Have you ever given an excellent presentation and presented the price on your beautifully designed proposal form, only to have them say, “You’ve done a terrific job here and are certainly the most professional person we’ve ever had come to our home. The Missus and I have it on our calendars to consolidate our information and make our decision tomorrow night, and we’re 90% certain we’re going to go with you. This all looks good. What time do you get into work in the morning”?

Those are almost the most disheartening words a salesman can hear. You’re 90% of the way toward getting the job, but you don’t have it yet — and 90% of a sale is actually no sale, isn’t it?

What caused this situation, and what can be done to prevent it from occurring in the first place?

Let’s get one point straight up front: Once they have your written proposal, you’re done. You’re no longer needed. So the first step in preventing this scenario from occurring is to not give them the proposal until you feel your time on that call is played out and you’re about ready to leave. Your proposal may be an excellent “closing tool,” but don’t use it as your first close.


How do you quote the price if you’re not doing it on your printed proposal form?

I use the “Paper Towel Close” when I’m running a sales call, but I format it a little differently than I do when running service.

I use a clean sheet of lined, 8-1/2-by-11-inch paper. At the top of the page, using the center of the page as my left margin, I list four or five of the benefits they’re desiring in replacement equipment — such things as “cooler master bedroom, quieter, less dust, will pay for itself,” etc.

I then skip a line or two and list everything I’m recommending, putting each item on a separate line to fill out the sheet of paper nicely, and using the normal left margin about an inch from the left side of the paper:

  • High-efficiency air conditioner
  • Indoor coil
  • Refrigerant lineset
  • Duct modifications
  • 10-year parts & labor warranty
  • 1-year maintenance agreement
  • Thermostat
  • Removal of old equipment
  • Cleanup
  • Sales tax
  • Permit
  • Labor
  • Everything.

    Below that, I list a bottom-line total price for the job, again, putting it near the center. Under the price, I write, “No down payment,” and below that I write the payment amounts and their term (length of time of the loan). Don’t use dollar signs ($); they make the numbers look bigger.

    Below all that, I list an option or two. I might write something like, “To add high-efficiency, high-capacity air cleaner,” then show the standard price of the air cleaner when it’s installed on its own, then subtract a discount of a few hundred dollars when it’s done as part of an air conditioning installation with a line underneath it, and the final price of the air cleaner.

    (Note: I’ll cover “good” options vs. “bad” options in my next article.)

    Delaying handing them the formal proposal provides you with a built-in tactic you can use for the “I want to think it over” objection. When you haven’t given them the formal proposal yet, you can pull out a blank proposal form and ask, “Would you like me to write everything down on this form so we have a clear understanding of what I’m recommending and the price and the payment terms?”

    Who’s going to say, “No”?

    During the few minutes of silence you’ll have while completing the form, you’ll have the time to “re-strategize,” to determine what course of action to take next and where you’re going wrong. (More than likely, there’s a hidden “price objection” in there somewhere, which I’ll cover for you in future articles.)

    Sometimes, the few moments of silence everyone gets while you’re filling out the proposal form is all the time they’ll need to think things over and make their decision.

    Since people can’t stand silence when two or more people gather together, they’ll often start talking. If you listen, they’ll often tell you exactly what you need to say in order to close the sale.

    Occasionally, they’ll break the silence by asking a personal question, the most popular one being, “Are you married, Charlie?” When they ask that, I know that they’re more than likely the type of people that base their buying decisions more on whether or not they like you than on factual information.

    When that occurs, it’s time to turn on the charm and show them what a sweet, giving person you are. This “off topic” type of conversation causes me to stop filling out the form and socialize a bit. Frequently, by the time I’ve gotten around to completing the form, they’ve made their decision to buy.

    Once you’ve completed the form, go over it with them verbally, using the form as a sales aid. Your proposal form should have a list of all your great warranties, like “100% Satisfaction Guarantee” and other reasons for choosing your company for the job, like “Technicians to take all necessary steps to protect customer’s property.” Going over the points on the proposal results in an opportunity to do another “sales pitch” in summary form, and helps them realize that they really want to do business with you and your company.

    So, don’t make the “proposal close” your first close. Make it one of your final closes and you’ll have more time and more options to overcome the “I want to think it over” objection.

    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 www.hvacprofitboosters.com (website).

    Sidebar: ‘Sales Survival School’ Dates

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