Ep. 003 – Persistent Pursuit: Sales Strategies For Long-Term Success

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On this episode, Chris Psencik from McFarlin Stanford joins us to discuss how successful landscaping companies plan ahead for their workload and identify opportunities to fill gaps in their schedule. We also talk about the importance of customer focus, communication, and persistence when securing jobs, as well as exploring different opportunities to create balance for the labor force, and your cash flow. We’ll also show you how to emphasize attention to detail and customer-oriented approaches in executing successful projects. Join us as we dive into the science and strategies behind planning projects and learn winning sales tactics.


Great Sales Takes Science & Planning.

Key Moments:

[02:25] How Chris and I started together in the Green Industry

[07:08] Planning ahead for future opportunities and potential sales gaps

[13:19] Ebbs and flows and outside the box opportunities

[16:54] Putting yourself in the right circles to land big fish

[21:51] Using science and horticulture for annual planning

[26:03] The key is asking good questions

[31:54] Sales success is achieved through relationships, communication, and discipline

[27:43] Creating Pre-built communication plans for different types of clients and team members

[32:03] Being proactive and anticipating clients' needs builds trust


  1. What are some key strategies for successful sales in the landscaping industry?
  2. How can a landscaping company balance their labor force during low seasons?
  3. How important is communication with potential customers?
  4. What should be the focus when undertaking a new or big project?
  5. What are some common mistakes made by landscapers when dealing with potential customers?
  6. How do you pursue a potential opportunity and overcome initial rejection?
  7. What tactics should be considered when planning a landscaping project?
  8. What are some key factors in successful sales coaching?
  9. How important is patience in the landscaping sales?
  10. How can a landscaping company ensure satisfied clients?
Episode Transcript
Tommy Cole: [00:00:00] Welcome to another episode of Roots of Success Podcasts. I'm your host, Tommy Cole, and today we have Chris Psencik, partner and vice president of McFarlin Stanford. Today we'll be Talking on everything about sales, sales, forecasting, pipelines to dealing with seasonality and closing the big deal.

At the end of the day, it's all about relationships and consistency. It's gonna be a great episode. Let's get into it.

John: The Roots of Success podcast is for the landscape professional who's looking to up their game. We're not talking lawns or grass here. We're talking about people, process, and profits. The things deep within the business that need focus to scale a successful company from hiring the right people and managing your team to improving your operations and mastering your finances.

We've got a brain trust of experts to help you nurture the roots of a successful business and grow to the next level. This is The Roots of Success.

Tommy Cole: This is great. This is gonna be awesome. Chris and I have got a lot of history. Back in the day. I'll just point this out [00:01:00] and I'm going to sort of rip the bandaid off. Chris is a wooer and, and Tommy is not a wooer and so this is gonna be great stuff. If you don't know what a wooer is, wooer is a winning others over, and that is basically the definition of a salesperson, right, Chris?

Chris Psencik: Yeah. And I would say I'll, I'll add to that. My wife says, you're my work wife when it comes to our day-to-day lives. So so this, this should be a lot of fun.

Tommy Cole: This is gonna be great. Okay, Chris, so your background. So you got a hort degree out of that maroon school in central Texas. you got a Hort degree and then you went to work for some.

Really good companies to get sort of the baseline of what you are today. Give us some history.

Chris Psencik: Yeah, so I mean, high level, not, not too dissimilar from you and, and a lot of the other people who are probably listening to us today. I started mowing grass when I was a young kid. Supported myself all the way through high school, all the way through college doing that. Went to school to, to study landscape architecture and horticulture.

Graduated the landscape design [00:02:00] horticulture from Texas A&M and really started cutting my teeth straight outta school. Working for some, some big players some large commercial outfits, Tommy, you and I, I guess we shared a desk back in 2008 years

Tommy Cole: shared a, we shared an office that, and I think our desks were like, like four feet apart. I think we had 1, 2, 3, 4, I think we had five people in an office like 10 by 10.

Chris Psencik: Yeah, that was supposed to be for one person. I think we, we sat on top of each other in there, but yeah, you and I, I'll never forget, we started within five days of each other back in 2008, and we, we've worked together ever since. I. Got to spend some time working in the high-end residential sector.

And really that's where I, I cut my teeth in the sales market and went from production operations and installation, project management into sales and really learned a, a ton along the way. And so now I get the privilege of, of getting work with peer groups and, and helping to facilitate peer groups.

