If you own a lawn care company, you know it’s about much more than yard work. In “The Business of Lawn Care” series, we discuss topics related to managing and growing a company in the lawn care industry. 

Sales is an important part of growing a lawn care business. This blog post will examine an essential element of selling: identifying and catering to customer motives. This skill will help you gain new customers and maintain current customers.

To some extent, we all “sell” things in our communications with colleagues, friends, and family. Any time you try to influence someone to your way of thinking, you’re essentially selling them on your idea. Whether we realize it or not many of our relationships involve sales in some way.

Professional salespeople know how to identify needs, diagnose problems, uncover solutions, and provide those solutions. By accomplishing these things, you have the opportunity to create meaningful value for your customers. Ultimately, sales is the door through which you deliver your services.

Selling begins with identifying customer’ needs. According to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, humans have five levels of need: physiological; safety; love and belonging; esteem; and self actualization. These five levels drive buying decisions.

Why do people buy? People buy to fulfill a need driven by a motivation. Motivations include pride; social acceptance; comfort and convenience; security and protection; and fear of loss or desire for gain. In the lawn care industry, common motivations include social acceptance, pride, and convenience. Motives can vary depending on the circumstance and the person, but everyone has basic motives to fulfill needs.

When a customer has a lawn care need, you have a possible sale. By identifying the need and motive, you give yourself a better chance of closing the deal. How do you identify needs and buying motives? A good place to start is by asking open-ended questions to gain information and closed-ended questions to confirm. You may have an idea of the person’s needs and motives, but the right questions will give your clarity.

Open-ended questions are those that can’t be answered with a “yes” or “no.” Asking a prospect a closed-ended question doesn’t compel them to open up to you. Rather, lead with an open-ended question such as, “Why have you asked us out here today?” or, “Tell us about your situation and how we may be able to help.” These questions signal to the customer that you’re genuinely interested in what they have to say. Then you can use closed-ended questions to confirm, such as, “So, is a green lawn your priority in this situation?” 

If a prospect says, “I want my front yard to look as good as my neighbor’s,” you can bet that person is motivated by social acceptance, and they have a need for esteem. Another comment a prospect might make is, “I want my entire yard to look better, in general.” That person is likely driven by their pride and self actualization.

Another possible comment is, “I’m interested in your services because my HOA is going to fine me if I don’t fix the dandelions.” That creates an open door for you to come in and save the day. This person’s motive is fear of loss and possibly social acceptance if they’re afraid of others finding out about the fine.

Once you’ve identified your customers’ needs and motives, how do you tailor a presentation to them? For the customer who wants their lawn to look as good as their neighbor’s, you might say something like: “We use Advanced Turf Solutions fertilizer with Armament technology. This product gets more nutrients into the plant, which provides the deepest green and best curb appeal. Your neighbors will love the way your yard looks.” You’ve just spoken to their motives for buying. Keep in mind that they are not buying the fertilizer—they’re buying the benefit they receive from it that meets their need. In this case, the benefit is the deepest green and best curb appeal. 

It’s also important to understand that needs and motives change based on circumstances. For example, people with dependents are more likely to buy life insurance than those who don’t have a family. Fear of loss is a major motive in the insurance buying process, and it meets the need for safety and security.Cars are another example of needs and motives in buying. When people buy expensive cars with all the bells and whistles, they may be motived by pride and a need for social acceptance. 

People buy lawn care services for various reasons as well. Depending on the person and their circumstances, it could be pride, social acceptance, or convenience. Ultimately, you’ll want to change the value proposition to meet the customer needs you’ve identified. 

Remember that people don’t buy features—they buy benefits. And they buy benefits based on motives in order to meet a need. The primary buying motives are pride; social acceptance; comfort and convenience; security and protection; and fear of loss or desire for gain. With these motives top of mind, you’ll be prepared to communicate the value of your company’s services to prospects and customers alike.