Thursday, September 25, 2014

Overcoming the Obstacles

Welcome to our third and final installment of How to Generate a Successful, Qualified Lead!  

The first blog of this series, Gettingto Know Youuuu, discussed the importance of building a solid relationship with your prospect by laying pillows to make them comfortable in discussing their remodeling project with you.  The second blog, SHOW ME THE MONEY, discussed how to arrive at the prospect’s financial investment for the project.  In this final installment, we’ll discuss Overcoming the Obstacles in arriving at that financial investment and finally Producing a Qualified Lead!

There are two common answers when discussing the financial investment.  The first is  “I don’t know”.  Before asking the financial investment question, we should have already reviewed the project, but now it’s time to go into more detail; “You mentioned you would like granite countertops, correct?”  Once you have pointed out some major products and the cost of them, ask this... “Would it be ok if I shared with you what some projects we have already completed like yours and the investment amount of them?”  Remember, sharing another project investment amount is fine, but always keep in mind and be sure to relay this to the prospect, “we are just using this as a guide, your home and project is unique to your home and I would not want to compare, we just would like to give you a good idea of another home’s investment amount”.

The second common answer is “I’m Not Sharing”.  Be very, very careful when a prospect does not want to share!  This is typically because we did not lay enough “pillows” in the beginning of the conversation.  We didn’t take the time to find the real pain and solve the problem!

The Solution:
  1. Do not attack, Do not clam up (just like a dog can smell fear, so can your prospect!)  
  2. Ask to speak “Off the record”, this way they don’t feel obligated to commit to any number they give you and will be more inclined to share the number they have in mind.   
  3. Be gentle!  More bonding (i.e. pillows) are needed now!         
  4. When they give you a range, work within it, rehash again what  they wanted, and find a solution! 
  5. If they still do not budge, they are looking for free advice, free consult time, free estimate!

Producing a Qualified Prospect!
By this time, you should know whether or not this prospect is a good match for your company.
  1. A real remodeling or building problem is present and has been defined in the initial call
  2. The real financial investment to solve their problem has been established and recorded
  3. The prospect is prepared for what will happen at the initial meeting in their home:
o   The discussion of the initial phone call will be reviewed
o   The project or area where the new potential project is being done will be reviewed in more detail
o   That a Design Agreement will be presented for their review before any real numbers are discussed.

As simple as this may sound, many salespeople go into each meeting unprepared and not in control of what will happen next.  Initially, we must set up the expectations and begin the process of the homeowner working into OUR system and keeping ourselves in control of the process!

With all that being said, your company may not always be the solution and that’s ok!  Remember one of our previous blogs entitled;  “When Is The Last Time You Reached Out”, where our client followed up with a prospect and found out they decided to go with another contractor?  The prospect ended up taking our client to lunch as a thank you for all the work they put into the proposal.  They may not have gotten this job, but who knows!  They may end up getting a better referral later down the line as a result of their professionalism!

Always offer a solution to their problem, even if it means sending them to the big box store or another company down the street.  As long as you’ve laid enough pillows to make them feel comfy and established a good, working rapport, you can never go wrong and they may end up thanking & rewarding you in the end!

Thursday, September 18, 2014


Welcome to our second installment of how to generate a successful, Qualified Lead!    

The first blog of this series, Getting to Know Youuuu, discussed the importance of building a solid relationship with your prospect by laying pillows to make them comfortable in discussing their remodeling project with you.  Now, we’ve come to the hard part, finding out the prospects financial investment for the project.  The part that I like to call, SHOW ME THE MONEY!  

When arriving at the financial investment, you need to know who you are talking to and what the personality is of the prospect.  The first step is to review and confirm all of the information you have gathered so far.  Next, ask if the prospect has done any research on the types of products they would like used in the project.  This allows you to get a better idea in your head of what the potential cost will be to the prospect.  In addition, this is another opportunity to bond (more pillows) and gain insight to the prospect’s likes and dislikes, potential budget range and if they’ve done any research at all for the project. 

Remember that when talking about financial investment, it’s always best to ask permission to ask the questions and speak in round numbers, making the situation as stress-free as possible!  The prospect may still be unwilling to talk about money, and that’s OK, just be prepared to provide rough ballpark ranges of similar work you have done.  Be sure to  put a disclaimer on these figures by reminding the client that no two homes or projects are the same and that you can only give a rough idea of what a project like this that they are considering may cost.  In providing these ranges, ask to speak “off the record”, for example:

                “Some projects that we’ve completed of this type have cost between $40 and $50,000
and some have been upward of $75,000.  Off the record, should we be considering
the $40 to $50,000 range or $75 and over?”

Asking to speak “off the record” takes the pressure off and the prospect knows they aren’t being held to any specific number which may make them more inclined to share the actual number they’ve had in mind the whole time.  It is far better for the homeowner to come to the realization of what the investment amount will be for the project then for us to tell them in the initial call!

