By Steve Marsh

Would you like to close more of your sales calls?

Improving your phone skills and sales strategy can make a huge difference in the number, size, and quality of new jobs you land. Most owners were never trained in how best to make sales and answer phone calls. They have been winging it and hoping for the best.

Developing a good sales plan can greatly improve the results of your marketing and advertising. Keeping your objectives in mind, identifying the type of consumer on the phone, and taking the lead in the conversation are just a few of the strategies that can enable you to schedule more profitable jobs and build consumer confidence in your service.


It’s important to know exactly what you want to accomplish when you pick up the phone and talk with a consumer. Without a clear objective, it is easy for the phone call to wander and become ineffective.

Your primary goal when answering a consumer call is to get that person onto your schedule book. No matter how much information is exchanged during a phone call, the time ends up wasted if no job is scheduled.

What do customers want?

People do not just call you because they have nothing better to do with their time. They have sought you out to provide a solution for a specific need. The more clearly you understand what they want, the easier it will be to provide the solution they are looking for.

They are generally looking to answer two specific questions. The first is, “Do you provide the service I need?” and the second is, “Do you provide a good value for the price I am willing to pay?” The quicker you can lead the conversation around to answer these two questions, the more likely you are to close the sale.

The caller has already chosen your company

Have you ever considered that most people you will talk with have already selected your company as the one they hope to use? They have already analyzed their options and made a conscious choice that you look the most promising. You should not have to persuade them to use you — that was already done. Your job is to confirm that they made the right choice.

Most callers are talking with you because they have used you in the past, received a good referral, been intrigued by one of your ads, or found you via an online search and selected you from the many companies available. They do not want to go through this process again with another company. They hope you don’t say something to indicate they made a mistake with their choice.

They now need you to help them get their job scheduled.

They assume you can perform the work

Unless they specifically ask, it’s generally not a good idea to get too technical about your equipment and your super powers of cleaning. People would not have called if they didn’t think you could perform the service needed.

It is reassuring, though, to share any credentials which demonstrate your expertise such as being a certified technician, being an owner-operator, or holding Journeyman or Master Cleaner status. This helps confirm that you are knowledgeable and experienced, which sets you apart from the competition.

Two types of consumers

There are two general categories of consumers. It is important to determine quickly which type of consumer you are talking to. Each will feel they are receiving a good value based on a different set of talking points.

The first group is event motivated. These people are often price sensitive and in a hurry to have the work performed. The carpet is likely to be more heavily soiled. These consumers will feel more comfortable if you discuss how quickly you can get to their job, that you will do whatever is necessary to get the job done to their expectations, and that you are affordably priced and/or have a special discount available.

The second category consists of full-service consumers who call for maintenance cleaning. This group is willing to pay extra for quality service and expertise. This group likes to hear that you will take the time to do the job right the first time and that you will go out of your way to make sure their entire service experience is flawless.

There are two questions you can ask to help identify which group a particular customer belongs to. The first is, “How long has it been since your carpet was cleaned last?” And the second is, “Are you in a hurry to have the work done?”

They need your help

Consumers are hoping you will take charge of this scheduling process. They are not sure what you need to know about their specific situation and are counting on you to guide the conversation. If you don’t take control, they will get frustrated.

The secret to controlling a phone conversation is to understand that the person asking questions is in control. Most of your side of the conversation should be you asking questions.

In my next article I will go into detail discussing questions that are effective in guiding the scheduling process.

Your specific strategy

It is worth the time and effort to find the best phone strategy for your business. Consumers appreciate companies that know how to control phone conversations. During this conversation you are often making your first impression. If it’s a rough and awkward conversation, that will likely set the tone for the rest of the job. If it goes well and the customer feels comfortable, your relationship from there on out should remain smooth.

Steve Marsh is a 40-year veteran of the carpet cleaning industry, an instructor, and a Senior Carpet Inspector. He helps home-service companies quickly establish profitable clienteles and then progress to serving higher-quality customers. To help companies achieve these goals, Marsh created the step-by-step programs Single Truck Success and Be Competition Free. For more information, visit