Product knowledge is paramount in the service industry.
However, knowledge of customer needs should also be completely understood to accomplish closing the targeted prospect.
Oftentimes, our selling process places priority on just one aspect without regard to the other.
Case in point: Recently, I had the experience of being involved in funeral arrangements for a close relative.
The funeral industry is, in large part, the definition of the service industry.
The director — a salesperson — said all the appropriate things to make the customer feel at ease.
But, the presentation of options was completely out of sync with the selling process.
The importance of a needs assessment was completely missed, and the presentation fell flat.
It felt like a complete lack of understanding of what a customer would need at this time of personal crisis.
As I watched the director jump around from point to point, with no fluidity of selling sequence, I saw the customer get upset at different suggestions because of the lack of a proper needs assessment — the step of data gathering.
He seemed to have no rhyme or reason for several points and the lack of sales aids was alarming.
At the actual event, the director was much better at completing the process; he was extremely attentive in the service performance and really knew the process to be ahead of each customer request.
I could not help but think about the parallels to the cleaning industry.
Many of us have the exact same problem: We are great cleaners, but lack the viewpoint of our industry from the customer''s position.
We think we know what they want, but our assumptions are perhaps wrong because this customer may have a different need.
All we have to do is ask.
We have a tendency to lump all customers together as a group.
Once we have knowledge of one, we tend to assume they are all the same, with the same — or at least similar — needs, wants and requirements.
This type of thinking keeps our industry from really achieving our full potential, as customers then begin to return the favor.
The customer begins to believe that all professional cleaning companies behave the same, complete the same level of service and have the same problems as every other cleaning service in the world.
This is human nature.
We have to know not only what we are selling, but to whom we are selling.
The client or prospect is always more important than the cleaning process.
People like to feel that someone is listening, not just waiting for a break in the conversation to start talking again.
Listening to the customer brings confidence to the customer in our abilities as professionals.
The customer wants us to understand that their needs are different from everyone else''s needs because no one sees themselves as the same as anybody else.
What we are selling is comfort and confidence, not mops and buckets, floor stripping or restroom sanitation.
This is a big distinction between success and coming up short.
Our customers rely on our ability to make them feel good about the purchase of service, not just the actual service itself.
If you are looking for different ideas to foster better relationships with customers, contact Dane Gregory, a business consultant and trainer specializing in working with companies in the professional cleaning industry. He currently trains technicians in the use of cleaning protocols for stone, tile and masonry surfaces for Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC) certification. He also presents a consulting program for industry veterans as well as newcomers in the cleaning industry to help their company''s reach the next level of success. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.