Be prepared that the prospect may not know what their project will cost at all, or they know but don’t want to share the information.  Our last installment of this series; Overcoming the Obstacles, will discuss just that and set the path for the home visit!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Getting To Know Youuuu…

We’ve all done it.  You know you have…

That prospective client calls in for a kitchen remodel, you go out on the sales call and it turns out to just be a broken cabinet that just needs a new hinge.  @#$!*%   Hours wasted that could have been better spent on qualified prospects and paying clients!

Not too many remodelers and contractors I know want to be stuck in the office answering phone calls; they want to be out in the field, working on projects and getting the job done!  As a remodeler or contractor, you might excel in the actual work you do, but if you don’t convey that in your initial call with a prospective client, you’re failing miserably and your bottom line will suffer as a result.

After 20 years in the remodeling and construction industry, screening an estimated 20,000 prospects, I have become what I like to think of as a Lead Specialist in my field.  A Specialist who can take the time to spend 35-40 minutes on the phone (so you don’t have to) with Mrs. Finkelbaum discussing her family, passion for gardening and oh yea, that kitchen she wants remodeled.  This blog, Getting to Know Youuuu, will be the first in a three-part series designed to show you how to generate a successful, Qualified Lead!
The first step in Getting to Know Youuuu, is to “place the pillows”.  The more “pillows” you place from the minute you pick up the phone, the more comfortable your prospect will be.  To start, there should always be a consistent and dependable person with a pleasant and comforting voice answering the phone.  You don’t want your cousin Sal, with his New York accent (no offense to you NY’ers out there) qualifying your leads! 

Next, let the homeowner ask about the company and what type of services it can provide.  This part is 75% LISTENING to their needs and wants and 25% of you TALKING.  Always remember to ask open-ended questions.  Questions where the person has to answer with details and not just a simple “yes” or “no”.  This will allow you to get a better idea of exactly what they are looking for, or not looking for!  It also enables you to relate and engage more with the prospect on the the project at hand.  

“It’s all about THEM and NOTHING about YOU!”

Below are some sample “pillow” questions to consider:

     “Mrs. Jones, can you tell me what you are looking to accomplish at your home?  What made you call us today?”

      “That’s great, can you give me some details on why you are unhappy with your current kitchen?”

o   Many new questions can come out of this question, as well as an opportunity to relate with them on how the current kitchen is.  Let them hear your experience (yours, your moms, friends, etc.) with the same problem they are having in the current situation.  This is how you relate and engage!
o   Here is where you may find out who else is living in the home, how it is affecting them, or not affecting them!  “My husband is really the cook, and he has been dreaming of a new gas cooktop for years!”  “I love to entertain, and my current situation doesn’t allow for everyone to gather in our kitchen.”

      “Have you done any research on products you would like to use in your new kitchen?  Would you mind sharing them with me?”

o   This again will give you the opportunity to relate with products they are considering, we must be careful not to put down any product…remember they like it from site, but we can offer other solutions.  “Mrs. Jones, tile is beautiful on the floor and I’m not sure what style you have looks at…have you ever considered another option like hardwood?”  She will then either tell you yes and why she does not like it, or no and this will open up more opportunities to relate and share with the prospect!”

Placing pillows, is really laying the groundwork for building a successful working relationship with your prospect.  Essentially, you are looking for this prospect to become a client and the only way to do that is to build a solid relationship in which they trust you and your expertise.

In the next installment of this series entitled; Show Me the Money! we will discuss how to arrive at the financial investment that the prospect is willing to make.  A crucial step in determining if this prospect is a qualified lead or not!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

When is the last time you Reached Out?

Are you a business owner dreaming up ways to generate new leads? 

Are you sitting by the phone waiting for your next “dream project”?

Do you have a pipeline of existing leads that have yet to sign a contract??

If you've answered yes to any or all of the above, you are not alone!  Every business owner wants new leads, but new leads can’t be generated without following up on the existing ones.  Follow up is the #1 component to ANY sales process!  Too often we assume that because we did not hear back from a client, they just didn't like you or they went with someone else.  But how do you know for sure??  I call it the “Don’t ask, Don’t Tell” Policy – if you don’t ask, the client sure as heck isn't going to tell you!

A client of mine recently called to tell me how she had been working with this particular client for a few months and then found out that she decided to go with another contractor. (It could have stopped here) My client decided to call the potential customer and see if she could take her to lunch and discuss why they decided not to go with her company.  The customer said I would love to, but I would like to take YOU out to lunch to say thank you for all the time you put in to the project. (HUH??) They went out to lunch and discussed all the reasons why and in this case, it was the customer getting a lower price for what she believed was the same project, but the customer could not be more grateful for my client and how she connected with her.  My client did talk to her about what she saw on the proposal as compared to what she was offering, but did not push the issue, thanked her for lunch and was on her way .  The next follow up will be in a couple months to see how the project is going and making sure she is still happy, or maybe needs some help.

This took no huge time out of my clients day (she does have to eat lunch, so where is the harm?) the customer took my client to lunch…to say thank you to her! And then in a couple months, another 10 minute call to see how she is doing.  The marketing that my client is doing with follow up is some of the best I’ve seen and it shows in the numbers and their sales this year!