Like Tommy said, I oversee all the recruiting efforts for our team in [00:03:00] Dallas, that that recruits for the green industry. And help teach other small business owners how to be successful doing sales in the green industry. And so it's a lot of fun and I enjoy working with you and, and everybody else out there that's looking to grow their business.

Tommy Cole: Good stuff. So let's just jump right into it. I got a lot of stuff. I mean, I, I think everyone that's out there wants to know more about sales closing the deal. How, how do you manage it? And, and all of that. You, you did a great job. We worked together for, you know, eight, nine years. You know, I'm the ops guy, you're the sales guy.

We're different, but we're so similar in a lot of ways. Let's, let's talk about this thing called sales Pipeline. give us a description of.

Of what that is and how that makes your sales team successful for your business.


Chris Psencik: yeah, I mean, high level. What I always like to say is it's your roadmap for how you're gonna get to. Of where you need to go, right? Like, so it's, it's painting the picture of where you're at today.

What do we have on the horizon and where are the holes? [00:04:00] And ultimately we wanna identify the holes cause those are the challenges we have to solve.

But knowing where we're at today is gonna help us really know what the focus is and where we need to focus if we're gonna be successful as we move into the sales season. So when I'm thinking of pipeline, I'm not just thinking of, you know, that simple Excel spreadsheet or HubSpot or whatever that has a list of names on it.

You know, I want to know strategically what's in that pipeline and how does it relate to my seasonality, my workflow, my general work effort that I've gotta put out there and commit with my team.

Tommy Cole: How do you manage that? Is that a software thing? when you've, when you're talking pipeline management, what is that? What is that?

Chris Psencik: I think a lot of times people can get bogged down in the details specifically of like, well, I need to have this, I have Salesforce or that, or, you know on what, what I always try and teach to is you need to focus on whatever you have, it's what you do with it. Right. I've seen a lot of people with.

Very robust sales systems and sales CRMs.

But if you're not utilizing the [00:05:00] software or the spreadsheet or the technology then ultimately it's not worth the paper it's written on, right? Like ultimately it's it's data in, data out, right? Garbage in, garbage out. So whatever your sales system is, you know, whether that be it, Excel, be it Aspire, be it LMN ultimately what we're trying to drive is you have to be able to use it and use it effectively.

Means I have to collect the data in there. It's not meant to just add time to your schedule and add time to your day. It's meant to, to drop little clues along the way. And, you know, kinda like Marty and I always say in our sales boot camps, you know, success leaves clues sales leave clues, you know, the jobs you win, leave clues, the jobs you lose, leave clues.

So spending time kind of digesting and dissecting that, teasing that out and using that c r m function. Is what's gonna ultimately help you be successful long term. And I always tell people when I'm looking at sales pipelines yeah, I love the wins, but ultimately it's the jobs you lose that really tell me the most about how successful your sales program is and what and why and [00:06:00] where you need to go.

Tommy Cole: Yeah, it's, it's, it's like managing a project along the way, right? So no different than managing the sales. So you're, you're looking at all kinds of data.

And that way you can, you can move forward into what we call sales forecasting. Right. You're really good at that. Tell me what forecasting is one, and then two, tell me what that means for your business.


Chris Psencik: Yeah, so like right now, le let's just talk today, you know, so we're sitting here at the early onset of spring, so everybody's looking at probably a full backlog, you know, so when I'm talking sales forecasting on our accountability calls in our peer groups, you know, what I'm really looking at right now is, you know, A good sales organization right now, let's just say your residential sales organization, a good sales organization right now, residential, should have three to six weeks already on the schedule booked solid confirmed production's handed off lock loaded, ready to go.

Right? So thinking through what six weeks gets you that, that gets me through spring. You [00:07:00] know, next level sales organizations are saying, well, we're not just. Through May, but we're already looking at June, July, August, right? And so a successful sales team right now is already thinking through my holes for June, July, August, what work do I have lined up?

What are my big jobs that are there? Where are my holes? Where are my variables? Where are those things that I need to be looking for? Opportunities that could be targeted or slotted into those gaps to keep my teams, my crews, and my production effective out in the field. You know, and then when we are thinking through backlog, you know, you should always be thinking through from a forecasting standpoint, like, what's the house or what's the project that they just put a construction fence up that they still need to do the demo, which tells me right there, this becomes an opportunity for me in what, 10 months, 12 months,

Tommy Cole: 12 months a year. Yep.

