Get more of the RIGHT customers – Winning & Closing Jobs
“People are price shoppers”
“I can’t sell jobs; competition is too low priced”
“How do I avoid wasting time on tire kickers!?”
“People are asking for a $50k project and have a $5k budget”
“I can only close like 1 in 10 of the leads I get”
Ever run into that? Ever make a similar statement yourself?
I think pretty much any contractor ever has run into this. The situation where you’re spending a ton of time on leads that are just wasting your time and will never buy.
But some contractors have figured it out, and rarely run into this situation anymore.
In fact, I know some that have over a 90% some percent close rate! Their consultation is more of a “go and pick up the down payment” trip than it is a consultation.
How is that? How do they pull that off?
What would it be like if YOU got your evenings back with your family instead of wasting a bunch of your time chasing empty tire kickers?
I’ll show you the secret. But like many things – it’s “easy” to do, “hard” to summon the courage and JUST DO IT. A lot of folks fear the “what ifs” and don’t take the leap. It’s up to you. All I can tell you is that it works, and I’ve never met a contractor that regretted implementing it. In fact, I’ve met a lot that wished they had started doing this years ago.
All you need to do is: Qualify your leads.
That’s it. Easy to say. Harder to do. Actually, it’s not technically hard to do either, it’s hard to get over our mental block and do it.
So what do I mean by qualify your leads?
Basically, you take the things that commonly prevent you from closing the deal, and check to make sure your new lead doesn’t have any of those blockers.
In my 15 years of experience of qualifying leads at Tussey Landscaping where we built $20k-$1m+ outdoor living spaces, the 2 most effective lead qualifiers were
- A consultation fee
- Requiring them to fill out a form that told us what they were looking for and what their budget was.
We were in the Appalachian Mountains of Pennsylvania; many would consider it rural. The closest big city was Pittsburgh, 2 hours away. The reason I mention that is pretty much all our competitors were cheaper than we were. If the client did get another quote, we were often double the price, if not more. One job I remember in particular, the homeowner got 3 bids for a water feature, patio, and landscaping. Bid 1 was 6k. Bid 2 was $35k. And we were $70k.
He went with us. The $70k bid.
His reasoning was Bid 1 at $6k was impossible. There was no way you could build what he was envisioning for $6k. The contractor didn’t bid what the homeowner was looking for.
Bid 2 at $35k was maybe more possible, but he didn’t feel confident in the quality he’d get. And was smart enough to know that spending $35k and getting disappointment, was worse than spending $70k and getting a 5-star experience, with lifetime quality. You see, there’s such a thing as not getting the job for UNDERbidding the job. We tend to automatically assume we ask for a budget to get it as high as possible. Not true. We ask for a budget so we can nail their vision as effectively as possible within the constraints of their budget.
Yes, some leads need a reality check and need to learn that what they’re asking for is way beyond what they can spend. So, then the question is can you alter your vision to match the reality of your budget? Or do you want to raise your budget?
Let’s dive into why these two lead qualifiers were effective.
The whole purpose is to make sure the lead is serious. The point of the consultation fee is NOT to make money or even cover your expenses. The amount of the fee doesn’t matter. You are not in business to collect consultation fees. Even if you collect $500 per consultation you’re not making as much as you would if you sold the job. You make money when you sell jobs and collect payment. I don’t care if you make the fee $20, even though a consultation might take you 3-4 hours til you drive out there, meet the homeowner, and come up with a quote. You certainly don’t cover your time and expenses of that consultation with $20. But you DO verify whether the client is serious. And you’ll eliminate wasting time on leads that are just looking for a free estimate, not serious, not ready to pull the trigger right now, and just “exploring”. I also know people that charge $500 for a consultation. Great! But you don’t have to. The other thing we did is we always put the consultation fee towards the price of the job if they go with it. To prove it wasn’t about us wanting paid to give you a quote. We want to make sure you’re serious.
The thing about consultation fees is:
- It’s not about covering your expenses
- The amount doesn’t matter
- The fact that a transaction is taking place to prove the lead’s seriousness is what matters.
- You don’t make money driving around chasing leads that will never buy from you. Avoid that drain on your time and resources by not even driving out to visit those. The best filter is a consultation fee.
- If someone is serious about spending thousands of dollars with you, a small consultation fee isn’t going to turn them away.
- If you want, overcome objections to the fee by putting the price of the consultation fee towards the job if they go with it.
Getting a Budget
Getting a budget is an art. It’s usually a sensitive question and a lot of leads feel like they are showing you their hand of cards if they tell you what they have in mind. That you’ll push them to the very top of their budget if they give you one…
…you know what that is?
It’s a trust issue.
They aren’t trusting you to design and quote a job to fit THEIR needs. They fear being taken advantage of and that if you give them a budget range, you’ll push them to exceed that.
That’s why you need to address this. Communicate that you genuinely want to design and quote a job that matches their vision and budget! If you don’t know what budget to design and quote for, you may come in way under, or way over what they had in mind and just frustrate and draw out the process. Maybe even lose the job. It’ll be so much better, easier, and more effective if they can just tell you what they have in mind so that you can maximize their bang for their buck on the design.
