Most people are daunted by the idea of a “Cold Call”. And when I use that phrase, I mean exactly that. A completely “cold” (in person) sales stop (where no one is expecting you). Nevertheless, janitorial cold calling can be a very effective way to generate janitorial bidding opportunities.
There is no substitute for talking to potential customers face to face and personally offering your services. On the downside, it’s time consuming and (can be, at first) uncomfortable. And very expensive if you opt to pay a salesperson to do this for you.
There are tons of books and seminars on this topic, but let me share what’s worked for me for the past 25 years in the janitorial business…
- What’s your initial goal? Initially, it's just to get information; To find out if this facility outsources their janitorial services, or does their cleaning in-house. If they outsource, how can you get an opportunity to place a bid now (or at the time they take normally accept bids)?
- Remember, you’re not selling rubber chickens… I say that to make the point that we’re selling a “need”, not a “want”. (Although, I do actually own a rubber chicken, not because I needed it, but because i wanted it.) Remember that every facility “needs” janitorial services. Only question is, do they outsource it or not. So, don’t be nervous, they literally need you!
- What about the “No Soliciting” Sign? That’s there for the rubber chicken sales guy, not you! I’m not soliciting, I’m only getting information at this point!
What’s my opening statement to this potential customer? The first person you almost always see and talk to first is the receptionist. When I walk in, the conversation usually goes as follows:.
*Me: “Hi, I’m Drake, with (company name), could you please help me with some information?”
*Them: They almost always respond ,”how can I help you?”
*Me: “Could you please tell me the proper way to get involved in the bidding process for janitorial services here? Is there anyone here I could talk to about that or make an appointment with?”
Then they'll tell you what you have to do. You might hear, “We take bids next month; Call Mr. So-and-So to make an appointment; Leave me some info and I’ll give it to the person in charge of that”. Then follow up accordingly!
- Keep it “cost effective”. Do the sales calls yourself! If you have an effective Direct Mail Marketing program in place, you won't need to go out very often anyway! Salespeople are expensive and cost you on day one. Even the huge national companies use them sparingly and rely mainly on marketing and open bid calls.
- Best time of day: Usually between 8am-11am and 1pm-4pm. If you do get a chance to meet with the decision maker that day, avoid lunchtime and the end of day.
- Be prepared! Similar to pre-bid walkthrough tips. Dress professionally , have your cards and brochures on hand. Be ready in case you’re asked to walk the building right then. It does happen a lot!
- Practice makes perfect! An old adage, but so true. The more cold calls that you make and the more time that you put in, the better you're going to get at it.
Try and have some fun with your cold calls! Relax, be friendly, meet some people, make some contacts… And remember that even “No’s” are a learning opportunity. But you will hear “Yes” too, and when you do, wow them with your CleanGuidePro proposal!