One of the most frequently asked questions we get from cleaning business owners goes something like this:
"I met with a prospect who loved my presentation and seemed ready to hire us, but now he's gone silent. How can I get him to make a decision?"
First, you never want to leave a meeting without stating what will happen next (ie: you'll call next Tuesday at 9am). Assuming that didn't happen, here are some tips to re-engage your prospect. But first...
What NOT to do when following up with a cleaning prospect:
- DON'T send an email follow-up that looks like this: "I'm just following up to see if you're still interested in hiring our cleaning company." It sounds desperate and does nothing to prompt them into action.
- DON'T send a follow-up email that says how interested you are in working with him or her. That isn't going to make an impression or get him or her to take action.
Do this instead to nudge your cleaning prospect:
- Find a better reason to stay in touch, instead of sending desperate emails. Everyone talks about adding value by sending an interesting article you think your prospect might be interested in. Take it a step further and send them an article that YOU have written that demonstrates your expertise. And make sure it's a topic they'd be interested in or that is important to their business. For example, maybe there's a recent flu outbreak and you've written a blog post on how to prevent the spread of germs in an office setting.
- Mail them something of value. Our clients loved our monthly newsletter. And yes, we actually printed it out and mailed it to them. They are much more likely to open something that lands on their desk than they are to open an email newsletter, where it's easy to hit the Delete key. We also sent it to prospects that we really wanted to do business with. In our initial meeting we gave them a copy, and then continued to mail it to them. In one case, our prospect was in the early stages of building a 50,000 sq ft, Class A office building. It took several months, but instead of badgering them with phone calls, we stayed in touch with the newsletter. And we were the first ones they called when it came time to submit proposals.
- Think about what might make the timing of a follow-up meeting important right now. Maybe winter is just ending and you know their floors are in desperate need of professional cleaning.
- Give them a reason to be interested. You had them engaged in your first meeting, so find a way to re-engage them. Think back to what their issues are with the current cleaning service. For example, you could say something like, "At our last meeting you mentioned that you are tired of the soap dispensers running out of soap all the time. I have an idea on how to fix that problem." Remember, it's not about you; it's about your prospect's problems and how you can fix them.
- Find a client or colleague who can give them a nudge. LinkedIn is a great resource for finding common connections with clients and prospects. Maybe a current client who knows Mr. Prospect would be willing to put in a good word.
A tip regarding your cleaning prospect's preferred method of communication
Many of us are so used to text messaging instead of actually calling people, that we simply assume that everyone is ok with it. But before you start bothering your prospect with text messages, find out their preference early on.
During your first call or meeting, get their cell phone number. Afterwards, send a text message to say you've added him or her as a contact and are looking forward to your next meeting. You'll know by the reply you get (or don't get), whether or not texting is a good way to stay in touch. If they do reply, be sure to use texting responsibly: do not badger them with texts, text them during business hours only, spell out words and use short sentences. In other words, don't text like a teenager if you know what I mean (lol)...
If you've been following up regularly for about 3 months without response, it's time to give it a rest
Sometimes the timing just isn't right. It doesn't necessarily mean they'll never hire you. We've had prospects contact us a year or more after our initial meeting, finally ready to make the switch. Check back in 6 months or so to see if you get a response. If not, let it go and put the ball in their court by letting them contact you when they're ready.