Sales (n): An offer of a product or service
Sells (v): The exchange of a product or service that has been sold for profit
Powerhouse (adj): A highly successful, energetic salesperson

The lifeblood in any successful firm is selling. But all too often, companies keep a non-producing salesperson just hoping they eventually will stumble onto new accounts. If the sales staff is not routinely generating a good amount of new revenue for the business, they need to either step up to the plate or be cut from the team. It’s just that simple.

In this highly competitive industry, the building service contractor’s sales department must be comprised of people who can turn “sales” from a noun to a verb. These “powerhouse” salespeople don’t wait for the phone to ring; they’re out in the field looking for new business. They know what is going on in the industry, know what their competitors are doing and have good selling instincts.

Top-notch salespeople generally are energetic, professional and likeable. They also are very self-confident, self-assured and maybe a little arrogant. Good salespeople also can talk to a fence post.

If a salesperson comes across as less-than-confident, in turn, the client’s confidence in the company diminishes. Always remember that clients will buy from people they trust.

If a building services salesperson doesn’t “sell” consistently, it likely is due to one of the following reasons:

    Not enough time in the field on sales calls: Field time is invaluable. Outside salespeople should be out in the field at least 75 percent of the workweek, with the balance of their time spent doing administrative work such as preparing bids, letters or follow-up phone calls. Successful salespeople hate sitting behind a desk and tend to suffer cabin fever from being inside too long. They want to be out where the action is!

    Not looking under the right rocks: “Verb” salespeople have the ability to find customers in unlikely places. Many prospects have been found by making the wrong turn on a street or even by striking up a conversation with a total stranger. Good salespeople know no boundaries.

    Leaving a bad impression with prospective customers: Are the salespeople well dressed? Are they poised, yet friendly? Do they come across to the potential client as credible and knowledgeable? It pays to make a few sales calls with the sales staff just to see how they present themselves out in the field.

Closing tips
You must believe in the service you are selling. If not, you will not be credible and won’t be able to close the “sell.” If you don’t believe the company you are working for is the absolute best in the industry, then resign and go work for the best.

Use current client references, such as, “XYZ Company chose our service a few months back, and they are extremely pleased with our offerings. May I give you their phone number?” You may even arrange for the potential customer to tour one of your current client’s facilities.

If the buyer questions the price on your proposal, don’t automatically start lowering your price. Those with a level of experience should know what the market would bear. Make lowering your bid price a last resort. Do, however, explain to the prospect how you arrived at their pricing.

Develop your killer instincts; go after clients’ pride. Make them believe that by contracting with your service, they will look good in the eyes of their bosses. (Remember that you already are working for the best company in the industry, and everyone has a boss somewhere to impress.)

Prepare the contract in advance. Have it ready to sign when you present the bid. Who knows? You just might walk away with a new contract!

Discuss the benefits of changing to your company. Is it due to your pricing, exceptional service or top-notch equipment? Be able to give at least five reasons why the prospect should buy from you. Also, prepare five good closing statements, then memorize them. Ask for the sell.

If the buyer asks for additional services at no additional cost — for instance, including floor stripping in the monthly cost, rather than billing separately — ask the question, “If I give you this service for one year at no additional charge, will you sign my contract?”

Listen more than you talk. Learn to watch for negative body language. If you are not a good listener, make yourself learn to listen. In addition, don’t flirt with your prospects. “Selling by gender” is insulting, to say the very least.

Don’t forget to say thank you after a bid. All things being equal when the bids are collected, your thank you note might be the deciding factor. Politeness never goes out of style.

Make it a habit to read the business section of the paper. Know pertinent information about your client’s business (such as new locations, revenue projections or productivity increases) and be prepared to discuss them.

Be truthful. Any perception that you are lying or over-stating the qualifications of your company will reduce your chance of getting the business.

Adapt your mannerisms and personality to match the prospect. If the prospect is very quiet and shy, don’t be aggressive in your approach. Be quiet and mellow.

Selling to the prospective client should not be conceived as an all-out war. “Salesmanship” is another word for “friendship.” Don’t become their enemy even before you make them your client.

Selling can be one of the most rewarding careers in modern time, but only if the salesperson is productive. John Monoky, Ph.D., author of Be Your Own Sales Manager, sums it up this way: “Sales is the Holy Grail of the new millennium. That’s why salespeople must find ways to get the most mileage out of their selling time.”

Dannette Young has more than 20 years experience in successful “sells.” She is Executive Vice President of American Housekeeping, Inc., a Dallas-based, national building service provider. Young can be reached at 214-741-3714.