Contractingbusiness 1690 46152tecdaddy0200000021335

The Proposal Close

March 1, 2007
Last month I wrote that, once customers have your proposal, you're pretty much done and it's time for you to leave. By the same token, you're not really done until they've got your proposal.

Last month I wrote that, once customers have your proposal, you're pretty much done and it's time for you to leave. By the same token, you're not really done until they've got your proposal.

I don't start filling out my proposal until after I've made at least two closing attempts.

The first closing attempt is my Paper Towel Close (CB, February 2007, pg. 74).

The second closing attempt occurs when he or she tells me that they need to think it over, talk it over, or any of a dozen smoke screen objections that are used to delay making a decision.

As I instructed in We Meet Again: The Secret to the One-Call Close (CB, October 2006, pg. 82), I always take a few panels off of the equipment, and leave them off until after my first closing attempt. When the customer throws out the first smoke screen (which is usually "I want to think it over"), I excuse myself and go reassemble their equipment.

Often, those 10 minutes of privacy while I'm buttoning up their equipment are all the customer needs to confirm that their best decision is to go with me.

When I'm done, I'll just stroll back to wherever we were sitting together, and sit down without saying a word. It seems that, when two or more people are together, at least one of them has to be talking. If I don't talk, the customer will. This is often the time during which the customer becomes very relaxed and comfortable around me.

The customer will usually do one of two things:

  1. They'll ask, "Are you married, Charlie?" This tells me they're the type of people who very much want to get to know me as a person before buying from me, which is fine.
  2. They'll start talking about something off the topic of heating and air conditioning. If I listen carefully, they frequently tell me, in so many words, what I need to say or do to close the sale.

A congenial conversation usually ensues. It typically ends with a pregnant pause of sorts, at which time the customer will either say, "Go ahead and do it," or I'll just ask, "So, do you want me to go ahead and do this for you?"

Making Multiple Closing Attempts
Multiple closing attempts are not pushy or obnoxious when done properly.

You can irritate people when you've already said all you have to say, and your multiple closing attempts are simply different ways to ask for the order. You've got to supply them with additional and interesting information on the product or service in a pleasant, conversational tone.

When you start seeing obvious buying signs — such as head nodding, verbal agreement, or pupil dilation — it's perfectly acceptable to ask again if they'd like to go ahead with the order. You can even say, "Based on this new, additional information, is this something you'd like to go ahead with?"

The Proposal Close
Let's call your proposal a company form that pretty much spells out the installation, including the price, and will ultimately be used as the binding agreement.

It can be a very simple form on which you've pre-printed little more than the company information, and your procedure is to hand write everything. It can also be a pre-printed form with check boxes (see Example 1); or even a nicely laid-out, computer-generated form that you print out on the spot.

I hold up my proposal and say, "Tell you what — I've got these pre-printed forms. As you can see, it's got a bunch of little check boxes on it. Would you like me to go ahead and fill this out? Then, when you call me, we'll both have a clear understanding of what I offered you and the price."

Naturally, the customer will answer in the affirmative.

I don't say a word as I fill out the form. Once it's filled out, I lay it down on the table, angled in such a manner that my prospect can read it. I'll say, "I tried to design this form to be as consumer-friendly as possible, but some industry jargon was unavoidable. Would you like me to go over the high points to make certain we've both got a very clear understanding of everything?"

The customer's agreement is nothing more than an invitation for me to emphasize some of the better reasons to make the decision to have me take care of this for them. I can move as quickly or as slowly as I want, depending on their level of interest and the non-verbal feedback I'm getting. Since it's obvious the visit is drawing to a close, the customer is usually pretty relaxed and receptive.

My form is designed with the top 19 reasons why you should buy from me stacked right above the price. As I run down the list, I end by saying, "There's the price and those are the payment terms. Everything look good to you?"

The customer usually responds in the affirmative, and at that point, I say, "I'll just sign down here." I then slide the form gently back toward them, tick their signature line with the pen and say, "And, you sign here."

Yes, I said, "sign." I've got a unique sales technique. It's called "talk normal." When I used to say, "okay the paperwork," they often said, "you mean sign it." When I used to substitute the word "investment" for price, they saw right through that, too. Consequently, I've gotten away from most sales euphemisms.

I still won't call a work order a "contract, though.

Sometimes as the customer signs it, they'll ask, "I'm not buying anything here by signing this, am I?" I always love it when that happens, because I've never had anyone who asked that question not buy.

When they do buy, I extend my hand and make a few reassuring phrases, like, "Welcome to the family. You've made the right decision. You've done exactly what I would have done if I were in your position. You're absolutely going to love it."

There are people who say they won't leave a proposal behind unless they've received an agreement to buy. I don't agree with that.

If you want to leave a good impression, leave them with a large, custom folder containing:

  • Your proposal
  • A single-page summary of general company information
  • A one-page "resume" of your work history, listing your personal certifications and continuing education
  • Proof of insurance
  • Fancy guarantee certificates
  • Testimonial letters.

Whether or not you close the sale on that visit, you will ultimately leave them with a well-written formal proposal that could, hopefully, continue selling for you after you're gone. You just won't use the proposal on your initial closing attempt.

Charlie Greer is an award-winning HVAC salesman and the creator of "Tec Daddy's Service Technician Survival School on DVD." For information on Charlie's products and speaking schedule, or to request a copy of his current catalog, call 800/963-HVAC (4822) or visit him on the web at To obtain a copy of Charlie's proposal form (Example 1), e-mail Charlie at [email protected]