The lifeblood of almost every single business on planet Earth is sales. If you can’t sell, you’re dead in the water. Sales are also a highly competitive endeavor, everyone is trying to beat you, so get ready to compete. I hope you have a competitive side because you’re gonna’ need it to win in business. Rome wasn’t built in a day and you’re not going to become a world-class “deal closer” in five minutes, but you have to start somewhere.
To be honest, I am not a sales genius and I’m also not a fan of pushing people or manipulating them. So how does my small business knock out over $100K a month worth of squeegeeing? The short answer is God’s favor. It also has a lot to do with proper systems, planning, and learning from others.
A good friend once told me “Work like it depends on you, and pray like it depends on God.” This has really seemed to work well for me, so I encourage you to have this mind set as well.
When it comes to sales, people start acting weird and end up being too passive or too aggressive. It can be really nerve-wracking trying to close a deal or win over a new customer.
However, it’s actually really simple if you can remember a few basic things:
- People already want what you have, or they wouldn’t have called you. It’s not like you’re knocking on doors selling magazine subscriptions. Take courage and have some confidence.
- The type of customers that you actually want for your business are what I like to call “Value Buyers” so make sure your sales system caters to those types of people.
A lot of you have probably heard of Kevin Dubrosky. He is a very cool guy from Canada who has written a couple of books and I highly recommend them (After you finish reading this post, check him out here). “$600 an hour” is the first one and “The Whale Vomit Method” is his newest. Both are excellent books, but “$600 an hour” is specifically tailored for the window cleaning businesses. In a nutshell, he talks a lot about creating value. In his first book he likens building good value to “creating a unicorn”.
You are trying to create in your customer’s mind the idea that your company is valuable, premium, expensive, and worth every penny.
The process of creating a beautiful unicorn for your customers starts with the initial phone call they make to you and never stops from there. Proper selling is not a two-minute conversation, it’s the whole customer experience from front to back. I have written more specifically about creating value in another blog post conveniently titled “Creating Value.”
In this blog, I want to simplify things by focusing on the actual “Estimate Appointment” where you get to meet face-to-face with a customer. First, make sure you have a great pitch explaining who you are and why you are different. Let me give you an example of my companies “pitch”.
This may seek a little over the top, but I am not kidding when I say this is literally how we talk to customers. It accomplishes some amazing things for us, for example:
- It takes the focus off of price immediately and puts the focus on value. (Can you imagine the next company showing up with a slightly cheaper price written on the back of a coffee-stained business card???? He has almost no chance at that point.)
- It makes you sound expensive, but when they get your pricing they will be pleasantly surprised.
Next, when my sales manager arrives for an estimate appointment he breaks it into three steps.
- The introduction. This includes our little pitch.
- He does the walk around. This is where he identifies all of the current and future opportunities for this homeowner.
- The sell. It is very consultative and conversational. We often say things like “I would recommend”, and we also tell people what does not need to be done at this point. The important thing is to build trust and credibility while staying super relaxed and confident.
Make sure you keep impeccable notes for future use and, of course, keep a record of all the pricing you give them. Another amazing thing we do is personalize our estimate sheets. Each residential estimate has a real picture of the homeowner’s house printed on the front and is done on-site right from our sales manager’s truck. (Remember, it is the little things.)
When a customer calls for an estimate you should have the job sold and scheduled by the time the next company even calls them back. You should
literally scare people with your responsiveness and RUN towards all future customers. Sprint! In my early days, I would call people back within two minutes of submitting a website form while they were still on my site, sitting at their computer. I simply told them I run my business at a high level and that I could get them their estimate the same day or the next morning.
Here are some general things to remember when selling:
- Try and mirror your customers’ personality type. Speak differently with sweet little old ladies than you do to with a 35-year-old “shooter” attorney with a Benz in the driveway and a trophy wife. People like people who are similar to them.
- Make small talk. Learn the name of the ladies cat. It matters.
- Never ever directly lower your price. If a customer says “Hey, will you do it for $____” Always decline in a respectful way. (We offer a small coupon in place of their offer so they still feel like they win a little, but we get to keep our pricing integrity.)