Chris Psencik: You know, so, so those are the ones where, you know, I, I always teach people that you gotta have your head on a swivel when that construction fence goes up, you're already too late to the game. You know, who's the architect, who's the [00:08:00] landscape architect? Who's the engineer who pulled the permit? You know these are our backlog opportunities that are creating future work potential.

Probably for 2024, maybe for 2025, you know, and so that's where we always talk about just self-awareness of that forecast and, and kind of where your work is lining up.

Tommy Cole: Chris, you mentioned sales team. Okay. Not everyone's gonna have a sales team that's listening to this right now, right? Not everyone's gonna have a sales manager like you were. But most people will have a salesperson, one person can that one, person do forecasting and pipeline management?

Chris Psencik: Absolutely. And I will tell you, successful salespeople are looking at this on the daily, right? So I can tell you when I was the only salesperson working on behalf of, you know, my team what I would tell you is I was looking at where was I putting out proposals? Where was I getting hits on the proposals that I was submitting?

You know, was I submitting three jobs before I ever got feedback on the first one? [00:09:00] You know, I was looking for little and tangible clues. In the estimating process to understand what type of feedback I'm getting, because that tells me where I'm spending my time and if I'm spending it effectively, you know, am I going on meeting after meeting, after meeting and getting no hits?

If so, why am I getting no hits? You know, these are all questions that you as a sales individual can kind of start to ask yourself as you're kind of teasing out your day and figuring out where, where am I spending my time, and am I spending it most effectively?


Tommy Cole: Yeah, good point. Communication with the client as you're, as you're doing sales. I know you're really good at that. I, I feel like one of your strong points was always, never, ever giving up and I don't care if the client hasn't returned to call in six months.

Chris is still hammering it out hardcore. Tell me some more about that. gimme a tip or a little trick for our audience here of never, ever giving up.


Chris Psencik: Yeah, I mean, for me, persistence is, is everything, right? And, and the way I always try and explain [00:10:00] it is, As soon as I've met that customer or I've presented a proposal, I have time invested in that opportunity. Right. So let's just say project A comes to me, says they need something. Let's just say in this instance, I put a design together, I put a proposal together, I present that, and they say, we're not ready to do anything.

Okay, great. I already have it ready to go. It's locked and loaded. It's sitting there. Right. So the question is, is what? Do you have intent to maybe do this in the future? Yeah, now's just really not the time. You know, it's, you know, costs are going up, inflation's going up right now. I, a lot of people are saying that they're just wanting to put things on hold.

You know, I say that's great. Is it gonna be like this for forever? No, it's not. Right. Things will eventually come back around. Economy shift. I've been through recessions, I've seen this happen, you know, so persistence is, is just saying, well, when will be a great time for me to follow up with you? You know, and just setting that schedule, putting it in my calendar.

Changing it on my crm, changing it on my spreadsheet setting that [00:11:00] date and that reminder to follow up with them again. You know, and I always, I say this jokingly, but to me, a project is never dead until either the customer has died they've moved away, and even if they've moved away, chances are somebody else is buying the house.

I still have a, an active design and a proposal that I could absolutely go and talk to them about, right? There's still concerns on that site that somebody identified that I've already provided solutions for. Other questions. All we ask, you know, if, if the project got installed, Did they install my design or did they install somebody else's design?

Did they install just a front yard and I proposed a front and a back. You know, there's always little things that'll stand out where I can say, you know, miss so-and-so, there's, there's some opportunities in the backyard that we identified some challenges. I'd love to visit with you and just one talk about it to make you aware, and then two, offer you some opportunities to, maybe we can improve it or enhance it, and today may not be the day and that's okay.

But maybe next year's a better time, you know, and if next year's a better time, that's fine. You know, because I know in the back of my head, I'm gonna have to fill backlog and schedule next year, [00:12:00] just like I'm filling right now. So whether you do the work, my, my perspective is whether I do the work today or I do the work in two years, the work still needs to get done.

And if that's still an opportunity sitting on my queue that's still one more phone call I can make. That's still one more. Estimate, I don't have to prepare. That's one more design I don't have to prepare. That's one more thing that is sitting there. That's just a couple touchpoints every now and then that you can keep that alive active opportunity.

I think the longest I've stuck with something was about five years, and that was, you know, just waiting.

Honestly, it was about the recession and it was waiting for the economy to turn, which took about three years, you know, so Patience will provide opportunities in the future.


