The dirty business of selling

We are all selling

Selling ourselves if we are employees or looking for work. Selling a product. Selling a brand or an image. Selling sex. Selling the lifestyle. Selling the smile. The list goes on and on and on.

We might try to sell by cold-calling (gag!), advertising, building a great website or via our networks. Some methods are definitely more fruitful and successful than others!

I think that sales is like politics. Anyone who wants to be Prime Minister is probably not the right person for the job. Someone who does it reluctantly because they know they are the best person to do it, and not because of the power and glory, is the person that I would like to vote for. I do not know very many people who like sales – despite the fact that you can make a lot of money if you do it well. There’s that real pressure that comes from being in between “the company” who wants sales NOW and seems to have no time for relationships and trust to be built, and the client, who really does not want to be “sold too”. For me, it’s mostly that awful feeling of being someone that a potential client doesn’t want to talk to.

I find myself in an interesting position at the moment. I am a business partner at BIR, and essentially we provide business tools and services, training in support of these, and additional strategic consulting and communication provision. I am also building Superhero in Disguise in my spare time.

At BIR we are constantly talking about selling. When you are a smallish niche business as we are, drumming up work in order to support ourselves and the business is a constant strategic discussion after all! In addition, almost all of our clients cite “sales” as their major concern. So pretty much, despite providing a huge range of products and services, it all boils down to sales. At least as the major presenting symptom. And there is always a fair bit of pressure to deliver sales within a very short time usually!

In my spare time with Superhero in Disguise, of course I am selling. I’m selling the brand. I’m letting people know that they are not hiring a cleaner, they are procuring a Superhero. I’m also having a whole bunch of fun. It’s really lovely to be doing something that involves learning (I have never blogged before as such, although I have contributed, and now find myself writing blogs for both of my websites), playing with people (who doesn’t love a Superhero?!), exercising (the irony of having completed a Bachelor of Physical Education and disliking formal exercise is not lost on me), and indulging my proclivity towards nurturing Obsessive Compulsive tendencies. Yes, I am that annoying person who wants to tidy your kitchen when she pops in for a coffee.

This is where the interesting part comes in. You must have been wondering when I’d get to the interesting bit…

You see, I am selling in all of these roles, and yet, I am the world’s worst sales person. I am crap at cold calling. In fact, I just had a lovely young man hang up on me not more than an hour ago. The funny thing is that I wasn’t trying to sell HIM anything. I wanted to speak to the right person so that I could tell them about this fantastic iPad app that would benefit their company enormously. If I’d had the chance to explain all of this, his response might have been a little different. But the reality is that as soon as he thought that I was selling, he didn’t want to be subjected to a conversation.

This is why I have become somewhat of an expert at internal marketing – customer satisfaction, customer retention, loyalty, relationships, trust and the supporting systems and processes that ensure that businesses maximise this.

But the REALLY interesting thing is that Superhero in Disguise is growing so fast that I am now considering taking on another part-time Superhero, after only 5 weeks. This is in an industry that is over-serviced, under-paid, chronically under-appreciated and with a market flooded with advertising and sales messages. www.superheroindisguise.com.au is getting higher click rates than many established and fairly well-known businesses that I have worked with. Clients are baking for their Superhero. Yes, you read that right. Clients are willingly completing a 10 second survey after every inhumanly good home clean. They are talking to their friends, and I have had to turn away clients who are just too far away. I’ve even had two out-of-state (tongue-in-cheek) enquiries from people who read the Facebook exclamations of Superhero clients.

So what is the difference? Three products. High cost – high value, mid-cost – high value and low-cost – high value. I don’t think the actual cost part makes much of a difference. For the high and mid-cost products, the company pays, not the individual that is negotiating or deciding on the product. I’m not even entirely sure that it is the value that is delivered. In all three cases, perceived and actual value is high. I don’t think it is about my established relationships either – I do not have any friends or family on my Superhero client list. Is it the fun? Is it the inhumanly good home clean? Is it the relentless insistent use of puns and Marvelesque rhetoric?

Personally, I think that it is working, incredibly fast, because of all of that internal marketing. Within a very short period of time I have loyal, satisfied clients who trust that I love to fight their Grime, and make their homes into beautiful lairs. I don’t actually have to sell. But I have made sure that they know that I appreciate and treasure their referrals. I remind them after every clean. I play with them on Social Media and they are sharing their likes and friends with me.

I think, in fact, that I have fallen into the Dirty Business of Selling.

What do you think? Are you a gun salesperson? Can you recommend any good reads or references that will help me? Please leave a comment and we can discuss.

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Build a vision

My Vision: What makes me different from the bazillion other cleaning companies in Melbourne?

I have heard so many different definitions of what a “vision” is, that really, despite my vast experience (I’m older than I look), even putting the word vision into the header of this blog, was slightly disconcerting. I need to build a vision.

I have a name, and a domain name for the company, so all I need to do is to build the website right? Not quite. Before I can create any branding, verbal imagery, or client attraction, I kinda need to know what I’m all about. I need to build a vision. A close colleague asked me this very early on in the piece. What makes you different from everyone else? Why would I pay more to have you come and clean my house, when I know that I can get cleaning services for less?

Well that is true. As I mention on the front page of the website, cleaners are notoriously underpaid. And in fact, if they work for a cleaning company, I’m not sure how they would even pay for homemade sandwiches for lunch! Did their employers build a vision? Or did they do it the traditional way that everyone else has done it?

And yet, as I started asking questions of my friends who used a cleaner for their home, I was struck by a strong common theme. Comments like “I let them go because I wasn’t even sure that they had cleaned”, or “I think they used my window-cleaner to mop the floor”, or “I just can’t find a good cleaner – I’ve tried dozens”.

Coincidental you think?

I don’t! How on earth can you feel passionate about doing a brilliant job, how can you take pride on making your clients’ homes beautiful, when you’re worried about where your next meal is coming from? How can you not feel slightly resentful towards your clients, when they value your services so poorly? Because that is the way that it has always been?

I could now build a vision. Standby for some descriptive imagery.

Superhero in Disguise is all about doing a brilliant job. It’s all about taking pride in making Superhero clients’ homes beautiful. It’s all about caring about the home and welfare of our clients. It is all about engaging with our clients, getting to know what is important, and checking in with them regularly to make sure that their needs are being met.

It is not about cutting corners. It is not about resentment.

It is ALL about quality, care, amazing results – everything that you would normally expect from your average Superhero.

For this reason, the bylines of the company are “Every day is a home cleaning adventure”, and “Super Home Cleaning with Attitude”. Superhero in Disguise swoops in and performs miracles. And our clients appreciate us. That is what the vision is all about.

The real test is in the litmus though don’t you think?

Will people pay?

Will they appreciate being delighted enough to continue?

Will they refer their friends and family to Superhero in Disguise?

Please hold caller, while I go and find out…

And if you are so inclined, please check out the website at http://www.superheroindisguise.com.au. You can even read through some rather fabulous blogs about how you can keep house like a boss.

Do you have any feedback on this blog? Any advice to give this common Superhero in Disguise? It’s always good to have a rousing discussion. Or in fact to know that someone has read this blog! Mum, please private message me – no-one needs to know that my socks are not matching today.

Build a vision

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