My fellow Artisans,
I was wondering if we could share some of our tips on making the sale when the clients make statements like these:
Why should I go with your product when I can buy a kit online for half the cost?
Why shouldn't I just go with the real thing and hire a mason to install it?
I don't want to discuss my budget until you give me an estimate on your services, is that ok?
I have a friend that has all real stone work and how much of a savings will I have if I use your services in simulation?

I'm sure we have all had these kinds of questions and probably even worse ones for some of us. I just want to start this discussion so that we can all learn from each other's experiences.

Share you situations and questions along with your talented come backs and approach to the clients,I think this could help us all out in the future. In my 16 years of landscaping I never had to work so hard to sell a project like I do now. I also think that it is due to my local area not have the knowledge of all that can be created, so I’m constantly educating the public. I have recently started making models of the projects after speaking with Nathan Giffin and seeing Richard Wingets write up on the model building process, Thanks Guys!

I know that after taking the advice of these two artisans it has truly help me out in my recent meetings and a few situations that I personally dealt with, so please share so that we can all learn.
I have learned so much not only on building my skills and knowledge in this craft, but in my approached in the business side of this industry as well by becoming a subscriber to Vertical Artisans and this forum the talent here is endless.
Thanks to all of you for sharing,
Best Regards,
Jody Smith
Overlay Solutions, LLC

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Awesome questions Jody...it made me stop and answer them because they are so relevant.

Answering questions is very important but more important than that is understanding the question and what is not being asked sometimes gives you a bigger clue as to unlocking the sale.

Let’s look at this guy ---

Why should I go with your product when I can buy a kit online for half the cost?

I love this question? I have been asked this question at times and there is a premise that comes with it.
A.) The guy asking this question APPEARS to only be interested in cost.
B.) The guy may be trying to tell you he thinks he can do this by himself.
C.) This is an aggressive question that is actually insulting to you. With out saying it he has just reduced the quality of you work to an out of the box product that any knuckle head can put up.
D.) Most importantly this genius thinks that it will only cost him half the price. Most times it winds up costing the home owner more time which is money, fix mistakes, and inevitably the projects look like a DIY project gone bad.

Understanding these potential premises we can now position ourselves to win.
You will never win against a man’s pride. He much sooner to do it himself and have it look terrible and then candy coat the experience by telling himself that he saved so much money. He will also never admit that it has caused a lot of problems with the wifey. So don’t let the question or the man idiosyncrasies get in the way of the sale.

I believe the root of this question comes from a lack of trust. He obviously doesn’t care if he offends and he is testing you because he wants to believe in you or he never would have called. So the answers are that you need to raise his level of trust with you. But is doing this you must not come off to arrogant. Confidence in your abilities YES!

In answering this question you just need to point out the facts. This is done by exposing them. The one who asks the questions controls the conversation. By the way you can always call his bluff. This is more risky but does so confidence. I normally go with this option when the thought of me wasting all my time on an El’ Cheapo enters my mind.
That would go something like this ---
Maybe you should go with the online out of the box special and then call me when you want to save money. But just so you’re prepared I have some pointers for you. Most tucking companies can’t deliver to a residence house. You don’t have a fork lift to unload the skids so you may want to get a few fellas to help you unload the panels. Do you have all the rebar bending tools and know how to use them because sub straights still need to be fabricated to support the heavy panels. You may also want to take a class if the manufacture offers one on how to do good seam work because even the “professionals” screw it up and nothing looks worse after you have spent a weeks worth of your time figuring out how to make it look natural and then have the corners, seems and joints fail on you. It just isn’t classy when you have to go back and patch the problem after it’s been colored which by the way if you want me to paint it or color it I can do that for you as well. Quite frankly, you can have awesome rock work and if you blow it on the coloring…well, there always the dog house if you know what I mean…..

Or something like that …. By the time you have exposed all the behind the scenes problems that are most common and illuminated his mind to all the work involved with a out of the box or more appropriately “off the skid” product, you may have solidified in his mind that you know what your talking about. And if you don’t know what you’re talking about don’t use this tactic. Plain and simple, but one thing is for sure, he has never done this work and doesn’t know what’s coming. Your job is to paint the picture of him loosing weight and hair from his ignorance with out telling him that he is ignorant of what’s to come.

Be sure to also make him aware that you can assist him or do any level of the work for a price through out the entire process. This will assure him that you are confident and are willing to serve him at whatever capacity he desires. That is if you want that.
Many times after a short dialog like that I have gained the confidence and educated the client on why he needs me to do the project regardless.



