It’s been a busy year so far, and economists predict the remodeling business will continue its strength. That means your time, and your team’s time, is at a premium. To use it efficiently, you’ve got to concentrate on the leads that will turn into jobs.
Without a crystal ball, though, it can be hard to predict. There are the dreamers, the tire-kickers, and the bargain-hunters. If you’ve been spending time going to appointments that get you nowhere, it’s time to weed out those leads with a pre-qualifying system.
Determine who is qualified
There’s always a spirited discussion about what remodelers and builders consider a qualified lead. The only way to know is to pre-qualify these leads before sending the Salesperson out to the home.
First, choose who in your office is going to do the qualification. You want to choose someone who’s good on the phone, can guide a conversation with open-ended questions, and who can understand whether the answers make the lead a good fit for you and your company.
Arm your lead-taker with information:
- Project-cost guidelines. Figure these out from past jobs.
- A script or take-in sheet to get the answers you need.
- Access to Sales’ calendars, so they can make an appointment while on the phone.
As a general rule, people like to be contacted in the manner they used — so if a lead calls in, take the call or call them right back if they’ve left a message. If the lead comes in through an online form, email them and set up an appointment to get some more details and chat about the project. If they don’t answer, follow up with a phone call if they’ve left a number in the lead form.
What to ask
In your script or take-in sheet, you obviously want the basics — name, address, preferred form of contact, and how the lead heard of your company. That sourcing is vitally important to see how and where your marketing efforts are landing, and what channels are better at getting solid leads.
Even if you’ve got that information from an online lead form, taking the time to confirm it takes control of the conversation — it reins in the people who start detailing everything they want and gives those who are anxious about the process time to settle in.
Ask about the home — it’s age, how long they’ve been in it, and use that time to look the home up on Zillow or Realtor.com to determine its current value — if the project they’re looking at is too expensive for their home or neighborhood, better to know now. If the lead has recently moved into the home, there may still be photos of the interior from its time for sale. Copy and paste the URL to the take-in form if it’s digital or into a blank document for use by Sales.
Find out who lives in the home — adults, kids and their ages, pets, and get the names. Getting this information at intake helps paint a fuller picture for the Salesperson.
Now you can start to really talk about the project they have in mind.
Talk money upfront
This crucial step is uncomfortable for a lot of people. It seems abrupt — you’ve just established some rapport. But you have to know if your potential client has a realistic idea of what their project will cost and how they’ll pay for it. And they may not know project costs, which is why they contacted you. That’s totally fair.
Rather than ask “how much do you want to pay,” position it differently — “have you thought about how much of an investment you’d like to make in your home?” Again, they still may not want to open up that much to you. That’s where the project-cost guidelines come in handy. If you can ballpark a range for them, you’re just talking about the facts with no judgments.
You may hear an audible gasp at that point, or an apology for wasting your time, or any number of negative responses — and it’s saved unproductive hours for the Salesperson in travel and appointment time.
More likely, it’s what they expected or a little higher — but they’re still willing to move forward. It’s time to set an appointment. Ask who the decision-makers will be — it could be the person you’re talking to alone, that person and spouse, or may also include in-laws or adult children. Whoever is making the decisions should be at the initial meeting in the home — you need that buy-in to know the prospect is serious.
Ask if they’re willing to go to the next step — setting the appointment. Prep them for what to expect, set the time, and you’ve qualified a solid lead.
Take notes throughout — on everything. Whether the qualifier is also the Salesperson or not, treat it as a handoff. Have the answers to the questions in the take-in sheet filled in, add notes, add the URL of the home on Zillow or Realtor.com. Tell as a full a story as you can.
These qualifying conversations can take as little as 10 minutes or as long as 45. But getting a system in place is a crucial first step in an efficient and profitable sales process.