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An article in my local paper got me thinking about how much the sales side of the cleaning industry has changed over the years. The Epsom Guardian drew my attention to the story by showing an image of what is captioned: 'Simplicity itself: a little loo'. (www.epsomguardian.co.uk).
Of course, as an ex-Council Member of the British Toilet Association and someone who's guest judged the Loo of the Year Awards, this was one story I couldn't resist!
The publication reports that Bourne Hall museum, just down the road from me, houses quite a collection of historical artefacts that aren't on display - including a porcelain loo complete with the beginnings of a wastepipe, measuring just five inches tall by two inches wide. A miniature of the Victorian 'Simplicitas' lavatory bowl manufactured in the 1920s by the renowned sanitaryware engineer, Doulton, it - and others like it - were handed out by travelling salesmen as samples prior to the advent of glossy advertising brochures and magazines (and of course the wondrous Internet!) to show potential customers just how the full-sized item would look and feel.
Nowadays of course, there's a wealth of information available and a great deal of competition amongst manufacturers and it's not just about knocking on doors and leaving the odd sample and following up the visit by letter and a further visit. Often the initial contact has been made through advertising or editorial, a visit to an exhibition or showroom or through personal recommendation. Chemicals and equipment are handed out for long-term trials on real cleaning contracts and users are trained in how to get the best out of them. Feedback on ease of use or application is discussed, along with performance results, initial costs and cost-in-use, before negotiations can really begin. And of course there is ongoing training and aftersales support to take into account, as well as warranties.
I know communications are a lot better than they used to be but I can't help thinking that a salesperson's job and the chance of closing that deal is a great deal more difficult and drawn out than it used to be.
I'd love your thoughts on this!
20th September 2012