If you asked most business owners how they would describe 2020, their responses would probably range from “no comment” to “abysmal.” Only a few industries managed to get ahead during the pandemic; the rest had to pivot their sales strategy and brace themselves for months of financial uncertainty.
The commercial cleaning industry was somewhere in the middle—the need for medical disinfecting services skyrocketed, but stable clients like school districts and office buildings suddenly shut down and no longer needed day porters. From March to mid-summer, cleaning and janitorial companies had to rethink their sales strategy. Then, as schools and businesses slowly reopened in the latter half of the year, cleaning companies once again had to pivot if they wanted to sign new contracts.
It takes an adept sales team to navigate the tricky terrain of a global pandemic. One Texas-based janitorial services client came to that conclusion in November 2020 after spending months unsuccessfully searching for leads on their own. They hoped that we could jumpstart their sales in 2021, and we did—far faster than anyone expected.
Here’s how we used strategic B2B appointment setting to bring our commercial cleaning client three deals in three months.
If you’re familiar with B2B lead generation, you know that instant gratification is not achieved often. It takes more than a few weeks to get a sales strategy off the ground, and sometimes, clients don’t make their first deal until months into their program. While that may feel like a bad thing, it’s pretty typical, and it proves that patience pays off.
When generating leads for commercial cleaning clients, it’s almost unheard of to close a deal in the first few months—it usually takes over five months just to set an appointment with a prospect, let alone convince them to sign a contract. So, how did we manage to build a sustainable sales pipeline in less time than it usually takes to set one appointment? Our path to success began during implementation.
Before embarking on a new B2B appointment setting program, we always take the time to get to know our clients. Until we understand their target audience, lead generation goals, and company mission, we can’t properly identify, cleanse, or nurture our leads. That’s why we spend an entire month collaborating with our clients before picking up the phones and making our first calls.
During the implementation month, we made sure to give our cleaning client realistic expectations for our B2B appointment setting services. We aren’t miracle workers, and creating a great sales program takes time, particularly for clients in the cleaning industry. After discussing expectations, we spent a few meetings learning about our client’s business. Our most important takeaways were:
- Our client wanted to reach prospects who valued quality over price. Their competitors offered inconsistent services and subbed out their labor, but our client followed a nine-step cleaning process and rigorously screened potential employees before hiring them. If we reached leads who were frustrated with their current cleaning provider, we could use these differentiating factors to sell our client’s services.
- Our client’s target radius was small—within around 20 miles of their headquarters. It’s difficult to find viable leads in such a small area, especially when clients have additional criteria they want us to follow, but we were determined to make it happen.
- If a prospective lead presented a small opportunity, we needed to go back to the drawing board. Ideal leads had over 10,000 square feet of cleanable space, more than 30 employees, and preferably over $1 million in yearly revenue.
- Our client’s preferred potential customers were medical practices, office buildings, and private schools with high standards of cleanliness.
We used all of the above information to compile and cleanse a list of leads during the implementation month. Our sales team knew that COVID-19 cleaning services would present an immediate opportunity for our client, so they spent extra time asking about leads’ current pandemic practices during the cleansing process. Once we verified that our contact information was correct and the leads on our list were worth our time, our sales development representatives (SDRs) prepared to go live on Dec. 1, 2020.
Our go-live date is when we switch from preparation mode to sales mode. Instead of asking qualifying questions about key decision-makers (KDMs) and contact information, our SDRs start asking about a lead’s pain points, issues with their current provider, and their willingness to switch. Beginning with that first call, we start inching closer to an appointment, which might happen a few months or even a few years down the road.
December is usually a slow month for B2B sales—KDMs often take a few weeks off to spend with their families, and some companies close up shop for an entire week to close out the year. As a result, getting a lead on the phone for more than a few minutes is a challenge during the holiday season, and most refuse to commit to anything until the calendar year changes.
