Ten questions, 20 minutes, and a 1-to-5-point “scoring system” help Winans Construction, Oakland, Calif., identify its best prospects, weed out weak leads, and get the sales process underway. The questions involve:

  • Personal information: name/s, address, phone numbers. Depending on ZIP code, callers get from 5 points (strongest) to 1 point (weakest).
  • Lead source: 5 points for leads recommended by clients/former clients, on down to 1 point for those referred by ads/direct mail/real estate agents/jobsite signs.
  • Project information: 5 points for Winans' most profitable project types. Other types merit fewer points.
  • Length of time in home: 5 points for six-plus years. Long-time homeowners are more likely to commit to moving forward, owner Paul Winans says. “Toughest for us are people who just bought a house, have little money left, and expect everything to happen in an unrealistically fast way.”
  • Time spent planning this project: The best prospects (5 points) have been thinking about it for more than six months but less than a year and a half.
  • Ideal start date: Score depends on how “real” the date is.
  • Budget: Scored from “real” to “unreal.”
  • Prior remodeling experience: 5 points for yes, 1 point for no.
  • Prior discussions with other contractors: 5 points for no, 1 point for yes.
  • Expectations from contractor: 5 points for quality and trust, 1 point for price.
  • Callers with a total of 30-plus points are referred to the company's Web site and promised a call back from Paul Winans, who further qualifies prospects before scheduling an in-person meeting.

    Key caveat: Just one employee takes lead intake calls, and she has received Sandler Sales Training on the intake process. She asks additional questions as needed — and she knows how to gently “kiss off” weak leads, typically by referring them to a competitor.