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Discussion Starter #1
This question came up here before. I recently got a business email newsletter that addresses this subject pretty well so I thought I would post it here for the benefit of everybody.

Customer wants their quote by fax, e-mail or snail mail

The reason behind this request is simple. The customer knows they are a pushover, an easy sell, a mooch as my uncle used to call them, and they are afraid if they sit down with you, they will buy from you. A sure tipoff that you are dealing with this type of person is if they have a sign on their front door that says, “no soliciting.”

Here, again, you must set the parameters under which you are willing to work. If you want to waste your time, then by all means, send out your proposals by fax, e-mail or snail mail. But if you want to do some business, when the customer makes this request simply say, “John, let me tell you how we do business.” Then tell them you don’t fax, e-mail or snail mail anything until a contract has been signed and the job is in progress. End it with, “is that fair enough?”

Again, be prepared to make a stand because they may challenge you. You may be told they are going to compare all the quotes and if you are not willing to send your quote via the fax, e-mail or snail mail route, you won’t be considered for the job.

I would excuse myself and be on my way to find a serious customer at that point. You make your own decision on how to handle the situation. Not once in all the my 30 plus years of selling have I had a customer call back and tell me we were going to do their job in this situation.

One more thought. The contractor that volunteers to send out their proposal by fax, e-mail or snail mail is often someone who can’t stand to be told “No” to their face. They simply can’t handle the idea of having someone reject their proposal. They take no as a personal rejection. Being told “No” is part of sales. Even the best are told no at least two of every three calls they go on. Get used to it, accept it, or find something else to do because you are going to go nuts if you can’t handle being told “No” by potential customers. Knowing that you are going to face a certain percentage of “No’s” can be viewed as a positive thing. Be happy when you get a “No”. Every “No” is one less no on your way to the next “Yes.”
 

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I used to run a guitarmaking shop/business and did almost all my sales/pricing via email/internet. Sure was nice. :cheesygri
 

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"One more thought. The contractor that volunteers to send out their proposal by fax, e-mail or snail mail is often someone who can’t stand to be told “No” to their face. They simply can’t handle the idea of having someone reject their proposal."

It could be that the contractor doesn't use a two visit sales call.
All our proposals go out by e-mail. I don't see how most people would
like to schedule two sales calls for every estimate.
If the prospect hasn't been sold by our website, our measure call and
our silent salesman (proposal), then we need to work on those.
Our closing rates are a bit lower than normal (30%).
If we spend half the normal time on sales calls we can see more
prospects and get more jobs anyway (assuming we have leads
to waste).
I am sure it is different for General contractors and geography
makes a difference but e-mail rules here.
 

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I see your point, - - but the last job I did was with a 'faxed' proposal. She asked for it that way, - - I didn't really think it was that big of a deal. Actually, - - saved me running back there. A day or two later, - - phone rang, - - she's asking when can I start.
 

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Mike Finley said:
One more thought. The contractor that volunteers to send out their proposal by fax, e-mail or snail mail is often someone who can’t stand to be told “No” to their face. They simply can’t handle the idea of having someone reject their proposal. They take no as a personal rejection. Being told “No” is part of sales. Even the best are told no at least two of every three calls they go on. Get used to it, accept it, or find something else to do because you are going to go nuts if you can’t handle being told “No” by potential customers. Knowing that you are going to face a certain percentage of “No’s” can be viewed as a positive thing. Be happy when you get a “No”. Every “No” is one less no on your way to the next “Yes.” [/I]

And here I thought I was just 'busy', - - never realizing I'm such a 'coward'!! :cheesygri
 

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Many of the people and companies that I work for are just as busy as I am. Faxing or e-mail gets a hard copy to someone quickly and they can peruse it when they find a few spare minutes. I do it a few times every day. I just finished one today. Yes, I work on Sundays too.
 

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Here is a situation I just went through with an Indian couple.
I return there call the next day to set up a time to look over there painting project. Big house 19 ft ceilings in two rooms aprx 3000 sq. ft ceilings and walls throughout. lots of drywall repairs from kids and settling.

I call them back and ask if they want me to mail the estimate or since I would be in the area I could stop over and go over it with them, so they said stop over.

Well I get there spend and hour going over everything with them top to bottom tell the what is being done what my warrant is 1 year. I also through in a small half bath they said they did not want done when I stop by for the first visit just to sweeten the deal for them.

Everything goes good answered all there questions and they said great and singed the contract with the extra bathroom added. gave me a check for a deposit for half down. I get a call the next day later in the day and he says we have a problem I am not the lowest price.

I said what you took my contract signed contract and shopped around.
I said fine I will meet the price if the other company was not some Joe shmoe with no overhead doing it for peanutz. I ask what the price was he goes ah buttt ah. I don't have a exact price the guy is stopping by later with his price but said he could beat it by 700 to 900. I said forget it. He cancels payment on the check and sends me my contract and a letter saying contract canceled. what a A## HOLE.

I don't know what is the best way sell yourself to the customer or let them look over the estimate and decide on their own. I have fairly good luck both ways but don't waste so much time mailing the estimate.
 

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Try1,

Your post above is exactly 'why' I rarely even give a written estimate. I don't want them to be able to use my 'time and experience' as a 'leverage-prop' for someone else to underbid and get the job.

Most of the time, my 'free estimate' is verbal only, - - a 'written' one will cost money. If they 'demand' it be in writing, - - fine, - - "I'll take the time to write it up right now and bring it over for your signature".
 

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I disagree with the suggestions of excusing yourself and walking away. Though I consider myself a good salesman I sell most of my sales on the follow up phone call. While I will not bother estimating for someone who doesn't want to meet with me I am confident enough in my abilities that sending by mail/fax etc... is enough to close the sale.

