21st Century Prospecting for BSCs

When we look back at how building service contractors prospected for new clients, we see it is nothing less than evolution. A good four decades ago, many contractors found reasonable success just sending out mailing… and making sure they were delivered on Monday, which is often “complaint day” in the cleaning business.

As that proved less and less effective, cold calling, either by telephone or by actually walking into offices and calling for the facility manager, became a prospecting tactic, and a successful one at that. But very soon, telephone calls were routed to voice mail with rarely a callback. And as more and more companies became security conscious – as well as not liking sales people just walking into the office – the benefits of cold calling also became a thing of the past in many areas of the country.

So what’s left?

What I believe more and more contractors should learn to use for prospecting is LinkedIn and more specifically, LinkedIn’s Sales Navigator. This is a very powerful and efficient way for all kinds of business to market their services and products, including cleaning contractors. But before jumping in, a few words to the wise:

  • Become very familiar with how LinkedIn and Sales Navigator work. There is a learning curve made all the more difficult because LinkedIn has a tendency to change things all the time.
  • Write a very well-crafted personal profile for yourself as well as your company.
  • Once you have the basics down, slowly start your prospecting journey. We will discuss this further below, but just know there is a lot to learn and some small mistakes with a few prospects at first won’t do too much damage.

As for learning how to become skilled at LinkedIn and Sales Navigator, take advantage of LinkedIn Learning. LinkedIn Learning includes scores of very useful and easy to understand videos on how to use LinkedIn and make the most of its opportunities. Most videos are from one to three hours long, so pace yourself. Set up a schedule each day to watch 20 to thirty minutes and stick with it. View these videos as your Prospecting 101 for the 21st Century.

Sales Navigator Prospecting Step by Step

There are many things we can discuss, but let’s keep to the basics and using the following example.

Let’s say there are two very similar looking buildings in your service area which you would like to clean. Both are occupied by one company. The first steps you should take with them are the following:

  • Learn about the companies. How old are they; who are the top people; who handles purchasing or who are the office managers; how many people work in each. This last item is vital. Even though the buildings look the same, one may have a staff of 200 and the other 20. Depending on what type of client you are looking for, this can make a big difference.
  • Now “connect” with the key people in these companies. Do not use the standard script that LinkedIn provides. Say, for instance, “We service other buildings in our area and I have long admired your facility. Would like to add you to my network.”
  • Using Sales Navigator, you have a choice of making this connection a “Leed,” if it is a person or the company an “Account.” Either way, this indicates these are people, and these are the companies you are interested in following.
  • From here, you want these two businesses to hear more about you; you do this by sharing information, especially information that may benefit them, and comment on information they have shared. Sometimes this may just be a notice of someone being promoted. If so, send them a note of congratulations.
  • What you don’t want to do is try to sell your company and its services to these two prospects. The goal now is to build a relationship.
  • At this point, you can suggest meeting with your prospects; take them out to lunch, for instance. Again, this is just to build on the relationship. LinkedIn/Sales Navigator spotlights the power of the old marketing cliché: people like to do business with people they know. This is essentially what these programs are.

This is a very simplified example of how to use LinkedIn/Sales Navigator. The programs are far more complex and offer far more insights and opportunities than discussed here.

But my takeaway for contractors is this; the more competent you are with these programs; the more valuable they will prove to be, and the more successful you will be with them. Right now, they are 21st-century prospecting.


Ron Segura is founder and president of Segura & Associates, an international janitorial consulting company based in the U.S. He has over 45 years of experience in all segments of the cleaning industry with ten of those years spent overseeing the cleaning of over 4.5 million square feet for The Walt Disney Company. Ron can be contacted through his company website at https://www.seguraassociates.com