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Contributed by Adam Povlitz, Anago Cleaning Systems

There are many considerations to make for small business owners when the economic landscape changes, or in the case of recent days, is volatile and unpredictable. In strained economic times, it’s common knowledge that starting a small business can be risky. That's why small business owners must develop robust business plans and be ready to pivot as needed to keep their businesses viable and profitable.  

They must also make suitable investments in people as much as they do in technology or any other aspect. For many new entrepreneurs, hiring the right salespeople to get the revenue stream flowing is the first step. This has never been more evident than in the commercial cleaning industry when landing client contracts, building a brand, and providing excellent customer service will make or break your business. 

In the commercial cleaning franchise sector, entrepreneurs come from all backgrounds, professional experiences, and skill levels to launch unit franchises designed to help them succeed. Some have excellent back-of-house expertise, while others shine on the frontlines. Business owners must decide which of these two categories they fall into, then hire the opposite to create a balanced team.   

One of the interesting aspects of launching a commercial cleaning business is that success can be achieved no matter the business background or lack thereof, and for those who are networked into the right franchise brand, support and guidance are at every turn. For those who are operations-minded entrepreneurs, sales teams should be the focus. Hiring a solid sales team can be a challenge for any business owner, especially those who don’t feel confident with sales. For those who fall into this category, here are some key points to consider when hiring and managing a new salesperson.  

1. Hiring a marketer instead of a true salesperson 

When starting a commercial cleaning business, don’t make the mistake of hiring a marketing person when the business needs a salesperson — the lines can sometimes blur between marketing and sales. If someone with a “business development” background is suspected of being a marketer, ask questions. Are they able to accurately convey the benefits of cleaning services? Are they problem solvers? Are they client-centric?  

Although they do work very closely together, sales and marketing are also very different.   

2. Hiring the wrong sales person for the position 

Below are five types of salespeople, from least desirable to most desirable. Consider which category the current sales reps fall into and adjust as needed. 

• Order Taker: Someone pleasant, reliable, and inexpensive but does not excel at prospecting, following up, or closing. 

• Business Developer: Creates new business opportunities. Their main weakness is the inability to make the necessary number of cold calls or visits. 

• Account Manager: Builds client relationships, good follow-through, high close rate, but weak in prospecting since they rarely do it. 

• Closer: Great in the sales process when given a warm lead and highly skilled at taking prospects to that decision point. Think of the closer as the center on a basketball team. They put up a lot of points, but they need the team to feed them the ball in the paint to do it.   

• Prospecting Closer: The overall sales professional. Typically, in order to have the all-around person, managers may have to give up something. In this instance, they may not be as effective at closing as straight “closers” or as good at relationship management as the “account managers.” The prospecting closer is like the point guard. They create the opportunities and finish at the hoop but rarely outscore a star center.  

3. Hiring someone who regularly colors outside the lines 

When building and managing the sales team, be on the lookout for salespeople who disregard the standard to suit their needs. Set up clear incentives, measurement tools, feedback and expectations from day one. Then regularly review those with the rep. Discovering new sales leads and closing contracts will decide if the business succeeds or fails, so make sure the sales reps understand the importance of building maintenance and cleaning to anticipate customer needs.  

4. Not empowering the sales superstars  

One of the best things managers can do for the sales team is to measure the right things at the right time to empower the superstars. Measure and report behaviors that lead to results — every day. It could be appointments, bids, follow-up calls, etc. Once they get the process down, managers can then move to weekly progress reports. If someone falls behind, reassess behaviors and outcomes daily until they improve.  

5. Limiting the hiring to just one salesperson 

As mentioned above, everyone on the sales team has specific strengths and weaknesses, so do not hitch the future of the business to just one salesperson’s wagon. 

The success of the sales team is directly tied to the growth and success of the business objectives and the opinions of the customers. Remember, learning about the commercial cleaning industry and the needs of customers is an experiential journey for each prospect. They are looking to fill a desired need and outcome. Ensure the sales team understands the “desired need” from the start and reverse engineer the processes. 

Adam Povlitz is the CEO and president of Anago Cleaning Systems, one of the world's leading franchised commercial cleaning companies and a leader in technological advances relating to business operations and janitorial services.