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Mike M
01-01-2008, 09:21 AM
All I've said so far is: Do you have a price range in mind of what a system might cost? If it's almost reasonable, I get off the topic and return to it when I hand in the proposal.

I am sure there are better ways, but for now I'm just being a little direct and honest, it's all I know.

NightScenes
01-01-2008, 09:49 AM
I tell them that my systems start at $2500 for a very basic system. If they don't hang up and they still want me to come over, then they are probably all right.

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
01-01-2008, 10:51 AM
I usually speak to "cost" like this:

"Most properties naturally divide up into zones. Driveway / Entry, Deck, Waterfront, Boathouse/Dock are examples. A small zone might start between $3k and $4K and goes up from there according to the complexity of the system."

It seems to work very well and we don't have to get into specifics.

Lite4
01-01-2008, 02:06 PM
that is a pretty good way to state it James. I like that.

NightScenes
01-01-2008, 02:29 PM
I usually speak to "cost" like this:

"Most properties naturally divide up into zones. Driveway / Entry, Deck, Waterfront, Boathouse/Dock are examples. A small zone might start between $3k and $4K and goes up from there according to the complexity of the system."

It seems to work very well and we don't have to get into specifics.

This is a good approach but the problem with it is that you get the client thinking about phasing the project right away instead of installing a complete project from the beginning. I might suggest phasing once I am on site if I see that a project will be very large and they are not ready for a $15k + (or so) project but if you start out telling people that phases are the way to go, you will get clients wanting to install phases from the beginning.

Just a thought.

Lite4
01-01-2008, 03:25 PM
I can also see the logic from your point of view as well Paul.

Mike M
01-01-2008, 06:59 PM
How about timing, do you usually bring it up with their first call, or what?

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
01-01-2008, 07:25 PM
This is a good approach but the problem with it is that you get the client thinking about phasing the project right away instead of installing a complete project from the beginning. I might suggest phasing once I am on site if I see that a project will be very large and they are not ready for a $15k + (or so) project but if you start out telling people that phases are the way to go, you will get clients wanting to install phases from the beginning.

Just a thought.

I can see how that might be an issue, but here it hasnt been a problem at all. It all depends on your market I suppose.

I share that 'chat' with maybe one or two prospects per year who call in to my office with a 'cold' inquiry. Most of my prospects are pretty clear on what we do before they contact me. Once again, the efficiency and magic of refferral generation as a business building technique.

Have a great day.

INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting
01-01-2008, 07:30 PM
How about timing, do you usually bring it up with their first call, or what?

It all depends on the nature of the call Mike. If the prospect calls and says "Hey James, I saw what you did at the Smith's and I want you to come light our place." well then it doesn't come up at all.

If you get the sense that you have a price shopper on the line who found your name in the Yellow Pages, then I would bring it up before commiting to an on-site consultation. Or if the prospect comes right out on that same first cold call and asks you "how much to light my home?" then you make your case.

By easing a nervous prospect into the zone & system based approach you do not offend anyone, you give those who cannot do their whole property at once an option and even a polite way out, and you can generate some pretty nice return sales and upgrades year after year.

Have a great day.

NightScenes
01-01-2008, 07:35 PM
It all depends on the nature of the call Mike. If the prospect calls and says "Hey James, I saw what you did at the Smith's and I want you to come light our place." well then it doesn't come up at all.

If you get the sense that you have a price shopper on the line who found your name in the Yellow Pages, then I would bring it up before commiting to an on-site consultation. Or if the prospect comes right out on that same first cold call and asks you "how much to light my home?" then you make your case.

By easing a nervous prospect into the zone & system based approach you do not offend anyone, you give those who cannot do their whole property at once an option and even a polite way out, and you can generate some pretty nice return sales and upgrades year after year.

Have a great day.

Ditto!! This is it exactly, most of my calls are by referral and price doesn't even come up but if it's a call from an ad or someone who says "how much would it cost", then I'll tell them about the minimum project cost.

