At this point, I’ve run my complete diagnostic and inspection, gone out to my truck and drawn up a “Paper Towel Close” and set up to do the work by carrying in all the necessary tools, parts, and other equipment I’ll need in order to complete the job.

Soon I’ll present the price to the customer, but before I do, let’s talk about my mental preparation. I believe that survival in overcoming the price objection depends heavily on my own mental attitude toward the price, which will nonverbally convey itself to the customer, thereby making or breaking the sale.

Always charge by the book, and charge for everything. In my last article (“Set Up The Sale During The Service Call,” April 22, page 10), I talked about the counter people in the auto repair shops owned by the large chains and how you would benefit by acting and thinking more like they do. You don’t see them cutting people breaks and acting timid or apologetic about the price, do you? They’re very matter-of-fact about what they do, and you should be, too.

If you’re in the habit of giving people price breaks behind the boss’ back and performing free services at the slightest hint of a price complaint, they’ll see right though you and hammer away at your conscience and lack of confidence until you break.

One of the more common things I see techs do to counter the price objection is back the price of repairs for a customer who does not have a service agreement down to the discounted price reserved only for service agreement customers. Don’t do that.

Do you realize what you’re doing when you give the customer an “illegal” break just because they objected to the price? You’ve just trained the customer to beat up on every service tech that follows you!


When you’re in front of a customer, all you have going for you is the truth. When it’s true that you absolutely always charge by the book, you don’t give things away, and you don’t give people the service agreement price unless they own a service agreement, they also perceive that, and you’ll get fewer arguments about price (and probably more service agreement sales as well).

Furthermore, that situation is all a result of your own mental attitude.

Here’s what I mean. Take a repair where the price without a service agreement is $300 and the service agreement price is $255. You show the price and the customer balks, so you back it down to $255 and get the OK. Well, what if you worked at a slightly higher-priced company where their price book showed the standard price on the same repair was $353 and the service agreement price was $300?

Following the same procedure, you’d back the price down to $300 and get the order. So, the $300 wasn’t the issue. What got you the sale was the fact that you gave them a break. An even better description is that you got the sale because you believed you were giving them a break!

Always stress that your job is to provide information and to save them money at least twice when presenting the price.

Bring your price book in with you and place your clipboard containing your “Paper Towel Close” on top of it.

Say something like: “As far as the pricing goes, everything comes out of our standard heating and cooling price manual.” (Don’t call it your “flat-rate book” anymore. I’m all for flat-rate pricing, but homeowners might not like the term.)

“This is your assurance that I’m not looking at you and trying to determine how much money you’ve got, making the price up as I go along, or charging different prices by the neighborhood. With the exception of our maintenance agreement customers, everyone pays the same rate, regardless of who they are or where they live.

“And as far as I’m concerned, my job is to charge you the least amount of money possible.

“I’ll be happy to show you all the prices straight out of the book, but what I normally do is write them down on a sheet of paper to make it easy for you to read.

“As you can see, Mrs. Smith, there are two prices for everything. That’s because we do have a maintenance agreement, and maintenance agreement customers pay a lower rate for everything. You pay for the agreement, but the savings usually offset the price of the agreement, which, in your case, it does.”

(Note: The total price of the job, including service agreement, is lower than the non-agreement price because your recommendations include cleaning the equipment, when appropriate. And, when was the last time you performed a repair on equipment that couldn’t use a good cleaning?)

“Here are the prices for everything that needs to be done, and here’s your bottom line. And that’s the least amount of money I can charge you today.”

Now, just point to the price on your “Paper Towel Close.” I don’t know why this is, but I’m more successful when I point to the price than when I say it. Whenever you go inside to present your price, have your calculator out and ready to go. I place mine right on top of the paperwork when I’m walking inside and hold it in my hand when I’m talking to the customer. When some additional calculating needs to be done, after I’ve calculated the bottom line price, I just show them the number on the calculator’s display.

In future articles, I’ll talk about what to say to survive the price objection.

Sidebar: Upcoming Dates For Charlie Greer’s “Sales Survival School”

Sept. 10-13
Oct. 22-25
Nov. 12-15

Greer is the owner of HVAC Profit Boosters, Inc., and the instructor of the “Sales Survival School,” in Ft. Myers, FL. For more information, call 800-963-4822 or visit (website).

Publication date: 05/13/2002