I got Paul Winans on the phone yesterday.
California remodeling company and move to Oregon just to become remodeling consultants. They also relocated to take advantage of their new state's vibrant arts culture. Paul rattled off a list of plays he had seen at the latest Oregon Shakespeare Festival, mentioned that Nina was off volunteering at a film festival, and answered a few of my questions.
Here's a little bit of what we talked about, as edited and paraphrased.
me: When screening potential remodeling clients, what's the single best question to ask?
Paul: (a big proponent of Sandler sales training): The most important thing to find out is why they want to have the work done. Usually when companies talk to a prospect, they ask for a perfunctory rationale. What you want to do is get to the why, the emotional reason, the pain.
The question that has to be asked over and over again is basically, 'Why do you want to go through the trouble, the inconvenience, the aggravation that comes with having a remodel done?' The more clarity you can get them to provide about their decision, the stronger the relationship is going to be, the less likely they're going to feel they have to talk with other companies, and the more information you'll have to structure a strong proposal.
It's too easy to end a meeting with a prospect by saying, okay, I'll send you a proposal. Your solution is only valid if you've first established the foundation for what is motivating the client to do the work.
me: How do you create a sense of urgency in slow remodeling buyers?
Paul: This gets back to that powerful first question you ask. The clearer you are about why somebody wants to get this project done, the more likely you can engage them in a conversation about when they want to have it done and why.
If it's a pregnancy, for instance, it's a slam dunk. Or it might be that a big celebration will be held at the house, and they haven't had a party in 15 years because they're so embarrassed by their kitchen. That's their pain. That's what you want to drill down to.
Remodeling can be hell, Paul and I agreed. It's critical to get your clients to accept this -- and to know that you'll ensure that the outcome is worth it -- at the beginning of the relationship.
Paul even suggests encouraging your prospects to consider buying another house before they remodel. "What is it about this house that makes you want to go to the trouble of remodeling? Is it the neighbors, the school your kids can walk to, the beautiful yard?'
Because, he said, "As the client gets clearer, as they hear themselves talk, they actually talk themselves out of thinking there's any other choice besides you."
That's what you want.
FYI, I'll be asking a business question like this every day on daily5Remodel.com. If you've got some burning questions for experts like Paul, and for your remodeling peers, use the comment box below to suggest them!
Or email them to me at leah@daily5Remodel.com.