Winning those first few sales is one of the toughest challenges you'll face when getting your new cleaning business off the ground. Some prospects may be uncomfortable working with a new business owner. They may be interested in your services, but feel you don't have the experience they're looking for. Part of their insecurity may be a trust issue - they may feel more comfortable working with a cleaning company who has a proven track record. So how do you gain the trust of new customers?
First you might ask them what it would take to make them comfortable, and then work with them to accommodate their request. Perhaps they're looking for testimonials from other satisfied customers. If you don't yet have any customer testimonials, then think about whom you could ask for a reference. If you've worked in the cleaning industry, then a previous supervisor might be happy to give a reference and testify to your work ethic. Are there people in the buildings or homes you cleaned that commented on what a good job you did? Contact them to ask for a testimonial.
Next you want to build a relationship with the prospect. Don't look at them as simply sales prospects. It usually takes more than one “touch" with the prospect to build a relationship and gain the sale. It all starts with the first contact in the company, which may be the gatekeeper. Find out her name, call her by name, and see if you can get her to open up about how she feels about the current cleaning service. You might be surprised at how much she'll reveal. Once you've opened up that line of communication, she just might become your advocate, especially if she's not happy with the current service.
Avoid making common closing mistakes. Just because the gatekeeper seems excited about getting a new cleaning service, don't assume it's a sign that you'll actually get the account. You still need to close the sale with the decision-maker. By asking the right questions, you should be able to close the sale with ease. Consider the following before trying to close the sale:
* Find out if they have a budget. You want to have this information early on so you don't waste time with a prospect that is interested but doesn't have the budget to hire you. Otherwise you could get to the point of closing the sale only to find out they don't have enough money in the budget to pay your price. If you do find yourself in this situation, you may be able to salvage the deal by reducing some services to get the price down.
* Ask lots of questions and answer in a way that shows the value they'll receive if they hire your cleaning company. For example, ask what concerns they currently have about the cleaning in their office or home. Note: do NOT ask specifically what they dislike about the currently cleaning company - let them offer that information to you. When they share their concerns, let them know how easily your company handles that situation. Also let them know what you do to go above and beyond their expectations. Perhaps you keep a communications log at the reception desk so you can communicate daily with the client.
* Address their objections to their satisfaction and if possible, address these objections before they have a chance to bring them up. Some people may like everything about your company, but if there's one objection that you didn't address, it could cost you the sale. If you find out that their only objection is that they feel your company is too new, then you might be able to convince them that they'll have the honor of being one of your first customers. As a new business, you have a vested interest in making sure they're happy with your service, so be sure they understand that you'll always under promise and over deliver.
Once you get those first few sales under your belt, your confidence will soar and before you know it you'll have prospects who are seeking your services because of the reputation you've built.
Copyright (c) 2006 The Janitorial Store
Steve Hanson is co-founding member of The Janitorial Store (TM), an online community that offers weekly tips, articles, downloads, discussion forums, and more for anyone who would like to learn how to start a cleaning business . Visit The Janitorial Store's blog and get inspired by reading cleaning success stories from owners of cleaning companies.