Tommy Cole: Well, I think it's consistency more than anything else. that is something that, that made you successful. Can you tell me, can sales forecasting help alleviate problems with the whole seasonal, weather and workforce load? Tell me more about that.

Chris Psencik: Yeah. So good example. I would [00:13:00] say, Well, Tommy, we'll go back to some of our history. You know, when we first started working together, we were 100% high end residential. What do we know about high end residential in the state of Texas? You know, you kind of go like this and then you go, you go like this for March, April, may, and then it goes like this June, July, August, and then it comes back up here September, October, November, right?

What does that mean for our labor force? It means our labor goes like this as well. So what's the number one challenge we saw? The challenge we saw was we couldn't teach quality. We couldn't train two expectations. We couldn't afford to pay people consistent salaries above market. With labor that ebbed and flowed like that.

So it forced us to look outside the box. It forced us to start looking at other opportunities to fill the void.

And so as I started to look at the forecasting of what that work looked like, jobs that we were closing, when those jobs were closing it, it told me several things, you know, and in the northern market you see this in snow, in, you know, up north where it snows, you may say.

We can do pavers when it's cold and snowy. We can [00:14:00] do other hardscape functions when it's cold and wet. You know, we can't landscape, we may not be able to do grading, but we can certainly do some hardscape and concrete and things like that. You know, in the south we said we can landscape 13 months a year.

What gets landscaped in June, July and August and you know, through some diving into what the market provides us, what we found was commercial offered us some solutions in the low seasons. You know, we found that the commercial cycle would start a job at the beginning of the calendar year, which means they were either wrapping up a job in December, January, February, trying to close it out and we could get in that slot or institutional work was.

Open June, July, August because schools letting out, universities are letting out. So they're trying to ram in some landscape projects, you know? But we started to find those opportunities in the commercial sector that helped create that flat line balance that we were looking for from a labor perspective, you know?

And as you start to solve those now you can start back filling in some of the gaps and the holes that you're [00:15:00] seeing on your schedule, which is so much easier than, you know, am I gonna land a $250,000 residential job in August in Texas? Well, no, I'm not. It's, it's 150 degrees here, right? Like the last thing I wanna do is put in grass and, and turf and bushes.

But so is there opportunities to do that somewhere else? There is, you know, and it's just exploring what that looks like.

Tommy Cole: Good point. Yeah, we got into that little niche of the higher end commercial where you were bidding that stuff, 12 to 24 months in advance. Wouldn't you agree? And. The consistency of meeting with the general contractor, the consistency of meeting with the architect, you were great at that.

Which leads me to my next one, you know, where I'm going with this. One of the largest commercial projects that you sold, which was a beauty basically right outside your door give us a snapshot of what that was to land that big fish. And the uphill battle you faced to, to land that job.

Chris Psencik: Yeah, so this was a, this was a fun job. We had the privilege of [00:16:00] doing a large commercial project here in Dallas, private project.

And I will tell you it was a job that originally originated, probably back in 2008, 2009 when I became aware of it. And then it, you know, over the course of time it was a, a battle of will to figure out who was going to be involved in this project, who was going to be funding the project.

Where was the money coming from? Where was the designs coming from , and I'll never forget sitting there and seeing an article in the Wall Street Journal that showed President Bush and his wife walking with the landscape architect in DC and it turns out it was, it was a sub print and I, I think I probably still have the article today, but in the sub print it mentioned who the landscape architect was of record that was gonna be on this job.

And alarm bells go off and immediately I'm like, there it is.

Tommy Cole: We gotta get that one right?

Chris Psencik: Yeah. And I, and I knew it was a potential opportunity that I, I was personally [00:17:00] invested, that I wanted to see happen. And then it just became a matter of starting to track it down. You know, I, I made trips out to the East coast to go meet with them personally.

Did they have any interest in meeting with me? Absolutely not. Did I start to put myself into circles that they ran in, I a hundred percent did?

but it was a battle of will to get in front of him one, and then it was starting to figure out the web and networks that we had, you know, and at that time residential company doing, trying to get into the commercial sector.

I will tell you it was an uphill battle because we had no business being there. I mean, Tommy, you were there. You remember it. We, we had no business being there. But it was starting to show how, how can we show them what we can do? You know, we, we do good work, we do quality work. We're about customer service, we're about the experience.