Chris J
01-01-2008, 07:49 PM
Great topic here guys. I'd like to see more suggestions as I'm all ears (eyes) right now. I listend to a speaker at a conference once that said to never talk about cost over the phone, but I didn't agree with it at all. Around here, I get more than a few calls from "tire kickers" because of my exposure with my ads, not to mention my truck graphics. I truly believe that something has to be said about cost in order to prequalify over the phone. Otherwise, I would be wasting a huge amount of time going on sales call that I have no business going on.
I usually ask the potential client if they have any experience with professional outdoor lighting. When they say no, I explain the difference between the big box stuff and the pro stuff. I then go on to explain that of course the professional systems are going to be much more expensive for obvious reasons and the average "modest sized home" could have a nice lighting design for roughly 28-3500 for the front yard. I always add "but it could be more or less depending on your personal taste and needs as well as the complexity of the job." However, this has bitten me on a couple of occasions. I can remember more than once when the job turned out to be 6-8k and the customer replied "I thought you said 3k?"

steveparrott
01-01-2008, 08:04 PM
While pre-qualifying is an important step for the contractor, we need to remember that the client is also pre-qualifying the contractor. For the client, price may not be the primary concern. In fact, if the contractor brings up price immediately then the client may focus on that instead of value.

For this reason, it's important to communicate your company's value proposition in the begining of the call. For example,

Prospect: "Hi, my name is Mary Jones, I saw your ad in the paper and am interested in landscape lighting for my home."

Contractor: "Thanks for your call. Do you live in {state}?

Prospect: "Yes, I live in {town}."

Contractor: "Good, we've designed lighting for many homes in your area. Let me briefly tell you about our company. We've been in business for 20 years and are a full-service landscaping firm. We have a highly trained team of lighting designers and installers. They use the highest quality products and specialize in custom lighting design. Can you tell me more about your property and what kind of lighting you have in mind?"

Prospect: "I live in a smaller house and am interested in lighting the front walkway.

Contractor: "We could certainly light your walkway, but for a project to make sense for us, we do require a minimum of 10 fixtures. That would cost about $2,500. Would this be within your budget?"

Prospect: "Oh. I was thinking that a few hundred would do the job."

Contractor: "Professionally designed and installed lighting is more expensive but the results are far more rewarding and will save you money in the long run."

Prospect: "Let me talk to my husband and I'll get back to you."

The point of this fictional conversation is that by presenting the value first, then you can be sure that regardless of who the prospect is, they will understand that they will be getting value for whatever the cost is. The above prospect may call you back and say that she didn't understand that lighting was so expensive but now she sees the value and would like to continue the conversation.

NightScenes
01-01-2008, 08:22 PM
Steve, have you bugged my phone??? This sounds like one of my cold calls. Let them know who you are and get to know who they are and what they are looking for. Then you can talk about expense.

Chris J
01-01-2008, 09:49 PM
While pre-qualifying is an important step for the contractor, we need to remember that the client is also pre-qualifying the contractor. For the client, price may not be the primary concern. In fact, if the contractor brings up price immediately then the client may focus on that instead of value.

For this reason, it's important to communicate your company's value proposition in the begining of the call. For example,

Prospect: "Hi, my name is Mary Jones, I saw your ad in the paper and am interested in landscape lighting for my home."

Contractor: "Thanks for your call. Do you live in {state}?

Prospect: "Yes, I live in {town}."

Contractor: "Good, we've designed lighting for many homes in your area. Let me briefly tell you about our company. We've been in business for 20 years and are a full-service landscaping firm. We have a highly trained team of lighting designers and installers. They use the highest quality products and specialize in custom lighting design. Can you tell me more about your property and what kind of lighting you have in mind?"

Prospect: "I live in a smaller house and am interested in lighting the front walkway.

