If you’ve owned a professional cleaning company for a while, you’ve probably heard the same objection from prospective clients dozens, if not hundreds, of times. By now, you should expect it. Unless your professional cleaning company offers something new and revolutionary, chances are your prospective client will pass on your service and let you know that they already have a service provider.
It may just be a question of timing or the customer might genuinely be satisfied with the service they’re already receiving. As a consumer yourself, you already know that sometimes you just don’t have time to listen to a sales pitch. But don’t cross that prospect off your list just yet. With resourcefulness and patience, you can often turn that “not interested” customer into a real customer.
The most effective method to counter objections is to never give your potential customer a chance to raise them in the first place. You can achieve this by addressing all their concerns during your proposal. If you’ve done your homework, it will be easier to present your proposal and overcome objections before they’re raised.
Be sure you’re talking to a decision maker
It’s common in business to have one or more tiers of employees standing between the person who picks up the phone and the decision maker. An objection stating that they already have a service provider may be the gatekeeper’s role – after all, they need to keep salespeople from pestering the boss. Do your research first and try to get to a person who can make a decision. This saves you wasting time from putting all your effort into a sales pitch only to find out that the one you’re talking to isn’t the one who makes the decision in the company. And you get much further if you know who this person is beforehand rather than calling and asking, “who handles the purchase decisions for ______?”
But how can you find the decision maker? It’s not as easy as asking “Are you the decision-maker?” This question makes the person you’re presenting your sales pitch to feel unimportant. Instead, ask these top 5 questions to determine the decision-maker without losing your influence or relationship with them:
- How have decisions like this been made before?
- Is there a committee assigned in choosing the professional cleaning company?
- Are you an independently owned and operated business?
- Who else is involved in this?
- Who would sign the dotted line?
Dig a little deeper into the objection
If you suspect the brush-off is due to a busy schedule, which might happen with phone solicitation, ask the customer when a better time to reach out would be. If the objection isn’t related to timing or your customer’s busy schedule, ask some questions about their current provider, including why they chose that service, what’s working well, and what’s not working as well as they’d hoped. Listen for opportunities where you feel your company may provide a better solution.
It’s important to be careful during this conversation. There are very few ways to criticize a competitor and still look good while doing it. Instead, focus on unmet expectations or problem areas your competitor hasn’t been able to resolve — or may not even know how to resolve. This is an opportunity to demonstrate your deep cleaning services — but you’ll have to handle the situation with utmost care as the current service may be a friend or a family member.
When a sales objection goes unanswered and your prospect holds an opinion that you cannot object to, it will be a lot harder to fight and combat it. You have to welcome objections than avoiding it. Use the LAER (Listen, Acknowledge, Explore, Respond) model to dig deeper into the objection and overcome it. Do not react impulsively, instead listen to what your prospect has to say, validate the concerns they have, ask questions, and respond in a thoughtful manner. Here are other tips to help you dig deeper into objections:
- Give your prospect a chance to talk and try to dig into the underlying reasons for the objections.
- Offer a neutral recommendation and avoid knee-jerk responses.
- Keep track of the objections that you usually receive. When you know what to expect, you can handle the situation when you encounter a similar objection later on.
Make the most of the walkthrough
If you are at the customer’s location, you may not get another opportunity to survey the quality of work being delivered by their current service provider. Look for trouble signs, like incomplete work or surfaces marred by incorrect cleaning treatments. If possible, let your customer save face by suggesting that any damaged areas may have happened due to a provider preceding their current provider. This won’t be possible with missed areas or shoddy work. However, there are tactful ways to suggest how you might handle a “tricky” area such as the uncleaned area you’re looking at with the customer. Reinforce the importance of a deep clean and an orderly appearance, mentioning that the customers or clients might notice as well.
- Be careful in asking questions. For instance, it is not your business to ask who is currently cleaning the facility. Also, don’t ask for their cleaning budget unless they volunteer it.
- Pay close attention to the age of the facilities. Older facilities could take a lot more time to clean and maintain.
- Offer some suggestions during the walkthrough. These suggestions could help them operate their facilities in a more efficient manner. The suggestions you make will help the client to remember you and thus win a contract, however, do not criticize their current house cleaning services.
Listen for clues and unmet needs
Nobody is ever 100% satisfied with a service provider. There’s an opportunity to close almost any customer but sometimes it’s a little bit more difficult to figure out what makes a particular prospect tick. There might be a nagging feeling that they’re being overcharged by a current provider, they may have noticed some of the same quality concerns that you noticed during the walkthrough, or they might not find the employees to be professional. These small tells can be a segue to reinforce the value you offer by charging a fair price for thorough work, or your expertise and attention to detail, or that you require background checks and a uniform dress code for your team because professionalism is an intrinsic part of the job.
Uncover the weaknesses of the existing cleaning company and take advantage of where they fall short. When you know that the client is being under-served, you can help them make a sound decision as they know that you’re offering a better solution. Here are some areas you can explore for unmet needs:
- Security flaws
- Lack of backend support
- Lack of focus
- Staff members lacking the motivation to work
- Training programs or lack thereof
- Integrity issues
- Cross-contamination issues
- Response times
- Confidentiality issues
Look for opportunities to provide some services
There may be some services that you offer that your competitor does not offer or areas where your prospective customer isn’t entirely happy with their current supplier and may be willing to give you some work.
Use the “Foot In The Door” (FITD) technique. When a person responds to an initial request, they now feel a certain way about themselves that explains why they have done such an action. Because their perception changes, they are willing to respond positively to another request. This is your window of opportunity to provide services that will result in a positive response.
If the potential is big enough, it may be worth your while to start small while you earn your customer’s trust and build loyalty. Maybe you already have some other business nearby and the cost of stopping in to handle a few needs for your new (and future) customer might be negligible. You might look for areas where you feel your cleaning company can provide better value. If the customer also feels they’re getting a better value, it’s up to you to earn the rest. As you build trust, ask for the order.
FITD works by getting the customer to agree to something and then getting them to agree to more. Here’s how it’s done:
- Make an initial request that’s small enough that they are less likely to refuse it. For example, ask for a simple cleaning job like cleaning the windows.
- Follow up with a request that’s big enough that your prospect feels like they can respond to it (e.g. asking them to have the entire room to be professionally cleaned).
- The request should be good enough that your prospect agrees it’s worth their time and money.
- It should be something that your prospect will do voluntarily.