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Qualifying A Customer.

 
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Old 02-21-2011, 12:41 PM   #21
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Re: Qualifying A Customer.


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Originally Posted by Thewoodman View Post
Here in my neck of the woods things have been pretty slow. With the warmer weather starting my phone has been ringing a little more. I have been getting out as quick as I can and bidding every job.

I am finding myself to be wasting a lot of time on bids that I have no chance of getting. Some of these people are getting 8 to 10 bids on their project, others are more just curious of what it will cost.

I have never qualified leads in the past but I am strongly considering it now. I have had people the call and the first words out of their mouths are "Do you do free Estimates?" Rarely if ever do I land one of these jobs. I relize that the free Estimant is a whole other topic but right now I need to figure out the best way to qualify my leads.

I debated about telling the "Do you do free estiamte people" that I charge a $20.00 fee to do a bid in hopes of getting them to say never mind. But I know that by qualify my leads and will be able to rule these people out and do it politly.

I have never really qualified my leads before so this is new to me. Please help motivate me to make the change. Tell me what has worked for you in qualify your leads.
Eight years ago we asked the five qualifying questions. We still ask them. It saves us a lot of trouble, and it tends to weed out (rather quickly) the price-shoppers and the tire-kickers. If someone says, just give me an estimate, my answer is "not until I know that I can do something for you, otherwise it is a waste of your (and my) time."

We get anywhere from twenty to forty calls for estimates per week during the season. I can see (maybe) 4-5 per week, as each estimate takes about a 4-6 hours to do (that includes travel time, inspection, interview of prospect, working up the workscope, developing the estimate, writing up the quotation, etc.), and I'm also at each of my job sites. So there's really no time for prospects who want to play the BS game. If they are serious, I'm serious. If they are not, I've got other things to attend to.

Mike Finley (in his 2004 post) basically says the same thing.

So it comes down to whether YOU think your time is better spent on 80% chance prospects or on 5% chance prospects. There's a lot of 5% prospects, but do the math and you'll see that chasing the 5% prospects is not a viable business proposition. You've got to find your 80% prospects and give them your full, undivided attention so that they WANT you to do their project.
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Old 02-22-2011, 08:25 AM   #22
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Re: Qualifying A Customer.


Don't leave me hanging!! What five questions do you ask? I will have to take a look a Finley 2004 post also.
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Old 02-22-2011, 11:04 AM   #23
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Re: Qualifying A Customer.


I estimate every lead within reason. I ask, what are they looking to do? If its like front steps or a shed or misc touchup I usually explain that if they don't mind no insurance or whatever, I'll gladly give them one of my guys numbers and they can do it on the weekend for cash.

It's win/win bc I still seem like I'm helping them, as well as giving a little side cash to an employee.

I'm not worried about them stealing work from me bc they quickly find that one customer is too much to deal with and see the value of being an employee.

Also, I usually get referrals down the line bc I've already saved them money, instead of simply saying "too small, sorry".
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Old 02-22-2011, 09:33 PM   #24
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Re: Qualifying A Customer.


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Don't leave me hanging!! What five questions do you ask? I will have to take a look a Finley 2004 post also.
Go to post #4 in this thread, written Oct.31, 2003. Mike Finlay’s posts (#11, #14 this thread, written May 2004) add additional good info.

The key point is, not every prospect is good for your business. If you were a hunter, would you go running after every leaf that moved in the forest? I doubt it. Your “target” game prefers certain types of habitant, has certain habits, is active at certain times of the day (or night), and reacts to specific bait/attraction. The smart hunter knows these things, and puts himself in the right place. So rather than wandering all over the forest, the hunter seeks out the favorite grounds of his prey. He is successful because of his knowledge.

When you are hunting for customers, the idea is the same. Your “best prospects” have something in common, and it is the smart business person who figures out what that pattern is. Then, spend your time on your best prospects, and leave the rest alone. There was a masters-level marketing and selling course in that post of Mike’s (#14, in this thread) that should be read over and over again.

