Jeffery Fox, who gained fame for his book, “How to Become a Rainmaker,” tells the following story:
A wire/cable salesman had a good relationship with an executive at a company in Florida. He called on this company, and the first person he meets is the company’s receptionist, an efficient, organized young woman.
Part of her job is keeping the sales appointment scheduled. Although she is not the person who bought wire and cable and is not involved in decision-making, the salesman treated her very courteously. The salesman waited patiently, accepting delays, and never made insistent demands – as do many other salespeople.
He never implied his importance by dropping the name of the executive vice president of the company that he knew. Upon leaving, the salesman went out of his way to thank the receptionist for her help and made sure to say good-bye to her.
He kept in touch with this receptionist and eighteen years later, that receptionist became the vice president of the company. With her influence, that company has become this wire and cable salesman’s biggest account.
The takeaway, according to Fox, is keep in touch, always be likable, and always be pleasant because pleasant people “often appear self-controlled and confident, and customers like that.”
Some other takeaways Fox suggests that can apply specifically to cleaning contractors and help them in their sales and marketing efforts include the following:
Send handwritten thank you notes. Nobody does this any longer, and your prospect will be surprised and happy to receive one.
Send news clippings. One cleaning contractor I know would regularly send prospects links to news items she thought they might appreciate. Her prospects invariably took a few minutes to review the clipping. They remembered her. She was sent RFPs, and she gained several new clients over the years using this simple but effective marketing technique.
Send thank you gifts. A contractor I knew kept a list of 15 companies he would like to do business with. Each year, he would select four events during the course of the year, for instance the Superball, and mail them some sort of gift about the event. He was creative. He added his company logo and contact information on each gift. Not only was this an effective way to grow his business, but to his surprise, people that were not on the list that year contacted him asking, “where’s my gift?” They grew to appreciate those gifts, which just cost a few bucks. They opened all kinds of doors of opportunity for him.
Stay positive. Sales is a numbers game. The goal, of course, is to have fewer numbers leading to more sales. However, we can’t win every time. Fox says staying positive creates a successful business. It becomes a “company’s immune system. It keeps germs out and rejects antigens from within. Work every day to protect and burnish a positive, winning culture.” Some of the points here are referred to as “drip marketing.” Drip, drip, drip, and you stay in touch with your prospects. At the very least, they will remember you when they are taking bids again, and even better, they may already like you, giving you a better chance of winning the account.
Ron Segura helps cleaning contractors grow their businesses. He has over 45 years of experience in all segments of the professional cleaning industry including ten years as Manager of Janitorial Operations for Walt Disney Pictures and Television. To contact him, call 650-315-8933.