In this episode, Ari Greenbaum interviews Stephen Norton from Tip Top Tree Pros in Chicago as they discuss the importance of doing the right thing for your clients, why it matters, and how it can impact your sales process.
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Ari: Welcome to the X Factor: A Home Pro Sales podcast is a podcast about all things sales to help home improvement pros generate high-quality leads, and close more deals.
I’m your host, Ari Greenbaum and in this podcast, we’ll talk about different tactics, tips, and resources to help you grow your business while interviewing experts in the industry. Before we get into the topic for today, just a little housekeeping. As always, if you could rate us on Apple podcast, that little purple icon and give us a five-star rating, leave a review and let us know you’re enjoying the podcast. We love the feedback.
Today, we’re going to focus our conversation on a very interesting topic, what it means to do the right thing. I know that is a very broad-based topic, but it is going to be a perfect one for who we have as a guest today. Let me introduce you to our guest and tell you a little bit about him, but I’ll allow him to introduce himself too. But Stephen Norton is with Tip Top Tree Pros out of the Chicago suburb area. He is exceptional in converting leads into closed deals at a very high rate and is also a valued conXpros partner. That’s why we are having this awareness of his success and what he’s doing. But I don’t want to steal any thunder. I want to allow you, Stephen, to introduce yourself. Give a little bit of your background so that the listeners understand where you’re coming from, and we’ll go from there.
Stephen: Okay, well, thank you for having me here. I appreciate it. I have a background going back decades in landscaping and landscape maintenance. I got out of that by the time I got married, so I needed to make some money and started doing mortgages. I did that for quite a while and the house flips then and then just recently got back into the contractor field and have been doing tree services, like tree trimming.
Ari: This is again, pretty recent as far as what you have told me. It’s only been in the past couple of months that this thing has really got launched.
For our listeners, there’s a reason I’m having Stephen on as a guest. Yes, most people say, Well, he’s only been in business a month, how could you have could have so much info? But Stephen has had unbelievable success in terms of conversion on leads and building his new business. But it’s not just based on that.
It’s from obviously years of experience in terms of sales, and what he’s been doing and applying what he does in this aspect. So I felt a perfect opportunity to interview you and pick your brain. It’s all for our listeners so they can understand what it is to be successful. And how do they close more deals? Can they pick up an idea from you? Or multiple ideas. That’s really what it’s all about. And to have that kind of success with the kind of closing rate you’re having so quickly, what would you say is fueling the success?
Stephen: Well, I don’t think anything about me special, I’m not calling it a success. I did experience I consider it a gift from God, I give him the glory for everything I’m able to accomplish. But in the nuts and bolts of it, I think a big portion is just getting back to people right away. The leads come through and I get both on email and cell phone, so I get an email and also a text message pops up. With that lead, I try it and get right on it. Because even though it’s an exclusively that I’m buying, He’s not calling to help me.
They’re out there shopping, looking at other sources on Google or other places to find tree people. And I want to jump in there and be the first guy on his mind. When he’s talking about trees, a lot of people they’re gonna get their five quotes or whatever and those are harder to sell. But some people don’t want to be bothered with multiple meetings, and everything is gotta get a tree knocked over in the yard that they need in depth. So I take care of those. And they know they want to do business.
Ari: Speed the lead is super important. Especially from an immediate stage of starting a business and starting to work with leads understanding the response to that customer is paramount.
If we’re not responding, like you said, they’re going elsewhere, they’re gonna start lining up other bids. Some people want five bids, other people want to close. The part of that process and having opportunities like you’re sharing is fantastic. And I love that I wish every single person that just is getting involved, at least for the first time, understands that we do preach repeatedly how important it is. But you’ve really shared how important it is.
At the end of the day, there are things that are happening. Post that first call, I mean, obviously getting in touch with people, you’re able to get the appointments, but like you said, they just hire people don’t just hire I mean, I’ve had people my home, and didn’t hire, even though they were good people, they had a good reputation, etc. Why do you feel that people are so connected, when you’re meeting with them, or your teams, and what feelings do they have? Because that I believe, is really what’s at the core here. And I understand the humility, but you’re obviously doing some really good things. What would you say is that process once you’re in touch with someone, how do you interact with that club? That point?
Stephen: Well, a couple of things. One is I tried to be engaging, not just, I mean, it’s one thing if you show up and here’s your estimate, and you’re like thanks bye! If you go to buy a new car, and sitting there at the desk would be a salesman. And he got on his desk, pictures of his family’s, here’s this kid with a basketball, and here’s his wife, and they get out and try to bring it down to a personal thing like he wants to personally work with him because you like him, you like this family, whatever.
