Like it or not, your prospective clients get bids. They get bids because they want the perceived "best deal."

Remodelers mistakenly think bidding is really comparative analysis. But it's not. It's a search for someone who best satisfies the client's emotional needs. That someone is the winning bidder.

Your prospects are purchasing not just a service but a lifestyle, a quality of life. To connect with them, talk with them about what makes them feel happy, proud, satisfied. Here's how:

Find out what's important. Is it how you set the trusses, or how you're going to finish the great room to satisfy the client's entertainment needs? The elements resulting in client gratification aren't construction elements. It's how they feel about the finished product. When you buy a car, you're buying one that suits your budget but also one that appeals to your senses. Do you care technically how they made the car?

Determine their hot buttons. Ask clients, "What would it take for you to be totally pleased with the outcome?" With this question, you're trying to determine what you'll focus on to sell the prospect on you. If you listen, they'll tell you exactly what will make them happy. By exploring these issues, you should have no doubt what the finished product should be. If the prospect responds, "Exceed my expectations!" your reply should be, "What will that take?"

Fill the need. PSG Construction of Winter Park, Fla., recently landed a $1.7-million renovation because the clients felt PSG took more care than their competitors in finding out how the clients felt about the project. The clients were stressed, being up against a crucial deadline. Realizing this, PSG created an unconventional construction plan that included a full-time on-site superintendent. The remodeler also provided a computer and digital camera on site so the clients could receive instant photos and communications if something needed to be discussed. PSG's bid was $250,000 higher than the competition's, but the firm clearly answered their clients' emotional needs and won the job because of that.

Sometimes, low bids determine who gets the project. More often, though, the prospect has been led to consider only the price because of no apparent difference in the competition. Help them understand the difference by providing solutions to their emotional needs. -- C.F. Moore, based in Olive Branch, Miss., is a business consultant who contracts as a sales coach;