My mantra is similar.

Know your target customer. What are the characteristics that your “best” customers have? Figure it out, because I’m willing to bet that your “best” customers gave you 80% of your profit, and only 20% of your headaches.
Figure out what attracts your “best” customer. Then say/do the things that gets their ears perking up. Ok, you’ve got their attention. Now do what you need to do to get them coming to you. {Some call this “Marketing”}
Your phone starts to ring. Good.
Now it’s time to do a little separating of wheat from chaff. We call it “Qualifiying”. I gave you the five questions we asked eight years ago (and we still ask them, because they are the right questions for us and our target market). Your questions may be different, but each question should lead you closer to your “best” customer. If you are good at this, they WANT you to come and see them. Yah. But are they worth your time? As Mike pointed out seven years ago, 3 out of 10 (in his example) are real. The rest… aren’t worth it. In our case it’s actually closer to 1 in 10. So, you have to be selective.
Of course, once you’ve qualified properly, then the prospects you are seeing are solid. Now you put on your sales hat and give them your best effort. Listen to them like no-one has listened to them before. Educate them until they beg you to stop. Feed their dreams until they are popping with excitement. Now sign them.
Of course, the courtship isn’t over yet. Not by a long shot. Now you got to deliver what you’ve promised. Details, man! That’s where the devil is. It’s got to be better than all the others that didn’t win the business. It’s got to validate their trust in you. It’s got to deliver. And if you’ve done this right, they will be so insanely proud of what you did for them, they will be your best salespeople.
But if you didn’t choose the “best” customer, they may or may not appreciate the heroics you went through. They may or may not give you referrals, despite the fact you gave them a project worthy of being compared to the Taj Mahal. They may even want to quibble about paying you at the end. Your “best” customer would never do that to you. But your “I don’t know why I bothered with him” will.
So the choice is yours.
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Old 01-25-2012, 09:11 AM   #25
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Re: Qualifying A Customer.


Checked my email a customer filled out my Request an Estimate form on my site. I emailed them and let them I would call them at 8 am. The person answered said thanks for getting back to me. Next she said we are looking for a few quotes on removing wallpaper and re- painting a huge conference room but I don't know the measurements.

She then said I just need a quote to give to my boss as he will make the decision. OK I said is your boss just looking for the lowest price? Her response....o yeah absolutely! I then thanked her for contacting me and said very professionally and politely that would not be us as we do not operate that way. Now believe me that job is right in my wheeelhouse and would love to have it this time of year as so dead here we can here the crickets underground. I also know no matter how low we price this work there will be someone willing to work lower and if they called a franchise like Certa pro we haven't got a shot in hell.

I used to chase work or leads like this but learned quickly its a waste of time and time is money! Engaging a customer on the phone with a few questions will tell you alot. Now if she said she was the decision maker and wanted to why choosing the low bid is not a good idea I would have went and met her and put my sales hat on.
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Old 01-25-2012, 12:02 PM   #26
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Re: Qualifying A Customer.


"Hi, first, I want to thank you for calling (my company). If you don't mind my asking, how did you hear about us? (a referral, ad, other? - overtime this helps me determine my ROI on ad costs and which advertising gets the best results).

I won't go through a litany of qualifying questions on the phone or by email and I'd never reply by email other than to acknowledge receipt of theirs and to ask their phone number if they didn't include it in the email.

"How can I be or service to you today?" they tell me about their project. I can then decide whether their project is something I can or want to do. If so (qualified), I then close for an in person appointment with both HO's if a couple. "Although I have a busy schedule, I'm sure I can fit you in, I have several openings this week, would Tuesday at 4pm work for you or would Thursday at 6pm be better?" This will help me to determine if the HO is serious or just price shopping. If the HO says all they want is for me to drop off an estimate, I'll take five minutes on the phone to explain why it is important that we meet in person. If that fails to convince them to do so, I'm not going to waste my time. If they set an in person appointment, I know that are serious and thinking about more than just price.

