In my last blog post I asked if you were in the sales business or the cleaning business. If you read it and gave it some thought, you now understand that you are in both! I would go so far to say that you are in the sales business and cleaning is your product. This is where most new cleaning service owners get stuck. They have done all the right things, business is registered, web site is live, supplies and equipment have been purchased but they don’t have any clients.
Most people think when they start a cleaning service, clients will find them, especially if they feel they are being proactive. Having a website and some business cards is a great start but you need to go and FIND the clients. Yes- some people will find you but most of your business initially will be generated from your prospecting efforts. So where to begin? It starts with a clear description of what kind of clients you want and where you want them to be located. You will need to come up with a database of businesses for you to call or visit. You can use things like Verizon online Superpages to sort businesses in your area if you’re on a low budget. It’s better to purchase a database from SalesGenie or a similar company.
Once you have your list, you need a way to manage it. We use BASE and I love it! I know people that use a simple spreadsheet and that works as well, whatever is going to be practical for you. Your next step is to develop a script to use when you make your phone calls or walk in visits. It’s commonly referred to as your ‘elevator pitch’. What would you say to someone in 90 seconds that describes your business? Remember – when you are calling businesses, you only have a short time to capture someones attention before they hang up on you! When you call, ask to speak to the person that hires the cleaning service. If you get through, be ready to give them your best introduction. If you don’t get through, note their name in your database and try again.
If you’re walking into businesses, approach the receptionist with a smile and have a business card ready. Introduce yourself, hand over your business card and ask if it would be possible to introduce yourself to the person that hires the cleaning service. In most cases, you will not be introduced and will need to follow up. Try to get a name if possible, sometimes the gatekeeper will stonewall you. Remember – they receive many calls and sales pitches each day.
The purpose of each visit or phone call is the same every time- you want to schedule a time to come in and walk the facility, then send them a written estimate. Always ASK for the appointment when you get the chance. Don’t expect them to invite you in just because you introduced yourself. Once you’ve set the appointment be ready to go in and make your best presentation.
There’s no way I could cover everything related to a professional business to business appointment here, so let me give you the highlights:
- Show up on time (five minutes early)
- Dress to impress
- Be clean cut and professional looking
- Use the prospects name but don’t over do it
- Listen and ask relevant questions, do not get too friendly and NEVER discuss religion or politics
- Don’t give a sales pitch as you walk through the building, give your 90-second overview at the end unless the client wants to sit down first
- Always get a business card from the client and ask how to send the proposal (email, fax mail etc.)
- Tell them when to expect the proposal
Be sure to prepare and send their proposal within 2 business days, if not sooner. The longer you wait, the more likely they will forget you. After the proposal is sent, I like to call the next day to make sure it was received. The most common response is “yes but I have not had a chance to look at it.” This is where the follow up process starts. Let them know that you’re very interested in doing business with them (don’t be over anxious) and that you will check back in a few days. Keep calling back until they are ready to discuss it.
If they are not interested try to find out why. If your price is higher than the current service, don’t be afraid to ask how much higher. If they are unhappy with the current service, the job may be underbid. It’s your job to explain that to the client. From this point, if you’re not going to get the job now, ask if it’s OK to check back in 6 months. Then do it. As you give more and more estimates, you will see the need for important record keeping.
Sales is a process…
Sales is a process, it would be foolish for a farmer to walk up to a field, without having done any work and say ‘field, give me a crop!’ You must to the groundwork and continue consistent efforts for as long as it takes. In the early stages of business, it’s easy to get discouraged because you are not seeing immediate results. Judge your day by your efforts, not your outcome. The only thing you can control is your own efforts. Consistent efforts will bring the outcome that you want.