fromThe Pressure Cleaning Marketing Bible by Steve Stephens
Hardly anything will communicate your intentions to prospects like a trade show. There is something about talking to prospects eye-to-eye and belly-to-belly to communicate unspoken words. This tactic is the real deal!
Your prospect will sense your passion for your service or product whether you are selling pressure cleaning or computer widgets. The bottom line is selling is a transference of feelings. If I can make you feel about my product or service the way I feel about my product or service, you are going to break your neck to purchase my product. If I have a sincere desire to fill a customer’s need and know my product or service is going to scratch where he itches, I not only have a sale, but probably a residual buyer and friend.
“Nobody really cares how much you know until they know how much you care.” It is not wise to think a trade show is going to get you money rolling in right away. More than anything, it will establish goodwill between you and those that attend. A trade show is a good vehicle to use to get to know your prospects. Let them know who you are. They should see that you care about their property. You care about their environment. You care about their individual concerns and they are not just another job to you. If you project the appropriate impression, they will use your product or services when needed. Don’t expect the phones to ring off the hook from tradeshows. Do expect to spend many hours one-on-one educating prospects and listening to stories about everything. But that’s OK.
Remember, your business is much more than the basic service you provide. Sometimes people just need to be heard. Listen and embrace the moment that you are able to enrich someone’s life just by being a sounding board.
Don’t get involved in tradeshows if you are not willing to play psychologist now and then. Most of all, just be willing to listen.
Speaking of psychology, let me give you a typical scene that happens so often at home and garden shows. You have a beautiful booth set up with signs that communicate exactly what you do. You have gone to great efforts to have plenty of “hands on” props. Pieces of decking boards and cedar shakes that are many years old restored and preserved and are displayed for visual effect attention grabbers. You have many breathtaking before and after pictures of homes that you have cleaned. You are the authority. You are educating homeowners left and right. You are feeling great and are beyond proud of your knowledge and your business.
In a rush, a young lady scuttles in your booth, her husband swiftly behind her. “Look honey. This is what our house needs so bad!” She points out a pair of pictures of a home that was cleaned. Her husband, of course, has his arms folded, a toothpick in his mouth, which he removes long enough to utter some words about how this is some kind of rip off and that he could do a better job than that anyway.
What to do? What to do? First, pretend you didn’t hear the comment. Take a deep breath, walk over to the couple, and as he replaces his toothpick, ask them (looking only at him) if you can be of help. Chances are the wife is going to be full of questions. The awkward position here is that the husband thinks he is an authority on pressure cleaning. Why, he used a pressure washer one time back in the ‘70s to get mud off a truck his dad rented. The challenge here is to make this man look good in front of his wife. Us men are weird creatures. You don’t have to believe this method, but sadly enough it works.
So, as we begin our sometimes challenging endeavor to make the husband appear intelligent to his wife, we must listen carefully. Remember this guy, although breathing fire and chewing glass is very uncomfortable because he wants to be the macho man in front of his wife. The wife will often ask you how you made the house so clean that it almost appears that it was painted. The husband interrupts before you can answer. “All they do is spray bleach on the house and rinse it off. Anybody can do that.”
As I said, you must dig deep to locate a minute morsel of truth or intelligence and with a little work, there it is! You look back at the man, and with surprise you state something like, “That’s amazing! Our products, while environmentally friendly, contain the active ingredients that are in bleach.” Smiling, you look at him and his wife and say something like, “How did you know that?” This is the time where his arms usually unfold. If appropriate, you tell his wife he must be one of those guys that can just fix everything around the house. Then immediately back to the husband. “So, you have done some pressure cleaning before?” Now the guy is actually friendly because he’s not threatened. As he tells you of his experience with the muddy dump truck, you search deeply for any truth in which you can again build him up in front of his wife. Then move the conversation in to what he does for a living. When he tells you, be respectful and convey that in his line of work he must be much too busy to be bothered with cleaning the exterior of the house. SOLD! I don’t care if he is a doctor or a ditch digger, it will be hard to pass that assumption up in front of his wife.
The key factor here is to remain truthful. Sometimes finding the truth in a situation like this is more than challenging. Be patient. Do not be defensive and be polite. Sometimes it is hard to hold your tongue when everyone tends to come across with an attitude that they know more than you.
Remember how much technology has been introduced to our industry in the last 15 years. Unless you are involved, you would not know. It would be easy to put these “know it alls” in their place, but then no one would win. You’d lose a potential future client and our industry as a whole has been scarred.
Be prepared for these situations at trade shows. You set the standard. Be professional and keep an open and welcoming booth. Speak professionally and dress up for the occasion. Smile at your prospects, shake their hands, look at them in the eye and eat lots of breath mints. Again remember, no one will care how much you know until they know how much you care.
Make sure your setup is open and inviting to your prospects. Your display should be placed in a manner so that everyone can easily see your props and pictures. Always smile and greet people as they stop by.
Be prepared to educate, not to sell.