Why shouldn't I just go with the real thing and hire a mason to install it?

This question should only be asked if you are trying to copy a”typical” real stone looking wall. Remember your job is to create a nitch for yourself by sculpting things that real masons can’t get their hands on. And if by chance they could get their hands on it, well then it’s going to take a lot of hands to move it into place therefore driving the price of labor up and out of the clients’ budget range. You can sculpt things that masons can’t assemble. Most masons have lost or never have done anything elaborate like what you can design. So their response to the client is generally “you better have deep pockets.”

Especially with arches and ceiling work or anything that requires the knowledge of weight and shoring supports. But getting back to the main point, by the time you get done showing them what you can do, even if the masons want it the cost of the project will be double or triple, maybe even more. It is your job to “design” the masons right off the project. That is very easy to do, especially when you have no limits as to the scope or size of the stone proposed to be used. Then it just a matter of taste.


I don't want to discuss my budget until you give me an estimate on your services, is that ok?

Unlike the first fella with his insults, this person is polite but has still tipped their hand to your favor.
Sometimes people don’t actually know what their budget is so don’t take this savvy response to seriously. However they know approximately know how much that they are going to spend if they have to. They also know how much they are not going to spend.
Determining price is easy. It really boils down to a simple recipe…..
How much is material?
How long will it take you to do the work?
How much are you worth?

There are things that will effect to price because it will effect the material or time to pull it off. For example:
It takes a lot more time to sculpt a lot of small stones then it does a few big ones. You will need to allocate more time for smaller design work. Another way to help crack the budget question is to identify the style of stone that they want or like.

Let them know that the price is also determined by how much detail they want in the project. Quite frankly I can spend three days on 150 feet or one day on 150 feet. The difference is going to be in the details. Obviously the three day project will look nicer because more time went into that work and it will show.
After making these things known they may feel uncomfortable because they are not prepare to give you anymore information. That’s ok and make sure you give them permission to tell you freely that something is too much. This will also make it easier for them to communicate with you in matters of cost.
It is my practice to incorporate a minimum project cost. Most small projects will take three days rarely two days but most of the time three. I may institute a $3,000.00 minimum simply because I can. It may be higher or lower but don’t be afraid to throw out that number because if they are unwilling to pay you your minimum then why are you still standing in their living room?

Giving them a big number is a good way to get to the point as well. This can be done by dreaming up the area with out limitations. I mea were goanna put stuff here and there and up there and have this and that and on and on and on until they stop and say well what’s that going to cost me…….you should pause and say … about $25 thousand. If you have to necessitate them then you know you’re too high. If they don’t blink and say keep going then you have a winner on your hands. It is at that point you may want to ask them should I cut back a little. Let them then begin to correct you in your vision as to what they want. You will on occasion have somebody want you to fabricate their dreams for $700 dollars. Just smile and ask them what they do for a living. Then find an appropriate dollar amount that has been greatly reduced from the income bracket and then and 4 times the amount of work to their position and ask them if they would do the work load for the new price. Of course you need to be in a tongue in cheek mood to pull this one off but you have tactfully shown them how ridiculous they are in their understanding of what you do and your value. Then again they may be a complete shyster. Use discretion and read them for the truth on the matter. Either way you will know where they want to be and what they can’t afford.

Note: Sometimes they will straight up lie and then never call you back or give you information as to if they are still interested. Liars are very deceptive. There is no real good defense against this. It is something I hate because it is a colossal waste of my time. If you feel that you are dealing with this then before you leave you can say” I have giving you many things to consider and a lot of ideas that may work very nicely for you. If any of these will work out for you call me. Walk out and in the event that they do call well then your better off. If you get to wrapped up in a client who is a liar then you will be inclined to give them a call and speak your mind. It’s also not bad it see if they have any liens on their properties. Chances are that they have lied before and others have paid the price. I would do this to people who seem to really want to work it out with you. They may come across very accommodating but it is you who is being set up. I’m thankful I have been protected from this for the last 11 years.


I have a friend that has all real stone work and how much of a savings will I have if I use your services in simulation?

Ask to see the plan, contracts, sketches ect. ect, because you can not answer that question until you first know what it is that you need duplicate. You honestly don’t know until you have all the facts. They may have cheap stone and dog labor. You need to know that. You also need to know if that job actually happened. Ask to see it and see if they sweat.

