Advance Selling Saves Time on the First House Call

Send an information packet and questionnaire beforehand and cut to the chase.

Want to have your customers sold on hiring you before you knock on their door? Doing some advance selling between that initial call and the first appointment can save considerable time, help focus the customer's questions and bring home the bacon.

A lot of prospective remodeling customers think they're ready to talk about their project, but they really aren't. As a result, many remodelers spend that first meeting drawing out basic information, answering general questions and introducing the company. That wastes valuable time.

At Helmut's Remodeling in Milwaukee, salespeople hit the ground running by sending a large packet of background information and questionnaires before the first meeting. "We like to get them thinking before we get there," says Ken Connor, vice president and co-owner. The packet is sent with the appointment-confirmation letter, which states the time and date of the meeting, requests that both husband and wife be present and stresses that it will take about 1-1/2 hours. The packet includes:

  • A company history and a list of services offered.

  • A list of referrals in the clients' area, with indications of which are repeat customers.

  • Literature pieces on key products that the clients indicated would be included in the project.

  • Printouts of photos of past projects that are similar to the one they're considering.

  • An overall project-specific questionnaire that asks for key details.

  • Information on how to get to the company's Web site and encouragement to check it out.

The questionnaire guides the clients' thought processes through the various decisions they'll have to make, some of which will need to be completed before the salesperson leaves that night. It also helps to focus questions during the meeting and gives the salesperson an inkling of how well the clients understand the process, costs and needs of their project. In some cases, sample products or selection boards are included in the packet to allow customers to review options before the salesperson arrives. "We don't need them all the time, but we like to send them when we can to help move the process along," Connor says.

At the meeting, the salesperson supplements the initial packet by showing the company's presentation book, which includes a company overview and photos of more projects similar to the one the clients are considering. This allows the salesperson to lead them through the process and point out key details to be considered. The book also includes a listing of the company's awards.

"In some cases, the clients will have already filled out the questionnaire by the time we arrive," Connor says. "In other cases, we go over it with them." This helps focus their interests and concerns.

"They often are waiting for us with the packet on the table. Now that they've gone through the information, they know what they want, and we can address their questions line by line."

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