- Be confident. It’s contagious. (We close a higher percentage of deals for a higher amount per job during our busy season because we have a little swag. When we slow down in August and September sometimes we start panicking a little more and our prices suffer for it.)
- Remember that you are your own 1st employee. Be awesome at your job. Be a master of your craft. How can you ever expect someone to do something that you have never done yourself? Pretend you are the new sales manager for a fortune 500 company and your next $50,000 bonus depends on you. You have to hit your numbers. Keep in mind that your future recruits will ALWAYS do what you do, except a little bit less. Set the bar high. You can’t “hire” your way to success, you won’t find people who will want to work harder than you on your business.
- Take risks sometimes. Stretch yourself and don’t live in fear. Some of the best decisions I ever made scared the crap out of me at the time.
- While doing bids ALWAYS give a price for every single thing you sell even if they didn’t ask for it. We book $800 house washing packages all the time when people originally called for a simple gutter cleaning quote.
- Remember to sell packages instead of “al la carte”. Give people three package choices with one of them being really expensive. You will be SHOCKED how many people choose it because of ego. (Ours is called the “Luxury” package)
- Record yourself on the phone and listen to yourself. You sound a lot different than you think you do. If you’re doing it right you should feel awkward, uncomfortable, and somewhat cheesy. If you feel this way while talking on the phone to customers you are probably doing it right!
Another important form of selling while running a service business is “Up-Selling.” This obviously occurs after you have been hired and are at the customer’s home performing the work. There is a reason McDonald’s asks “Do you want fries with that?” and it is the same reason you’re going to ask “Do you want a gutter cleaning with that?” Up-selling is an impulse-based purchase and accounted for tens of thousands of extra dollars in my business last year.
Here are the keys to up-selling successfully.
- You don’t have to bat 1000 to win. Hall of fame baseball players have a lifetime batting average around .300 and that’s all you need too. Up-Selling should become part of your company’s culture and needs to occur on almost every single job you do, every day, for the rest of your life! It’s not about closing every deal, but it IS about attempting to sell something extra on every job
- Use the “I noticed ____________ I recommend ____________” method. This is a very simple way to inform homeowners of their other needs.
Here is what I mean, let’s say Mary needs a deck cleaning. I would say:
“Hi, Mary, I noticed your deck really needs a cleaning and I would recommend you have that done because the mildew buildup is causing a lot of damage to your wood. It’s only $99 and we could do it while we are here. What are your thoughts?”
A lot of people ask me how to sell to customers calling in from a Send Jim postcard (Not sure what a Send Jim postcard is? Click the link here and have one sent to you, for FREE! This a great tool for your business).
Because each card has real prices on them, sometimes there is confusion on how to handle these calls. Here is how we handle these situations at my company. When someone calls in from a Send Jim card we say this:
“Great! Let me explain how those postcards work. The picture on the front of the postcard is really your actual house and the prices on the back are real prices! The window cleaning price includes all of your exterior windows even if you have a basement. Keep in mind when we mailed that postcard we only looked at your home from the street so the next step is for us to stop by for a full detailed estimate. When would be best for you, mornings or afternoons?”
You have to remember that Send Jim is a tool to make your phone ring. It is a phone call generator! After the calls start coming in, and they will make sure you are prepared to handle this properly and you will kick butt. Our last mailing cost us about $800 and generated about $9,000 in work. Some people, out of fear, price their cards way too high and shoot themselves in the foot because they obsess over Send Jim pricing. Price as low as you feel comfortable and then field the phone calls.
Don’t be discouraged by people saying “no”. Keep your eye on the prize and push harder every single day.
In summary, remember to be hard on yourself and don’t shoot from the hip. You are free to do these things your own way and with your own personality injected into them. The important thing is to make sure you do things the same way every time. This way, after you get a rhythm, you can train someone else to continue where you left off. After all, you will never build a business if you are trapped doing everything yourself. Building a reliable and DUPLICABLE sales system is critical to your future success.
Take care and may God bless the work of your hands.