The first one to talk about price really is going to loose. Most people want to get something for nothing. They feel that they are entitled to it because they are the consumer. I would not sell from this perspective.
You show them the Chevy and the Mercedes and let them choose. When they say they want the Mercedes for the Chevy price you simply say no. You don’t have to negotiate your skill down to that of the common laborer. Cowboy up and let them know that they are not being practical. You do this by simply saying …..that is not practical.
You are not obliged to have to work for somebody. It is still your choice.
The quick answer to this question is ….it may very well be the same price, only better, more options, more leeway and with no design limitations.
You should come out on top with the raw materials and the turn around time should be the same…now its just a matter of styling and design.

Spend time with your clients; get to know them a little better. Ask them to share their experiences with you. People will tell you more about them selves if you let them talk than if you were to ask pointed questions. Knowing who you are talking too is important. It may just cause you to change your strategy.
This is why I ask questions on this forum because you have a great chance of learning something very solid. The reply was awesome and I thank you for your timeless commitment and devotion to this awesome forum and training site. I thank you and all of the highly skilled artisans sharing such solid advice and knowledge.
Thanks Nathan for once again taking the time to share, it is greatly appreciated!
Jody Smith


VerticalArtisans.com said:
Awesome questions Jody...it made me stop and answer them because they are so relevant.

Answering questions is very important but more important than that is understanding the question and what is not being asked sometimes gives you a bigger clue as to unlocking the sale.

Let’s look at this guy ---

Why should I go with your product when I can buy a kit online for half the cost?

I love this question? I have been asked this question at times and there is a premise that comes with it.
A.) The guy asking this question APPEARS to only be interested in cost.
B.) The guy may be trying to tell you he thinks he can do this by himself.
C.) This is an aggressive question that is actually insulting to you. With out saying it he has just reduced the quality of you work to an out of the box product that any knuckle head can put up.
D.) Most importantly this genius thinks that it will only cost him half the price. Most times it winds up costing the home owner more time which is money, fix mistakes, and inevitably the projects look like a DIY project gone bad.

Understanding these potential premises we can now position ourselves to win.
You will never win against a man’s pride. He much sooner to do it himself and have it look terrible and then candy coat the experience by telling himself that he saved so much money. He will also never admit that it has caused a lot of problems with the wifey. So don’t let the question or the man idiosyncrasies get in the way of the sale.

I believe the root of this question comes from a lack of trust. He obviously doesn’t care if he offends and he is testing you because he wants to believe in you or he never would have called. So the answers are that you need to raise his level of trust with you. But is doing this you must not come off to arrogant. Confidence in your abilities YES!

In answering this question you just need to point out the facts. This is done by exposing them. The one who asks the questions controls the conversation. By the way you can always call his bluff. This is more risky but does so confidence. I normally go with this option when the thought of me wasting all my time on an El’ Cheapo enters my mind.
That would go something like this ---
Maybe you should go with the online out of the box special and then call me when you want to save money. But just so you’re prepared I have some pointers for you. Most tucking companies can’t deliver to a residence house. You don’t have a fork lift to unload the skids so you may want to get a few fellas to help you unload the panels. Do you have all the rebar bending tools and know how to use them because sub straights still need to be fabricated to support the heavy panels. You may also want to take a class if the manufacture offers one on how to do good seam work because even the “professionals” screw it up and nothing looks worse after you have spent a weeks worth of your time figuring out how to make it look natural and then have the corners, seems and joints fail on you. It just isn’t classy when you have to go back and patch the problem after it’s been colored which by the way if you want me to paint it or color it I can do that for you as well. Quite frankly, you can have awesome rock work and if you blow it on the coloring…well, there always the dog house if you know what I mean…..

Or something like that …. By the time you have exposed all the behind the scenes problems that are most common and illuminated his mind to all the work involved with a out of the box or more appropriately “off the skid” product, you may have solidified in his mind that you know what your talking about. And if you don’t know what you’re talking about don’t use this tactic. Plain and simple, but one thing is for sure, he has never done this work and doesn’t know what’s coming. Your job is to paint the picture of him loosing weight and hair from his ignorance with out telling him that he is ignorant of what’s to come.

Be sure to also make him aware that you can assist him or do any level of the work for a price through out the entire process. This will assure him that you are confident and are willing to serve him at whatever capacity he desires. That is if you want that.
Many times after a short dialog like that I have gained the confidence and educated the client on why he needs me to do the project regardless.



Why shouldn't I just go with the real thing and hire a mason to install it?

