Time means money. Remodelers wear many hats in order to run a successful business, so effective time management is crucial. One of the most common ways that remodelers find themselves wasting time is attending no-hope appointments with totally unqualified prospects. These appointments add hours to already long work weeks, take your resources away from more qualified prospects, and make you resentful that you’ve lost yet another one. Avoid this squandering of your precious sales time by pre-qualifying the prospect at the very first contact.
Pre-Qualifying the Prospect
Pre-qualification simply means gathering enough specific information from a prospect so that you can make a sound judgement on whether their remodeling needs fit what you want to sell at the price you want to sell it. Some remodelers are so glad to get a telephone call from a prospect — any prospect — that they jump at the chance for work while barely taking the time to ask how the prospect had heard about the company before scheduling an appointment. This isn’t the best approach.
Slow down. Take a deep breath. And spend a minute talking to the prospect right now, during the first telephone call to see whether or not this appointment will be the best investment of your time. Each time you make an appointment you have to schedule time for:
- the actual appointment and
- follow up — even if you don’t want the job.
With this scenario in mind, it takes the same amount of time to work with prospects who fit your profile of a desirable client as it does with prospects who have a job that’s too small, who are shopping for the lowest price, or who don’t have the money to do the job right. The difference between the two is that your close ratio will be much higher with qualified leads. Once you’re at the appointment, it’s too late. You’re already invested. So try to find out as much as you can about the project during that first contact.
The Pre-Qualifying Conversation
An in-depth conversation sprinkled with questions is an easy, effective way to determine whether or not a caller is a high-quality lead as well as to begin building a relationship with the prospect. Don’t rush your prospects off the telephone. Spend 10-20 minutes with each prospect. Some remodelers spend up to 45 minutes in conversation. The amount of time you spend should be proportionate to the size of the job. Small projects like a door replacement for example, takes very little pre qualification to decide on the worth of the lead while a large, complex addition may require more.
Whatever time you do spend talking with the prospect, find out:
- how they came to call you
- the type and scope of their anticipated job
- why they are considering remodeling in the first place
- their schedule
- their budget range
- the level of research that they have done
- who will be involved in the decision making process
- whether or not they have ever remodeled before and, if so, what was the outcome
Many companies have created a lead form that acts as a “crib sheet” or reminder not to skip over pertinent questions. Other companies rate their leads after gathering the information. One St. Louis firm rates their leads 1-4 in three main areas: location of the project, type of project, and source of lead. Those leads rating 9 or above get special, immediate attention. Leads with a rating of 3 or below often are not accepted.
If you ever decide you don’t want a lead, be professional about how you turn them away. Either recommend they call the local chapter of a remodelers association (have a telephone number ready to pass along), or give them the name of another company who will do a good job. A Chicago firm tells the prospect, “We’re a small firm and involve ourselves in a limited number of projects each year. Each project we do must fit what we do best. While this project doesn’t fit our business, perhaps we could recommend that you call our association chapter and ask for their membership guide. There are many member companies that will be delighted to have your business. Their phone number is (000) 000-0000. Thank you for calling.”
Pre-qualifying your prospects can tell you a great deal about the type of people you’re attracting to your company — and help you use your time to produce the greatest possible results and profits. Spending a few minutes with your prospects at the beginning of the sales cycle can make a big difference to your bottom line.