Friday, August 22, 2014

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Qualifying Customers - The Key to Successful Sales For Your Service Business

Some people are natural salespeople, while others have to work at it. No matter which category you fall under, there is an abundance of material written to improve your skills in sales and selling. In addition to reading this article, a person new to selling should read other sales materials and attend sales training and seminars. The more you learn, the better a sales person you will become.

As previously noted in my previous article on Marketing Your Handyman Business, a typical sales process for a home improvement business requires the following steps.

  • Marketing
  • Qualifying
  • Selling
  • Getting Hired!

Through your marketing efforts, you are attracting people with a home repair or home improvement need. Then through qualifying, you are ensuring that your prospective customer has the money and the motivation to hire you to get his or her project done.

Qualifying means to ensure that someone will make a good customer. Not everyone who contacts you will make a good customer, so it is best to assess the prospective customer's 'qualities' before deeming them appropriate to do business with your company. Qualifying is very important, as you only have so much time and energy for selling. You want to be sure that you are selling to the most appropriate individuals. The Operations section of this guide has a discussion on "What jobs to avoid" that will further help you to qualify prospective customers.

Much of the work of selling is learning about your customers, understanding their needs, and determining whether or not they are qualified to buy what you are selling. This last step is crucial. If they are not qualified, then it doesn't matter if you can sell your services, as they do not have the ability to buy them. Each business will need to define for itself what a qualified customer means. An example of a simple approach is that a prospective customer will qualify if he has a need, a budget and a realistic time frame to get the project completed.

Simply needing or wanting a home repair or improvement is not enough. Many prospects want things they can't afford, or have unrealistic budgets. In order to determine if the customer can afford your services, make sure that he has set a budget sufficient to accomplish the proposed project.

Customers also need to have a realistic time frame for when they want the project done. A prospect who can't tell you when he wants the project completed isn't serious about starting it in the first place.

Asking open-ended questions, those that require more than a one word or yes/no reply, will help in the process of eliciting the information you need. A closed-ended question is one that typically has a one-word response. For example: Do you like this shade of green? --The likely response is either yes or no.

Try asking questions such as the ones outlined below

  • What is your end goal for this project?
  • What would you like your (bathroom, kitchen, basement, deck, bedroom... ) to look like when it is complete?
  • Have you seen other examples that you like? You may have seen something in a magazine or in a friend or neighbor's home that you like.

Here are sample questions to help you determine if your prospect has a sufficient budget:

  • What is you budget range for this project?
  • What (colors, brand, model, style, etc.) have you selected for this part of the project?
  • Are you planning on paying for this project all at once, or will you be financing it?

These sample questions can help you determine the prospect's time frame and readiness to start project:

  • Can I see your paint color samples?
  • What ideas do you really like?
  • How soon do you want this project completed?
  • What (colors, brand, model, style, etc.) have you selected for this part of the project?

The responses to these questions will give you a better understanding of your prospect's wants and needs, and the information to qualify your prospective customers.

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