We can’t control how leads will respond at any given moment, but we can use our proven B2B lead generation strategies to improve the likelihood of a sale. Our strategic process worked well right out of the gate—one prospect seemed like they were ready to make a deal during our introductory call. Our SDRs immediately learned that the lead was unhappy with their current janitors, who were getting less thorough with each cleaning. As an industrial products manufacturer, our lead couldn’t keep their facilities clean for very long, and they needed a provider that offered heavy-duty cleaning and consistent quality of service.
It only took a few calls, some supporting emails, and strategically placed marketing collateral to get our manufacturing lead to commit to an appointment. To our surprise, their facilities manager didn’t want to wait until the holiday season was over; they were ready to meet on Dec. 29, 2020.
Before our client’s first meeting with a lead, we gave them some tips for delivering a compelling sales presentation, including:
- Know your lead and understand their pain points: You might have gotten a passing grade after winging a presentation in college, but sloppy presentations don’t cut it in the business world. If your lead is going to turn into a customer, they need to know that you understand their concerns and can offer an actionable solution.
- Be concise: No one wants to read a slide that’s jam-packed with text. Your words should be the meat of your presentation, and your presentation slides should offer a concise summary of your main points.
- Establish trust: Telling a lead that you’re a trustworthy company might work sometimes, but showing them is far more effective. Emphasize some killer stats, show them a case study video, and send them home with marketing collateral.
- Be professional but approachable: There’s a fine line to walk during a sales presentation. One side of the line is too stuffy; the other is too casual. Make your sales pitch conversational while also showcasing how serious you are about your work.
- Outline next steps and follow through: The best way to tank an impeccable sales pitch is by leaving it open-ended. Once you lose touch with a lead, you’re basically inviting another company to swoop in and take your business. To avoid ambiguity and improve your chances of closing the deal, you should tell your lead what to expect next and outline when those next steps will happen.
Our cleaning client took our tips to heart, and in mid-January, they closed a deal for $699 in monthly recurring revenue.
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While our client focused on closing their first deal, we got the ball rolling on deal two. Our SDRs had an abundance of qualified leads in their pipeline, and each call brought them closer to another appointment. One potential customer, a petroleum products wholesaler, initially gave us the same line that most cleaning leads give during their first call: “We already have a cleaning company and aren’t interested in switching.” That could have been the end of the conversation, but we dug deeper and discovered an untapped opportunity for our client: COVID-19 disinfecting.
Once we determined that the lead was genuinely interested in adding disinfecting services to their cleaning program, we sent them a sell sheet that our creative team put together. Our collateral convinced them to set a meeting on Jan. 27, and by mid-February, our client finalized deal two. The result? A 12-month contract with an additional $523 in MRR.
Deal three was already in the works before our client closed deal two, this time with a machinery manufacturing company. When our SDRs contacted the prospect for the first time, they initially hung up the phone after explaining that they already had a janitorial service provider for their office space. During the next call, we reached a better decision-maker who made an appointment on the spot. It turned out their current provider wasn’t meeting their standards, and all we had to do to secure a meeting was tell them about our client’s multi-step cleaning process.
Our client aced their appointment in early February, and on March 1, they signed their third contract exactly three months after their go-live date. The third deal added another $345 in MRR, with the opportunity to upsell in the future.
Outbound marketing is tricky. Even when you use every lead generation tactic in the book, there’s no guarantee you’ll achieve rapid success. However, there are a few things you can do to increase your chances of a quick return on investment: take the time to prepare for your lead generation program and never take no for an answer. We were only able to reach viable leads so quickly because we took an entire month to prepare beforehand. Once those leads were in the pipeline, we didn’t let them go—even when they told us no and hung up on us.
As a business owner in the commercial cleaning industry, you know how difficult it is to gain market share in your area. Most of your leads already have a provider, and it takes more than a convincing phone call to get them to switch. If you need an expert’s help getting your sales strategy off the ground, Abstrakt can help. Over the past decade, our appointment setters have mastered the art of commercial cleaning lead generation. We do the heavy lifting to get your leads on the cusp of switching—all you have to do is sell them on your services.
Ready to grow your commercial cleaning business? Get in touch to discuss an exclusive partnership today.