Ask Steve

Ask Steve: How Can I Improve My Commercial Sales Calls?

“The hardest door to make it through is your own!”

man cleaning carpet with extraction toolHey Steve,

In your last “Ask Steve” you mentioned setting aside one morning a week just to make sales calls. So things have been slow lately and instead of watching my phone willing it to ring I thought, “What the heck! Let’s try it!”

So the next morning I went out and just literally went door-to-door downtown and I booked three jobs!!

But Steve, even with my success last week I’m sure I can improve on this weekly sales morning. So can you give me (and I suppose your other readers) any more direction on how to get maximum traction out of my time invested?

-Super Motivated in Minnesota


Good question, Motivated! And a huge thumbs up to you for actually getting out there and doing something! My fellow SFS instructor, Chuck Violand, is famous for saying, “The hardest door to make it through is your own!” And so it is!

So here's what we suggest to our SFS members for maximum results and return on their time invested:

1. Pick one morning a week and let nothing interfere with it. (I called every Tuesday my “dedicated sales morning.”)

2. Dress up with nice, pressed Dockers, a long sleeve dress shirt and a tie. (Yes, I know. You don’t want to wear a tie. Just please try it for me!) Fill your pocket with business cards and your briefcase with proposal folders.

3. Each week, develop a sales route based on both efficient driving and if possible, “market sector.” Plan and write down your projected stops the night before. For example, pick an area of town where there are lots of doctor's offices and call only on medical buildings that morning. Then the next week only call on realtors, etc.

4. Suck in both your gut and your mental attitude, walk into the office, hand the receptionist a card, introduce yourself and explain you would like to talk with the person coordinating their carpet maintenance.

5. If you get to talk to a real, live “decision maker,” just say you would like to conduct a quick analysis of their carpet challenges using your “commercial carpet analysis” form. Once you get some answers then you’ll be able to give them a proposal with different options to consider. (If a decision maker isn't available skip to Step No. 8.)

6. If they agree, just follow your commercial carpet analysis form and quickly interview them, along with asking them to show you any special wear/traffic areas.

HINT: Once they mention their main problem area, just start to rise and say, “Could you show me…?” It is much better to get your contact out from behind their desk and involved in the process.

NOTE: For a free copy of the Commercial Carpet Analysis form I used, just write me at and put the phrase “ICS CCA form” in the subject line.

7. Always offer to "demo" something. If it is a small account or the person seems ready to sign up anyway, just locate a badly spotted area and ask, “May I test here for residue removal?" Then use a clean white towel with some spotter and make a sparkling difference. On the other hand, if the prospect is wavering or it is an important account, try and convince them to let you do a “demo cleaning” in their worst area.

NOTE: If their customer traffic allows it, this is a good reason to make your sales calls in a truckmount or have encapsulation equipment with you. Nothing like being able to say, "Give me 10 minutes to get set up and I'll come get you and show you the results we can provide." Or you can schedule it for after-hours, but this definitely adds to the hassle factor for both your decision maker and you!

8. If you can't talk to the decision maker, ask when they will be in and available. Or at least ask for their card and when would be a good time to call. And leave your card and commercial brochure for them. Be sure to write all the info down, including when you are supposed to call back, in your commercial route sales book.

NOTE: If your initial contact (i.e. the person you are speaking with) gives you the contact information for the decision maker, ask them, “May I tell Bill you and I talked?” (Now you have a readymade introduction when you call Bill as in, “Your secretary, Beth, gave me your number…”)

9. When writing your proposal be sure to include at least three options. One at a fairly high price is what I call the "resurrection cleaning," which very likely is where the carpet is now - horrible! Then give them at least two "always clean" options where you come in on a regular schedule at a reduced rate. This may either be cleaning all carpet if needed or you may choose to "zone" the building into different cleaning frequencies. (By this time the decision maker should be working together with you in a consultant role as in, "Bill, my professional recommendation is to clean the entrance area and center aisles on a monthly schedule and then ..." You get the idea.)

10. Don't forget to "ask for the order." After presenting the proposal and if you are getting positive buying signals from the prospect move right into filling out your job profile sheet, which is a simple form detailing the job frequency, building layout, business hours, emergency phone numbers, water hook-ups, lights to be left on, alarm codes, etc. And of course get a key if it is going to be a regular account.

Now, Motivated, remember that the vast majority of businesses you walk into will not be interested. (And I gotta say that three new jobs in one morning will be more than what you usually will sign up!) But by setting a weekly reserved day to do this route selling along with a goal of contacts to make (I suggest 15-20 in a morning) you will be getting the law of large numbers on your side.

This approach isn't fancy. But it is cheap, quick and effective. However, it requires you to lose your fear of rejection. So do you have the fire in the belly to keep on after a great start? I sure hope so!

Steve and ICS want to consult for you! For a personal reply write Steve HERE with your questions, problems, struggles and challenges!  Your help is on the way! Watch for a new “Ask Steve” every week in the ICS eNewsletter. Register to receive it here

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