13 Reasons Why You’re Losing Customers

Commercial sales are a different animal. Here’s a primer on how to make your company less vulnerable to losing commercial business.

Producing sales in any industry is not a simple task. As a matter of fact, it’s downright hard. Like the old saying goes, “If it were easy, everyone would do it.”

In pest management, one of the harder processes to excel at is selling to the commercial market. Patrick Quigley, owner of Sales Training by Design, trains pest control professionals and works with companies to achieve their commercial goals through better selling techniques and processes. Quigley presented a session titled “How to Sell Profitable & Successful Commercial Services” at the recent PCT Commercial Virtual Conference.

“The ability to take business away from the competition at a higher monthly rate brings self-gratification to the highest level,” Quigley says of commercial sales successes. “There’s nothing better than going in and prospecting for a period of time, walking in that front door and getting some of the business and walking out the back door with a lot more, because you did the right things.”

Quigley started his career in pest control more than 40 years ago as a termite technician and grew into a role in commercial sales, eventually handling that for a major distributor. To find out what issues a company has, he looks for their vulnerabilities.

“This is kind of a ‘checkup from the neck up.’ You know, if you look at this and then go back and do some quality control on your commercial accounts, you can see if there’s any vulnerability. When you can stop your competition from coming into your accounts because you’re no longer vulnerable and you pass that on to your next commercial account, then your next commercial account, and your next commercial account … you don’t lose accounts; you continue to grow your business.”

Quigley put together a checklist of things to determine if your pest control business is vulnerable to losing business.

1. Turnover.

“Well, there’s no doubt that turnover is a major problem in vulnerability. Turnover is deadly in the commercial arena.” Quigley says that keeping good employees, especially in a tough job market, is vital to every company. Employees who deliver what they promise and have excellent communication skills are the backbone of successful pest control firms.

2. Lack of Quality Control.

One reason sales accounts are lost to the competition is by taking shortcuts, Quigley says. “I’m experiencing this with one of my clients. He started to cut some corners, and when you cut corners and cut corners and cut corners, it kind of gets worse,” he says. “And the effect is this, what you’re doing falls flat. So, I think that lack of quality control will absolutely make you vulnerable.”

3. Poor Customer Service.

Quigley looks at customer service as a company-wide initiative that everyone is a part of to be successful. Without that buy-in across the board there’s a good chance of failure at some point. “If you’re not focused all the way at the top on exceptional customer service, you’re not focusing on customer service as a pinnacle part of your business.” This is essential to long-term success with customers in both commercial and residential pest control.

4. Failed Inspections and Audits.

Quigley suggests focusing on the long-term aspects of a business by reminding employees that every customer delivers them a benefit — their jobs. Making sure that scores on commercial audits for top customers is critical to retention.

“Every customer we bring on the books every single day creates an opportunity for our employees to have a job 365 days from now. And as long as our people understand that as long as we keep our customers on the books, their job is secure.”

5. Consistent Processes.

From how employees check bait stations to using company software to how they perform an application, these need to be consistent processes that don’t differ from employee to employee. Quigley says “when you have one guy doing it one way and another guy doing it another way, that doesn’t have consistency. That’s not good and that makes you vulnerable.”

6. Bad Promises.

Maybe the cornerstone of every bad situation, not just in pest control, is when you over promise and under deliver. Quigley suggests avoiding vulnerable situations by making sure to deliver what you promise. If you offered to treat the whole house for a certain price, the technician needs to deliver on that promise. The more you break these promises, the more opportunities your company will have for lost revenue, client loss, and eventually poor referrals and ratings.

7. Documentation.

Even if you haven’t signed on a customer, ensure that a prospect’s information from a first visit ends up in your company system for retrieval later. Technicians can log this information so that it’s readily available when needed. “Each account needs to be documented so we have proof that we’ve been there on a certain day, been there for a certain amount of time,” Quigley says.

8. Technology.

Is your technology good enough to put you into a position for sales success? There’s little excuse for not running up-to-date software programs that allow you to track leads, gather information and schedule jobs, usually right from a smartphone app.

9. Services Offered.

It’s easy to lose business when your competitor shows up and offers a service you don’t provide, Quigley says. By offering a well-rounded portfolio of services, you have a better chance or reducing customer loss to other companies.

10. Keep People Happy.

People can get discouraged and get down, especially because of COVID-19 and the stresses and limitations it has brought to companies and families alike. Making sure employees are happy cannot be overstated. He says even simple things like writing a note or email to your employees letting them know how important they have been to the company will help with moral and work self-esteem.

11. Target Markets.

Quigley says sales representatives can’t have free reign to go after any business; they need a focus. “Make sure you’re going after the right target markets.”

12. Wrong Management.

“The last thing you want is having two managers (an owner and a manager), but making sure you have the right person managing the process of commercial sales is critically important,” Quigley says.

13. No Complete Plan.

Having a rep call on current clients and “hit the street” to build a business is not a plan. That’s not enough to be successful in commercial pest control sales, he says. Make a plan, stick to it, provide support and be accountable.

Quigley suggests all companies work on how to avoid becoming vulnerable as a regular part of their business. Doing a regular internal check-up, being honest about faults and how to fix them, and taking employee input to heart is important. If your company needs a kick-start in this realm, Quigley can help you develop your game plan for success. His website is www.salesbydesign.com.

August 2021
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