How to Sell When You Can’t Sell

When working with building service contractors helping them grow their businesses, one of the most frequent comments I hear is: “I’m just not a salesperson.”  It’s so common, I’ve got my response pat-down.  I tell them, “but you are always selling.”

And it’s true.  Whether they are in front of a potential client; convincing their kids to eat their vegetables; working with their staff; meeting colleagues to discuss policy changes; or trying to convince someone to handle a task or take up a cause, they are always selling. It’s something we do every day.

There can be many reasons cleaning contractors say they are “not a salesperson,” or not a very good salesperson.  Sometimes it is all based on a fear they have of selling.  If this is the case, the only way to overcome the fear is to go out and make calls.  Then the contractor controls the fear and not the other way around.

More often, however, it’s because they do not believe they have the necessary skills to be a good salesperson. It’s true, selling is a skill, however as with any skill, just about anyone can learn and use it to their advantage.  And today, it is essential that we do.  Selling and what we might call the art of persuasion is now a form of currency, which all business people need to survive and thrive.

According to Harvard University instructor, Carmine Gallo:

“The ability to persuade, to change hearts and minds, is perhaps the single greatest skill that will give you a competitive edge in today’s economy –  an age where ideas matter more than ever.”

Billionaire Warren Buffett would undoubtedly agree with this statement.  The only diploma he proudly displays in his office is the certificate he earned when he completed the Dale Carnegie Course on public speaking.   Buffett says, taking the course helped him feel more confident when meeting with people – overcoming that fear factor we just referenced – as well as helping him improve his speaking and persuasion skills, all of which turned him into a more effective salesperson. 

In fact, in a video he posted on LinkedIn, Buffett says:

“The one easy way to become worth 50 percent more than you are now — at least — is to hone your communication skills — both written and verbal. If you can’t communicate, it’s like winking at a girl in the dark — nothing happens. You can have all the brainpower in the world, but you have to be able to transmit it.”

So how can contractors, improve their selling and communication skills?  We are going to be discussing this topic quite a bit in future LinkedIn and blog postings, but to get us started, here are three things we need to know about selling and selling successfully:

Everyone can sell.  No one is a born salesperson. As we just mentioned, it’s a skill, and a skill can be learned, developed, and polished. 

Tell your story.  Talk about your business in front of others and always be proud of what you have accomplished.  What might be the greatest story ever told in the professional cleaning industry is how ABM got started more than a century ago. Morris Rosenberg was a single-person window washer in San Francisco back in 1909.  In time, he expanded his business into cleaning office buildings.  Soon, more workers were hired, more services were offered, and his business grew. Today, that window washer’s company has more than 140,000 employees and earned, in 2018, more than $6 billion.

Speak from the heart.  A crucial part of selling is getting others to connect with you and trust you.  The best way to accomplish this is to always speak from the heart.  When speaking from the heart, it tells others that you care about them, and it allows others to connect with you emotionally.  This is very important in the sales process because when others can emotionally connect with you, it helps them take the next step, and emotionally invest in what you are saying and selling.

Ron Segura 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.