By PlanetLaundry staff | Dec 21, 2011
Commercial accounts can greatly supplement your self-service laundry and wash-dry-fold businesses. But are you actively seeking new clients? Effectively servicing existing accounts? Generating additional clients through sales and service are two keys to success.
The first and most important thing you can do to upgrade your sales results is very simple: Make your sales effort a priority.
It seems obvious, but sometimes with all of the finer points of running a business, you can get caught up in other activities that don’t put you directly on the path to growth. Over time, this can become a rhythm that can keep you stagnant, spinning your wheels in the status quo. If this sounds familiar to you, it’s time to change your mindset.
To knock the dust off your current sales effort, here are some easy but helpful tips to move you into proactive selling mode:
• Create a daily sales checklist. For example, identify the number of accounts you’ll approach today.
• Set aside a specific amount of time each day when you’re focused strictly on selling activity.
• Treat your selling time as sacred. Don’t let inbound e-mails or piles of mail distract you or break your focus.
• To sell effectively, you have to be in selling mode. Know your service inside and out, rehearse your script and get upbeat – heck, listen to your favorite inspiring song if that’s what it takes. Just be sure you get in the zone, because this kind of energy brings out the best in you. Plus, it’s wildly contagious.
• Look at sales as a numbers game. Rejection is an opportunity to learn, streamline your sales pitch and try again. Be sure you crank up the pipeline of potential sales so that you have good odds of closing on enough business to meet your goals.
• Set performance goals. For example, you will achieve $X in sales during Y period of time. If you don’t reach those goals, you need to analyze why. It could be that you need to (a) make changes in what you’re offering, (b) change the way you’re offering it, or perhaps (c) reset your goals at more reasonable levels.
Carefully narrow your list of potential targets. Will you focus on hair salons, local hotels or daycare centers? It may make it easier to closely define your target market so that you can get into their heads and make some key assumptions about which prospects are low-hanging fruit for what you are offering.
Be sure to ask a lot of questions as you interact with potential customers – what you glean from those conversations could have sweeping impact on what you sell and how you offer it. Who knows? By probing persistently you may identify a whole new opportunity you hadn’t previously considered. And this may lead to all sorts of new prospects for you to go after.
Lean on ‘Loyals’ for Referrals
Don’t be shy about asking your current clients for names and numbers of their contacts who may be interested in laundry services. It’s a lot easier to reach out to prospects provided by someone whose name you can drop than to cold call complete strangers.
To get past the awkwardness of asking your current customers for referrals, start by asking about their satisfaction level with your service and product. If you get a good response, tell them you’d appreciate any names of people who also might like to know about the benefits of your business.
Create a Strong Pitch
Your pitch should be something you have engrained in every fiber of your sales being. It’s the first, and potentially last, impression; the goal is to make it the beginning of an opportunity. But, remember, there’s a fine line between crafting a memorized pitch and delivering what sounds like a canned speech.
To avoid that, know your service’s benefits up, down and sideways; express your passion freely; know when to mention special offers that might trigger emotions or “pain points” (also called “solution selling”) that lead to more intense interest. Also, understand how your commercial service differs from the competition’s, and be prepared to address those attributes. In general, it’s important not to cast your competitors in a negative light, but to cast your business in a positive one.
One very important pitching tip: If you’re asked a question and don’t have the answer, it’s much smarter to admit it, and promise to find out and circle back at a later time. This does two things: First, it builds trust that you have integrity, and second, it gives you a great excuse to make a follow-up call and keep the dialogue going.
(For more about adding commercial accounts to your laundry business, don’t miss the upcoming January issue of PlanetLaundry magazine.)