Identifying Prospect Pain Points

Here’s the typical scenario when a cleaning contractor meets with a prospect to submit a cleaning proposal. The building or office manager walks the contractor through the facility. She may point out things that, based on her experience, need special care. The cleaning contractor focuses on the size of the facility; density (how many people are in the facility); type of floor surfaces; etc.

The walk-through comes to a pleasant close. The contractor thanks the manager for her time and says the proposal will be submitted in a few days.

What’s the problem with this scenario? The contractor failed to ask any questions, which might uncover the managers “pain points” regarding the cleaning and maintenance of the facility. With these pain points identified, the contractor is then able to offer solutions.

So what are pain points?

Pain points are things that can keep a building manager up at night. These might include the following:

  • Complaints first thing in the morning about dirty restrooms, soiled building floors, trash not collected, etc.
  • If no one came into clean or areas were not cleaned.
  • If a personal item is missing from the office.
  • Not resolving a cleaning-related problem discussed recently with the contractor.
  • The contractor is not returning calls or responding to messages.

We could go on and on here. As to uncovering the pain points, before walking out the doorway, the cleaning contractor should politely and tactfully ask some probing questions. This could start out by simply asking the manager why she is taking bids. However, if you reached out to the manager for the appointment, her response will likely be that you contacted her.

So a better approach would be to ask questions. Begin by saying, “may I ask,” and then ask such questions as these:

  • What has been your greatest problem with past cleaning companies, which you don’t want to be repeated if you hire a new cleaning contractor?
  • What particular issues are you most concerned about when it comes to cleaning and maintenance that you would like addressed?
  • How happy are you overall with the way your facility is cleaned and maintained now? (Note: Never criticize the current cleaning contractor. Let the manager do the talking).


Another way to find out a manager’s pain point is to turn the questions around. For instance:

  • May I ask, what would really make you happy about the cleaning and maintenance of your facility?
  • What would the ideal cleaning contractor make sure never happens again?
  • If you could choose one thing that you want a new contractor to do, what would that be?

These are all different ways to identify the pain points of a building manager. It is crucial for the contractor to find out what these are. If a building manager is considering changing cleaning services, it usually has little to do with costs, and much more to do with an ongoing problem – a pain point – that is just not going away.

Once this is uncovered, the cleaning contractor must make sure any pain points discovered in this initial meeting are explicitly addressed in their cleaning proposal. And an even better way to do this is to do a presentation to the manager and her staff. Discuss the pain points and how you plan to make sure they are addressed and never occur again.

And here’s the good news. If you are the only contractor that has taken the time to identify and address the pain points and offer solutions, guess what? You’re more than likely the first cleaning contractor they are thinking of hiring.


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