In the last blog I talked about the process of having a lead qualifying sheet and with that, lead qualifying question or questions.
The idea behind this is quite simple. To eliminate prospects that will never buy from you or are not your best type customer. This one simple process or part of your lead generation system will save you time and money.
Today, I would like to elaborate on the art of asking questions.
Last week I focused on finding that question that qualifies your prospective client as a real hot prospect.
Since every contractor has a different marketplace or best type client, this ‘qualifying’ question may vary. However, here are some more examples.
“How much do you expect to spend?” This is a great question and sets up the financial perspective the client is coming from. It also gives you an idea of the realistic financial value of the project.
Another great financial question is:
“Will you be paying for the work with your own cash or with a bank loan?” This also sets up the financial status of paying for the work, who will pay, and how long it will take to get paid. No matter where the funds are coming from it is important to find out how much they have to work with.
Remember, projects often do run over budgets with unforeseen conditions or changes. You need to make sure they have the availability of acquiring the additional monies to cover the changes.
“Are you the final decision-maker or is someone else a part of the final decision making process?” Too many contractors eager to get a job, expend too much time and money jumping right into a sales pitch without properly qualifying a potential client.
It’s vitally important to determine who makes the final approval and decision on the deal or project. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself having to start all over again, or out of any opportunity to close a deal.
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Now that you have qualified the client as serious, the next questions should help you drill down on why they want to do the work. To be successful with this part of the process, listen intently and don’t be afraid to ask drill-down or follow-up questions.
The opening question for this part might go something like this.
“Why do you want to do this work?” This questions reveals a powerful emotional buying trigger, the “WHY”
Again, you might need to drill down a little farther. Remember, people buy for emotional reasons, not a logical one. They JUSTIFY their emotional buying with logic.
Another might be:
“What exactly is the problem you are having?”
“What do you need and what do you don’t need?” Good question since it focuses them on exactly what they need and you don’t have to make assumptions. Everyone has their pain points and during this process, you should be trying to uncover them.
Speaking of pain points, here is another question to uncover what you need to avoid.
“Have you ever worked with a contractor in the past on work like this?” This reveals whether they have had experience before or not. If they have, you would come back with this drill-down questions.
“What did you like and dislike about that experience?” WOW! Dynamite questions. Now they will tell you the things you want to do and the things you want to avoid!
Another question might follow along these lines.
“What are your expectations?” Another powerful question since it reveals exactly what they expect and allows you to deal with it in a realistic manner. Now is the time to elaborate on how you schedule the work, handle questions, change orders, budgets, allowances, and all those things that can go wrong on a project.
“When do you want to start the work?” This question will help you understand the prospects perspective of when they expect you to be working on their project. In some areas of the country, the permit process can take days if not weeks and this allows you to educate them on that process and details the steps you have to take before any work gets started. Believe me, this question will avoid a ton of misunderstanding in the future.
“When do you expect the work to be completed?” This question gives you two important items. One, when they think the work will be done, which may not be realistic, and two a chance to work the deal back to a matter of urgency which might just help you close it sooner.
Let me explain.
Let’s say that they feel the work should be done by a date three months away. You calculate that it could be done but not unless you get the deal now. In this scenario, you play the urgency back to them. Such as ...
“Mr. & Mrs. Jones. I know you want the work completed by this date. Unfortunately, the only way I can make that happen is if I have a done deal with you today. Let me explain. The permit process will take three weeks. Ordering the materials with delivery will take six weeks. The work will take three weeks. As you can see, that is your three months! In order to meet your final completion date, I need your approval of my proposal so I can get started today.”
Asking questions, the right questions, is an art form. It takes practice. To start, I would suggest you write down as many questions and drill-down/follow-up questions you can imagine. Then categorize them to the situation they apply.
If you do this, you will start the process of memorizing the questions and knowing when to ask them. However, practice is the best process.
Next week I’ll discuss part three, the Measure Call. Until then, happy hunting!