Some clients want the lowest bid for their project, and nothing else matters. Forgive me while I paraphrase John Wayne, “They are just ignorant, they don’t know any better.” It’s your job to try to educate them
Your first response upon discovering that they only want the lowest price should be to find out why. They might tell you, “I just want the cheapest price I can get. This job will get done the same no matter who does it, so I’m keeping my costs down.”
They believe all contractors will build the same job, the same way. It doesn’t matter who they hire, the job will turn out the same. Price is the only differentiating factor between you and the other guy, so they might as well choose the lowest price. This is when you need to explain why you’re different than the other guys. However, if they continue to harp on wanting the cheapest price, let your competition build their job.
Another response you might hear is: “I am selling this place as soon as the repairs are done and I don’t want to put any more money in it than I have to.” That’s a good thing to know. You might ask a few more questions to see if there is some common ground you can work from, but generally speaking, you won’t sell this project unless you’re the lowest price, so it’s probably time to end the call.
There are all kinds of scenarios that follow this path. Many are brought on by the customer’s lack of knowledge of construction and probably pre-conceived ideas about contractors. You stand a chance of being able to educate them about not only the job but about you and your company. If they are in a listening mode, there might be a chance for a sale. It’s possible they don’t have a lot of money to work with, in which case you can offer to scale the project as needed.
Remember not to get emotional or upset; you need to keep your blood pressure and temper under control. Stay cool, listen, ask questions. If you can find some common ground, build on it. There might be a job there. But be aware that people who start out thinking cheap don’t change their mindset often and are only worth a limited amount of your time.
Chapter 16 of our book Profitable Sales; A Contractor’s Guide lists over two hundred possible sales issues (optimistically called “opportunities”). The goal is to develop your sales presentation so you don’t waste a lot of time with folks whose one and only consideration is price. While it’s true that nothing happens until someone makes a sale, it needs to be a profitable sale, and you rarely make a profit when your price is the lowest price.