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I Have Too Many Leads!

How to identify the prospect most likely to buy...

In the hyper-market being experienced by most contractors nationwide a recurring problem is that of having too many potential clients inquiring about services. This condition has consumers complaining: "I need to have some work done, but I can't get any contractors to return my calls." The contractor who feels tortured by too many leads doesn't realize that a lead is like a lottery ticket. (Seldom is heard the complaint: "I have too many lottery tickets.") A lead is a chance to hit the jackpot but like lottery tickets not all leads are winners. The process of identifying the caller most likely to buy product and services is known as qualifying the lead. Think of the process of qualifying the lead as you would think of the act of scratching the lottery ticket, you're looking for the lead that promises to pay off. First, understand that a name and phone number do not represent a lead, more information is needed. How do we recognize those callers who are worthy of our limited time? Use the following guidelines to separate the prospects from the suspects:

Prospect:

  • You can easily establish rapport with, even over the phone.
  • Has a need and recognizes it.
  • Has the resources, ability and authority to satisfy the need.
  • Has a sense of urgency.
  • Has agreed to listen to you.

Suspect:

    You expend great effort attempting to establish communication.
  • May have a need, but doesn't know it.
  • May or may not have the resources to pay for the project.
  • May or may not have a sense of urgency.
  • May not be eager to listen to you.
Savvy contractors use a Lead Form as a script, employing carefully crafted questions to uncover the profile of the customer who is likely to buy their product at their price.

YOU CAN ONLY SELL TO PEOPLE WHO CAN BUY

The qualification process requires the acquisition of home and work phone numbers of all parties involved in the decision-making process. It is important to ask the questions on the script of all decision makers in the case of a husband and wife, for example, in order to determine if the answers are similar, as well as to determine who the real decision maker is.

If a caller is reluctant to share the information requested on the Lead Form, realize that you must give something back to the caller in exchange for the information requested. Offer something in advance by stating: "Mr. Home-owner, in order that I can provide the best solution to your needs, let me get just a little background information."

Let’s start with the end result of finding that qualified lead, which is obtaining the order. If it were known in advance that there are always three ingredients present when a customer signs the order, it would make sense to find out in advance to what degree these ingredients were present by qualifying the lead before investing the time and energy required attempt a sale. The Lead Form promotes a dialogue designed to expose the presence of three ingredients which are always present when the order is signed; NEED, ABILITY and TRUST.

Questions designed to divulge NEED are designed to uncover how anxious the prospect is to see you, the level of urgency involved, and the effort which the caller has gone to fulfill their wants or needs:
  • How soon were you thinking of having the work done?
  • How long have you been considering this kind of project?
  • When is the best time to schedule an appointment?
  • Do you have any plans or a design in mind?
  • How long do you see yourself living in this house?
Questions designed to divulge ABILITY are designed to expose the financial capability of the caller, as well as their knowledge of the remodeling process which could be a measure of their awareness of the realities of the process.
  • How long have you owned your home?
  • Are you interested in financing or paying cash?
  • What remodeling have you done before?
Questions designed to divulge TRUST are primarily used to find out how much the caller knows of your firm. Callers who are repeat or referrals bring with them a certain level of trust, those who looked up your name in the yellow pages generally would have a lower level of trust.
  • How did you get our name?
  • What research have you done?
Notice that these are open-ended questions, think of them as essay questions, those that can't be answered by a simple yes or no. Noticeably missing from the script of questions above are those regarding budget . There is strong reasoning for this:

BUDGET MEANS NOTHING UNTIL THE JOB HAS BEEN DEFINED

A prospect indicating interest in spending $100,000 for a kitchen remodel may be just as unrealistic as one who expresses interest in a complete bath remodel for $2000. Until the job has been defined (usually by a site visit) budget means nothing. Another strong reason for not addressing budget at this time is that in the qualification process we have established very little, if any, trust. This lack of trust tends to diminish the validity of an answer to budget questions at this time as the prospect may have the fear that if the budget of $12,000 is mentioned regarding the bathroom remodel the outcome of the estimating process may be distorted.

Another question missing from the above script is one which directly addresses other bids. The fact that a contractor would ask: "How many bids are you getting?" may plant the idea in the caller's mind that is it common practice to solicit multiple bids. In a more subtle manner the question: "What research have you done?" likely will provide the information.

By using the lead qualification process, contractors are better able to focus their time and energy on those callers who give favorable answers, divulging high levels of NEED, ABILITY and TRUST. The only resource which you are limited with in sales activities is time. If you are among those who are swamped with calls from prospective customers realize that you are in the drivers seat and must be choosy about how you spend your time. Contractors are not required to provide more than the courtesy of a phone call unless there is some reason to believe that the caller is truly a prospect who is likely to pay off.