Asked on Apr 18, 2012

How do you breakdown roadblocks when qualifying prospects over the phone?

Woodbridge Environmental


We found this short piece by Kathy Shertzer which we really like. She uses many of the same tactics we do and has some good tips we need to remember like using bracketing. We thought we'd share this with the Hometalk contractors and see if you have any other tips or info to expand on these ideas:
A business coach once told me that 60% of all people are visual and 20% are kinesthetic. That means 80% of all of our prospects are not comfortable with an over-the-phone pre-qualifying interview. Big challenge – how do we break down that roadblock? As remodelers we have to pre-qualify or we will be spinning our wheels on a lot of unnecessary appointments. Just the other day a man called wanting help on a complete interior/exterior home remodel and his budget was $40,000. We have to know this upfront to save the prospect frustration and time. And, we remodelers don't want to waste our time or money either.
So, how do we approach the average person who is not going to want to take time to talk over the phone? The same business coach suggested we make the process extremely concise. People who call are not expecting to stay on the phone. They are busy so explain the process fast. Tell them you need to gather some information over the phone and that it will take 5 to 7 minutes. Ask if it is a good time to talk or if they prefer you call back when it's more convenient. That way the ball is in their court. When you do the interview, get to the point - ask the pertinent questions. When I reschedule a call, I often find that folks are relaxed expecting to take a little time. Often they don't seem like the same stressed individual who first called me.
Talking about money is never easy but it is critical as shown by the example above. Using bracketing can help a prospect who has not consciously nailed down their budget. Example: Do you want to spend between $100,000 to $125,000? Answer: No, I really don't want to go over $95,000. It's a good way to discover their budget since many folks will say, "I don't even know what something like this should cost." They may not, but they always have an investment limit in mind. If the prospect is unfamiliar with remodeling costs in the area, I often refer them to This is an invaluable, unbiased tool from Remodeling. This impartial website informs potential clients what similar projects cost in their area of the country. They are educated on what to expect to spend in a very non-threatening way.
If all goes well and we proceed to setting the appointment, I provide a copy of my notes for them via email. This gives the prospects a chance to add to the notes or to correct any misperceptions before the onsite meeting.
(Kathy Shertzer: Navigating the Pre-qualifying Roadblocks)
1 answer
  • I never thought of sending them to cost value, but that is a good idea. Normally I end up calling them back and explain that we must understand their budget so we can assist them in doing the project. More times then not, they are not even close to the number once they realize what it really takes to do a job properly. If they have not even taken steps to have plans done, we send them to local designers who will spend the time and make them understand what their budget should be for the project that they have in mind. I had thought about doing this in house, but that ends up becoming another entire job that we would have to be paid for and our overhead and insurances would raise our consulting fee out of range of our competitors who just do this for a living. But I am totally on board with your method as at least in our area there are way to many tire kickers thinking things are not as expensive as they really are. We have a local basement finishing company in our area that claims to finish a 800 square foot basement, small for $2,800. That is four walls, ceiling, floor, electrical and lights. I have no idea how they manage that, but I assume much like the home centers who claim to do flooring for buck fifty a square foot install charge, they hit them with all the extras, such as removal fees, trims, transport fees and the like. What a crazy job we have. Good post!

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