Get Ahead in the Bidding Wars

Clients use estimates as a cost-savings tactic, follow these tips to stand your ground and score the job

Get Ahead in the Bidding Wars

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Has this ever happened to you? During preliminary discussions with a prospective client, the person tells you they’re collecting multiple estimates and will get back to you.

It’s an effective tactic. The prospect doesn’t want you to get all “salesy” in their face, and they are afraid that you (and your competitors) will use pushy tactics. So they diffuse that threat with the multiple estimates approach, which also makes them feel like they are logically deciding based on the merits of each estimate. Problem is, you and I know different: Most prospects look at each estimate based solely on price, likely because all the other parts are too confusing for them. If they’re price-sensitive, they’ll choose the lowest estimate; if they’re less price-sensitive, they’ll choose the middle estimate.

How can you influence that decision? What can you do to increase the likelihood that you’ll get the call, even if you happen to be the highest estimate? Here are five strategies to help you win more jobs, even if your prospect is collecting multiple estimates.

1. Agree that the prospect is making a wise move

When the prospect tells you that they are collecting multiple estimates, affirm that decision. That makes you his or her ally instead of appearing like someone who is inconvenienced by it. Never speak negatively about your competitors, either, but assure the prospect that you are confident your estimate will stack up well against anyone else they look for.

2. Find out the prospect’s criteria for the work he or she needs done

The prospect already told you what they think they need — whether that’s providing portables and hand-wash stations for a weekend festival, or units and service for a long-term construction project. But what will help you win more estimates is if you dig a bit deeper to understand the challenges they face if they don’t find a solution, as well as the value they get if they do. Let them know you understand their current struggles and ensure you can deliver a solution in a tangible way. Put that solution into words on your official estimate, too.

3. Create value items on the estimate

Think about the estimates that you or your competitors write for prospects. They might as well be written in a different language as far as the prospect is concerned. There is probably language on your estimates that is completely foreign to the prospect. Of course you want to keep necessary information on the estimate, but your prospect can make an easier decision when they open an estimate and see a clearer list of value items. So it’s not just X amount of dollars for something they don’t understand; rather, it’s for “15 portable urinals, 30 portable restrooms and six hand-wash stations.” Make sure every item (or group of items) has a value-added name that the prospect will appreciate.

4. Add value by helping your prospect make a better decision

Prospects only say that they are collecting multiple estimates because they think it makes them wise consumers and protects them against fraudulent practices. However, all it really does is overwhelm them, and they really focus only on the bottom-line price in the end. You can help your prospects, and position yourself as an expert, if you help them make a decision.

Tell them, “I also get multiple estimates for work around the shop or when shopping for new equipment, and I know how challenging it can be to make a decision with more than one estimate. So what I did was draw up this simple chart that you can use to help you decide.”

Then hand them a chart that gives them a few criteria to weigh each estimate on. Even if doing this makes your estimate not the preferred one, you will still position yourself as a caring ally. It will make them feel like you have their best interests in mind, even if it means you won’t win the business. It can actually have the opposite effect of convincing prospects to hire you.

5. Add value after you leave

You’ve left the estimate, you’ve shaken their hand, and you’ve left their house. Fortunately, you can still influence their decision-making by adding more value after the fact. One powerful way is to record a short, personalized video that shows them how excited you are to get to work and gives them a tip or idea that demonstrates that you’ve been thinking about their problem. This helps to show how engaged you are.

A Final Word

In this industry, PROs encounter a lot of prospects who think they need to get multiple estimates. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it also tends to remove your ability to influence their decision to hire you. Fortunately, with these five strategies, you can stay in the game longer and increase your chances of winning more business — even if you’re stacked up against competitors in a multiple estimate situation.

About the Author: Mike Agugliaro is a Business Warrior on a mission to change the lives and companies of service business owners. Agugliaro and his business partner started and grew a struggling home services company into a multimillion-dollar empire before selling the company in 2017. Today, Agugliaro is an author, speaker and mentor. He's the co-founder of CEO Warrior, a high-level coaching and training organization for home services businesses. Learn more at


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