In order to make a proposal or presentation that closes the sale, you have to be able to see things from the customers’ perspective. The best way to do this is to ask the right questions and listen carefully to what the customer has to say. Add to this a keen sense of observation and you should be able to determine what the customer wants and needs to see in a winning proposal.
Here are a few tips you can use to help you bid in a competitive and profitable manner on any size or type of account.
1. Prioritize Quality
Sell quality service. Regardless of the price, every customer wants good service to avoid having to deal with issues related to cleaning and maintenance.
2. Be a Professional
Look, sound, and act the part. A prospective customer is not looking for a friend, but rather, a serious business relationship.
3. Guarantee Satisfaction
Be willing to stand behind your work and your staff. Make sure the customer understands if there is a problem with the service, you will make it right.
4. Have Great References
Talk about and provide a list of current and/or previous customers who will say great things about the service your company provides. Photos of buildings, with details as to size and length of service, can help to reassure a prospective customer that you can handle its needs.
5. Highlight Qualified Staff
Short biographies about and photos of key employees, with information on their special skills, training, and length of service, can reassure the customer that you have the qualified staff and management needed to get the job done correctly.
6. Target Local Small Businesses
Stress that you are a small business owner who specializes in serving the needs of other local business owners and the community. If you belong to or support local organizations or events, be sure to mention your involvement.
7. Be a Specialist
Talk up the fact that your company specializes in a certain type, size, and location of account. All customers like to think their needs and dirt are special and their service provider understands these special needs.
8. Price Competitively
You have to be competitive in the local marketplace. The highest price seldom gets the job unless no one else is bidding. Knowing your costs allows you to bid competitively and still make money on the account.
9. Mention Nearby Accounts
Let the customer know that you have other accounts nearby, which means you always have staff in the area to handle any special needs the account may have.
10. Offer Personal Attention
Assure the customer its business is important to you and the organization will get your personal attention during the startup transition and for the life of the account. Mean it when you say it, and see that it happens.
11. Sweeten the Deal
In an effort to close the sale, be willing to throw in a bonus or a small discount. You want customers to feel like they got a good deal, and sometimes a little extra will go a long way. You can always pitch the following: “I’ll tell you what, if you are willing to agree to our service today, I’ll throw in ______________.” You fill in the blanks. The add-on should not be too costly to you, but a benefit that will be of value to the customer. It could be a discount on the first month’s service, some free carpet cleaning, or hard floor care. You have to be a careful not to give away too much, yet willing to offer something reasonable to close the sale while the irons are hot.
12. Go for the Close
You have to be able to close the sale; at the same time, you have to be careful to not oversell. Stop talking. Let the customer talk and ask questions—then you can ask the all-important question: “When would you like our service to begin?” If appropriate, ask for a signature on the dotted line or set up an appointment to bring the service agreement back for a signature and to work out the final details.
If you are having difficulty getting the customer to agree or commit to a start date, ask the question: “What do I need to do to make this work for you?” Let the customer talk—don’t say anything. Now is the time to listen. If the customer does not respond or avoids making a commitment, don’t be afraid to re-ask or rephrase the question several times.
You Can’t Win Them All
In today’s competitive marketplace, you have to bring more to the table than just cleaning services; customers often expect or demand more. Are you willing to support a company’s favorite charity? Does any of your staff have special skills or certifications that would be useful to the customer? Is anyone on your staff a certified water or mold restoration specialist, or knowledgeable about Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), green, or sustainability issues? Utilize the strengths and knowledge of your staff to help close the deal.
You aren’t going to get every account you bid on, and not all accounts are the right fit for you. That’s the reality of the marketplace. Generally speaking, if you don’t know how to bid an account, it’s not for you. Focus on what you can handle, take care of each and every customer you have, and, over time, you and your business will grow in skill and competency as well as profit.