I would be shooting myself in both feet if I refused to estimate for potential customer by e-mail/phone etc... Keep in mind when ever I do fax or e-mail a proposal I also ALWAYS send one snail mail with brochures etc... My proposals are done up on special paper which is slightly thicker and has a more elgant look than regular paper. I believe it's the little things that make a big difference.

Try1 consider yourself lucky. It's good you found out he as an A hole now rather than later. When customers tell me I am not the cheapest I respond "Good" and wait for their response. It almost always takes their breath away... "What do you mean good?" I respond "Mr. Customer I do not want to be the cheapest. I want to be the best. To be the cheapest I would have to cut some corners some where which would mean a hack job. Do you want a hack job?" another possible way for me to respond is this "Mr. Customer price means nothing... Oh sure I know price is very important but scope of work and warranty dictate price. Price is the last ting you should look at until you compare what the contractor is doing for you." Here is another good one. "Oh you don't have a written proposal? Well then we can both agree at this point all you have is a false promise. How do you know what they will be doing for you? How can you even compare apples to apples?"
 

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Discussion Starter #11
LOL, thanks for the replies, glad to see nothing is changing too quickly and contractors are still some of the poorest salesman in business. No wonder I close such a ridiculously high percentage of new business while never being the lowest 'bidder' (God I hate that word, but it also fits perfectly with the ignorant mentality of contractors). Everybody keep up the good work. (chuckle)
 

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"ignorant mentality of contractors" wow Mike, tough stuff there.
I email and fax, what ever the customer wants. I think they have to have a copy to compare to others before deciding to do the job. This seems to be all a part of how the game is played...win some, lose some. Move on to the next.
R
 

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RJS,

Don't even bother, - - Mike is a firm believer in 'his way is the only way', - - until he changes 'his way', - - which then becomes 'his way', - - which again, - - becomes the 'only way', - - and on and on around the circle he goes!! :cheesygri
 

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Tom, no breaks for the rotten. I worked right through todays pool party/BBQ. Time off is more compacted than work days. LOL
 

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Mike Finley said:
LOL, thanks for the replies, glad to see nothing is changing too quickly and contractors are still some of the poorest salesman in business. No wonder I close such a ridiculously high percentage of new business while never being the lowest 'bidder' (God I hate that word, but it also fits perfectly with the ignorant mentality of contractors). Everybody keep up the good work. (chuckle)
If the numbers are good who cares if someone wants to be a good
salesman or not.
We closed some jobs without seing the place or even the customer.
All communication was through e-mail and some good protection
clauses in the contract.
One time, the first time I even heard the customer's voice was when
she met us to give us the keys. Again the numbers were great!
With today's communication advancements, having to physically
meet a prospect (twice) is almost funny!
Also closing a ridiculously high percentage of business means your
prices could be higher. (What everyone else is bidding is irrelevant anyway).
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Oops, I forgot that being the lowest bidder is supposed to be the contractors most powerful sales tool, sadly often the only one most have ever been taught or worse, were able to learn, and anything else is witch craft.
 

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I'm watchin' but stayin' out.
Hey y'all! Watch THIS!
 

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Discussion Starter #20
1st off I should say that if you are in the position of (1) years of backlogged work, or (2) the majority of your business is repeat work, or (3) the majority of your business is from referals, this entire thread is irrelevant to you.

However, if your customer base consists of homeowners answer advertising then your situation is relevant. I figured that would be obvious, but apparently it isn't to some of us.

The other intereting thing about this discussion is that this posting was in relevance to another discussion a long time ago here. Interestingly at that time almost total agreement was that face to face presentations of customer quotes was the most effective method hands down. I suspect that since that discussion took place in the winter slow season and this one is taking place in the summer busy season where many contractors are finding getting to yes extremely easy, that might have something to do with it.

It is interesting none the less.

Please vote on the following:

Taking almost identical contractors and sending them out to 100 homeowners they have never met before who are in the process of getting 3 bids on a project.

Contractor A and B do everything the same except:

Contractor A mails, emails or faxes all the final quotes.

Contractor B does a face to face presentation of the final quotes.

Who generates more signed contracts?

Presented this way the answer seems pretty obvious. Take it even farther- don't even consider any of the advantages of any of the voodoo that contractor B might be employing because he has double to face time then contractor A and is actually given a second chance to (oh my God, dare I say it? "sell" himself and his company to the customer) Or double gasp - the radical advantage of being able to answer questions right on the spot while explaining the quote to the customer instead of letting the customer confuse apples with oranges - Now we know customers left to their own devices would never do that!

- consider only some very, very, very simple truths - 1) People buy from who they like, 2) People buy from the last person they talk to. Even with just those 2 very simple truths its obvious that Contractor B signs more contracts than contractor A. Factor in all the real advantages contractor B has over contractor A and it becomes absurd even to consider that they would even be close in signed contracts.

Knowing that, maybe you can understand how "LOL, thanks for the replies, glad to see nothing is changing too quickly and contractors are still some of the poorest salesman in business. No wonder I close such a ridiculously high percentage of new business while never being the lowest 'bidder' (God I hate that word, but it also fits perfectly with the ignorant mentality of contractors). Everybody keep up the good work. (chuckle)" isn't meant to be mean spirited, its simply the only logical conclusion anybody can draw from the ridiculous responses that so many intelligent people replied with.

True of false: The skills most contractors possess are highly disproportion in ratio when comparing knowledge and ability to apply their building trade versus knowledge and ability to running a business?
 
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