Skip navigation

Charlie Greer's Guide to HVAC Replacement Sales Part 12: The Paper Towel Close

Charlie never uses a formal "proposal form." He writes everything down on one page.

Most  salespeople try to close by using their proposal form. I don’t. Once they’ve got your written proposal in their hands, it really is time for you to leave.

Instead of using a proposal form for my initial close, I write everything down on a plain sheet of lined paper. I call the format I use, my “Paper Towel Close.” (See illustration.)

We’re seated around the kitchen table. Things are going well, so it’s time to close. Here’s my 11-Step Procedure.

Step 1: Confirm the need by saying, “Is there any doubt in your mind as to the necessity of having this done at this time?”

As a rule, they’ll say, “No.”

Step 2: Help them to organize their thoughts regarding the “sense of urgency” by asking, “Why? Why do you feel it should be done now?”

This question often takes them a little by surprise, and you may find they can’t really articulate why it needs to be done right now. They’re just going by feelings. 

Step 3: Remind them of how much they hate their existing system by rattling off all its deficiencies. Your goal is to remind them of how much they hate their existing system. 

Key words and phrases are: old, out of warranty, unreliable, obsolete; parts hard to come by; possible property damage; parts and repairs for older systems are expensive; “throwing good money after bad;” overspending on electricity/natural gas; noisy; eyesore; smells; dirty, unhealthy air; you’re not comfortable; high humidity in summer, dryness in winter, which is a health hazard; leaky, dirty, improperly-sized ductwork causing hot spots and cold spots and high temperature swing between cycles, and temperature stratification.

Step 4:  Paint the word picture with emotional triggers of how nice life will be with their new system. Key words and phrases associated with a new system are:

safe; it works; we’re here for you; less stress; new warranty; lower gas and electric bills; less housework, cleaner home; home will smell much better; better appearance; pride of ownership; cleaner, healthy air; health may improve; comfort will improve; better dehumidification in summer, less dry skin and sinuses in the winter; more even temperatures throughout the house and between cycles; possible better sleep; more energy and better focus; increased home value, possible quicker sale should you sell your home; quieter; rebate; will never be cheaper than right now.

Step 5: Give them the realization that you’re the right company for the job by asking, “Is there any doubt in your mind as to my ability and the ability of my company to be able to do this job right for you; that there is no way that having me do this for you could be a mistake?”

They’ll say, “no.”

Step 6: Help them organize their thoughts regarding you and your company,  by asking, “May I ask why?  Why do you feel confident in me?”

Step 7: Provide more reassurance by rattling off some of the benefits of using your company. Finish your paragraph with, “Sure. There’s a lot of reasons why I should do this for you.”

Step 8: Summarize and trial close by saying, “We all agree that you really need to do this, you want it, and you want me to do it for you. So, you’re saying that, as long as you feel you can justify the price in your own mind, and feel you can afford it, we’re going to go ahead with this?”

Step 9: Pull out your “Paper Towel Close” and say, “We talked about your getting something that will (read off the benefits as written on the sheet). Here’s a list of exactly what I’ll install for you, and here’s the price.”

CUSTOMER SMITH WANTS: Cooler master bedroom, quieter, less dust, healthier, cleaner, a system that will pay for itself.
Seal Minor Leaks in Ductwork
Energy Savings
Sales Tax
Remove old equipment

One-year Maintenance Agreement


-500 (SYSTEM DISCOUNT) = $11,679
250X60 MONTHS / 220 X 72 MONTHS / 195 X 84 MONTHS

WITH HUMIDIFIER (less dryness) = $12,779
-500 (SYSTEM DISCOUNT) = $12,279

260 X 60 MONTHS / 230 X 72 MONTHS / 205 X 84 MONTHS

Step 10: A great closing question at this point is, “Seem affordable? ”They’ll say, “Yes,”

Step 11: Reassure them that they’ve made the right decision by saying, “Excellent! 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.”

That’s how I close the easy ones when things go well. Over the next year, I’ll cover what I do when things don’t work out as smoothly as I’d hoped they would.