An Intriguing Read

Sometimes I have to put down my non-fiction books and read a good novel. Right now I am reading Steve Martini’s “The Judge”. The main character is Paul Madriani, a defense attorney. The book starts rather slowly, then builds momentum towards the end. My favorite parts are the court scenes, where Paul makes insightful cross examinations and gets to the real truth of the matter. Or at least the truth that he wants to be revealed to the jury. 


Objection! Irrelevant! Does not pertain to the remodeling industry.

Good questions lead to great salesBefore you object, I assure you this is relevant. Even interesting. Read on.

Bear with me as I lay out the primary duties of a defense attorney and why it is not a good idea to represent yourself in a court of law. Representing yourself could land you in heap of trouble. It is advisable to get the best attorney you can afford.

Here are the basic duties of a defense attorney:

  1. Find the best sentencing program for your situation.
  2. Guide you through the emotional maze of a trial.
  3. Bring you back down to earth and give you a reality check. 
  4. Expose rules and regulations that are obscure and would be nearly impossible to find yourself.
  5. Help you navigate through the legal system; local rules in addition to “unwritten” rules. 
  6. Show you the “hidden” costs of a plea bargain and clarify the consequences that may follow.
  7. Devote themselves to the case, spending more time on it than you yourself have time to devote.
  8. Gather evidence and find the right witnesses to help your case.
  9. Find expert witnesses that will increase your chance of winning.
  10. Prevent a simple case from turning into a multiple count indictment.



Kind of gives you a little more respect for attorneys, doesn’t it? They can be very valuable if you are involved in a legal situation. 

In many ways, defense attorneys are a lot like contractors. Let’s compare the key points above to the duties of a good contractor:

  1. Contractors study each potential project. They assess whether the project is feasible, and can be done within a certain budget. They help the prospective client see the best route for implementing their dream project.
  2. A good contractor will not only guide a client through the emotional fog of a project, they will advise them about upcoming events and what to expect, so the situation doesn’t get emotional. 
  3. View the project with an unbiassed eye, letting the client know that certain issues are just a reality of the job, and can be easily overcome. 
  4. Because of experience and continued education, the contractor understands current regulations and codes, and will avoid problems with inspectors and OSHA regulators.
  5. There are many “unwritten” rules in the remodeling industry. A good contractor knows how to properly treat each person or company working on the project. 
  6. A good contractor will show a client that cheaper is not always better. There are hidden costs in taking short-cuts and buying inferior products.
  7. While homeowners have little time to devote to their projects, the contractor, on the other hand, does have time to make sure the job is done correctly and on schedule. 
  8. Finding the right “witnesses” (trades and subcontractors) for a project is crucial to its success. Years of experience, and trial and error, assure the client that they are getting the best.
  9. Sometimes a contractor has to get outside help with such things as load-bearing beams or unusual footings. These may require an engineer, or lumber expert. Contractors know their limitations, and when expert help is required, they go the extra mile and get the best. 
  10. And finally, a contractor worth his salt keeps a tight rein on his projects, never letting them get out of control. The contractor delivers value in every aspect of the project.


Qualifying and selling

An attorney, when asked to take a case, researches the prospective client, either face-to-face, or before meeting. Accepting the client, he (or she), would learn all he can about the client, their lifestyle, career, and other connections. He then prepares his arguments based on his accumulated knowledge. In court the case is presented and hopefully won. 

Again, the similarities are obvious. A contractor qualifies the lead, learns about the prospective client, prepares the sales visit based on the accumulated knowledge, meets with them and attempts to close the sale.


How to sell like an attorney

A commonly spoken rule of any attorney is to never ask a question that you don’t know the answer to. When they break this rule, they can get in serious trouble. As I mentioned earlier, I really like the cross examinations in a legal novel. They ask question after question, slowly leading the witness towards the desired conclusion. I got to thinking how the same techniques could be used to sell a remodeling job. 

Here are some of the ground rules of the courtroom: 

  • You cannot make a statement.
  • You must be relevant, straight forward, and to the point. 
  • Most importantly, you can only obtain information by asking questions. 

Now, apply these same rules to a sales visit. Obtain all your information by asking questions. Your objective is to guide your  prospective client towards a successful closing.

You might ask questions such as:

How long have you been thinking about doing this project?

Have you done a lot of planning for it? Made sketches? Collected pictures of other similar projects?

What do you dislike the most about your existing space?

What are the major changes you’d like to make to this space if we remodeled it for you?

Who’s going to use this space primarily?

Do you like to entertain? If so, for a lot of people or just small gatherings? 

Do you entertain often?

What are your long term plans for this space? After the children leave? Will you be staying here or moving to a smaller space?

If you are going to stay here for the long haul, have you thought about adding safety and accessibility improvements? 

Have you thought about adding automation to your home? Security? Distributed audio? Low voltage wiring?

This is going to be a considerable investment. Have you thought about how much you want to invest in this renovation? (Work through an ever-tightening range of prices.)

That’s a pretty good sample list, but there are many more questions you might ask, depending on your situation, the prospective client’s needs, and the project in question. Think about using a technique like this in your sales. When a prospective client is truly interested in their project, they won’t mind you asking them a lot of questions. This shows that you are genuinely interested in them and their desires. Each answer will help you craft the next question, eventually leading them to your desired conclusion.


Your next sales call

This may give you some ideas that you can use in your next sales pitch. It might even inspire you to go to law school. Learning to ask the right questions on a sales visit is a skill that you should hone to a fine point. I think you’ll agree that this technique is a winner. You be the judge!

Listen to this week’s Remodeling Business Blueprint podcast. David Hawke and I take you deep inside our favorite app – Evernote. You’re sure to get a lot out of this one. Then, on Sunday afternoon, tune into the best ways to handle change orders – why you should use them, several ways to use them, and what happens if you don’t use them.  

Wishing you the best of fortune, Randall

Randall S Soules
Remodeling coach, adviser, and educator
My one-on-one coaching will take your remodeling business to new heights!

This article was written by Randall Soules, creator of the Scientific Remodeling System, showing you easier ways to advance your business, raise your profits, and improve your life, through the use of superior  remodeling processes. If you would like to learn more about this eCourse, click here.

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