We've all heard the statistics about the success rates of small businesses. One of the recent statistics I've heard from the SBA is that 7 out of 10 new small businesses with under 500 employees last at least 2 years, but only about half of new businesses are still in business after 5 years.
I believe that one of the reasons cleaning business owners fail is because they give up too soon. I talk to cleaning business owners every day and a lot of them go out and cold call, or send a letter, send a postcard, etc, and then expect that someone will make a decision to call them up immediately to ask them for a proposal. Now there ARE some prospects that will do this, especially if you have great direct response marketing materials. But unless you strike a nerve with the prospect at the time you made contact, the odds are against you that the first contact will result in a new client.
You've also heard the statistics about needing multiple "touches" before a prospect will buy. Here are some recent statistics that were shared in the June/July 2011 issue of Upsize Magazine:
- 19 % of sales close with four contacts or less
- 81% close on or after the fifth contact
- 90% of businesses quit following up sometime between the first and fourth contact
- 10% of business keep going to a fifth contact or beyond.
Now that you've seen the statistics, ask yourself - "At what point do I give up contacting a prospect?" Are you in the 90% of businesses that quit following up between the first and fourth contact?
Now I don't care if you're honest with me or anyone else that asks you this question. What's important is that you are honest with yourself. If you find yourself complaining that you can't find clients, then take a serious look at how many times you connect with your prospects. And notice I use the word "connect". It's not necessary to always be "selling" to your prospects. There are other ways to connect, such as making a referral, sending them a useful resource, or offering to buy them a cup of coffee to learn more about their business so you can send more people their way.
My favorite way of connecting with prospects when we had our cleaning business was to mail them our newsletter. In the newsletter we specifically wrote articles that would appeal to our target market. So if it went to a business prospect we had articles with topics like team building, how to brainstorm effectively, customer service tips, and safety in the workplace. Clients and prospects ate this up! They would share it with employees by putting it in the breakroom.Think about how many people were reading our newsletter and learning about our business. Sometimes we would get a call from the spouse of one of those employees, because they needed a cleaning service and learned about it from his wife, who was reading our newsletter!
If we wanted to connect with a residential cleaning prospect, we included articles with topics like how to save money, health-related tips, decorating for the holidays, and healthy recipes. Our residential prospects would often share the newsletter with their mother, sister, friends and neighbors.
What we discovered is that we built stronger relationships with our clients, and our prospects felt we were giving them valuable and entertaining information. We were still marketing to our prospects by including sections on what's new in our company and with our employees, a trivia section that could win them a prize, and a savings coupon. But they never felt as if they were being marketed to!
So no more excuses! Get out there and find ways to "touch" your prospects so you can join the ranks of the 81% that close after the fifth contact!