ICS Magazine

Face to Face: Selling the Sizzle

August 14, 2002
"Sell the sizzle…not the steak."
-Anonymous marketer

The appointment has finally arrived. Now it is time to tell the customer how much the job will cost. Suspense hangs heavy in the air as you enter the home. Emotions are running high.

Think about it. The homeowner is scared you will rip her off. You're scared she will think your prices are too high. Mutual fear is a lousy platform to launch a business relationship from.

Before you "pop the price," why not warm up your prospect by performing a "sizzling" pre-inspection? Once you display your caring professionalism and gain the confidence of the homeowners, they will gladly accept the price your quality service deserves.

Here is a quick five-step outline that will turn scared, suspicious homeowners into trusting, appreciative clients:

Introduction
Experts say your prospect will decide during the first two minutes whether they will purchase your service or not. It is time to focus.

  • Knock and move three feet back from the door. Never intrude in the personal space of the customer.
  • Smile and make eye contact. We forget this much too often.
  • Identify yourself. Give your first and last name and the name of your company. Hand the homeowner your business card.
  • Explain why you are there. Sometimes clients will forget they made the appointment.
  • Break the ice. Your main goal is not to measure carpet; it is to build a professional relationship with the customer. So take a minute to chat about the homeowner's neighborhood, family, pets and/or possessions.

    Tour/Interview
    Now you must show the customer your "care-and-concern" attitude and uncover their expectations.

  • Ask the homeowner, "Would you give me a quick tour of what we'll be working on and, as we go, please show me any areas of concern." (Note: never use the word "problem.")
  • Listen carefully to any concerns the customer brings up. Even better, take immediate action by writing them down, inspecting them closely or even "testing" them with a spotting chemical.
  • Continue asking questions, such as "How old is the carpet?" and "Do any pets live inside the home?"

    Test/Measure
    The customer has been really impressed with your professional care and concern shown during the tour/interview. But you must still answer the big question: "How are my carpets going to look after the cleaning?"

  • Look for the most highly soiled area, especially if the homeowner is concerned about it.
  • Ask, "May I test this area for soil removal?" and draw the homeowner a picture. Use your general spotter and blot with your knee and a new white terry cloth towel. The results will be dramatic, and you will have shown the customer what you can do instead of just telling her.
  • Give the customer your "brag book" photo album to look at while you measure and calculate the price. (Don't know what to include in your album? Check out July's "To Your Success" column titled "Choosing the Right Tools.")

    Review/Qualify
    Now sit down with the customer and explain your procedures step by step. Hopefully, you will use an illustrated brochure or photos from your album. You should also "pre-qualify" any areas that will not respond well and note these on the work order.

    Price/Close
    You have slowly been selling during this entire pre-inspection. At this point both sides almost assume that you will be the one cleaning their carpets, a great position for you to be in.

  • Show the customer your work order and say "All the rooms we've looked at are itemized here. The total will be..."
  • Always present the whole job, with the most complete and expensive option first. (You can always "sell down," but it is tough to raise the price later.)
  • Tactfully "get to yes" by giving the customer options: "Are we working with any deadlines on this job?" "Is there a day of the week that is better or worse than another?" If the customer assents to either option, you have the job! If not, you can offer more choices by saying, "Let me call the office and see what sort of openings we have."

    Once again, you have made it easy for the customer to say "YES."

    This inspection system works whether you make a separate trip before cleaning (recommended) or do it all on the same visit. Either way, following these five easy steps will help you to close more jobs. But remember, even after "getting to yes," you should always give the customer the opportunity to spend more.