Sitting in seat 8C, flight 1757 from Philadelphia to Milwaukee, I’m making mental notes from the previous two days at MAHTS. Quite a few hot branding irons of ideas that need to find my squishy grey matter before they cool, so I can implement them when I get home, and so I can share the ideas with you.

Jody Shilan of Jody Shilan Designs and Joe Palimeno of Ledden Palimeno gave very different presentations on different subject matter during the show, but I couldn’t help but draw some parallels between some of what Jody said and some of what Joe said when it came to putting your company’s best foot forward in the marketplace.

One idea that struck me as particularly relevant and poignant was the idea that your clients very often don’t know what they’d love to have you build for them.

Whassat you say? “They called us to build them a pergola and paver walkway. They know exactly what they want us to build for them.”

But do you really know? I mean really? Maybe they’d love plantings that better compliment their home, it’s style and color scheme. Maybe a shade structure would allow them to use their yard more than they do now, during those hot summer months when the patio just bakes. But it may not even occur to them to ask. Shilan quoted an article where survey respondents had recently had landscaping work done, and many indicated that had they been presented with additional ideas to improve their landscape, they would have spent more money.

Palemino shared an anecdote from a meeting with one of his clients where she wanted to have a dead flowering crab replaced. He asked her about the tree and she went on to explain how the tree made a mess on the ground and blocked the views from some windows, at which point Joe asked “Sounds like you didn’t really like having the tree. Why do you want to replace it?” To which she replied “Uh, I guess I don’t really know. Because we’ve always had a tree there, I guess.”

YOU are the creative ones, people. And beyond that, you have the fresh eyes. Your clients may have become so accustomed to the how the exterior of their property is arranged that it simply does not occur to them that there are better ideas out there.

So what does this mean? You need to throw the kitchen sink at every client to see what sticks? Hope for an upsell?

No. But use your skills. Pay attention to what the client is telling you, or maybe more importantly, what they aren’t telling you. Be observant during the site visit. Imagine how you’d want to use the property. Initiate a discussion with them about some of the other exciting ideas you have for their property, and continue to engage them about it – before the project, during the project and after it’s been completed.

That’s how you upsell.  That’s how you distinguish yourself as a professional. That’s how you boost your revenues.

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