you.

Please include your input in the comments below or contact me directly. What sales call tactics or questions have you found to be successful? Give the “why” question a try on your next sales call and let me know how it goes.

Kevin Urquhart has more than 25 years of experience in the interior plantscape industry, as both an employee and an owner. Kevin has developed sales, marketing, and business strategies exclusively for the interiorscape industry. Today Kevin helps other business owners grow profitable businesses with less stress. His specialties include: Sales, Profitability, Digital Marketing, SEO, Conversion Content Strategy, and Writing. Kevin’s work has appeared or been featured in local, national, and international publications including, Architectural Digest, People Magazine, and The Robb Report. Kevin can be reach by email at [email protected]

Fiberglass Planters

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