Canadian Contractor


How to "qualify" renovation prospects

The telephone can be the fastest and best way to qualify a customer. There is a simple but powerful question you can ask, over the phone, that can help create trust between you and the prospect.

“Qualifying” a prospect, in sales, means to see if there is a fit between their needs and what you can offer.  If you don’t qualify your prospects (i.e., if you just agree to work for anyone, at any price) you are going to sail into stormy seas as a renovation contractor.

At Canadian Contractor’s recent RenoSummit seminars in Vancouver and Calgary, expert renovation c0ach Paul Winans, who ran a very successful reno firm in Oakland, California for years, gave some tips on qualifying prospective customers.  Here are four of them.

Tip 1. Use the telephone. A 30 minutes call asking the right questions will tell you if someone is a serious prospect. A phone call also helps you to avoid providing a premature estimate which often happens in that first face-to-face meeting.

Tip 2. Take notes. Ask probing follow up questions, and repeat back what the client has told you. Clients love this because it means you are listening to them.

Tip 3. Ask this simple, but powerful question. What are you most worried about as you prepare to begin this renovation project? Not only does this help you identify the specific nature of the project, you effectively become your client’s partner, not just a salesperson.

Tip 4. Be upfront. If for whatever reason there’s not a fit between you and the prospective client, say so. Take them seriously, treat them with respect, but if you can’t meet their expectations offer to refer them to a reputable company that can.


Steve Payne

Steve Payne is the editor of Canadian Contractor magazine
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