We're about creating lovable landscapes that people want to be a part of. And, and so we started figuring out how we connect those dots. And ultimately what we found was if you follow where things originate, you can back into where they come from, right. And. This is that extra step. I try and teach salespeople that it's [00:18:00] like an investigation.

You just keep peeling back the layers and eventually you're gonna get to the heart of it and figure it out. And then it's starting to connect the pieces and build over the course of time. And exciting part was, is as it started to come together, what we found was is man, a lot of the people we know in Dallas are the people paying for this job, you know, and knowing that they're paying for this job.

We can, we can do something with that. Right? And I'll never forget going to the interview and them saying, you have no business being here and saying, no, we abso absolutely do. And the reason why I know that is because the people that are writing your checks are the same people that asked us to be here.

And, you know, and, and it's a different discussion when you have that, you know, and the, the confidence that comes with knowing that we can execute. You know, I was fortunate Tommy, to have you as the best project manager I've ever worked with, executing on my behalf. Right? So knowing that and being able to walk into a meeting gives you a lot of confidence as a salesperson of like, I absolutely know we can do this work and let me tell you about how we've done this before and how we know we can do this again [00:19:00] in the future.

And then being able to provide that level of service and quality to them. Now fast forward, where did that go? Three, four years later, we land the job, the job is successful. We, we create some incredible relationships along the way that springboards into a whole commercial sector that allows us to solve that challenge that we saw earlier of creating that flat line.

Of sales opportunities in a 12 month cycle in Texas, right? And so that allows us to start pushing that up. So now I can increase volume in commercial, I can increase volume in residential. And the exciting part is, is as you start to increase both, what happens is, you know, the rev, the revenue starts to climb with it.

The profitability starts to climb with that, the tenure with our employees starts to climb with that, you know, and, and ultimately, It wasn't about selling more work, it was about creating opportunities for our team. And that's always what I try and relate it back to when I'm working with sales individuals and sales team members, is it's not about you.

It's not about the sales process. It's about creating production opportunities for team members that can grow lives and careers within our [00:20:00] organization. And so that's always the fun part that I try and relate it back to from a sales perspective in landscaping.

Tommy Cole: Yeah, that was good. You know, the ups and downs of the Dallas season, it's always like, Q1 and Q3 were like, total hell, q2, Q4 were like, woo, sounds good. And the, you know, we had some seasons that it leveled out. The idea was instead of making it so dramatic with our team, especially our, our field staff. That was, amazing. And we had long tenured guys that really wanted to do great work. That was sort of my motivation, probably your motivation to keep those guys going, to build their careers and to fulfill their needs to their family.


Tommy Cole: Let's talk about a couple more things. One is closing the deal. Okay, so you're a sales guy. Give me a tip or two about getting that to the finish line.

What's, what's something that gets them over the edge a little bit and goes, [00:21:00] yeah, let's rock and roll with this.

Chris Psencik: Yeah. So it's, it's funny you say this, and I, I always, where I always try and relate it back to is I, I hate, I hate the car salesman approach. I hate nothing. Is nails on a chalk war for me? Then, you know, hey, Ms. Jones, or are you ready to make a decision on this? Do you feel like you're ready? Are you gonna, ma are you gonna move forward with this job?

And just nag, nag, nag, like, Drives me crazy. Nobody wants to hire that guy, right? So I'm, I've always been of the approach of the consultative sale. The consultative sale to me is I'm here to solve a problem for you. My challenge is to solve whatever your need is and put you in a position to feel happy with what the end result is.

Create your vision for what the end product it looks gonna look like. And then ultimately when we walk away, you're like, that's the most amazing experience I've ever had. I absolutely will never call or think of anybody else, right? So how do I do that? Me personally, my, my tactic is simple. I, I use science, I use horticulture.

I mean my, I have a bachelor's of science in horticulture, and [00:22:00] so what do I like to use? I like to use the project to tell me what needs to happen.

Tommy Cole: Okay.

Chris Psencik: know, we're sitting here in May. What do I know? I know right now that it's about to get really hot. I know if I've got a project, I know I don't wanna be installing it in July and August.

So I'm letting the customer know right now. Hey, Ms. Jones, you know, we are getting close to. Needing to make some decisions. I know you guys have a lot you're working through. I'm just gonna tell you a little bit about where we're at currently. We've got a backlog of about four, four to five weeks that's gonna put us in May or June.