If I believe the HO's project would be worth my time and effort, I want to meet with both owners eye to eye and if I don't close the sale on the first sit, I want to at least leave the HO's believing that, based on my record, experience, referrals, etc. that, even if my $ is highest, my company will be the right choice. I leave them with a heavy "fear of loss..." for them to chew on until our next meeting.

"Pressure" sales tactic? Absolutely! Better they "suffer" a bit of fear of loss by worrying about what might happen if they don't hire my company at my price than to suffer the after effects of a low ball contractor doing a less than pro job for them where they saved money up front but ended up with a bad job that costs them more in the long run.
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Last edited by larryb; 01-25-2012 at 12:03 PM. Reason: spelling
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Old 01-25-2012, 12:26 PM   #27
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Re: Qualifying A Customer.


Quote:
Originally Posted by THINKPAINTING View Post
Checked my email a customer filled out my Request an Estimate form on my site.
She then said I just need a quote to give to my boss as he will make the decision. OK I said is your boss just looking for the lowest price? Her response....o yeah absolutely! I then thanked her for contacting me and said very professionally and politely that would not be us as we do not operate that way. Now believe me that job is right in my wheeelhouse and would love to have it this time of year as so dead here we can here the crickets underground.
Opportunity was knocking, but you didn't care enough to try to even get one foot in the door.
She was offering you a chance to meet the boss. Go there, shake hands, take measurements and give it your best effort.
Those bids can lead to much better things. I've seen one small job turn into 10 big jobs, many times.
Customer cultivation doesn't grow if you don't water it.
You don't need to work free, just keep it in the ballpark.
The lowest price isn't always the winning bid.
Some people are smart enough to see through the smoke and mirrors of a lowballer.
Sell your service, not your price.
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Old 01-25-2012, 08:47 PM   #28
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Re: Qualifying A Customer.


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Opportunity was knocking, but you didn't care enough to try to even get one foot in the door.
She was offering you a chance to meet the boss. Go there, shake hands, take measurements and give it your best effort.
Those bids can lead to much better things. I've seen one small job turn into 10 big jobs, many times.
Customer cultivation doesn't grow if you don't water it.
You don't need to work free, just keep it in the ballpark.
The lowest price isn't always the winning bid.
Some people are smart enough to see through the smoke and mirrors of a lowballer.
Sell your service, not your price.
I'll take my 30 plus years of experience to know all they cared about was a number. Got nothing to do with service she wasn't offering me anything other than a waste of time to give them a quote. No shaking hands as she was just giving address and said door would be open go look and mail or email a quote or a verbal quote.

Why I qualify leads before wasting time and fuel. The ballpark is 30% lower than my break even. Thanks for pointing those things out to me though
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Old 01-25-2012, 09:38 PM   #29
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Re: Qualifying A Customer.


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Originally Posted by THINKPAINTING View Post
I'll take my 30 plus years of experience to know all they cared about was a number. Got nothing to do with service she wasn't offering me anything other than a waste of time to give them a quote. No shaking hands as she was just giving address and said door would be open go look and mail or email a quote or a verbal quote.

Why I qualify leads before wasting time and fuel. The ballpark is 30% lower than my break even. Thanks for pointing those things out to me though
Selling is like shaving. If you don't do it everyday, you're a bum.
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Old 01-26-2012, 10:49 AM   #30
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Re: Qualifying A Customer.


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Selling is like shaving. If you don't do it everyday, you're a bum.
Lol ... good thing I'm clean shaven. Thanks for the feedback never to old to learn I reacted instead of listening . Much success.
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Old 02-02-2012, 11:36 PM   #31
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Re: Qualifying A Customer.


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Lol ... good thing I'm clean shaven. Thanks for the feedback never to old to learn I reacted instead of listening . Much success.
No worries. Same to you.
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Old 02-15-2012, 01:12 AM   #32
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Re: Qualifying A Customer.


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