One of the most frustrating aspects of running a contracting business is dealing with bad leads. The time and energy wasted on a daily basis by service type business providers and contractors worldwide chasing bad leads is huge!
What do we mean by a bad lead?
A bad lead, is a lead that has only the slimmest or even no chance of ever becoming a paying job/customer. The most common example is the ‘tyre kicker’ type people who don’t have the money, or who don't think the service is worth the money, in the first place.
Another common example of a bad lead are those people who call assuming that you offer different types of services than the ones you actually offer. Or think what you do is the same as this or that or must include certain things they can mix and match.
As you, presumably a contractor of some kind, can likely relate to, we here at Epoxy2U Australia have personally wasted immense amounts of time and resources following bad leads. So, over time we have developed a few probing questions to ask potential prospects before committing to anything like a face to face meeting or site inspection with them.
This question is to eliminate the people in a complete rush and expect you to show up and quote tomorrow, or even do the job tomorrow! Most of our contractor customers tend to be booked for 2-3 weeks in advance, so these kinds of jobs are likely not going to come off for you if you’re in the same boat as them. Customers seem to assume that you are sitting around tools at the ready, at home waiting for your phone to ring so you can get some jobs done.
This question also helps filter out “not sure yet, maybe someday” types that have no idea what they actually want, what's involved, or what they should expect it to cost. Often these people don’t have the cash, but are working on the maybe one day they will.
2. Are you the owner/ decision maker? And if not will that person be present at the meeting?
This is an important question. Your chances of winning a job increases significantly if the decision maker is attending a quote or site meeting. Often what happens is you end up in the uncomfortable situation of a meeting with an employee or spouse for example, only to find that the real decision maker isn't on board at all with the project. No matter how good your pitch is, if your contact doesn’t have the power to make the call on the work, you aren't getting the job.
3. Do you have a budget?
This question can throw some people off a bit, they don't get asked it that often it seems. If they have made it past question 1 and/or 2 they should, presumably, have a rough idea at least in their mind's eye the size and scope of the project and what they think it's going to be worth.
Some will answer immediately with something outrageously low, in which case you can politely end the conversation there. Some will say ‘ I have no idea, that's why I called you ’, these people almost always have a budget in mind already they just don't want to say it. The rest will give you a range, or be very exact. They have most likely called a few other contractors before you. Based on their answers, you can get a good feel for how serious the prospect is to have their job done. You can throw some examples or m2 rates out there at this point and measure their response.
4. What problem are you trying to solve? How have you dealt with it before now?
Every consumer who makes a call for a service has a problem to solve. Our garage is dark and dingy, the kitchen floor we have is hard to clean, etc. et.c This question gets customers talking, helping you find out the real reasons behind their call or email. Sometimes you’ll spot red flags in their responses to this question.
It can pay to be a bit suspicious of customers who are very vague and dodge this kind of question. You’ll get calls from, you presume initially at least, prospects all the time. The reasons for the call can be many, and this question helps reveal that. Sometimes its competitors are curious to see how much you charge. Sometimes people who have awarded a job already decide they want to run a price comparison, just to make sure. Sometimes, they just want to ‘kick the tyre’ and get a price indication for that maybe someday project. Obviously, pursuing these leads further, is wasted time.
These 4 questions or variations of, either some or all and in any order you like, will hopefully serve you as a base line to start qualifying your leads a bit more thoroughly. And save you some time in the long run. If the call isn’t of the time waster type, hopefully the conversation is successful giving you plenty of details on what to discuss with the customer if you do decide to go inspect, quote or have a meeting.
What are some of your own experiences with bad leads?