As noted in last week’s article, if you are serious about scaling up your BSC company, you must focus on landing larger accounts. On average, these accounts offer significantly more profit for the effort involved compared to a cluster of smaller accounts totaling the same monthly revenue. They are the stepping stones to reaching the next plateau of growth. While it can be hard to say “No” to prospective clients, this may in fact be the quickest way to move your company forward. As Harvard’s Michael Porter says, “Strategy is more about learning to say ‘no’ and less about saying ‘yes.’”
In this article, I want to offer some suggestions for how you can find and land these large accounts. Now for those of you that are smaller, I know you can struggle with feelings of inadequacy and inferiority. “How can I compete with those larger companies?” “What chance do I really have landing a large account when I’m just a small local company?” But fear not! This process is easier than you might think and your chances are greater than you might think. You just need the guts to go out and make it happen!
Finding Large Accounts
The first step to getting large accounts is finding large accounts. And trust me, this is not complicated. There are basically 3 ways to identify large account prospects in your market.
Develop a list of the largest employers in your area. Depending on your definition of “large”, employee counts of at least 300 (on one site) have the greatest chance of being an ideal prospect. Remember, the more people-traffic a facility has, the greater the cleaning and maintenance needs. Lists can be built through a variety of sources:
Paid list sites (Hoovers, InfoUSA, etc.)
Local/state chamber and economic development websites.
Google Maps aerial views. (Look for large parking lots with numerous cars.
Cold call to mine for information to ensure the prospect truly is a large account. You never want to expend a tremendous amount of sales energy until you are sure the account is truly a “large” prospect. Here are a few questions to help you ascertain the size of the account. Don’t worry if you can’t get all the answers.
How many employees work at your facility?
Do you outsource the janitorial service?
Do they clean the whole building or just part of it?
How many cleaners are on the cleaning staff?
What shifts do the cleaners works?
Find the decision maker. Nothing wastes more time that selling to a person who is not the ultimate decision maker. If the true account decision maker is not sold on your company, your chances of winning the bid are small. Selling 101 says to find the key decision maker(s) FIRST.
Project A Confident, Competent, “Big Company” Image
To sell an account, you must garner the trust of the decision maker. Unless they believe you are confident and competent to do the work, they will be unwilling to give you a shot. And how can you expect them to trust in your company if you don’t believe in yourself and project an air of confidence about your company’s abilities. To get a seat at the bargaining table, you must help the decision maker believe you are a viable possibility. Here are a few tips.
Use the word “regional” instead of “local” when discussing your company’s geographic reach.
Get reference letters from customers in similar industries even if they are smaller in size. For instance, a good reference from a $5,000/month manufacturing client can help you land a $10,000/month manufacturing client.
Talk about your management team using more official “corporate” language. If you have a couple of people in your office who handle hiring and paperwork, call them “the HR team” and not “Jane and Tim in the office.” You don’t want the prospect to see you as an owner operator (which is a risky choice). Rather, they want a qualified company with a high-caliber team.
Large corporate clients speak a certain language, and you speaking that language is important. So for instance, instead of saying “we will check to make sure the cleaning work is done right,” talk about your “quality control program.” The shift in verbiage is subtle, but I believe the impact is significant.
While these tips are by no means exhaustive, they give you a picture of the ways your marketing efforts can impact the prospect’s perception of your BSC.
Big Enough, Small Enough – Your Sales Pitch To Beat The Big Boys
The final tip I have for you is by far my personal favorite – one we’ve used to consistently win bids over and against our larger competitors. As a small or midsized, professional janitorial contractor, you have a unique advantage over your larger competitors. You likely have all the capabilities to service the account just as well as your larger peers; however, you are small enough to deliver a relationship that few larger companies can offer.
As the owner of your BSC, consider the impact of sliding a business card across the table to the prospect and saying the following. “Mr. Prospect, I am the owner and president of ABC Janitorial. If we are fortunate enough to gain your business, you will instantly become a TOP 5 client of ours. Because of this, you will get a level of attention that few other companies can offer. You have my personal guarantee (and my cell number if ever needed) that this account WILL BE a success. We are large enough to handle all of your building service needs, but small enough to offer you a level of service you won’t get anywhere else.”
That, friends, is a sales pitch that works!