Also, I listen to what they want. The job of the salesman is not to convince somebody of anything. The job of a salesman is to find out what the homeowner wants and see how I could fill that need.
There’s a reason that God gave us two ears and one mouth. So if you have to listen to what the guy wants. My job is to be a servant of the customer. I pass heard, yeah, that’s its word, I’m in a service business. So if I’m not gonna serve then what am I doing here?
Ari: That’s the mentality. When he started to really put a word on it. That’s a perfect word. It’s a service business, and I’m serving the clients. And from what you’re describing, it sounds like that’s exactly what’s happening. And if I’m dissecting some of the things you shared, you’re, the number one thing is building rapport. Now, I notice from having spoken to you, and I don’t want to make assumptions, I know that our guests don’t necessarily know you, as our conversations had been there. When you’re building that rapport, what does it mean by building rapport, there are a lot of people that go out there and do it in really wonky ways or ways that would not be received very well. So clearly, the people are receiving the report building. And that’s why you’re building such a business. What is that you’re doing? Well, you’re building rapport. What does that mean to you?
Stephen: Well, It starts with eye contact, a smile, and a firm handshake. I’m not trying to rush off into a pre-scripted presentation.
Ari: I’ve talked to you a few times now. Sounds like you’re being yourself. If I put a turbo on a bus. I mean, I know you said you were super friendly, warm. I mean, every time we’ve talked, it’s been that way. If I didn’t put a word on it sounds that way.
Stephen: I don’t know about that I consider myself an introvert and it takes energy to be more extroverted.
Ari: There’s a real talent there if you’re able to do that and do that in a way that is, again being received so well. Those connections are either real or they’re not. I mean, there are a lot of sales guys out there that do the fake it until you make it and try to make a connection. But at the end of the day, there’s no connection there. And they’re still wondering, why is that I lost the deal. Why didn’t they buy? You’re making a real connection here. So it’s not BS, that’s for sure.
Stephen: Instead of trying to impress, I find that disarming statements are more endearing.
For example, I stepped out, it’s cold in Chicago still by the way, to meet somebody at his house and so we’re in coats and I make a job saying, “I’ve grown my own insulation around my middle” Just self-deprecation humor.
Ari: Humor is the ultimate disarmer. I mean that smile, though. They see the smile and if people want that are watching this, we’ll be able to see it as well. And I’m sure that is what’s playing in there. People can relate to it. It’s natural, it’s real, it’s warm. And that is a super important part.
You mentioned some other things that are, to me, unbelievably valuable, and I want to make sure we’re not just skipping past, which is, you listen to the customer.
I know you shared that God gave us two ears and one mouth, I’ve always told us with the same ratio, listen more than it’s twice as much and listening is critical. And as you said, you pick up on the things that the customer needs, but even doing that someone could be a great listener and understand the customer’s needs, how are you conveying your ability to meet their needs to them in your way? That’s to me, what would be the deal sealer. You build the rapport, and then obviously, get the deal? So I’d be curious to know what your thoughts are on that. How do you present that to them? The solutions?
Stephen: Well, I hadn’t really had access to this myself before, but –
Ari: I didn’t mean to put you in like a psychologist or anything like that. I acknowledge and
Stephen: I think that probably the initial rapport building, however minimal, to where they trust me, or he’d like to do business with me, everything else being equal, maybe some my bed for starters. And then now he’s there because he needs or wants something. And so I just have to let him tell her what he wants. And if I am detecting that he wants to make his yard clean and nice instead of having a bunch of brush with the back. How can we do this, in their budget? Maybe we can clean some of it and leave a privacy hedge. It’s just trying to think how we can help and it’s mainly me thinking on my feet.
Ari: A big part of what you have shared and shared with me previously is about being honest with people. And I mean, I know being God fearing and approaching life and at first statement out of your mouth was it has nothing to do with me, this is all from the grace of God. So there’s a level of connection with honesty and how you’re dealing with customers. And that is not so common sales. Unfortunately, salespeople have that terrible stereotype.
Everyone’s out there trying to scam or talk them into things. And you mentioned early in this conversation, that sales is not about selling to someone, it’s about, again, meeting their needs, and helping that person. So I don’t want to go and make any leaps here, but in putting the words in your mouth, but it sounds like that, that’s what it’s about is just being straight with a person, and honest and not hyping them, not trying to sell them you’ve already sold them on you by building the rapport. And now it’s a matter of, hey, it’s all about you, how can I help you? And just giving them the most honest and doing-the-right thing kind of approach.
Stephen: Right? Yeah, it’s, it’s a service business, not an imposition business.
