"You Don't Know What You Know"

“You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know”

It’s tough out there.  Both for our customers and particularly us salespeople.   Our customers have lots of information available to make purchasing decisions, which can lead to confusion and sometimes bad buying decisions.  Salespeople are experiencing competitive pressures from previously unknown companies and organizations, and even the internet is now a competitor.   Searching for and selling value is tougher than ever before.   

As a jan-san salesperson where is your value today to both current and new customers?   …and can you communicate and show your value to customers?   This is our challenge and struggle today for salespeople, and for those who hire and train jan-san salespeople.

Our customers have become smarter and more knowledgeable, and for some of you they are smarter than you!   The biggest mistake you can make as a jan-san salesperson today is to be less knowledgeable than your customers.   Your ONLY value is what you know and have experienced, which can help your customers do something better, reduce costs, and be able to offer the best solutions, when your customers think they know more than you.   

My favorite line the past month has been: “you don’t know what you don’t know”.   Think about when you started in this business, which for many of us was a very long time ago.  You knew nothing about what it takes to clean a building, or the difference between a tank & wand extractor and a self-contained extractor.   Simply, you didn’t know what you needed to know, and yet you were successful, because your customers relied on you and your company for answers and you learned over time from repetitively answering those questions.   Today your customers get those answers easily sitting at their desks from Google.   

How do we compete with the wealth of information available to our customers on the internet?

#1- know your business, know your company, know your suppliers better than any of your competitors and especially your customers.
#2- assure you can walk the talk:  Can you strip a floor effectively?  Know the proper steps to clean a Bathroom and have actually done so?  Understand and can work-load the cleaning labor for a building?
#3- Knowledge is Power!   The more you know and the more you can effectively communicate your wealth of information, the more value you offer your customers.  

More than being ‘salesy’ and likable, more than being a pretty face, more than being aggressive and persistent, more than great communication skills, more than making 100 cold calls a week…  as a jan-san salesperson today your knowledge and experience in the cleaning trades is much more valuable to your success.   Understand the cost factors of different cleaning strategies.  Understand how labor is deployed and why.  Understand how chemicals work.  Understand how cleaning managers are evaluated.   Yes, there is much more to know and learn, and dedicating time to keeping up with the latest trends and processes is part of your job.  

So what don’t you know?   …and how do you find out?   Ask your customers.  Ask your managers.  Ask your suppliers and manufacturers.  Get on the internet yourself and learn, about this industry, your suppliers, and your competitors.  Take the initiative to improve your own capabilities.   Become a sponge for information!   

If you manage and lead jan-san salespeople, offering and investing in continuing education to your staffs is what will keep them successful in today’s information age.  If you plan on or have hired salespeople with no cleaning industry experience, take the time to assure they understand this business they have chosen or they will surely fail.  
Be the best you can be…  learn something new today!

Jack Collins
The Bullen Companies