How can I overcome inertia in commercial sales?

overcome inertia

Hi Steve,

I’m getting really frustrated. After attending SFS I got all excited about adding regular commercial contracts to my business. But the managers I visit keep telling me to just send them some literature. I DON’T EVEN HAVE LITERATURE! (Right now anyway!) What I do have is the cleaning skills to make their floor and carpets shine and the drive to be making face-to-face calls. How can I overcome inertia from managers?

Thanks in advance,

Getting Edgy in Trenton

Congratulation Edgy for getting out there!

Not to rain on your parade but when the manager says “Can you leave me some literature?” what he really means is “I don’t even remotely have time to think about carpet cleaning right now and when and if I do I will probably keep using the same loser I always have just because they are a known quantity. But instead of being honest with you it is easier to accept your nice four color literature that you sweated bullets over and toss it in the ’round file’ as soon as possible.” WHEW!

Sorry to rain on your parade, Edgy!  (The above scenario is not always the case but you will find this “blowing you off” tactic is very common in business.)  Why? Because as we learned at SFS the two most common emotions in business today re: any cleaning/maintenance issue are INERTIA and APATHY.

As you recognize your job is to overcome inertia. But how? Here’s a few thoughts…

1. Look different from the average carpet cleaner. Wear a dress shirt and tie, shined shoes, a decent haircut, freshly shaved. This professional appearance will push you ahead of the crowd.

2. Act different from the average carpet cleaner. It is easy to be intimidated on commercial cold calls. Remember, they do need you. They just don’t know it yet. So look the manager in the eye, stand up straight, etc.

3. Introduce yourself and get to the point. Explain you would like to give them your “recommendations” (Not a “proposal/ presentation/ estimate” and never a “bid”!) for their REGULAR carpet cleaning maintenance.

4. Involve them to the extent possible. If they say yes to you giving them a proposal then immediately say, “May I ask you a few questions?” I have a finely tuned Commercial Carpet Analysis form available for download that will help structure your interview. (This form can easily be adapted to hard surface floor cleaning.)  If the manager says they don’t have time then ask if there is someone else you can coordinate with. (This option is not nearly as good as walking the job with the decision maker.)

5. Ask if you can do a “test” sample cleaning if the job warrants it. Ideally you will a) have your machine with you and b) there will be a really soiled but well lit area that you can work on right away without bothering their ongoing business. (Yes, I know this is unlikely but you never know!) Remember that “a picture is worth a thousand words” and you are going to do a show and tell that will blow away your competition who have just been TELLING Mr. Manager how great they are. You are going to SHOW him.

Here’s a few more specifics …

6. ALWAYS give several frequency options– Never price a job only on an as-needed basis. Always offer a discount based on regular cleanings.

7. AFO- It sounds so simple but a lot of cleaners never really “Ask For the Order”.

8. If they want to go on a regular frequency then fill out the Commercial Job Profile Sheet and ALWAYS try really hard to get a key. (Yes, it is possible more often than you think.)

9. On the other hand, if they still don’t want to talk to you leave them your card and respectfully exit, but most importantly, “get back on the horse that threw you” and immediately head off to your next sales call. Do this right away to maintain your momentum in the face of rejection and you will …

10. Get the “Law of Large Numbers” on your side.  Just like with fishing, the more time you spend with your hook in the water the more fish you will catch!

Steve Toburen

PS: In conclusion, I find “buying out the time” to regularly make the commercial sales calls is the most important (and difficult) thing for most cleaners. As Chuck Violand told you in SFS, “The hardest door to get through is your own.” The overcome inertia challenge is for managers and salespeople too. Go here for my favorite technique to make it happen!

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