Have you ever wondered just what makes customers hire us?
Is it our attention to detail, our savvy technical skills or our 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.
On the final step, and there have been thousands of books on sales closing, we must review the first five steps of the process during the closing segment.
This is where we ask if our solutions, outlined in the presentation, are going to solve the problems of the client.
We are using the word "close" in these cases as a verb.
All sales are the culmination of a problem-solving process.
The client has a problem, whether it is the cleaning itself, the lack of cleaning by the current service provider or special situations in the building or campus causing the client to have a problem to be solved.
During the close, we review the steps with our prospect and finally ask for the financial transaction to take place.
There are processes called closing strategies, which enhance the prospects likelihood of completing the transaction.
The simplest of all closes is the presumptive close.
You, as the sales professional, presume that your first five steps convinced the prospect that your company is the one to solve their problem.
The close is simply asking for a date to start the process or to schedule the specialty service.
If the sales professional evaluates the prospect correctly, this close will simply happen when the prospect schedules or signs the contract.
There are thousands of other "canned" closing techniques, but this is one of the easiest to master.
If you can keep the mindset of "problem solver" while going through the sales steps, you will also remember the object of the selling sequence is to keep the customer first in all your questions, answers and presentations.
This usually makes the customer feel more at ease with the entire process.
Put yourself in the prospect''s position.
They may not know you personally; they may only know of your company or your reputation.
They very seldom want to make changes in how processes happen in their buildings.
They know exactly what they are receiving now and are not entirely convinced that any company can solve their problem — or feel that every cleaning company is just as incompetent as the current one they employ.
They believe cleaning is relatively easy and can be performed by anyone with the time.
The prospect usually has no idea just how difficult professional cleaning services can be to perform.
Their lack of understanding should not be taken for foolishness.
They simply do not focus on cleaning, go to cleaning classes or have time to learn about cleaning.
They must trust our expertise and, quite frankly, many of our less than professional colleagues have given them reason to be skeptical about us.
To review, the close — a verb, in this case — is the final step of a professional selling sequence.
Get the order, sign the contract or schedule the services.
But, you may just get more questions.
What happens then? Next month we will explore the other steps of selling after the close: Objection handling and asking for the sale again.
Here we will explore the fixes for a broken sequence.
If you are looking for different ideas to foster these types of relationships with customers, contact: Dane Gregory is 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 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.