If they truly don’t know, throw out quick Option 1, 2, and 3 ballpark prices to help them get closer to expressing what their vision and hopes are.
$20-30k would get you a plain patio with minimal landscaping around it.
$30-50k would allow you to add a seating wall, firepit, small water feature, and lighting
$70-100k would allow you to add a pavilion and outdoor kitchen
“Can you tell me where you’d like to start from and hone in on the details?”
Some people have a real gift with having this conversation with the client and successfully getting the info needed to move forward. Other salespeople or business owners selling jobs are terrified of charging into this conversation, or maybe we can just say – uncomfortable.
At Tussey Landscaping we came up with a super effective way to systemize this process, make the homeowner feel more comfortable about offering their budget range, and avoid the awkward silence when you ask them what their budget is. We hired a web developer to build a Project Planner, which is a glorified web form, but is interactive and image based.
Here’s a link to the live one on Tussey’s website if you want to check it out. At Tussey, we require that the lead fills it out before we come to the consultation. If they fail to fill it out, we call them and let them know we must have that before we can come out. If they need more time, that’s fine, we can reschedule the consultation.
Sometimes the lead will call in, pay the consultation fee, schedule their consultation, and then when they get the email request to fill out the Project Planner, they end up calling us back to cancel their consultation.
I don’t view that as a failure. I view that as a win. We didn’t waste their time, and they didn’t waste our time. I now have that entire consultation slot on my schedule to fill with another qualified consultation. Or eat dinner with my family tonight instead.
There’s a lot that the Project Planner does.
- It communicates with openness and transparency what our pricing is. (Not being open to the public about your pricing is another whole subject. Google speaker Marcus Sheridan on this topic)
- It is a beautiful user experience of browsing what you have to offer with images, budget ranges, descriptions, and sizes for each thing you have to offer. It’s an excellent communication tool to help the customer understand all you have to offer
- It gives the customer all the time in the world to weigh, consider, and respond to you with what they want and their budget range.
- It tells you as the salesperson exactly what they want, what they can spend, before you ever even go on to the consultation.
Instead of dropping the budget question on them like a bomb while standing in their driveway, and they shuffle their feet, and struggle to answer your question on the spot, they have all the time they need to think about it, discuss it amongst themselves, and finally submit an answer to you that they’ve considered and are comfortable with.
You don’t have to have a fancy Project Planner to put this principle into effect. I know people that have basic forms to fill out with dropdowns to select what they want and what budget ranges. I know people that have the skills to do essentially the same thing on a pre-consultation phone call. The point isn’t that you have to have a fancy Project Planner. The point is you need to use the principle of confirming that the client wants and can afford what you have to offer.
If you do actually want the Project Planner for your business, the web guy that built this for Tussey can install it as a plugin on any WordPress website for I believe $2k. In my opinion, when I prevent about 5-8 consultation calls that were a waste, I’ve recouped that investment. It’s a no brainer. Tussey invested about $15k to have that guy build it from scratch. And the entire Tussey team has zero regrets or buyers’ remorse. Just comment on this blog post below, or DM @synkedup on Instagram, and I’ll get you in touch with the web dev that can add it to your site.
So, you can operate under 2 scenarios.
Scenario 1 is you get excited about the chance at a big job, drive out there for a consultation, meet them, work through design aspects, and drive back to the office and work on generating a quote for them while your family eats dinner without you.
Scenario 2 is you tell them you have a consultation fee, and you need a budget before you can come out. One of two things will happen
- They’ll refuse to pay the consultation fee and/or learn their budget is way too low, and you’ll save yourself hours of wasted time
- You’ll verify they are serious by their willingness to pay the consultation fee; you’ll learn what their budget is so that you can design the job to match their budget, and you’ll win the job.
I can tell you from experience that Scenario 2 is much, much better. The process I’ve shared above is a process that the Tussey team honed over 10+ years as they grew quickly from less than a $1m in revenue to now over $5m. You can shortcut the 10 years of trial and error and implement this immediately. It works. And it works sustainably. It’s a process that you can put less experienced salespeople in to and they can succeed. They don’t have to have mastered the art of the verbal conversation of qualifying the lead. Let the system and process do it for you. You can even set up a Calendly link on your website to book consultation calls, and to book the call they have to pay. It never even hits your radar and sucks up your time until they’ve self-qualified. The more time you can avoid wasting, the more time you can spend on high value tasks, that grow the business and provide a better quality of life for you. (and your family)
I find that the number one cause of business owners struggling to be profitable and living under the scarcity mindset that “I can’t charge more, all my competition is cheaper than me” is that they aren’t qualifying their leads. If I go to buy a house, the bank is going to qualify me first based on my credit score, income, and savings. A good realtor won’t even show me a million-dollar house if I am only approved for a $200k house. They don’t want to waste my time. Show the same courtesy to your leads.
Qualify your leads. Your future self will thank you. And your family will too.
Would love to hear if you are doing consultation fees or requiring budget info for your leads? What has worked or not worked in your experience? Hit me up in the comments below.
Tussey Landscaping employee for 15 years
Co-founder of SynkedUP
CEO and co-founder
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