Kevin Price, Host of the Price of Business on Business Talk 1110 AM KTEK (on Bloomberg’s home in Houston) recently interviewed Tom Morrison.
About the interviewee
Tom is the Chief Marketing Officer of Kaivac Cleaning Systems out of Hamilton, OH.
Tell me about your firm (number of employees, location, type of companies you work with, etc.).
Kaivac, a manufacturer of advanced cleaning systems is located in Hamilton, Ohio and currently has 49 employees. Our customers cross many industries include any organization with a commercial facility, including K-12 and Higher Education, Healthcare, Stadiums, Airports, Food Service and Processing Establishments, Office Buildings, Athletic and Fitness Facilities, Hospitality, Industrial Plants, and more. We also work with Building Service Contractors who are often commissioned to clean these buildings.
Tell us your story about reaching C-Level executives to do business?
Our chances of success skyrocket with CEO and executive sponsorship.
As background, cleaning operations are generally not highly valued within an organization. Consequently, they’re often staffed by low paid employees who lack skills, turn over frequently and struggle to articulate their value.
The industry is extremely resistant to change, consistently choosing primitive, ineffective tools over modern cleaning technologies. The biggest resistors are often those responsible for cleaning, either because they see our systems as a threat or fear failure. Even when they want to purchase our systems, they often lack the political clout and skill to sell effectively upstream.
From experience, we’ve discovered that CEOs appreciate cleanliness even if they don’t always understand cleaning. Once shown, they see the business value of an effective cleaning operation, like reduced illness and absenteeism, higher productivity and customer retention.
Our cleaning systems incorporate scientific measurement, which naturally appeals to executives, but not operations. Users may sabotage our efforts without high level oversight.
CEOs also easily grasp the ROI associated with our technology. Our systems appeal to them because they offer strikingly better results in less time and at a lower cost of ownership. However to achieve these benefits, training and management is required, especially during initial implementation.
Do you know of other examples of businesses being creative in this endeavor?
Using HARO, Help A Reporter Out, to land this interview with such a prominent media outlet.
What lessons, if any, do you derive from these stories?
That you have to keep thinking outside the box and being persistent to remain relevant in today’s non-stop and ever-changing world.
Companies that Must Pitch to CEOS
What are some unique things you have done to get the attention of CEOs?
No magic, just hard work and persistence. We’ve conducted some high impact mailings and have sponsored high level webinars and seminars. We’ve conducted one-on-one calls with our executives, making sure that we craft an issue-oriented message of real concern to them.
Tell us about the type of companies with which you like to do business.
We’d like to continue to do business with our traditional customers, however, we‘d like to do more business with post-secondary educational institutions, healthcare networks, and food service chains simply because these are usually large opportunities and we know we can make a big difference in their facilities.
What suggestions do you have for others trying to reach CEOs.
The biggest thing we’ve learned is the importance of speaking their language. It’s critical that you have a value proposition that appeals to this audience and is important to them, which requires homework. Avoid product pitching and translate your product, its features and capabilities into true business value. Understand the ROI of your product and make it real to them. Also understand that the value and issues will vary depending on the responsibility of the C-level executive with whom you’re corresponding. In general, we’ve discovered that high level executives will give you the time you need when you discuss relevant business issues and you respect their time.