This post was written by Swept CEO Michael Brown
The quote is complete and the keys to their office are in my hand… yet when I walked in the door the first thing the office manager said was “We are getting a few other quotes this week.”
In 2014, when I started using technology in my commercial cleaning business, this was the norm. In fact, it happened enough times that I had to step back and assess (and now share) what was going on.
In this article I outline how I maintained a close rate of 80% of the contracts I bid on — without competing on price.
What I discovered is simple, repeatable, and tied to having conversations that are not focused on cleaning and supplies.
It may sound crazy, but let me outline why spending more than 15–20% of the conversation talking about the supplies and methods you use to clean an office can actually hurt your chances of winning the contract.
1. Stop talking about cleaning!
The cleaning industry may be interesting to you and I, but sadly it isn’t of interest to our clients.
I conducted research on 30+ of my clients and discovered major trends that shaped my sales process when quoting a new space:
Most people have hired another cleaning company in the past
Throughout my research it became clear that many of the office managers felt they knew what was required to clean their own office, and they trusted that my company was capable, technically speaking, of doing the job.
Otherwise, I wouldn’t have landed a meeting in the first place.
They also knew what areas of their business were neglected or not cleaned the way they wanted by their last contractor.
So, instead of boring them with a conversation around cleaning methods and supplies, I’d ask about the area(s) where the previous contractor let them down.
This allowed me to set my company apart from the competition and prove that I cared about the impact our services would have on their day-to-day operations. But more on that in a moment.
Most people have received quotes from multiple cleaning companies
This is a massive benefit because the potential client has heard the same conversations many times about each cleaning company having the best cleaners, cleaning methods, greenest supplies, and of course the best retention of cleaners and clients.
Everyone says the same thing and this causes the message to lose credibility with the client. So, I didn’t focus my time here during the quote.
2. Reframe the conversation (and the industry)
Many salespeople in the commercial cleaning industry are already on to these insights. They aim for relationship building, and try to build connections through personal hobbies/interests.
If you are able to quickly find a connection, it can help build trust, but here’s the downside:
It will come back to haunt you when negotiating price.
Oh yeah. The fact that you both have kids who play soccer does not position you well for negotiations. Instead, it can actually cause them to feel entitled to a discount because you now have things in common!
The way to make an impact on this prospective client is by sharing something that:
1) resonates with their goal of hiring a cleaning company they can trust, and 2) is something they have not heard of before.
I did this by showing them the technology that we created for our own cleaning company.
This is where asking them what problems they ran into with previous cleaning companies came into the equation.
The answers were always the same: quality issues, cleaners didn’t show up, supplies ran out, high turnover resulted in inconsistent cleaning, etc.
Armed with this information, I showed them why my company would ensure these things didn’t happen.
In our case, I explained that we used technology that allows cleaners to check in with GPS, we can send messages to managers, and report problems in any language (the would app translate it back to English for the managers), etc.
Examples of how Swept software provides cleaners with crystal clear instructions in the language of their choice.
At this point, they would smile and express excitement (again, they were used to being bored during conversations about cleaning,) and the entire meeting would shift and it becomes far more enjoyable for both of us.
It was like a sense of relief came over them because they trusted that my use of technology was the key to their problem.
At this point, they tended to take over the conversation and tell ME how all of the problems of the past would not have surfaced if the other companies used technology!
Don’t believe me? We surveyed over 500 business owners and learned that 96% are influenced by the use of technology in a cleaning company when making a decision to buy.
3. Watch your sales efforts become a chain reaction
By avoiding the same conversation as every other cleaning company and shifting their expectations of the janitorial industry, it makes every conversation they have with your competitors boring, generic, and leaves them with a feeling that something is missing!
They can no longer compare apples to apples, and this gives you leverage in negotiating price.
In fact, when I was selling commercial cleaning services and clients pushed back I would ask if they had more trust in a company that manages with pen and paper or one that uses technology.
They always agreed that fewer headaches for them was always worth more money.
Technology is now a part of our daily lives — from reading the newspaper, to booking a flight, to video-calling people on the other side of the world.
Simply showing them that your company is keeping up allows you to blow past all the other companies that are using pen and paper.
Are you ready to position your next quote like this?!