So what can you do to ensure your existing leads don’t just disappear?

Get Back on Track!
Be sure to track every lead that comes to you and follow up with those
that may not commit right away. 

Simply using an excel spreadsheet to track these leads will help greatly in staying on track with who you are to follow up with.

If you Ask it, They will Tell you!
Asking the right questions is half the battle.  Did they find a lower price? 
Are they waiting for their income tax refund?  You’ll never know if you don’t ask.
Make sure you have done everything in your power to contact them, whether it
be by email, phone or otherwise, so that their feedback may help you to better
close the next deal that comes along.

Get them to Commit…One way or Another!
If you think that a prospect isn’t going to hire you, there is no harm in following
up.  If they haven’t said “yes”, then get them to say “no” and move on.  In the case
of my client above, they got a free lunch out of the deal!

The lesson to be learned here, Be Proactive, Not Reactive, with each and every Client and Prospective Client you have!  -- You won’t be sorry, I promise!

Thursday, August 28, 2014


Remember the age old saying; “It’s who you know, not what you know”?  Well in the Remodeling world and generating referrals, I think we would all agree it’s a little of both.  It’s definitely “what you know” that will get “who you know” sending more business your way! 

Referrals – We know we all need more of them but no one feels comfortable directly asking for them.  So “How?” you ask, do we generate more referrals?

Be Creative!
A realtor friend of mine was recently telling me how she had attended a seminar on doubling your business strictly through referrals.  Intrigued, I asked, “How”?  She explained that one way was to start doing a “pop by” to past clients.  She would “pop by” the home of some past clients with a small gift of sorts and check in to see how they are doing.  Her first one was at Easter time and so she coordinated the gift with the holiday.   

The gift was an Easter egg coloring kit and marshmallow peeps, she also included business cards and had a tag on the gift that said 

 Have your Peeps call my Peeps, We Love Referrals”. 

I thought that was pretty clever!  People love getting free stuff, no matter what it is and she actually showed her face at their doorstep, genuinely concerned on how they were doing in their new home and if she could be of any help.  By doing this, she has reminded her previous clients that she is available for any home buying or selling assistance and it hopefully would spark them to say “Hey, my friend John is thinking of buying/selling, maybe you could help him”.  One of our clients has adopted giving homeowners a cutting board with their logo on it once they’ve completed a kitchen remodel, a simple thank you gift that will remind them of your services each time they use it!

Be Informative!
Another way that my realtor friend is generating referrals is by direct mailings.  Each mailing has a theme, the latest one included an informational flyer with essential tips for sellers and home buyers and a piece she put together herself on 10 Reasons You Might Want to Consider Hiring a Realtor.  She always includes a letter that she types up and throws in a business card.  All of the remodelers we work with have started sending newsletters to past clients which is also a great way to reach out and be informative while also quietly saying “Hey! I’m still here if you or your friends need any work done!”

Think Outside the Box!
Once you’ve completed a project and the client is totally in love with what you’ve done, suggest hosting an “open house”.   This way, your client can show off their newly remodeled kitchen/bath/etc. to family & friends, which is essentially showing off your great work and will get guests thinking “Hey, maybe it’s time we remodel our…”  And then you’ll be on-hand to discuss the recently completed project and hopefully get some referrals without doing anything besides being social and purchasing hors d’oeurves and drinks!

Hopefully you can incorporate one or more of these methods to boost your referrals and bring your business to the next level!  We would love to hear of other referral methods that have worked for you or others you know, so leave us a comment below!

Thursday, August 21, 2014


Oh that first remember that right, or in my case I'd like to block it out of my memory!  I get a lot of good laughs out of watching all the reality shows on dating and how to do this better..... 

Then it got me thinking about what I do I guess you could consider me the 

Lead Matchmaker! 

Yep! I put the right lead to your company while using a specific technique to be sure the lead you find  fits you best and ends up being that first date you always hoped it would be! 

Just like in dating , our leads can become such a rush when we first see them and then after a couple dances we see they really are not all we expected....then across the floor we see the one that got away! 

Matchmaker Rules !
  1. Right financial investment!
  2. The project meets the company’s portfolio
  3. the need = the want
  4. Who else are they speaking to?
  5. A real “picture” of what they want
  6. Does the client have a realistic expectation on completion, time to design, and the entire process?
  7. Set up the expectation for the first initial consultation with sales (i.e.: design agreement,who is coming, how long to expect for..)
  8. What is the real reason for the project?
  9. Decision Making:  "Ok, now assume you're ready to go ahead with this project.  Tell me, how will you choose....what factors will you consider...what will you need to know, to determine the contractor or firm that, in your opinion, will be the best firm for you to go with on this project?"
    When this is understood, your client will be better able to prepare for it and demonstrate their ability to 'look the part' of a 'preferred provider' . . . better than any other firm their prospect is considering hiring for a project

The "dance" many of us do with potential clients should be kept for those that are ready to turn on the music and really get moving!