You know, I would love to avoid having to put grass in in July and August. You know, that's gonna be better for your end product if you choose to move forward, you know? But if it's possible, you know, Let's see how we can avoid that window. Because I wanna do what's right by the plant material because I'll be more successful getting this in before the heat of summer where we can get establishment rather than putting this in in August where I'm gonna just be battling just to get enough water on the, on the site.

Right. You know, is that something you'd be open to discussing? Right. So that's one way. Number two would be, you know, what does the site present to you? You know, [00:23:00] we're getting close. You're framed out the house, you've got your sidewalks in. I see. They finished excavation and grading. I feel like they are, it looks like they've already backfilled all the curbs we're at plus or minus an H of an inch, which means we're in a position now that we could move forward with the landscape comfortably knowing that we could execute.

And get you closer to a move-in date and that final Co that you're gonna need to move into this property. But it's gonna take us about six weeks to complete the insulation. Back up. That puts us into a window probably about right now. So to avoid putting you in those awkward situations, I'd love to see if we can have a conversation to get you ahead of that.

You see how I'm not making it about me, I'm making it about the customer. I'm trying to solve a need with this particular client, utilizing either what the construction phase is, what the seasonality is, what the horticultural challenges are. To my advantage because I'm trying to be a consultative support system for him, not just asking to sell him work.

Nobody wants to sell work to the guy that's just begging for it, you know, it just, it just exudes you don't have [00:24:00] confidence, right? So use the challenges that the site produces, is what I like to do.


Tommy Cole: tell me something about the presentation of your estimate or proposal We figured out that, was massive. And when I say presentation, it's, there's a lot of things in factor that included the presentation. Right. Give us a, give us a few of those things that you, you've learned along the way of, you know, Branding and all those things and how you present yourself in the sales, right?

Like you got, you got one shot to make it. Tell me about that.

Chris Psencik: So I'll tell you, the first thing I always do is my research. You know, I, I don't ever want to go present a proposal without knowing exactly who and what I'm presenting to. Couple examples.

If I'm presenting to a lawyer, I'm gonna make sure my qualifications exclusions are airtight, right?

And I, I'm gonna make some just general stereotypes. If I'm presenting to an engineer I'm probably gonna talk in my presentation a lot about the details about what and how I'm gonna build something and why I'm building [00:25:00] something the way I am, you know, if it's a drainage, I'm gonna explain why I'm gonna do the drains the way I'm gonna do 'em.

If I'm talking to. An interior designer or an architect, or somebody in the creative space. I'm gonna talk about the vision. I'm gonna talk about the feel, I'm gonna talk about the textures. I'm gonna talk about the colors and the types of plants that we're using, and the emotion that's involved with why I'm making the decisions I'm making in that design and sales process.

Why do I do all that? I'm doing that because I'm trying to identify. With my customer and present to 'em exactly what it is I know is important to them.

Right? Like, you know, I know my wife is imp. She cares about the organic nature of the lifestyle and the landscape. Why? Because she's a chiropractic neurologist and that's what's important to her.

But knowing that before I walk into the presentation, I. I know I can present something that's gonna, she's gonna relate more to versus me. You know, I think far too often as a young design professional, Tommy, you've done it. I've done it. Straight off the boat. What do you do? You're telling 'em exactly what the landscape needs to be and why it needs to be that [00:26:00] way, and you design it this way because that's the way it's supposed to be done.

Right? And we all know that. Yeah. Can, you can sell jobs that way, but is that necessarily solving the need and the challenge for the customer? Maybe for some, but I would say it's not for all right. So I always relate it back to that you, you hired me for a reason. It's to, it's to create your vision and bring that to life.

Now, I may help you create what that vision looks like or you may have it and I'm just gonna put it in the ground. But either way, I'm trying to identify what that is with the customer and then lead them down that path and helping answer those questions. You know? So I would say as a young professional, that's the biggest thing is just, is learning that lesson.

I will say that that comes with experience of learning. And being in the system and, and doing it over and over and over and, and seeing that over and over. So that's one thing. You mentioned presentation opportunities. I personally have always been more details to me are better. You know, I, I, I'm of the mindset of my job is to educate you as a customer.

And if I'm educating you as a customer, if I'm, if I'm competing against three other companies if I'm doing my job and educating you as a customer, you're gonna ask really good questions. [00:27:00] You're gonna ask good questions of me, and you're gonna ask good questions of my competitors.

And my hope is, is they'll all be able to answer those and the person that answers them most effectively and most thoroughly is gonna be the person that gets the job.

