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Lesson Learned About Cold Calling from the Movie, "Pursuit of Happyness"

Over the Christmas holiday we went to see the Will Smith movie, The Pursuit of Happyness. The movie is based on the true story of Chris Gardner, a single father who went from homelessness to self-made millionaire.

In order to break free of his situation, Gardner managed to get accepted into an internship program for brokers. The interns were given lists of people who worked in a particular business and their task was to start at the bottom and work their way up the list, selling their firm's financial services, until they finally reached the CEO of the company. Since Gardner wasn't able to work the long hours some of the others were working (due to having to pick up his son at 4pm every day), he had to find ways to be more productive with the time he had. But no matter how fast he worked his way up the list, he couldn't get through a list in one day. And that's when the idea hit him...

Rather than starting at the bottom of the list, Gardner decided to start at the top. He started by asking for the CEO by name, and when the "gatekeeper" asked what it was about he simply said, "This is Chris Gardner with XXX Company."  Notice he didn't say, "This is Chris Gardner and I'd like to talk to Mr. CEO about his financial portfolio." She would have cut him off instantly!  But since he simply stated his name and company, she wasn't sure if the CEO knew him or not, so she put the call through.

When the CEO picked up the phone Chris simply stated that he needed about 10 minutes of his time, to which the CEO said YES!  Now I hate to give the whole movie away, so I won't tell the whole story about the innovative ways Chris put himself in front of the CEO. But in the end, when the CEO discovered that Gardner was simply an intern, he was honest and said there was no way he was going to let Chris handle his portfolio. However, because Gardner managed to build a relationship with the CEO, he was introduced to other people in the company and was able to sign on several new customers.

This method of selling is something we've talked about over and over again. First, start at the top. If you start at the bottom, you may not ever get a chance to talk to the actual decision maker. If the CEO doesn't make the decisions on cleaning in the building, then he or she will let you know the person you need to talk to. When that happens, you can call the correct person and tell him that the CEO gave you his information. Believe me, that will make them take notice and will very likely get you an appointment.

So the next time you pick up that phone to make a cold call, how will you handle it? Click on the Comments link below to post your comments.

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Try a New Tactic When Phone Calls Don't Work

A new cleaning business owner has been making cold calls using the telephone and isn't having much luck -- he was hung up on 3 times in a row! That can be quite discouraging, even for those of us with thick skins. So he did the right thing and asked for some advice. Here's some tips we gave him:

  1. When you approach the the gatekeeper, see if she has a name tag or nameplate on her desk and address her by name. Say something like, "Hello Susan, would you be able to help me?". Of course she'll say "Yes!"
  2. Tell her that you want to leave some information about your services, "and by the way who makes the decisions on your cleaning services?" Then ask if anyone works with him/her on that decision. Now you will know if you've got the top person.
  3. If she gives you the contact person's name, ask her what his or her title is, and the best time to call. The real key to geting past the gatekeeper is to build a relationship with her.
  4. An even better option is to start by researching the company. Find out who the boss is, what the company does, etc. Then go to their office and ask for that person by name. When you do this, the gatekeeper isn't sure what your relationship is to the boss. If he or she is not in, then find out the best time to call.

After offering the new business owner the above tips, he went and tried it out. Here's what he wrote back to us:

"Your advice was on the money and very simple for a rookie like myself. Put your advice to work this morning and spoke to decision makers every time. Can't wait to tell you about my first contract."

If you find that your marketing efforts arent' working, then try something else. Sometimes just a small change in your approach can make all the difference!

Did you find this post helpful? If you'd like TONS of information and help from REAL PEOPLE who are running successful cleaning businesses, then you need to visit The Janitorial Store.

Do You Have a Sales Funnel for Your Cleaning Business?

The phrase "sales funnel" gets tossed about these days. A sales funnel is a metaphor for the sales process. The idea is that new prospects come into the "funnel" (the widest part), and then they work their way through your sales system and come out the bottom (the narrow part) by placing an order (or buying your services). The reason the sales funnel narrows is that not all prospects are going to turn out to be your ideal client so many will drop out along the way.

Here are the stages of the Sales Funnel:

  1. Unqualified Prospects or New Opportunities (research prospects and create a cold calling lists)
  2. Initial Communication (first phone call or in-person cold call in order to set up an appointment)
  3. First Discussion (first meeting, listen to their problems)
  4. Develop Solutions (answer questions, solve problems, offer information, educate, show the value!)
  5. Customer Evaluation (is this a good fit for both parties?)
  6. Negotiation (overcome objections, re-state the value, discuss the contract)
  7. Commitment to Buy (place the order, sign the contract)
  8. Delivery (perform the service - under-promise and over-deliver)
  9. Payment (cash in the bank)
  10. Follow Up (ongoing)

Now you may be saying to yourself, well it's just not that easy! No, of course not. Once a prospect is qualified, it may take 7 to 10 "touches" before they buy. So the best way to approach this is to lay out a plan for each of your prospects. How are you going to work them through your sales system (funnel)?

Some of the things you can do is send postcards or letters, follow up phone calls, setting up appointments, sending thank you cards after a meeting, or sending them your monthly newsletter. With each of these methods, you're persuading, educating, overcoming objections, and providing information. The more the prospects get to know you, the further down they tunnel they'll be until the sale is eventually made.

So how many prospects are in YOUR sales funnel? Post your comments below.

Did you find this post helpful? If you'd like TONS of information and help from REAL PEOPLE who are running successful cleaning businesses, then you need to visit The Janitorial Store.

Lay Off Forces Full-Time Cleaning Business

We recently had an owner of a part-time cleaning business tell us that she was laid off from her full-time job, just a three weeks before Christmas. Luckily she'll be paid through the month and will receive unemployment, which should take a bit of the pressure off.

I remember when I left my corporate job to work full time in our cleaning business. The job is like a security blanket -- it's there with the steady paycheck, sick pay, health and disability insurance. When that goes away it's a bit scary because now it's all up to you! But rest assured, within 3 months of leaving my job we had our own insurance in place and I felt totally renewed and energized. As a result, our business grew twice as fast as it had the first few years.

The way I look at it is, when one door closes another door opens. So rather than worrying about losing a job, it's time to use this as an opportunity to grow the cleaning business and take it to the next level so you're able to make a comfortable living from the business.

Since letting us know about her situation, the cleaning business owner has received lots of encouragement, support, and advice from others who have been in the same situation. This is one of the great things about our discussion forum at It's a supportive community, so if you have a problem or would like to discuss something, there's always someone there to offer advice and encouragement.