Tell me about qualifying a customer

Discussion in 'Christmas Trees & Seasonal' started by umpire, Sep 24, 2008.

  1. umpire

    umpire LawnSite Member
    Messages: 27

    I saw a few of you guys talk about qualifying a customer over the phone and I was just wondering what that excactley meant. I assume they agree to your minimum rate is a qualification. Anything else?
  2. turf hokie

    turf hokie LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,753

    Just making sure that they understand the services we provide and approximate costs. You try to eliminate the tire kickers or people just looking for a free design, the people that are not serious about using your services and will end up wasting an hour or two of your time.
  3. OP

    umpire LawnSite Member
    Messages: 27

    How do you determine that on every customer? The obvious way is to tell them your approximate fees and have them tell you that you are crazy. But how do you know if people are serious besides that? I got this software this year to hopefully eliminate driving all over the place for the most part on estimates. I can at least first show them what I can do on their house and give the price all over email. Do you think that will help with the tire kickers?
  4. hotrod1965

    hotrod1965 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 587

    Practice makes perfect! Don't be affraid to take a communications class or find a community group like toast masters..

    Take 5 minutes and tell them about your company and what makes you special, then ask what they are looking to do, then tell them a ball park figure. They will even like it or they won't.
    You will still get tire kickers this way. I qualified 17 last year, and 15 bought. I had 2 tire kickers. One on which I saw my design on another companies website. It happens. Of the 2, I spent about 4 hours on. But this is far better than having 100 estimates to get 20-30 deals.

    You could also charge for quotes and refund the money if they buy. This will weed out folks as well. But I'm only a fan of this if they are far away. I would hate driving 30 mins for a no go. Gas isn't cheap anymore!
  5. David Gretzmier

    David Gretzmier LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,646

    Since the value of my business is so closely related to how many customers you serve and the profits they generate, I take getting new customers very serious.

    I qualify by giving folks a range of what people paid last year. "I typically have a few folks who we will hang wreaths only up high for around 300 bucks, and I have some very large projects that were 30,000 plus. Most homes I bid are 2-3 grand the first year and 800-1200 bucks per year after that once you have purchased all the product to light your home." This 2 sentence statement is true, and tends to get me in front of the top 1-2% homes in my area. It also is soft enough to not turn people off.

    once I do my sales and bid, I close 33-35% of folks. I do alot of bids, around 120 last year I believe, to get 40 new customers in 2007.

    I had one season 4years ago that I said on the phone, "my minimum is 500 bucks, and my average home is 2500 bucks". again, true, and this was an attempt to eliminate those tire kickers and really qualify folks on the phone. I did around 45 bids and closed 15.

    I think you can overqualify and lose folks that would buy from you if you meet them and they can trust you. I consider myself a full time sales rep for my company 40 hours a week, and a gopher-manager part time at 20-40 hours per week. I don't mind spending 40 hours a week for 4 weeks or so ( Nov. 1-Dec. 1) selling if it means I get more customers at the end of the year.

    I gear all my advertising to get the phone to ring, so getting to meet those folks that call, and cross advertising my landscape lighting services to them, is more important to me that making sure that person will buy from me on the phone. Some of those 80 folks that don't buy from me on Christmas lights do buy landscape lighting the next year.
  6. hotrod1965

    hotrod1965 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 587

    Dave has a great point, be soft! I never tell anyone my min, but I have neer had anyone get a quote under my min though. I don't talk price until I have been on the phone with them for a few minutes getting info. You need to come off professional.

    The trick is, to practice a lot, and to ask help from sales people. If you don't have communications skills, you better get some!
  7. David Gretzmier

    David Gretzmier LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,646

    when folks ask me on the phone, I do usually say that folks say it is expensive but worth it. by admitting it is expensive on the phone, and giving a range, it gives folks the permission to say you are out of thier budget.

    Also I have done enough calls that I am pretty relaxed on the phone. confidence in what you are doing, and not seeming too nervous. be relaxed if possible, as this is a pretty major purchase, even for folks that are quite well off.

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