And my hope is in my sales process, you're gonna feel so confident with the way I've been able to present my information and help educate you along the way. That it's a no-brainer and you're going, man, I'm absolutely, I mean, that kid knows way more than any person we spoke with. Why would I go any other direction?

Right. Oh my God. He actually charges three times as much. That's okay. You know? That's fine.


Tommy Cole: So, I love this word. We've discussed this in some of our groups. The word specificity. And I like that because let's just, let's just be real honest salesperson. Be like, sounds good. They wrap up the, the presentation and it's over.

Chris Psencik: Yep.

Tommy Cole: I'll get back into you. Let me know how it goes.

Type thing. I thought that was okay in a young career. I'm like, that's fine. That's the way we, but we didn't learn it that way. Right. I it. And so tell me [00:28:00] about, Before you leave that client, what happens? And then what happens there on after to try to close the deal or communicate with the client?

Chris Psencik: Yeah. Num number one rule of sales. I think I, I stole that from Dale Carnegie's how to Win Friends and Influence People. You Never Leave

Tommy Cole: you actually, Chris, you actually borrowed it. That's what I

Chris Psencik: Borrowed it.

Tommy Cole: Borrowed it with the intention of not giving it back. But I think you borrowed it, right?

Chris Psencik: Yeah. You know, it's, it's, you always have to leave a person with the next step, right? And so it, it doesn't matter if it's my kids, my wife a sales opportunity or somebody in my office.

You know, like if I'm meeting with you and there's something we're discussing, you know, and there's a next step. The next step is always, well, great. Can we meet? Friday at five, would the afternoon work for you? Yeah, Friday at five looks good for me. Okay, good. What am I doing? That specificity, I've left the customer with the expectation of what the next step is.

So there's no gray area as to what they [00:29:00] can expect next, right? Like they know, oh, we're gonna meet Friday at five to discuss what's gonna happen. I've set a deadline for myself on what next steps look like. Okay, I have to have this done Friday by five, which means do I have time to get this complete?

And if so, I'm gonna knock it out. And if I don't, I'm gonna figure out a way to get it done because I've told the customer a deadline and their expectation is I'm gonna be there and the last thing I'm gonna do is call them and change the date. And then three, I'm starting to set the precedent of, you know, what I say I'm gonna do, I'm gonna do, and two, I'm gonna deliver on those results.

And when we get there my hope is is. I'm probably gonna out speed my competitors, right? So my goal is if I can do it Friday by five, is it possible I can knock it out by Thursday and say, miss, miss so-and-so, I was able actually to get this done sooner. If you're available, I'm happy to meet with you.

If not, we're still good for Friday at five. You know, what am I doing? I'm showing 'em a sense of urgency that, that helps 'em go, wow, okay. They're serious about this. I think there is a, there's, there's stuff here, right? But that specificity of leaving the next step is absolutely critical, [00:30:00] right? My favorite thing to do in the sales process is after I present something, I set the meeting right there.

And then not only to do it, I set the calendar reminder, I include them on the calendar reminder and I email it out. Right. So it's on their calendar. There's no reason that they're gonna forget it cuz everybody uses a cell phone for calendars now. Right. And it's on my calendar. So there's, it's clear, clearly defined exactly what we're looking for and what the expectation is.

Tommy Cole: The, the cool part that I like about that is I bet you that client is extremely impressed going, oh my God, now I know the next step. And it's just not out there. In Wonderland if I'm gonna see that person or when they're gonna reach out or when my deadline is right.

Chris Psencik: Well, the only thing I'd add to that is Tommy, how many times have you been in a presentation where the customer goes, you know, I reached out to five landscapers. I haven't, I, I met with three and I never heard back from 'em. Well, chances are they plan on calling you back. They just haven't set a timeline on their schedule that aligns with yours and they just haven't communicated it.

Right. So what, that's [00:31:00] my sales pitch. Like, that's, that's my angle. Like, okay, great.

That tells me we're in a game of speed, which means I'm gonna outpace and out, you know, go faster than my competitors because, The first one to the market is the one that's gonna win nine times out of 10. If you're the first one that presents that proposal and you're the responsive person that's overcommunicating, your odds of winning go up exponentially.

And we see that time and time again. You know? And so don't be the guy that's, that's just leaving your customer hanging. No, nobody wants to be in that position as a customer. And then as a salesperson, don't expect to get the sale if you're not gonna do that.


