Following Up: The Only Way to Close the Deal
“I thought they were going with another contractor.”
“I didn’t think they were ready to commit to the job.”
“I figured they felt that our rates were too high for them.”
“I didn’t feel like it was appropriate to pressure them into the sale.”
“They’ll call me when they’re ready for me to start.”
If you’ve found yourself spitting out any of the above statements, then you may have solved the mystery of why you’re not landing more clients. In fact, failure to follow up with potential customers and current clients alike is an almost guaranteed business killer. Even in an age where most Millennials see talking on the phone as a last resort to communication, a quick phone call can help you get the job instead of giving it to the competition. In the next few paragraphs, we’re going to to lay out some follow-up strategies.
But I’m Not a Salesman
Yes, you are a contractor – and a good one at that. You spend hundreds of hours measuring, designing, calculating, building, and repairing. The one thing that makes all that other stuff possible, however, is your ability close a deal.. Sure, you’re no David Ogilby or Dale Carnegie, but that may be the best thing you have going for you. A relaxed and natural interaction with a homeowner will put them at ease so that they don’t feel the pressure of saying yes. You’ve now become the friendly neighborhood expert instead of a high-pressure salesman.
Remember, the quality of your work, your reputation as an honest contractor, and your ability to demonstrate the benefits of the product will give a soon-to-be customer what they need to know to make an informed decision. Pick up the phone, do a lot of listening, and just be your natural charming self. The rest will come.
Short-Term Memory Loss
If you think that a brochure and an in-depth conversation was a life-changing experience for your prospective client, you may want to dial-in just to make sure. Jack Malcolm, President of Falcon Performance Group, reveals why.
The bad news for anyone delivering a presentation is that, despite all your hard work and careful choice of content to include in your presentation, most of it will go in one ear and out the other. Researchers once ran a test to measure how much of a presenter’s message sticks in the minds of their audience. They found that immediately after a 10-minute presentation, listeners only remembered 50% of what was said. By the next day that had dropped to 25%, and a week later it was 10%.
What a follow-up call gives you the opportunity to do is remind the homeowner how your service benefits them. It gives the owner a chance to ask questions and clarify any confusion or misunderstanding. And last, it’s your opportunity to bring the homeowner to commitment one way or another.
In most cases, when a contractor is contacted by a prospect, it’s to request an estimate. Although an estimate doesn’t assure you’ll get the sale, it does provide you with leverage for future correspondence. Where it gets sticky, however, is when the contractor assumes that he can contact the prospect on his own time instead of theirs.
The solution? Ask.
Tell the homeowner that you’ll work up an estimate and ask if it’s ok to call them. Be sure to schedule the call or meeting to avoid wasting time with leaving messages and operating on the fly. A meeting is most effective because it allows you to go over the estimate in person. Never just email the estimate. Plan to review the estimate with them over the phone. and limit the number of times you go over the information over the phone. This keeps the prospect from quietly pulling out of the estimate by simply ignoring your email without giving it a second thought.
Keep All Meetings Brief
If there is anything that a prospect can’t stand, it’s wasting time. Every interaction you have with a client should be precise and meaningful. What this means for contractors is that every meeting should be planned and well thought out. From a business owner’s perspective, the fact that people are always in a hurry can be frustrating. But rather than fight, it’s best to work within.
If the phone call or scheduled meeting is going to last more than 15 minutes, it’s a good idea to let the prospect know in advance so that they can plan their day accordingly. If possible, always meet with the client at the on-site. It gives you the ability to remind the client why they called you in the first place, and why your service is valuable.
The main thing to remember is that no follow-up can be overlooked. Every time you fail to get back with a client you’re giving your sale to the competition along with the job and the money. It’s best to never assume anything. Your next phone call could land you the job you’ve been looking for.