Jonathan Carlson

A well-run sales meeting with a prospect is a key component in the sales process, especially for full-service and design/build companies where it sets the tone for the multiple meetings required to actually close the sale. That first meeting is your opportunity to establish rapport and discover the client’s goals and needs.

“When you come back [to the client] with a scope of work or design, make sure it accomplishes what you said you were going to do and what they wanted,” says Tom Sertich, president of Kirk Development in Phoenix

Then if the prospect likes you, your company, and your product, says Jake Jacobson, vice president of sales for Premier Windows & Building, in Owings Mills, Md., the only thing left for them to consider is price, “and that is based on how well you valued the product.”

The first meeting is where you create that value — something that’s especially important in the current market. Here’s what to do before, during, and after the meeting to ensure a successful outcome.

Before ... Great Expectations

Jonathan Carlson

In the initial phone call, it’s important to pre-qualify the potential client and to set the tone for the first meeting. Coleen Dolan, owner of Certified Lead Services, in Forked River, N.J., handles initial calls for her remodeler clients and says that the biggest mistake is being in a hurry.

Dolan asks the caller for 25 minutes to go through some questions and says that making the potential client feel special will differentiate you from other contractors who just set an appointment. Consultant Kyle Hunt of Remodel Your Marketing  says that a thoughtful and extended conversation creates a comfort level for the client for the first meeting.

Most remodelers who have a qualifying sheet emphasize the importance of asking the questions in a conversational manner. Dolan uses open-ended questions, listening for clues to topics she should ask the customer to expand on. If you don’t ask the client about their budget, let them know this is something the salesperson will address at the first meeting.

Set an appointment at the end of the call, emphasizing who should be there and how long it should take. Explain the agenda or e-mail it soon after the call.

Hunt offers his remodeler clients a “What to Expect at the First Meeting” document that they can mail or email to prospects. Kathy Shertzer, gatekeeper at DuKate Fine Remodeling, in Franklin, Ind., summarizes the conversation in an agenda that she emails to the homeowner. “They have the opportunity to add to it or to correct me if I misunderstood them,” she says.