Contractor: "We could certainly light your walkway, but for a project to make sense for us, we do require a minimum of 10 fixtures. That would cost about $2,500. Would this be within your budget?"

Prospect: "Oh. I was thinking that a few hundred would do the job."

Contractor: "Professionally designed and installed lighting is more expensive but the results are far more rewarding and will save you money in the long run."

Prospect: "Let me talk to my husband and I'll get back to you."

The point of this fictional conversation is that by presenting the value first, then you can be sure that regardless of who the prospect is, they will understand that they will be getting value for whatever the cost is. The above prospect may call you back and say that she didn't understand that lighting was so expensive but now she sees the value and would like to continue the conversation.

This is outstanding Steve. While we are role-playing, could you take a stab at this one:

Prospect: "Hi, my name is Mary Jones, I saw your ad in the paper and am interested in landscape lighting for my home."

Contractor: "Thanks for your call. Do you live in {state}?

Prospect: "Yes, I live in {town}."

Contractor: "Good, we've designed lighting for many homes in your area. Let me briefly tell you about our company. We've been in business for 20 years and are a full-service landscaping firm. We have a highly trained team of lighting designers and installers. They use the highest quality products and specialize in custom lighting design. Can you tell me more about your property and what kind of lighting you have in mind?"

Prospect: "Well, I've just seen your ads, and I think the lighting looks beautiful. Could you come out and give me an estimate to do my home?

Contractor: .....................your suggestion, and your description of how the rest of the conversation will go.

I'm not being an ass here. I really want to know how you would handle this. If any of the others would like to take a stab at it, please do. I'm in my "student" mode at the moment.

NightScenes
01-01-2008, 10:11 PM
Chris, here is how I take it from that point:

Contractor: Well, this is how we work. I will come out to your home and give you a free one hour consultation. We will talk about you, your home, your entertaining style as well as what you expect from me. If you would like to work with me at the end of that hour and would like me to design a lighting system for you, there will be a $--- design fee which helps cover my time for creating the lighting design/proposal.

Prospect: How much does this kind of thing usually cost?

Contractor: The projects that I am involved with start at $2500 for a basic system and go up from there. Have you been to my web site?

Prospect: Not yet.

Contractor: I suggest that you go to my web site at www.---- and then you will have a very good understanding of the kind of work that my company does. Would you like me to set up a consultation?

Prospect: Let me visit your site and talk to my husband.

Contractor: That's great, if you or your husband have any questions at all, please call me or send me an email from my site and I will be happy to answer all of those questions. Have a great day.

This is pretty close to how it goes most of the time that I talk to cold callers. Those that are referrals are quite different.

Chris J
01-01-2008, 10:21 PM
Cool response Paul. Thanks for the input and tips!

Chris J
01-01-2008, 10:23 PM
Could you please explain your typical call/response to a referral type call?

pete scalia
01-01-2008, 10:23 PM
Makes sense and it's not a bad thing to do. However people are generally lazy by nature and most are very busy. There's no way to guarantee they will go to the site and ever contact you because stuff happens and they don't. Why not ask them to go online and walk them through the website while on the phone. If your offering a free 1 hour consult it's a no loss for them proposition. If the 2500 minimum is ok then I'd say that's your qualifier. Better yet if you can have a picture of a $2500 project for them to see on your site and they approve of it then that's a qualifier.

You may say well if they don't go to the site they weren't interested or qualified anyway but that may not be true. They made the step of calling you so that shows interest right there.

Golden rule in business is you never rely on your prospect or customer to take the initiative because most times they won't. You must hold them by the hand and guide them either way you know where you stand and there are no what if's.