Tommy Cole: Right. Get it. So Chris, we live in a unique, world and economy that's going on, right?

What are you seeing now as you're coaching people, as you're running peer groups and you're that sales hat on right now.

What have they got to be doing now in this this sort of funky world?

Chris Psencik: so what are we seeing now? We're seeing people actually have to get back to what sales traditional sales looks like. [00:32:00] What does it mean it's managing relationships? It's consistency of communication.

It's discipline in how you're presenting proposals and what you're presenting. It's understanding You're not gonna win every job, you know?

And that's okay. , because I don't, my goal is not to win every job. My job is to, to win as many as I can for as high a profitability margin as I can. So how do you do that? You're doing it through relationship building, you're doing it through communication. You're doing it through quality and consistency.

The customer that's winning right now is not the one that's just sitting there waiting for the phone to ring. The one that's winning right now is the one that is still getting inbound calls because they're still proactively going after opportunities and filling their books, which is leading to more opportunities and filling the books even beyond that.

A lot of our coaching right now is, is teaching sales basics 1 0 1 of, of what it means to build relationships and network and and utilize those relationships because . I see a lot of people presenting a lot of proposals now and not just winning every job.

And, and that's okay. And that, you know, we've been doing sales for a [00:33:00] long, long time and it, it, it hasn't been order taking like this for most of my career. I will tell you that the last two and a half years have been a gift. And for those of you who took advantage, kudos, you know but yes, I would say right now it's, it's a hundred percent you need to be out there digging, focusing. On the relationship, the customer service, the quality and the deliverables. And the execution.

Tommy Cole: Yeah, I would, I would totally agree with you. You know how your proposal looks. Are you on time? Did you set the appointment in advance? Those little nuggets set you apart from 90% of other companies.

Chris Psencik: Mm-hmm.

Tommy Cole: All right. Awesome stuff, man. I have like pages of notes here that you've provided here.

I wanna share some of these things. These are, these are just great stuff, sales, pipeline management. It's basically like a roadmap of where you want to go, right? It projects out into the future. Forecasting out into the future, is that three weeks or was that three months, or was that, Three years.

Your presentation. To the [00:34:00] client. Do your research right? Get to know them, understand what they are all about. I love that. Investigate peeling back the layers of the project or understanding that client. Great stuff. The consultative sale solving a problem for that client.

Gosh, that is the number one reasons why they want landscape or hardscape, right? My backyard looks like crap.

Chris Psencik: yep.

Tommy Cole: Yeah. Or I have this drainage issue, or I have an issue where I can't go grass in here. I don't have anything to entertain my kids. They're driving me crazy. I entertain people all the time.

Great. We can help you out. I got two more.

Leave the person with the next step. Right. Before you walk away. Figure out the next step. Awesome. In a funky economy, keep the relationships. That's what gets you through. You and I are both, were in that 09 nasty recession, and I'll agree with you a hundred percent relationships is what kept us going.

Chris Psencik: Yep. It's all about people and it's all [00:35:00] about those relationships. And I'll tell you, if you're spending the time and investing the energy, In building those relationships. You know, I mean, Tommy, you and I, we've been working with the same people for many, many, many years, and there's a reason why we've been successful doing that.

And, and I'll tell you, it's through that relationship building and that customer service is, is really what we're trying to deliver.

Tommy Cole: Yeah. Even the ops guy can do relationships. Right.

Chris Psencik: Yep. Yeah. In fact, I almost say sometimes they're more important than anything. So.

Tommy Cole: so true. It's a team effort, right? At the end of the day. Chris, it was so great to have you on the on the show. We've been looking forward to this. I am positive we'll have more coming up in the future where we can dive way more into like the details of sales, but wanted to provide an overview of everything and leave you with a few nuggets.

It was great to have you on board and, and really appreciate it.

Chris Psencik: Yeah, man, it's been a lot of fun. I appreciate you having me and looking forward to doing it again.

Tommy Cole: Awesome. Thank you.

Chris Psencik: Alright, man, take it easy.

John: Ready to take the next step? Download our free Profitability Scorecard to quickly create your own [00:36:00] baseline financial assessment and uncover the fastest ways to improve your business. Just go to McFarlinStanford.com/scorecard to get yours today To learn more about McFarlin Stanford our best in class peer groups and other services go to our website at McFarlinStanford.com And don't forget to follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram. See you next time on the Roots of Success.