This question should only be asked if you are trying to copy a”typical” real stone looking wall. Remember your job is to create a nitch for yourself by sculpting things that real masons can’t get their hands on. And if by chance they could get their hands on it, well then it’s going to take a lot of hands to move it into place therefore driving the price of labor up and out of the clients’ budget range. You can sculpt things that masons can’t assemble. Most masons have lost or never have done anything elaborate like what you can design. So their response to the client is generally “you better have deep pockets.”

Especially with arches and ceiling work or anything that requires the knowledge of weight and shoring supports. But getting back to the main point, by the time you get done showing them what you can do, even if the masons want it the cost of the project will be double or triple, maybe even more. It is your job to “design” the masons right off the project. That is very easy to do, especially when you have no limits as to the scope or size of the stone proposed to be used. Then it just a matter of taste.


I don't want to discuss my budget until you give me an estimate on your services, is that ok?

Unlike the first fella with his insults, this person is polite but has still tipped their hand to your favor.
Sometimes people don’t actually know what their budget is so don’t take this savvy response to seriously. However they know approximately know how much that they are going to spend if they have to. They also know how much they are not going to spend.
Determining price is easy. It really boils down to a simple recipe…..
How much is material?
How long will it take you to do the work?
How much are you worth?

There are things that will effect to price because it will effect the material or time to pull it off. For example:
It takes a lot more time to sculpt a lot of small stones then it does a few big ones. You will need to allocate more time for smaller design work. Another way to help crack the budget question is to identify the style of stone that they want or like.

Let them know that the price is also determined by how much detail they want in the project. Quite frankly I can spend three days on 150 feet or one day on 150 feet. The difference is going to be in the details. Obviously the three day project will look nicer because more time went into that work and it will show.
After making these things known they may feel uncomfortable because they are not prepare to give you anymore information. That’s ok and make sure you give them permission to tell you freely that something is too much. This will also make it easier for them to communicate with you in matters of cost.
It is my practice to incorporate a minimum project cost. Most small projects will take three days rarely two days but most of the time three. I may institute a $3,000.00 minimum simply because I can. It may be higher or lower but don’t be afraid to throw out that number because if they are unwilling to pay you your minimum then why are you still standing in their living room?

Giving them a big number is a good way to get to the point as well. This can be done by dreaming up the area with out limitations. I mea were goanna put stuff here and there and up there and have this and that and on and on and on until they stop and say well what’s that going to cost me…….you should pause and say … about $25 thousand. If you have to necessitate them then you know you’re too high. If they don’t blink and say keep going then you have a winner on your hands. It is at that point you may want to ask them should I cut back a little. Let them then begin to correct you in your vision as to what they want. You will on occasion have somebody want you to fabricate their dreams for $700 dollars. Just smile and ask them what they do for a living. Then find an appropriate dollar amount that has been greatly reduced from the income bracket and then and 4 times the amount of work to their position and ask them if they would do the work load for the new price. Of course you need to be in a tongue in cheek mood to pull this one off but you have tactfully shown them how ridiculous they are in their understanding of what you do and your value. Then again they may be a complete shyster. Use discretion and read them for the truth on the matter. Either way you will know where they want to be and what they can’t afford.

Note: Sometimes they will straight up lie and then never call you back or give you information as to if they are still interested. Liars are very deceptive. There is no real good defense against this. It is something I hate because it is a colossal waste of my time. If you feel that you are dealing with this then before you leave you can say” I have giving you many things to consider and a lot of ideas that may work very nicely for you. If any of these will work out for you call me. Walk out and in the event that they do call well then your better off. If you get to wrapped up in a client who is a liar then you will be inclined to give them a call and speak your mind. It’s also not bad it see if they have any liens on their properties. Chances are that they have lied before and others have paid the price. I would do this to people who seem to really want to work it out with you. They may come across very accommodating but it is you who is being set up. I’m thankful I have been protected from this for the last 11 years.


I have a friend that has all real stone work and how much of a savings will I have if I use your services in simulation?

Ask to see the plan, contracts, sketches ect. ect, because you can not answer that question until you first know what it is that you need duplicate. You honestly don’t know until you have all the facts. They may have cheap stone and dog labor. You need to know that. You also need to know if that job actually happened. Ask to see it and see if they sweat.

The first one to talk about price really is going to loose. Most people want to get something for nothing. They feel that they are entitled to it because they are the consumer. I would not sell from this perspective.
You show them the Chevy and the Mercedes and let them choose. When they say they want the Mercedes for the Chevy price you simply say no. You don’t have to negotiate your skill down to that of the common laborer. Cowboy up and let them know that they are not being practical. You do this by simply saying …..that is not practical.
You are not obliged to have to work for somebody. It is still your choice.
The quick answer to this question is ….it may very well be the same price, only better, more options, more leeway and with no design limitations.
You should come out on top with the raw materials and the turn around time should be the same…now its just a matter of styling and design.