Chris J
01-01-2008, 10:29 PM
Pete,
What if they have already been to your website? As you said, the people we deal with are usually very busy people. I doubt they will have time, nor will I, to sit down while you walk them through your website.

klkanders
01-01-2008, 10:38 PM
Awesome points Paul and Pete! Those are very good starting points anyway. I like Pete's idea of putting a few photo's of your starting package on the website so they can compare that to the large projects you have done.
Chris - Good questions you are asking. They bring out some great responses. Thanks

pete scalia
01-01-2008, 10:40 PM
Pete,
What if they have already been to your website? As you said, the people we deal with are usually very busy people. I doubt they will have time, nor will I, to sit down while you walk them through your website.

Then you schedule the appointment to go out and meet the decision makers if and when everything checks out.
No time to walk them through the website (5-10 minutes)?
Then where will they and you get the time to meet (1 hr min)?
If that's so you don't have a prospect.

Chris J
01-01-2008, 11:02 PM
Then you schedule the appointment to go out and meet the decision makers if and when everything checks out.
No time to walk them through the website (5-10 minutes)?
Then where will they and you get the time to meet (1 hr min)?
If that's so you don't have a prospect.

When they call, they are expecting to make an appointment. They are not expecting to receive a presentation over the phone. They are calling to SCHEDULE an appointment with a qualified business person. Much in the same way someone would call to schedule an appointment with them.

NightScenes
01-02-2008, 12:21 AM
Chris, the first thing I ask a prospect is who referred them. I don't ask where they heard about me but who referred them. This let's them know that most of my clients are by referral even if they are cold calling me. If they are a referral, they just want to set up a consultation because they already know my work. I will inform them of my design fee just in case they don't know about that, but that has never been an issue for these prospects.

I have on occasion not charged the design fee on projects that are sold before I even get the call. I have had clients call me to say that so-and-so is going to call because they want me to do their lighting. These projects are usually a done deal.

Pro-Scapes
01-02-2008, 09:42 AM
Ashley prequalifies with the 2k minimum we have but we find out where they live before she mentions it. Obviously if they live in an exlusive upscale community with 3 manicured acres and an 8k sq ft home your not going to be able to do much for 2k.

We often ask if they have seen so and so's house in that community and 9 times out of 10 they have.

We are going to redo our website in the comming weeks and like the basic starter photos idea. We have been playing with the ideas of a package deal for cookie cutter type homes. These are really nice starter homes and people without 10 million sq ft and 6 figure pocket books deserve nice lighting too. I love a huge project where I am given freedom to design but I really enjoy small 1 day projects as well.

pshields
01-02-2008, 01:43 PM
As a non contractor I think showing lighting examples of normal homes is an excellent idea. I have looked at a lot of your web sites and my first impression is that outdoor lighting is not for me because of the types of homes shown. If you are interested in the smaller home market and have something that a homeowner can imagine their house looking like, I would think would go a long ways in helping make sales.
Phil

Chris J
01-02-2008, 01:48 PM
As a non contractor I think showing lighting examples of normal homes is an excellent idea. I have looked at a lot of your web sites and my first impression is that outdoor lighting is not for me because of the types of homes shown. If you are interested in the smaller home market and have something that a homeowner can imagine their house looking like, I would think would go a long ways in helping make sales.
Phil

Thanks for the comments Phil. Just so you will know, however, all of the homes on my website are single and double-wide mobile homes. It's the lighting that makes them look so dramatically different! :)

extlights
01-02-2008, 05:02 PM
When someone calls who is not a referral (which we get a lot because we do a lot of direct mail advertising)...we will tell them what our "average" job starts around. Never ask for a budget on cold calls because most of those people have no idea what lighting costs, and even if they do have a budget many people don't like disclosing what it is right off the bat. If they say no problem when we tell them what our projects usually start at, then this is a good prospect and we will go out to their home and meet with them..as long as the decision maker(s) are going to be there.

irrig8r
01-02-2008, 09:21 PM
Thanks for the comments Phil. Just so you will know, however, all of the homes on my website are single and double-wide mobile homes. It's the lighting that makes them look so dramatically different! :)

I almost fell off my chair laughing at that one Chris. Good one.