“We’ll call you when we’re ready to do something.”

Contractors hate when homeowners say that. But how can you avoid it?

“You want to close when you’re in a prospect’s home,” says Mark Hunter, aka The Sales Hunter. “What that means is you have to be prepared to give them the estimate while you’re in their kitchen or living room.”

Make sure you have the proper estimating tools with you to do that. One quick, effective technique: People get scared when they hear round numbers and they feel there is a level of accuracy when you use an odd amount. So give them a range — but with “exact” numbers. Have info with you to back it up — a spreadsheet on an iPad or in your notebook. Being able to give a range of, say, $685 to $950 makes people have more confidence in you.

Don’t talk dates off the top of your head. Break out your actual work calendar — not a blank one — so prospects can see that you’re busy and doing things. Say, “I can start this job on the 17th or the 23rd. Point to a specific date on the calendar and you’ll convey confidence that you know what you’re doing.

Handwrite an estimate sheet, put their name at the top, and give it to them. There’s something about having homeowners hold the estimate that gives them a sense of ownership. But don’t leave that sheet with them. Say, “I need to take the sheet with me so that I have an accurate record.” You don’t want them taking your estimate to compare with someone else.

What if they are really not ready?

Don’t make a set time to call them back. If they’re not ready and they know you’re going to call, they just won’t answer. Have a reason why you want to have to come back. Say, “I’m going to suggest that I look at some options. Can I come by next Saturday and measure something?” You want to return because it’s difficult for people to say no to you in person.

Write them a thank-you note. Thank them for allowing you to share their ideas. During the bid process method in this industry, most people don’t do this. It will differentiate you from other remodelers.

A thank-you card, phone call, and a reason to make another visit can sometimes make the difference for people to decide on going with your company. When they say, “We’re not ready,” they may be shopping around. The more quickly you can close this, the more you can cut price out of the equation. —Mark Hunter will be presenting at The Remodeling Leadership Conference and the Big50 awards, May 9–10 at the Ritz Carlton in Pentagon City, Va.

Related articles:

Tailoring Your Sales Process: Your sales’ system should reflect the services you offer

Now You’re Asking for It: Remove all the little obstacles that the homeowner could throw at you, and ask for the sale

The Psychology of Persuasion: sales psychology and the power of persuasion