The First Call:10 Questions for Your Prospect

For home specialty and general contractors, the first phone call is a key foundation to the rest of the communications with the prospect. It all starts here.

Your phone rings and its a prospect. Or perhaps they scheduled this call with you by filling out a contact form on your website. You got your name and company across, and you just go with the flow - allow the customer to tell you why they want to chat. Then you tell them about your business. Eventually the call ends. Occasionally, you get a follow up discussion, a consultation, and bam: a closed deal. Hopefully its a big outdoor living space, addition, or a luxurious new kitchen that you can show off in your portfolio of work. How do you know whether or not this first call went great (other than an obvious second call or consultation)? 

Earning an opportunity to talk again isn't the end-all-be-all sign that it went great. What if the second chat is in person 45+ minutes away from you each way at 8pm - and it turns out that the project is lower than your targeted cost or quality - or worse, not part of the services you offer? (Related: 4 Ways to Decrease the Time Between Your Bid and YES!) What if all that time you spend later on designing and further questioning can be reduced by a more efficient first chat? It can! Here are the absolute ten questions you want to be asking, as soon as possible, with every prospect. 

1. Where did you find us?

This provides you some insight into how much they may know about your business already. Don't use this to understand which marketing efforts are successful and which aren't. For example, the prospect may have been referred by a friend, but wouldn't have call if they didn't find your website interesting. 

2. How long have you been considering this project?

This give you an understanding of their level of knowledge of this project and even your competitors (you can ask if they spoke to others). 

3. How do you envision using this space - what does that look like?

This will provide you with useful tools to use in your proposal. For example, "we will install a built-in dog dish for your two beagles."

4. How did you come to this idea for this project?

This is powerful. The answer here will be the beginning of what truly matters to this prospect about this work. An answer like "I've always wanted a space for our family to enjoy in the summer." will suggest that the prospects ask for a pool will require you to help them understand how a patio and outdoor kitchen completes that vision.

5. Is this part of a bigger plan or is this THE big plan?

Here you get the next steps after the work is all done. Using the above example, the bigger family for summers, offers you an opportunity to upsell the work to fire pit for the fall or perhaps more outdoor designs for the summer (game section or children built ins).

6. When are you looking to start enjoying the new space?

Time-line. Is it realistic? Will you be able to make that happen? This question can help you make sure you are setting not just an accurate price based on labor and materials - but also compensation for additional labor to meet deadlines and overcome weather obstacles that you would normally not have to. It also helps you engage with the prospect in your follow up communication, "you mentioned you want to start using this in July, but if we didn't finalize the details by the end of this month, it will be impossible to meet that goal."

7. Is there a specific reason for this date?

This allows you to know if you can offer an option to your pricing that delays the start date but still allows them to be content with the work (maybe their date isn't hard locked).

8. What other work at your home have you done recently?

Something for to consider here to learn about more later - if it were possible, why didn't they use the same contractor? Avoid his or her mistakes! It also tells you how comfortable the homeowners are with work being done at their home. 

9. If you don't do this project, what are your other options?

This question nails down your competitors! Sometimes you aren't competing with others in the same field, it could be someone else completely (prospect considering spending money on outdoor kitchen or remodel of their indoor kitchen).

10. What is your budget range? 

Don't by shy. You need to know. If it's completely out of the ball park, you know what to do. If it's close, but not quite, no worries - show them the value later.

Bonus. Who should attend our next chat?

If you see this going somewhere, then make sure your next chat is worth your time - and do your due diligence in making sure everyone that should attend, does! Your prospect may not be thinking about this, its your job to.

After a discussion of the above items, you'll be armed with a good connection - your prospect will know that you care about them and their needs. You'll gain an understanding of their needs. Worried about not having enough time to go over everything? Then this means your too busy talking about your company. Stop! A little about you and almost everything about them - that's they way it should be until pitching time.

Now that you've passed the first call, put your home contracting company's best foot forward with an amazing first in-person client meeting, read about it here.