Have you ever wondered what makes customers hire us? Is it our attention to detail, savvy technical skills or great employees?
Well, if the truth be told, most companies hire us before they know anything about our cleaning and maintenance skills.
Have you ever wondered just how you get to talk to the customer about your skills?
Let''s dissect the skills necessary to make sales.
Selling is a sequential order of events, which must be placed in the proper order to manage the conversation with a customer.
The order is as follows:
- Pre-approach or brand image
- Approach or initial contact
- Rapport building or trust building
- Information gathering or needs assessment
- Presentation or outlining preference
- Asking for sale or closing.
Pre-approach Or Brand Image
In this month''s column, we will focus on step one, the pre-approach or brand image section of the sales process.
The brand image function is what lures a customer to choose a certain type, style or brand of product.
Have you ever wondered why a client calls or seeks an appointment with your company?
I used to assume that they had heard of my company''s stellar service or well-trained employees.
But, most likely, clients seek your service based on an ad, a company vehicle or because your sales staff targeted them as a potential customer.
Before a potential client knows about your service package, they must have a reason to give you a shot at the business.
I have always wondered about branding in other areas of commerce.
Why does a certain handbag, shoe, automobile or watch cause an otherwise cost-conscience client to throw caution to the wind and purchase an expensive item because of the brand?
Think how the manufacturer Apple Computer Inc. causes people to line up outside their stores, switch providers and pay serious cash for an iPhone, which is almost considered a commodity item at retailers such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc.
I can understand a certain cache with high-end brands, but how can we use that understanding to our advantage when it comes to selling cleaning services?
What do the high-end brands have that the cleaning industry does not have?
Well, it comes down to brand image.
What does our image or brand stand for? What do our customers receive from their association with our company?
How is your company perceived in the marketplace, as the Rolex or Timex?
Either brand image is solid, but the Timex image will tell potential clients you are rugged, inexpensive and readily available.
However, the Rolex image will tell clients that you are well-made, exclusive to discriminating tastes and have high value.
Which image serves your company better in the long-term marketplace?
I never thought about any of these issues in my earlier startup and often struggled to understand the fickleness of consumers for our service or why customers hired us only to let us go at the end of a contract.
Was it our delivery or did someone else''s company bring more cache to the client that we could not deliver?
In order to get in the door, we must think about our branding before we begin to train for our technical skills.
Our brand can help map out our plan as we organize the path for growth in the company.
Our brand is the image we place before our potential clients to help them visualize how they will feel purchasing our goods and services.
Our brand is what makes the phone ring.
It is our responsibility to make sure the image the customer has in their mind when they call is the image they feel when the services are delivered.
Step one is a key, but not the only issue when it comes to selling.
Without the first step, the rest of the steps do not work in our favor.
Next month we will discuss step two, the initial contact.
If you are looking for different ideas to foster these types of 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). He also presents a business opportunity for newcomers in the cleaning industry in the care of ceramic tile, stone and grout, with a full equipment and training package. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.