Contractors forever complain about how long the sales process takes these days and how difficult it is to get prospects to make decisions. Recently I found an article in REMODELING by Paul Winans offering an eight-step process to help remodelers speed the sales process and close deals fast. Paul is a smart guy, and his tips could be a big help for remodelers currently seeking a good sales process. However, in my opinion Paul didn't offer anything new for seasoned remodelers looking for the "silver bullets" that could really speed up their process. So, to complement Paul's article, I offer you these two silver bullets guaranteed to either speed up your sales or save you from wasting your valuable time and resources.
1) You have to get or give a fixed budget amount first. 2) Then design to that budget
This consideration is so important. In his article, Paul describes designing and getting the prospects' approval on design before estimating the cost and providing a price for the design. Just think of what your prospect will think of you, and how much longer your sales process will take, if the design and/or your suggested specifications are way over their budget. Using such a process means that if your first attempt is over their budget, you have to repeat those same separated steps (design, then estimate) one or many more times until you finally come back separately with a design, and then a price, they are willing to commit to.
In my opinion, unless working for very affluent clients, most remodelers should not begin design without agreeing on an appropriate and realistic budget first. They should also get a written commitment to work together if their business can design within the prospect’s budget. Then, only allow prospects design and specification options within their budget. To do this you must estimate as you design and must design to the budget. If the customers want more and it will cost more, get them to first sign a change order recognizing the new scope and budget. The change order should confirm, in writing, they will still be going forward with your company for construction.
What would your prospects think of you if you kept showing them designs they cannot afford or don't want to afford; and they have to wait to find out if they can afford? What a letdown that can be for an excited prospect. How long would a realtor or car salesperson last if they didn't confirm and respect their prospects' budgets before showing them homes or cars?
You have to find out how they will make their decision
How many times do remodelers assemble an estimate and proposal only to have their prospects ask them to redo one or both in a different format? For example, you may offer a fixed price for the entire project but then your prospects ask for a breakdown of the work and a room-by-room price so they can decide where they can upgrade things. Or maybe they ask so they can decide which rooms they can afford to do now and which ones they might eliminate or do in Phase II. When this happens you may say to yourself, or even to your prospect, “Why didn't you tell me that before I did the estimate and proposal?” My question to you is: Why didn’t you ask your prospects how they planned to make their decision?
One reality might be that your prospects have no idea how they will make their decision. If you uncover that reality, you can then help them figure out and commit to a process that works for them. If you have been doing sales for a while you should have already experienced many of the considerations past prospects have used and or thrown at you last minute. Use those as examples to enlighten your prospect and confirm how they will make their decision.
Doing these two simple things will differentiate you
If you can learn to be successful at both of my suggestions you will definitely speed up your sales process. You will also become recognized as being very different from most other remodelers and salespeople. Just think of how much time and frustration you will save prospects if the design always moves forward within their budget and you present your information in a way that facilitates their ability to actually make a confident decision.
This process may not work for prospects who don't want to reveal their budget. If that is the case maybe you should let them know without a budget your process will not work and you will not be able to help them. On the other hand if they like your process and find it valuable that is likely what they will tell the referrals they send your way. That too will speed up your sales process!
If you want help defining or refining a sales process for your target customer types send me an email with your contact information. I'd be happy to discuss what you want to accomplish and whether I can help. Just count on the fact that I'll be asking you how you plan to make your decision about working with me or not!