Sunday, January 15, 2023
When it comes to service businesses, every lead that comes in needs to be qualified with a series of questions to confirm there is a good match between your business and the prospect's requirements. Utilizing qualifying questions in your initial contact is vital to growing your company and avoiding wasted time on consultations that aren't the right fit.
Whoever is asking the questions is leading the conversation. Asking the right qualifying questions will keep you in control of the conversation as well as lead the qualified prospects into setting up a consultation. The unqualified prospects can be led into a more suitable option or maybe a follow up when they are willing/ready to make a decision. Although qualifying questions can vary for each business, this article will help you discover the qualifying questions you should be asking for your business.
I have a client named Anthony. He owns a landscaping and masonry company that consists of 3 salespeople, 6 trucks, and 13 staff members. Anthony's company focuses on larger-residential projects, spanning 5 counties. However, he is willing to travel more for even larger jobs. This means some consultations could be up to an hour away. If he doesn't qualify his leads properly, his sales team will be wasting a lot of traveling to prospects' homes that aren't the right fit, instead of focusing on the qualified prospects who are ready to make a decision. It's Anthony's job to make sure he or his staff do this correctly!
Anthony's Qualifying Questions
What is the scope of the work?
What is your timeline?
Who are the decision makers?
Have you researched your project and do you have a budget in mind?
What are your expectations?
How long have you been considering this project?
Are you speaking to other contractors?
Do you need financing or you'll pay cash or use insurance?
Have you worked with another contractor in the past? How was the experience?
What made you consider us? Did you Google us? Get a referral?
When should we contact you?
What's your most important decision making factor?
Do you have any concerns about our solution?
What's your main challenge?
How do you handle contractual disputes?
From our brief interaction, are we a good fit?
Must this project go on? Is there a possibility of doing nothing?
What can stop you from working with us?
The answer to these 18 questions will determine if subsequent consultations should be scheduled and whether more effort should be put into chasing the lead. In a nutshell, you’ll know if a specific lead is the right fit for your company. Let's break down each question.
Qualifying Questions Breakdown
What is the scope of the work? Get 100% clarity on the scope of the project. Inevitably some leads that inquire about your company are calling to request services you may not even provide. Perhaps the job is too small for your company or maybe even too big. Be clear on the details to determine if this is a good fit.
What is your timeline? The better a person knows their timeline the more it qualifies them. This will also help you determine if you can meet those requirements. If the prospect has a more flexible timeline, it doesn't mean they aren't serious. However, you might want to dig in a bit deeper to see how serious they are, or if they're just looking to get a free price check. Ask other questions; Why do you want this project? When do you plan to make a decision?
Who are the decision makers? You'll want to know who the decision-makers involved are. In Anthony’s case, he should focus on talking to the homeowner or spouse. Once you know who is in charge, request to have them present during the consultation. If that is not possible; have them on the phone or Facetime during the consultation. Doing this can save you a lot of time going on consultations with no decision-maker present.
Have you researched your project and do you have a budget in mind? If they have done the research it is likely they have a figure in their mind. You don't need to ask for the figure, the objective here is to ask if they have a figure. If they haven't done any research, this could also mean they might just be price-checking. Here again, you'll have to dig deeper to determine their objective. Ask more questions here like; Do you have any plans or designs in mind? Have you worked with contractors before? What was that like?
What are your expectations? This qualifying question is meant to gauge if you are capable of meeting the client’s expectations. Whether it is a pricing expectation or an expectation based on the project outcome, determine if it is realistic or not. Can you do the job at their preferred budget? Do you have the technical capacity to do the kind of work they want? You can go ahead and ask for examples of what the final product should look like (i.e., pictures of landscaping or masonry they like).
If it’s something you can do, qualify the lead. If not, disqualify. It is more prudent to try and manage a client’s expectation or disqualify them altogether than deliver unsatisfactory work. Asking about expectations can also uncover the seriousness of the project i.e., you’ll know if it is essential or experimental.
How long have you been considering this project? This question will uncover the real motive behind the project and how important it is. It will also help you rank leads in order of their readiness to proceed. What's more, you can identify possible bottlenecks that have hindered progress and if they still exist. Clients tend to treat projects they’ve thought of for a long time more seriously. While important projects can still come up last minute, clients tend to move along with well thought out projects. For instance, if a homeowner has been thinking of remodeling their home for years but the reason they’ve not been successful in selling their home is because of a remodeling issue (which keeps coming up from prospective buyers), such a homeowner is more likely to proceed than a homeowner who just recently tried and failed to sell their house.
Are you speaking to other contractors?. While it’s understandable why a homeowner may want to talk to more than one contractor before they can remodel their home, the best leads will focus on one contractor at a time. This question prevents you from wasting time with leads that are solely concerned about price comparison. While some clients may not tell you directly if they are talking to other contractors, you can find out using follow-up indirect questions or information acquired during conversations. A common red flag is if they suggest they know someone who can do it cheaper.
