If you are an independent contractor or very small construction company, your roles can really stack up. Not only are you the skilled labor, you also have to be the accountant, the marketing department, the warranty department, and the sales team for your business, too.
And as the sales team for your small construction business, you need to have a certain amount of finesse to convert a qualified lead into a closed deal.
When you have that golden opportunity to meet with a potential client for the first time, don't let the wrong words get in the way of a new project.
Here's five things you should never say if you want to turn that lead into a new client.
You may have amazing ideas, years of experience, and more industry knowledge than most of your competitors. Even if you can see right away what your potential client's bathroom/ kitchen/ closet/ plumbing/ electrical needs are, the last thing you should do is start off a meeting by telling them what you are going to do.
Your client has ideas, too. Ask them questions to discover their wants, needs, and vision for the project before you start presenting your solution to what you think are their problems. Ask, don't tell.
"Tell me more..."
Ok, so the client doesn't always know best. They may have ideas that are a bit too big for their budget, don't make sense, or that require you to re-plumb or re-wire the entire house in order to work. No matter how outrageous their ideas, you should still have an open conversation about them anyways.
Acknowledge the client's ideas, present the entire picture of how their ideas will impact the scope of work or budge, and present alternative options in a way that feels more like an idea-sharing conversation, and less like a dictatorship.
"That's an interesting idea, and we should definitely look into that. Here's another option that you may want to consider..."
Budgets can be a sensitive subject, and for some clients there is very little wiggle room to go above or beyond. If a client's expectations exceed their budget, present the actual costs of the project in a way that doesn't make them feel diminished or as if they can't afford what they want.
Ask more questions in order to find out what your client's true priorities are on the project. Then, you can present solutions that will address their biggest pain points and priorities first, and you can lay out the groundwork for future phases and additional projects that can be completed at a later date.
"Based on what you've said your priorities are, here are my suggestions that can accomplish that within the allotted budget..."
Your client may be deciding between multiple contractors or companies for their project. And the last thing you want to do is bad mouth your competition in front of a potential client. Speaking badly about another contractor is not going to make you look better. It makes you look unprofessional and gossipy.
Not only is it unprofessional to speak badly about the competition, it opens you up to the risk of legal problems, too. "Slander" is making an untrue spoken statement that is damaging to someone's reputation, and you could find yourself facing legal action and a costly lawsuit if the competition finds out about it.
"I know you have many options, so I want to thank you for the opportunity to work on this project. Here's what you get when you hire me, and what sets me apart from my competition..."
"Don't worry about it..." "It's no big deal..." If a potential client brings up a question, concern, or objection, it is a big deal to them. And if they are worried about something, you don't want to blow off their concerns.
Addressing your potential client's concerns and questions will make them feel like you listen, that you respect their decisions and thoughts, and that you validate them as being a part of the decision making process. Ask them even more questions in order to uncover their worries, hesitations, and pain points, and then address each one individually.
"I understand your concern. I have faced this issue before on a project, so allow me to walk you through how I overcame that hurdle in the past..."
The biggest way to win a new client is by asking questions and truly listening to what your client has to say. The quickest way to lose a client is by hijacking the conversation, trying to bulldoze a potential client with your own ideas of how things should be done, and by not addressing their concerns, priorities, or pain points.
Potential clients who feel like they've been heard, validated, understood are much more likely to become current, and even repeat, customers.