Selling facility services can be hard. Often the challenge boils down to the ability to simply get in the door and to offer the prospect something they haven’t heard from the dozens of competitors that have come before. And, Earth Day (April 22) represents an opportunity for building service contractors to do just that.

The role of a sales person from a prospect’s viewpoint is to help them solve problems. One major problem the customer likely faces is the internal challenge to get their own organization to support and perhaps more importantly to fund facility operations. The lack of internal support is frequently based on the lack of awareness. Recognizing this need to educate their bosses and occupants, you can use Earth Day to demonstrate that you can offer something different from your competitors and create added-value.

Here’s how it works. First, it is important to target your sales call to the facility manager, as opposed to the purchasing department or contracts administrator. Let the facility manager know that you recognize the challenges that many facility managers have getting the support and funding they need to make the needed improvements in their buildings. Remind them that Earth Day is coming up and it is the perfect opportunity to begin educating senior organizational managers and building occupants alike on the huge impacts that buildings have on health and the environment.

You can share a few statistics demonstrating the environmental impacts of buildings in the U.S. They consume 65.2 percent of the country‘s electricity, 36 percent of total primary energy and 12 percent of total potable water.

And cleaning those buildings consumes 6 billion pounds of chemicals, most made from non-renewable natural resources; 4.5 billion pounds of janitorial paper requiring the cutting of approximately 35 million trees; and 500 million pounds of janitorial equipment headed for our landfills, enough to fill 10,000 garbage trucks.

Tell the facility manager that you would like to meet with them to discuss how they can use Earth Day to increase the awareness of the value and importance of facility operations. In addition to helping them setup a cleaning program that reduces impacts on health and the environment, you can help them promote and communicate within their building to raise awareness and create added value.

And you might even let them know that because “green buildings” is a new and growing trend, that the early adopters receive extra value when the get recognized for their efforts on the outside.

Remember, if you can’t get in the door, you can’t make a sale. And green cleaning and Earth Day can be a unique and great door opener.

Stephen Ashkin is president of The Ashkin Group, a nationally renowned consulting firm helping both contractors and building owners “green” the cleaning process.