Selling Your Services
Increase Sales by Closing More Bids
by Nick Denroche, VP of Marketing for ContractorPower.com (adapted for power sweeping by Ranger Kidwell-Ross)
Getting plenty of bidding opportunities but not closing enough contracts? Even though your bids may be competitive, make sure you are among the elite sweeping companies that don't rely on being low bidder. The people in those select firms know they must appear professional on all levels in order to get new customers at a decent profit margin. Take the suggestions in this article to heart and you'll be well on your way to increasing your closing rate.
The easiest, and least expensive, way to increase sales is to close more of the leads that come your way. Say you are currently closing one out of every six bids you put in. If you were able to increase that to just two out of every eight leads that come your way, that's a near 40% increase! All without having to spend additional time and money developing leads in-house or advertising to generate those leads.
Easier said than done, of course. However, are you currently doing everything you can to close the leads? Do you wonder what else you might be doing? If so, take a look at some of the basic fundamentals behind the sales process and give some thought to how well you are doing them.
Although this may seem petty, appearance can play a major factor in a prospect's decisionmaking process. You don't necessarily want to put on a suit and tie -- in fact, in most instances you will NOT want to do that -- but a clean and well-kept appearance goes a long way toward making a good first impression. Shirts with your company's name and logo, as well as signage on your vehicle, are the types of things that lend credibility to your business in the eyes of any prospect for sweeping and other, related, services.
Show up on time whenever possible. If you're going to be late for an appointment, make a quick phone call. Provide all estimates in a timely manner and by the date specified or agreed upon. If you tell someone you will provide them with an estimate on Wednesday and you don't get back to them until Friday, you are indirectly telling them that their business is not all that important to you.
Take an Obvious Interest:
Right from your first meeting show that you are putting considerable thought into the project. Taking a serious interest in the job before you even land it may be the difference between whether you get the job or not. When you're on the property to figure up your bid, look at the entire area, not just at the parking lot expanse that might be included in the bid.
For example, a friend of mine was looking to have a new roof put on his house. He had three guys come out to give him an estimate. The first guy glanced up at the roof for about half a minute then gave him his estimate. The second guy got out his tape measure, measured the house, then provided him with an estimate. The third guy got out his ladder, got up on the roof, took a look around, did some measurements, then provided him with an estimate. The third guy got the job even though his price was slightly more than the other two.
In the case of a parking lot sweeping estimate, look around at the back loading area even if it isn't to be included in the bid. Look for 'bad' pavement, hard-to-clean landscaping, chain link fences (that hold blown debris), general upkeep items like wall condition (will you be able to sell them on power washing services a time or two per year?), and any other items that might give you 'talking points' to include in your estimate. Sometimes the key to landing a jobeven though you have a higher bid is that you take the time to explain why your bid is a little higher. By transmitting extra information to the prospect, you make them realize that your expertise is on a higher level than that of other bidders.
Present Estimates in Person:
You may not be able to provide an accurate estimate during your first visit to the site. Or, you may be able to provide the bid but not do so in a professional manner that showcases your company in a great light. In most cases, it is a good idea to present your bids in person. Ideally, you should do so at a time you can meet with the decisionmaker. This not only shows you're truly interested in the job but also provides you with an excellent opportunity to gain key information that may be helpful in closing the sale.
Ask for the Sale:
Asking for a sale is something even the most seasoned professionals have a hard time doing. You want to be firm but, at the same time, don't want to be overly aggressive. One of the best ways to approach this, without coming off as pushy or desperate, is to use a forced choice question. This is a question that forces the prospect to make a decision regarding your services. For example: "When would you like us to start exceeding your expectations?", or "We look forward to showing you the quality our sweeping team provides. Is there any reason we can't get started?"
Competition in the sweeping industry is fierce. It's no longer sufficient to simply provide a service because there are a dozen other companies who provide the same basic level of sweeping services. You must make your business stand out so that people couldn't possibly imagine NOT using your services.
The differentiating factor between your business and your competition should never be price alone. Trying to compete for a job by simply lowering your bid can only hurt you in the long run.
Right now you may be thinking: "I do all of these things well but I'm having trouble differentiating myself. Beyond providing exceptional service, how else can I make myself stand out?"
One way you can do this is with business handouts designed to showcase your understanding of the industry. Do you have a nice brochure? How about other handouts that illustrate your company's affiliations, why it's important to sweep, things to look for in choosing a sweeping contractor, etc.? The WorldSweeper.com team has designed these types of professional handouts for a large number of sweeping companies.
Another plus is to showcase that you are a NAPSA member or a participant in WorldSweeper.com's Ethics Program. If you are either or both of these, then make sure your prospects know what that means for them, and why it sets your company apart.
By putting a little more thought and effort into your job bids, as well as by adhering to the basic sales practices outlined in this article, you can increase your closing rate with minimal effort. By making sure everyone in your company follows these same practices, and going to the next level by differentiating yourself from the competition, you are sure to see a rise in sales. You can't keep going through the same routine and expect to get different results. If you aren't already doing everything we've discussed, above, isn't it time to take the next step?
The author where the nucleus of this information was taken is Nick Denroche, VP of Marketing for Contractor Power. For more info on him and the company he represents, visit http://www.contractorpower.com. You may also reach Nick via email sent to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Because Mr. Denroche's article was keyed to the general contracting business, WorldSweeper.com's editor, Ranger Kidwell-Ross, adapted the information to fit power sweeping contractors.
You may also want to take a look at a related article entitled 'Recession Marketing: The Rules Change.'
If you have comments on this article, or new information to provide on this topic, let us know and we can add it in as an addendum to this article. (Be sure to note the web URL address for the article you're referencing.)