Step 4: Prepare the Proposal

There are basically two schools of thought about sales calls in our industry. One camp believes that everything should be done in one visit. This is typically done with a check-the-box proposal form.

The second camp believes that once you’ve collected all the information it’s important to go back to the office, think through and customize the solutions, and present a formal proposal on a second visit.

I’ve seen both approaches work well, so it’s difficult to recommend one over the other. In a home with serious air distribution issues, further evaluation and design might be necessary. In these cases, it’s not a good idea to rush it or tie the customer up for an extra hour while you work on their solutions.

I personally have had great success with both the one-call and two-call sales processes. On a one-call proposal, it’s important to leave yourself a little room for things you may have missed. When it comes to a two-call proposal — if you’ve done a thorough job teaching the customer on the first call and completely differentiated yourself, the customer is usually willing to wait for your proposal.

If the air conditioning is down and it’s 100F degrees outside, you may want to quote a solution in steps. You can, for example, offer a basic “Air Upgrade” to make sure the new equipment operates within the manufacturer specifications, along with additional upgrades that can be done in milder weather.

If the customer needs emergency cooling while you work on a more comprehensive solution, keep some old working condensing units at the shop. Paint them bright orange or paint a giant orange X on them, and temporarily install one to get the cooling back on so your prospect doesn’t jump on the first competitor who can schedule an equipment swap out right away.

The garish paint job motivates the customer to make a decision because they’ll want to get the unit out of their yard as soon as possible. Showing you care enough to get them running again without expecting anything will endear you to a customer in a very significant way.

As you prepare the proposal, be sure to address what is most important to the customer, not just what you think they need. There are some exceptions to this. For example, if the home has a unit that is already grossly oversized and the customer wants an even bigger one, you’ll need to make an ethical decision to not give in, but rather do your best to educate them about all the dangers of over-sizing. In extreme cases, you may decide to walk away rather than do a job that will come back to bite you, or that you know is absolutely the wrong thing to do.

The beauty of the educational buying process is you have the opportunity to make the customer a lot smarter about their system. They’ll often know more about their system than your competitors are capable of finding out. What a great position to be in!

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