Written by Ari Greenbaum, co-founder of conXpros
Not all customer inquiries are created equal, but the common quality they all share is that they all have a value. Because there is value to each type of call, you must treat them as an opportunity…a valuable one! All customer inquiries can be classified into one of 3 distinct categories: 1. Buyers 2. Advice Seekers & 3. Price Shoppers. Of course, we prefer the first category of Buyers, but that does not mean that we should pay less attention to the potential that any of the 3 categories offer whether for the immediate or future returns.
Buyers: Let’s tackle the easiest one first. In today’s world, where information is only a few clicks or keystrokes away, most buyers come ready and prepared. Often, they will have done their research, familiarized themselves with options, and have a general idea of the cost of the projects they are looking to hire for. This creates a challenge that was not part of the quoting & selling process of a few decades ago. No longer do consumers solely rely on the information you provide to make their buying decisions. Rather, you must clearly demonstrate that your knowledge meets (or preferably exceeds) what they have come to the table already knowing from research. Your pricing must be in line with what the market is (or have a logical and clear increased value over the market). Buyers will have more knowledge-based questions, and your ability to answer them will determine if they hire you. You can easily turn the buyer off by trying too hard to sell, pushing upsells, and not clearly demonstrating your expertise in your field. The best way to prepare for this type of call is to put yourself in the shoes of your potential customers. Do the same research that the customer would do. If you already know what to expect, it is much easier to be prepared to ensure that you are the choice they make when hiring.
Advice Seekers: There are a percentage of the inquiries you receive that will not necessarily be ready to buy TODAY. They have not done the research yet and are reaching out for some professional guidance. Sometimes, these are individuals trying to determine if the project is something simple enough for them to complete themselves. They may be seeking advice of how to do the project or if it is a viable project at all. Most home improvement pros turn their nose in the air with calls like this. These pros have zero chance to win this business. My advice… approach these calls with a positive attitude. These are potential buyers! You should speak with them enthusiastically. Be eager to help and don’t be afraid to share knowledge and the challenges they will be facing with the project. Not all, but some of the people that start as advice seekers, will
determine that either they do not have the necessary skill to properly do the work or that they are better off hiring a pro. Who do you think that they turn to and hire in these cases? The guy that wouldn’t give their time or the one who generously and willingly offered their help? The key is not to approach these calls with the expectation to make a sale, rather the expectation to treat people correctly and help. There are more benefits to this approach. For example, you may not do the project for this customer as they ultimately decided (based on your advice & help) to do it themselves. However, if they are ever asked for a referral to a pro, who do you think will be at the top of the list? The more you give, the more you get! Don’t miss out on these potential wins down the road.
Price Shoppers: Having worked in the lead generation business for as long as I have, the label “price shoppers” regularly takes on a highly negative connotation. Often, home improvement pros feel that a price shopper is not a serious customer or that they are just simply looking for the lowest price. As a result, they treat these inquiries differently than they would someone in the “buyer” category. This typically comes across as an arrogance and that they are being bothered to the potential customer. Yes, some of these people are looking for the best price, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the cheapest price. Others are trying to get a better idea of what the project will cost and have chosen to seek out information from professionals instead of Google. Is there anything wrong with either of these scenarios? Many contractors will answer emphatically “yes!”. I fall on the other side of the fence in these cases. I base this on general knowledge of consumers, which includes my own experience as a consumer. ALL buyers care about price! I have never made a purchase where price was not a consideration or factor. Perhaps it is budgetary or perhaps it is directly tied to the perceived value. The contractor that use the negative connotation for “price shoppers” never experience wins in these cases. They have given up any hope of gaining the person as a customer. The pros that approach the “price shopper” as a valuable opportunity, create the chance for success and reward. Just as with the advice seekers, you must treat this type of inquiry with a positive attitude focused on helping them. Share your knowledge and use the opportunity to build value in what you offer. If there is no perceived difference in one offering to another other than price, what do you think will drive the decision? You must change the way you view this type of consumer from “price shopper” to “value shopper”. Become valuable to the potential client and often they will hire you even when you are not the lowest price. Of course, there are those inquiries that are 100% shopping for the lowest price. Understand that there is nothing you can do in those cases to win (and do you want to win those customers anyways?), other than drop prices. I do not recommend low bidding, rather accept in advance that you are not going to win every job you bid on. However, if you approach every potential customer with passion, care and respect, you will win more often than you lose. Shoppers are buyers!
In summary, there are 3 different types of inquiries or calls. Each type requires the same intrinsic desire to want to help the person rather than make the sale. Know what customers want. By being kind, friendly, eager, knowledgeable, and non-discriminatory you will frequently find yourself on the winning side of the equation. Buyers convert quickly, but the Advice Seekers & Price Shoppers take some cultivating and nurturing to bear fruit. It is important to see the bigger picture and play the long game. Every call, every inquiry, every lead is an opportunity. Make them all matter!