So how do you respond? Do you spend valuable time explaining all the nuances of various products with them in hopes of forming a relationship with them to get the sale? Do you take down the measurements (or worse yet, go to their homes and measure their windows) and very politely promise to call them back within a couple of hours with a quotation?
Do you then spend up to an hour manually preparing a quotation, for as little as possible, because you know they will not buy from you if your price is not the lowest in town? Do you then call them back with the requested information hoping to schedule an appointment only to have them tell you that either you are not the lowest price in town or they have already decided to go with someone else? Sound familiar?
Do you try to satiate yourself by thinking that if you hadn't quoted the job you wouldn't have had the possibility of making money here? Who are you kidding? Only yourself I think.
Have you ever looked objectively at the situation? What's actually happening? For starters, you make the assumption that this person is definitely your customer, they called you after all. You then made the assumption that you knew how you could satisfy them. You also gave them lots of valuable product information to help them make an educated decision in buying their window coverings, and you gave them a quotation.
Did they pay you anything for all you provided them? Does this sound one-sided? Can you think of any other time in life when you allowed yourself to be so taken advantage of?
WHAT COULD YOU DO?
Sit down and determine what will satisfy you in a sales transaction. Yes, that's right. Forget the notion that you should be willing to do whatever the customer wants you to at whatever cost to you.
Do you care how long you spend with customers before they buy from you? (The more time you spend with them the less profit you make unless you increase your prices.) What is the minimum profit from any job that will satisfy you? (If you don't know, it's time to figure it out). How much hand-holding (inconveniences to you) are you willing to provide? What level of respect do you require from a customer? Do you care how picky the customer is? (Can you ever satisfy them? And at what cost to you?)
TIPS AND TECHNIQUES
1. Make a mental switch. Do not automatically assume every person who calls you is your customer. This may be new thinking for you.
2. I have developed what I call the pre-appointment interview form. I developed this to get a feel for what each person who calls me is thinking and what is important to them. Only after interviewing the caller do I make a determination as to whether I can satisfy the person or not. If I conclude from their responses that I can satisfy both myself and them, I proceed to schedule an appointment. If however, I conclude that I will not be satisfied doing business with them, I graciously decline.
Develop an interview form for yourself. Include those questions that will give you the information you consider necessary to make a determination as to whether you want to do business with the caller or not. This simple step could save you countless hours of frustration.
Linda W. Lee, Linda@YourBlinds.com, is a CPA and the co-founder of YourBlinds.com, an online business advisory and order processing services company to the trade. Previously she founded Sound Financial Solutions, an accounting services company. PRE-APPOINTMENT INTERVIEW FORM
Spouse's Name: ________________
Children? Y N
(Do you mind if I call you at work?)
Directions to home
Thank you for calling!
How did you hear about me?
Referring person: ______________
Sent Thank-you? Y N
Moving locally? Y N
How can I help you?
What are you looking for?
Draperies? Y N
Blinds? Y N
Shutters? Y N
Window film? Y N
Fabric? Y N
Woods? Y N
Are you familiar with products currently available?
What are your concerns?
Making educated decision/product information (functionality/durability)?
Price? Y N
If price primary, Who else are you getting a quote from?
Your time (lack thereof)/convenience?
Timing-available when moving in? Y N
Look created? Y N
Complexity of correcting problems with blinds after installation? Y N
Direct sun? Y N
Heat? Y N
View? Y N
Greenbelt? Y N
Privacy? Y N
Based upon your responses I believe I can/cannot assist you in selecting/designing the most appropriate window treatments for your home. I have a wealth of information that will help you understand what products will and will not meet your needs.
I always try to paint a realistic picture of what a product will and will not do, and what a window covering will look like when installed including both the good and the bad. Examples: the number cords hanging, strings that may be objectionable, slat closure issues, brightness issues (white cellular shades), glare issues, fading issues, comparison of brands.
Is this a new home? Y N
Approx. number of windows: ______
Any unusual shapes? Y N
Any hard to reach windows? Y N
Security? (Timer) Y N
Sun control? (Sun sensor) Y N
Integration with house computer system? Y N
What is your budget?
TimingWhen do you anticipate you will have all the information necessary to make your decision?
Closing date _____________
Move in date ____________
When would be a good time for both you and your spouse to meet with me?