Do you need financing or you'll pay cash or use insurance? While clients can still procure your services using home loans, cash or insurance (when seeking a contractor to handle emergency home repairs), you can tell a lot from the mode of payment. Clients who are willing to pay cash or via insurance tend to require the services urgently. Those who will pay via financing may also need the services fast, but it may take some time to get paid. However, financing offers some budget flexibility since they will repay later over time. This question segments clients and gives valuable insights on how fast they may be willing to act and how flexible their budget can be.
Have you worked with another contractor in the past? How was the experience? You’ll want to know if you are the first contractor they’ve worked with. You’ll also discover if you are being sought after because the previous contractor did a shoddy job. If that’s the case, you should be keen on the expectations. Are they realistic? What exactly didn’t they like with the other contractor and can you finally solve their problem? You should find out the root cause of a client’s issue with past contractors before you proceed. Most importantly, don’t qualify a lead you can’t possibly satisfy.
What made you consider us? Did you Google us? Get a referral? Contrary to popular belief, it matters how you get construction leads. In fact, research shows that referrals are the best types of leads because they originate from people who you have worked with in the past.
If a lead was referred to you by a mutual associate or friend, they already know you, what you do and probably trust you already based on what they’ve had. This is totally different from leads that have come online from a Google search, online directories or cold calling. While you should consider all leads, give referrals more priority as your likelihood of closing and delivering is higher.
When should we contact you? Chances are you’ll need to contact your leads several times before you can close the deal. To gauge the seriousness and urgency, ask when you should contact your lead. While some good leads may still take time to materialize, prioritize individuals who are enthusiastic about moving on with the project as soon as possible. If you get tentative answers, there should be a valid reason. Most importantly, push for a close. However, you shouldn't feel as if you are pushing them too much.
What's your most important decision making factor? A homeowner in need of landscaping or masonry work will have many considerations to make before they choose their ideal contractor. For some, the most important factor may be the financing or cost while others want certain guarantees. Understanding how a lead makes the most critical decision will help you gauge the suitability of working with them and factors like project urgency. If they must stick to a certain budget, can you still work with them? If they want the result to match another home, can you deliver?
Do you have any concerns about our solution? Even though some clients offer contractors unmatched design freedom, most still have preferences. A homeowner may want magazine-worthy landscaping but have specific taste in plants, flowers, etc. They may also dislike some elements of masonry or landscaping. It’s important to identify what concerns they may have about your solution. The specifics should inform your decision to qualify or disqualify them.
What's your main challenge? Homeowners want contractors for different reasons. It may be for aesthetic purposes i.e., to make their home look similar or better than other neighboring homes. Home improvement may also be due to a disaster that damaged part of their home. Some homeowners may be looking to improve their home to increase their chances of selling.
As mentioned above, they may also need to rectify work done by a past contractor. Their main challenge offers a gateway to judge the importance of the project and probability of closing. Renovating to sell sounds like a better challenge than home improvement solely for aesthetics. However, aesthetics may be a critical factor especially in high-value homes.
How do you handle contractual disputes? You need to know if you are dealing with a reasonable client. If the client has worked with other contractors before who didn’t deliver, it helps to find out how they handled the situation. Ideally, a client should give you the opportunity to rectify a problem or refund damages before leaving a negative review online or taking other drastic actions.
From our brief interaction, are we a good fit? After several interactions, clients usually know if they’ll work with you or not. To avoid wasting time, you can ask what the client thinks about moving forward. Their answers should help you gauge their seriousness. Most clients will be outright if they think you are a good fit. Anything on the contrary i.e., indirect responses should be taken as a “maybe” or “no”.
Must this project go on? Is there a possibility of doing nothing? The reason behind this question is to establish the commitment towards completing the project. As mentioned, there are many reasons why a homeowner may want home renovations done. If they are doing so to sell the house and get finances for other pressing issues (such as medical bills) that must be paid, such a project must go on. Focus on leads that must go ahead as opposed to those who have the luxury of doing nothing if they don’t get their way. If the project must go on, there will be more willingness to cooperate and move forward.
What can stop you from working with us? Clients also have deal breakers. It could be anything from going past the budget to mistakes during a job. Understand the deal breakers that exist before deciding to work with them. If the dealbreaker is cost and you can’t possibly commit to delivering within their budget, you stand to make a loss or face a contractual dispute if you don’t disqualify the lead. If the client is over meticulous on the outcome, ensure you understand this before working with them.
These qualifying questions are the key to identifying the best out of Anthony's leads. The questions set the sales person up for success, which keeps the company morale, efficiency, and closing ratios high!
So what are your qualifying questions? Well, from the examples above, you probably understand the concept. You can utilize some or all of the above example questions to qualify leads in any construction niche you may be operating in.
I suggest you just begin now. You can always edit, remove, and add questions as you perfect your strategy or based on your field.
Want to learn more tips on the construction business? Visit: growyourbusinesswithexclusiveleads.com
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