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Customer Focused Bids

9 July, 2019

One Thing That Can Improve Your Quotes

Spoiler Alert: It’s about the customer

By Ryan Shantz

What is the purpose of a quote? To give somebody a price for their job, right? To let them know the type of paint being applied and the warranty being provided? While those things can be included in a quote, I would suggest that the purpose of a quote is to gain the trust and engagement of your potential client while showing them how you differ from other contractors. Ultimately, if you can connect with your client via trust, education and engagement, you will leap miles ahead of the competition.

For example, Apple creates devices that many people love because they are intuitive to use and offer a depth of features. They solve a problem and make it easy for people to work with them. If intuitive features and engaging design are at one end of the spectrum, 90% of painting quotes would be at the exact opposite end of that spectrum; difficult to understand, with no thought given to engaging homeowners. Rather than clarifying a problem and introducing a solution, painting quotes typically introduce a whole new set of problems laced with confusion. Quotes end up being loaded with industry jargon, difficult to understand terms and a price that feels pulled out of thin air. Standard paint quotes really aren’t much to boast about.

Having run a large residential contractor sales team for more years than I would like to admit, we wrestled continuously with how to gain an upper hand in the sales game. Finally, we completely changed the quotes that we shared with homeowners and were blown away by the results.

Rather than our quotes being all about us, the products we use, our warranty details, the price we were offering, etc., our quotes focused entirely on our clients. How? We developed quotes that demonstrated our ability to:

  • Understand their home
  • Identify with their challenges
  • Provide solutions
  • Establish our competence and ability to help them

Practically, we did this by inserting a photo of the client’s home on the cover page, writing about specific details of the project to educate them and going a step further by including photos to show issues we would need to correct. To put the icing on the cake, we got clients excited about the project by showing how incredible their chosen product looked in other homes, and most importantly, we hired a professional graphic designer and communications expert to make the quote sharp and give the entire presentation intuitive, easy-to-understand messages.

Donald Miller explains in Building a StoryBrand, “Customers don’t generally care about your story; the care about their own. Your customer should be the hero of the story, not your brand.”

Miller unpacks it further. “Customers aren’t looking for a hero, they are looking for a guide.” In other words, we aren’t Luke Skywalker in this story, swooping in to be the hero, we are Yoda. When Luke was overwhelmed, inexperienced and didn’t know how to win the battle, he turned to Yoda, a guide who could lead the hero to success.

One of my sales people shared this story with me the other day. He sat down with a potential client who said, “Your quote is a bit more expensive, but I’d like to move forward with your company. After seeing how detailed your quote is, I know you’ll do a great job!” Now here’s the ironic part: A competitor’s quote was visible on the table, and it actually went into FAR more detail than ours. It described all sorts of industry details that we hadn’t bothered to mention. The difference? The quote focused on details that a contractor cared about but no homeowner would ever understand. The competitor’s quote was obviously built in Word/Excel or some generic CRM. It was a logo with a huge amount of text and a price. In contrast, our presentation was designed and built in such a way that it was intuitive and easy to understand. Our quote focused on the client, while our competitors focused on themselves.

So, what can you do to change? Start thinking about the sale from a client’s perspective; engage them, make the process about them and ensure that every message in your quote is shared to make life easier for them.

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