Ari: So when you see like, deals like that, like don’t make sense, like as an example. I mean, it’s are you just sharing that with the client doesn’t make sense or being straight with them in that sense and letting them make a decision if it’s right for them? Versus what a lot of other people out there are doing which is not letting me just try to get a deal because they’re focused on the end result.
Stephen: I had a client that through conXpros, I was up there two days ago and had a tree that he didn’t know what he wanted to do. I said I would love to take his money but I told him he didn’t need anything. He appreciated that and took my business cards. He’s in sales so he knows. But he appreciate that I wasn’t looking to scam him.
Ari: And that is I am sure and I again I know you’re still young in the business cycle, having just started this new venture recently, but I know from previous experience my own experience and I am confident based on what you just shared that that’s a big factor as well. It’s not just about the deal at hand it’s about what else can possibly come from this client and this deal and it’s not about their check at the end of it it’s about the reputation and that connection and who they are referring to the person.
Stephen: Yeah, I’m wanting to do long-term business here. I’m wanting not to be dependent on buying leads for the next 20 years. I want to have a reputation where people want to call me in on it. So the next time this guy really does need something he’s gonna call me and he’s not going to call those three other people. He’ll say Steve I have a tree limb down, can you come to help out? Of course. He knows I’m gonna take care of him. I’m not gonna rip him off. And so I want to build up a whole bunch of people like that out there. So that I could have a really sustained business.
Ari: At the end of the day, that’s something I’ve never would give someone a referral to any place or person, if it wasn’t a place that I feel good about, and had that connection with whether it’s a restaurant or whether it’s a contractor, or whether it’s an auto dealership, it’d be the same thing. At the end of the day, that is a critical piece of this, it’s not just about that deal. It’s about what this deal could become, and maybe it is only that deal. But it could be so much more and a long-term vision.
So it’s not just a quick check. And I again, I go back to I know, you’re very humble, and like to say it’s nothing about you, but you’re doing some really, really fantastic things, and whether by happenstance, and again, when I first got into sales, I had people telling me, oh, you’re doing this, this is this technique, as I don’t know what you’re talking about. I just am being me, 100, doing what I do. And it was successful. I’ve learned over the years what that means, dissected it, digested it, and studied and have a passion for sales now. Everything you’re describing is in line with everything that I would share with anyone to promote how they should be successful. And just to summarize what it is, number one is you got to understand the business you’re in, and as you quoted for that was, I don’t think any better could be said, it’s a service business, you have to serve a client that’s about their needs. So that’s the first priority.
The second thing is, again, that building that rapport, that’s mission-critical. So obviously, prior to that, calling leads quickly or inquiries quickly, making sure we have a chance at them and have a good chance. And building that rapport with that person. And that also goes into it, just from my experience, which I’m sure you’re seeing as well when you are calling quickly. It shows them that you’re interested in helping them and care about them versus oh, I’ll just call you when I feel like doing so.
There’s already a rapport being built. And then you follow through with that. And as you said, it’s about just putting a smile on just being warm, and not just focusing on selling. And then throughout the process, also maintaining that mentality, it’s not about selling, it’s about understanding, listening to the person, helping them with their needs, and doing the right thing by being honest with people. By being straight with them. This is what I can do for you. This is what you need, again, whether they buy or not. And that’s what I’m hearing is the full picture. And those are all very, very high-level sales, approaches and skills that most people take forever to come on to.
At the end of the day, these are things that anyone could go do. And that’s the beauty of it. Anyone that is an honest individual by nature, that’s where they would have to be coming from, and a person that genuinely cares about others. That’s the feeling that I know I have from you, and I’m sure is being conveyed to the customers or meetings. That will be the takeaways that I would share.
For our audience here is this not a complicated process, what Stephen just laid out here is super simple on the surface, and super challenging to do because we’re human beings and we have our natures but as Stephen shared throughout, he’s conscious of these things. And he’s said, he’s an introvert by nature, but having to be conscious to be an extrovert and be warm and, and to do this, and that only can happen by purpose. That’s not by happenstance or accident.
I really do appreciate you sharing all this stuff and your secret sauce. I know, it’s not so secret, what we’re sharing here, but these are things that I think a lot of people can be aware of. But again, hearing that it is that simple. And you’re building a business and it’s thriving and growing. From what you’ve described to me in a huge way. It is super exciting, and I applaud you and I really do appreciate you sharing all of these things with our guests over here.
I also want to thank our listeners for tuning into the X Factor: A Home Pro Sales podcast. I do hope as I shared that it brings you value and helps you guys take your sales game to the next level.
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