Are You Prepared To Make A Sale?

by Greg Hartmann, National Account Manager

I was recently observing posts on an online builder’s forum. One post asked the pro community if anyone had experience using “specific” materials. These were high-end materials but by no means unusual. He was taking days to give the homeowner a price on building a deck. Many readers commented on how this contractor went to meet the homeowners to quote a job but did not provide a price in a short amount of time.

This got me thinking about the contractors that have given me quotes for work in the past. Why did I choose one particular contractor over the other? What did they do differently to sell themselves and earn my business? What influenced my decision to hire them?

Not long ago I wanted a detached garage built. I had two quotes. The first contractor came out to the house, took measurements and sat with me discussing the project. He came back two weeks later with a beautiful set of drawings for the garage. It was perfect, except for one thing – not even close to my budget. He said  he could cut back on this or that and save a few thousand dollars. I told him he wasn’t even close, thanks for coming out.

The second company had a showroom and models I could go visit. I dropped in with no appointment. I looked at the models and inspected their work. I told the owner what I was looking for. He pulled out a stock design, made some adjustments to fit my needs and gave me a price. One visit of less than two hours resulted in me leaving behind a deposit and in a of couple months, I had a great detached garage with everything I wanted that was well within my budget.

What did the second company do that earned him this business?

  • He was engaging
  • He asked the right questions
  • He listened
  • He showed examples of his work
  • He gave me pricing and terms on the spot
  • He was prepared to sell the project

When you meet your prospective customer for the first time, are you prepared to sell the project?

How engaging are you with your customers?

Remember, people don’t like to be sold but they want to buy. They will love buying from someone they like. Engage them by talking and asking questions about them, their house, their family and the plans they have for the deck you will build for them. They want to talk about their own accomplishments – not so much about yours. As the customer becomes more engaged, they are more likely to want to hire you for their project.

Asking the right questions is easy. You already know the information you need to get from them. Listening to their answers isn’t as easy. Listen closely and ask more questions. Often times as they are talking, they are revealing more about what they really need. The better you understand the customer, the better chance you have of showing them exactly what they are looking for on the first visit.

Show your work. If you have a showroom where your customers come to meet you and see your work, it isn’t too hard to have finished product available for them to look at. Most builders will need to resort to pictures. Get great pictures of your work. Make sure the pictures are clear and show the entire deck from many angles. If possible, pictures taken from the roof down to the deck below are a great way to display an entire deck. Take a look at and learn how the decking manufacturers get the shots in their product literature. Get close-up pictures of the details that set you apart from the competition. You will want pictures of upgrades and special features you can sell to potential customers.

Is your website your showroom? Does your website show how great your work is? Is it a great representation of your products? Make the website your virtual showroom. Bring your laptop or tablet to your meetings with the customers. Many homeowners are researching your business online prior to meeting with you. If they haven’t yet found your website, be sure to show them how to get to it and give them a quick tour. (If you don’t have website yet, read our BLOG topic Why Pro Contractors Need a Pro Website.)

Your goal should be to make the sale in one meeting. Is it possible for you to agree on a price and walk out with a signed contract and deposit in one meeting?

I have asked builders this question and usually the answer is no. That’s not good.

Think about your own big purchases. When you asked the dealer that sold you your truck what the price was and how soon it could be ready for you, would you have bought it if he told you “I’ll get back to you in a couple days”?

Would you continue to use the same supplier if they needed a couple days to give you price, availability, and delivery date on materials?

Your customers are the same way. If you can’t give them a price today, they may talk to someone else tomorrow. Your competition's price may not be better, their work probably won’t be better, but you lose because they were ready to make the sale. Getting a commitment in that first meeting keeps the competition out.

Obviously, you can’t be prepared to quote every possible scenario a customer may come up with but you should be able to quote 80% of the projects you look at. Of the jobs you can’t quote, quote the basics and get a contract contingent on quoting the remainder of the project.

Let us know how prepared you are to make a sale. Can you make every sale in one visit? Does it take several days and many conversations to make sure the customer gets exactly what he wants? Let us know the challenges preventing you from being prepared to close every sale on the spot.

April 2, 2014 by Janet Blake (comments: 1)

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Comment by Laurie McDougall |

Sometimes when I am a person's home doing a quote, I cannot give a price right away.

This is due to finding out what the materials prices are for what they want, and also to do a detailed (for myself) calculation of everything involved with the project.

I've made that mistake! shoot off a price, and later on discovered that I was way low. I just kept quiet and did the job, as I never hit up the client for more money.

One exception to that is when a client adds more work, then I will do a separate quote for that work.

Giving instant prices can happen sometimes, but generally I need time to work out a fair accurate price.