Many remodelers think of themselves as contractors first and salespeople second. Some of those that started in the field often lack good sales skills and or do not put enough time and thought into how they sell. Without a structured approach to selling, contractors leave themselves open to downstream challenges that will slow down the sales process and or can even get in the way of making the sale at all. In most cases these challenges can be avoided. Here are three mistakes made by inexperienced remodeling salespeople.

1. Poor pre-qualification before the visit. Many remodeling salespeople do not spend enough time with callers on the phone before they commit to an in-home visit with that prospect. Pre-qualifying differentiates qualified leads from callers. You can avoid wasted trips and time by making sure you will be speaking to those with the authority to make a decision—not those just collecting prices and proposals. Also, use the call to check if there is a fit with what the prospect wants and the services your company offers.

2. Not finding out how the prospect will make their decision. Unless you know how your prospect will make a decision, you should not be surprised when they can’t or won’t make a decision. Start off by asking them what information they need. If your prospect doesn’t know how to make a decision, it’s your job to help them figure it out. This is also an opportunity for you to differentiate your company from your competition. For example, if a prospect needs to see an actual sample of a roof tile before buying a new roof, take samples to their house or ask them to come in to review samples in your office.

Better yet, if you uncovered this during their initial phone call, take the samples with you on your first visit. If they mentioned a specific color or brand that you don’t carry, you’re likely wasting your time by creating a proposal.

3. Not setting a follow-up appointment. If you’re going to take the time to meet with a prospect and assemble an estimate and proposal, it only makes sense to present it to the prospect in person. Sending it by e-mail or snail mail means you’re more of an order taker than a salesperson. If the prospect won’t schedule a second meeting at the end of your first meeting, don’t create an estimate and proposal. If you know how they will make their decision, try to tailor your presentation for the second meeting and provide what they need to make a decision. Holding the second meeting in person also gives you the opportunity to answer any additional questions. Their willingness to meet with you again is a sign that they are serious about the project and about working with your company. —Shawn McCadden founded, operated and sold a successful design/build company. A co-founder of the Residential Design/Build Institute, he speaks at industry events and consults with remodelers. [email protected]