Spend time with your clients; get to know them a little better. Ask them to share their experiences with you. People will tell you more about them selves if you let them talk than if you were to ask pointed questions. Knowing who you are talking too is important. It may just cause you to change your strategy.
Richard Thanks for taking the time to help and you really did clear things up for me. I always enjoy reading your write ups they are loaded with tons of knowledge. I will have to use your process on my next project, it really makes sense. The response that you & Nathan shared is a great example of why you guys are industry leaders. I thank you and look forward to getting your training very soon on the Vertical Artisan Channel.

Richard L. Winget said:
Hmmm...
I have made the word idea into an acronym which I use to sell jobs.
Introduction
Design
Establish
Achieve
The Introduction is where you talk about yourself, years in service, license and insurance and find out about them, what they do, how they heard about you, previous work, children etc etc...

The Design portion focuses on amenities, look and feel, uses for the new design, discuss drawings, sketches and plan development and cost associated with each design facet. ask them to describe their vision with adjectives. Discuss budget constraints, you are ofcourse taking notes and arming yourself with information

Establish, at this point you are in a design agreement and have something representative of your work to gain their confidence. Continue refining design until you have something agreeable, This is the creative process and may take some time. Discuss budget in depth explaining the costs associated with each aspect of work, open their eyes so to speak. discuss start and finish dates, weekly meetings and updates, choice of sub contractors if needed. Finnally Bid the work and give tight numbers, figure allowances and percentages for difficult design options and try to come in under them.

Achieve Start mobilization and construction get her done!!

Hope this helps Jody

Respectfully
Richard L. Winget
www.authenticenvironments.com
Rich that is awesome...love the approach.
Just a few thoughts on a very relevant (and always timely) topic. Others of you have given many good replies to those questions, so I will try not to be repetitive. I do know that some of those questions we get hit with can cut close to the bone, and it can be hard not to take personal offense. Some potential customers try those techniques to gain the upper hand. If they can shake us up abit and get us on the defensive, they take control. Others, though, just need education. At times I have reversed things by saying something like: "Everyone has a different eye for detail. If your main objective here is to save money, there are many cheap alternatives to what I do, and I'd be happy to recommend some. In the end, your eye might not be discerning enough to tell the difference in quality." While I don't want to offend them, I want to let them know that I have no interest in being the lowest priced option. I have also gently suggested that they may be cheap, and called into question their ability to judge quality. If they act real offended, I calm them by pointing out that we have half a million dollar + homes around here with lick-and-stick styrostone fronts, and there's nothing wrong with being content with that if you can't tell the difference. When I'm asked how my countertop prices compare with granite, I say: "We all want to keep up with the Joneses. If you want uba tuba granite like 12 other people on your street, you will certainly have accomplished that, but if you want something one of a kind that will reflect your individual sense of style, I might have the perfect option." Now I've suggested that they can set themselves apart from their peers if they want to step up and pay for it. At this point they usually ask for the cheap stuff, or ensure me that cost is not their main concern. Problem solved. Maybe.

Maybe, because what are we taking to market? I see overlays that duplicate 79 cent 12x12 home depot close-out tile. I see overspray, splatter marks, brush strokes, drips and runs, steel and mesh lines telegraphing through, etc. Don't duplicate the cheap crap. If you do an overlay, go for a look that the tile guys CAN'T deliver-at ANY price. If you do vertical, make it look like the Roman's were resurrected just for that project. Let's show our potential customers a quality of work that they cannot find anywhere else in this century, at any other price. If we want our customers to pony up the dough, we all better pony up the quality. So nice to be part of a big group of you who already know all of this!
Here here!
David thanks for your reply I love all the tactics that you guys are presenting. I used a few last night at a meeting along with a 3D Model and closed the deal on a pool water feature. I went into the meeting with a higher confidence level and set my price and held strong and explained the difference of a modular waterfall kit and custom built design. They loved the 3D model and said that it really helped in the visual aspect of the sale and thanked me for taking so much time on their design. I think it’s great that all of us artisans can come together and help one another create and still respect and praise one another’s style. I look at all the styles on this forum, it amazes me how different we all are it’s kind of like the finger print there is no two of the same.

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