From the receptionist to the route driver, everyone can sell your products and services — and build a better portable sanitation company.
The busy season for portable sanitation is going to be upon us soon. Your service routes will balloon in size and your crews will be interacting with customers and potential customers all day long. Whether their next stop is a homebuilding construction site or to drop off several units at a small festival, technicians will be encountering your established customers as well as the general public.
These meet-ups should not simply be incidental to the important job at hand — making those restrooms as clean as possible. No, every person who works in your company should view their dealings with the public as an opportunity to sell the great portable sanitation service you provide. To keep growing your company, sales should be an all-hands-on-deck activity. Your route driver can be your best salesman, and bring you new customers without a whole lot of extra effort.
So says Todd Cohen, an expert in “sales culture,” and the author of Everyone’s in Sales and Everyone’s in Sales; Stop Apologizing. According to Cohen (toddcohen.com), when you overcome a mentality among workers that “sales is not my job,” many new customers will follow — and everyone in the company will benefit.
Now, I know what you are thinking: Most of your staff will be uncomfortable moving beyond their duties on the service route and asking perfect strangers to hire your company’s services. After all, it seems like people are either hardwired to be good at sales or they aren’t. And your front-line service workers might say that’s why they clean restrooms and drive a truck rather than spend their days cold-calling new prospects back at the office.
But Cohen argues we shouldn’t think of sales in that traditional sense. We should realize that some sales are an organic outgrowth of everyday interactions in the field. That’s right. Landing customers doesn’t have to be about the hard sell.
“Selling is not something that requires people to stop what they are doing and do something different. It’s rooted in solid relationship-building and developing trust,” says Cohen. “A sales culture means that each and every employee — regardless of title or tenure — understands that they have a profound impact on a customer’s decision to say ‘yes.’ Put simply, everyone’s in sales because everyone needs to sell themselves well to succeed.”
I’ll bet each of you has heard this same message to a certain degree from an employer. The boss gives the “all for one, one for all” speech and talks about how promoting the company will help everyone in the long run. Employees on the frontline of customer service may think the boss is just trying to heap additional duties on them for which there will be no personal reward.
But there’s a truth in the boss’s message: More sales build the company’s bottom line, which results in more job security and better wages for everybody.
So we have to instill an attitude of ownership across the board.
“People thinking ‘sales is not my job’ are people who will keep the company mired in mediocrity because they think that selling is something else that they have to do in addition to their job,” Cohen says. “The point is that their job is sales and what they do is vital to the company engaging and closing more customers.”
YOU TALK, YOU SELL
Cohen’s point is that sales should not require additional work from your service crew. They can impact sales when they listen to and react to questions or complaints from customers, when they put forth a positive appearance and attitude while on the job site, or when they meet people and tell them how much they enjoy their job and providing a public service.
“It cannot be said enough — when you talk, you sell,” he sums it up. “Every single conversation is a bona-fide selling moment. The fundamental skills of selling are the same skills that you use every day in some fashion.”
I can buy into that. But I think you still need a trigger to keep sales top-of-mind for the whole team. It’s important to impress upon employees that they play a real and important role in growing the business, and that working for a growing company will provide them with a brighter future. But there is more you can do beyond the pep talk to help ensure a more comprehensive sales effort.
I’ll share a few suggestions for ways to motivate your crew to sell your services during the upcoming summer season:
Hold sales training for all employees
Bring in an expert in building a sales culture and spend an afternoon explaining how every team member can bring in new customers. Share subtle sales techniques that front-line workers can use to generate business without making a hard sell.
Offer a sales commission
A pat on the back is a good start, but employees will respond more enthusiastically if they are rewarded for making a sale. Try offering a $20 gas card or a restaurant gift certificate for every new customer a driver brings in. Or tally all the new business driven by individual workers and give a monthly bonus equaling a percentage of the new revenue.
Promoting added services is an easy way technicians can break into sales. When they hit a construction site, have drivers stop and ask the crew foreman how they feel about the service they receive. Would they like to add a sink to the restroom unit? Are any of the units overused and require additional service? Maybe they have another job a few blocks away and they could use another unit?
Put selling in every job description
It’s always easier to make sales a part of the job when a new hire comes on. Write this responsibility into the job description of every worker. That doesn’t mean cold-calling prospects for an hour at the beginning or end of every shift. Rather, it’s reinforcing a mindset that making sales is part of every business relationship.
Create a personal contact list for every worker
Build a database of portable sanitation decision-makers each employee encounters on a regular basis. It could include local business owners, construction crew leaders or special event managers, for example. Ask employees to run down that list once a month and ask contacts what your company can do to provide better, more comprehensive service.
Develop written assets to make sales simpler
You can provide helpful tools to make it easier for employees to approach potential new customers in the field. Write talking point scripts or a follow-up email pitch they can use when making contacts. Promotional cards, brochures and discount coupons would be easy handouts to distribute your sales message.
Set employees up for sales success
Appearance is important. Provide uniforms for your crew, and keep their trucks and equipment clean at all times. Improve morale by adding a few nice employee benefits. Happy workers will be happy to sell your services. Do all you can to retain good workers. The longer they are with you, the more they will want to help you grow the business.
HAVE A GREAT YEAR
I wish you a successful and safe 2017 busy season. Give some of these ideas a try and get everyone selling your products and services. When the season winds down in the fall, let me know which sales strategies worked this year and I’ll share those ideas with readers.