“You don’t need to qualify leads.” That’s what Jerry Harris, owner of the award-winning Jerry Harris Remodeling, in Chesapeake, Va., told the crowd in his “Prepping for the Sale” seminar at the 2012 Remodeling Show in Baltimore this past week.

The people who are not your ideal clients will naturally fall out of your process. “They will know that you are a professional and they won’t mess with you," Harris said, "but if they’re looking for a professional, they will welcome you with open arms.”

Harris hammered on professionalism — sorely need in the industry — by focusing on process and control: “Confidence plus enthusiasm plus knowledge equals control,” he said. And the road to control is paved with questions: “Statements do not require a response ever. Questions require an answer always.” Asking questions and then listening will help you manage client interactions.

Outline Your Process

Quoting Abraham Lincoln — “If I had eight hours to chop down a tree, I’d spend six hours sharpening my axe” — Harris outlined the pre-meeting process step by step. For example, setting the lead is broken into four parts:

  1. Gather personal information;

  2. Warm up (“talk to people until they get past the guarded stage”);

  3. Set the appointment; and

  4. Present the agenda/next steps.

Harris took each step in his own process and created a chart, which he includes in a handy reference guide for salespeople. “You have a process, but you may not know it,” he told the audience. “If you’ve sold a job, you do have a process. Hopefully you'll start to think about writing it down." He offered helpful tips such as stopping before you get to a client’s home to turn off your phone and think about what you’ve learned in your preparations. “When you get to the door, you’re not introducing yourself,” he said, “you’re reconnecting because you’ve been in touch with them a few times already. Within 30 seconds of walking into someone’s home if you can ask them about something they’ve already mentioned, you’ve already won.”

—Stacey Freed, senior editor,REMODELING.

More REMODELING articles about selling:

Booster Shot: Five steps to increase sales

Sales Unplugged: Getting back to basics

The Dating Game: How to ask for a client's budget