Embrace the one-step close method.

You don’t have a lot of time to kill.

So why are you wasting extra time running back to clients a second time to present a proposal you should have delivered the first time? The right clients you’re seeking tend to have jobs, and the likelihood that they’ll be around during the day and anxious to take more time off from work to be with you tends to be slim to none. Trying to set up two appointments for what you should retrain yourself and your prospects to do in one visit (at least 90 percent of the time) makes no sense.

My clients have embraced the One-Step Close Sales Process and have seen their closing rate on installation proposals and total sales rise dramatically. The One-Step Close means that you arrive at a sales call fully prepared and able to make a proposal on-site and close the sale right then and there.

Anyone can energize the One-Step Close Process by taking full advantage of the new technology that allows you to do what I advocate….and that is get in front of the right customer, at the right time and deliver a professional proposal with a passionate presentation that addresses the customer’s needs and wants.

The following are nine steps that outline the tricks and tips I teach contractors just like you to engage the “One-Step Close.”

1. Pregame prep.Train your customer service reps with a prepared script on how to qualify the customer over the phone and build sales momentum for the salesperson coming to her home. Remember, the CSR either helps build sales momentum or destroys it. He sets the tone and can build enthusiasm for the great expert who is coming to solve the client’s problems and challenges, as well as provide him with innovative solutions to improve energy savings, comfort and peace of mind.

2. More pregame prep.Train your salesperson (whom I call a system engineer) in using a script to qualify the customer over the phone and continue to build sales momentum so when the tech arrives at the home, we’ve increased the odds we’re in front of the right customer at the right time in the sales process. And by arming your salespeople with a series of well-designed questions, they’ll be able to demonstrate that they are experts.

3. The right hardware.The salesperson needs to have his laptop loaded up with templates for projected job-costing (Excel works well) and templates (Word is fine) to provide a printed proposal that is descriptive in what the customer will get for his money. A good tip is to take 10 of your most common install jobs and create good templates.

It’s easier to delete or alter something on a template than to create something from scratch. It goes much faster once you practice using the templates with fictitious jobs at your own shop. You don’t want to get into the field and be unsure of the process and risk losing the customer’s confidence that you can’t even pull the proposal together without fumbling.

4. Current technology.Have remote wireless access for laptops that allow salespeople to show a customer Web sites for products you sell or options he wants to discuss with them. In many cases, you can tie into a supplier’s online pricing to make sure you are figuring the right costs right now.

5. Get right to the point.Make a presentation (typically in Power Point) that has about five to 10 slides, tops. It should consist of photos showing the before, during and after portions of a project. Couple this with telling the story about what’s going to happen and why and marry it with plenty of customer testimonials and you will have clearly demonstrated your professional edge.

Remember, the customer must have all the knowledge she needs right now to make a good buying decision and it’s your job to make that a reality. And she needs to feel confident about your professionalism. This presentation done the right way is what makes this happen.

6. Satisified customers.Fill presentations with customer testimonials that back up everything the salesperson is saying. You need testimonials because as adults we tend to distrust what other adults are telling us, especially if we feel they’re trying to “sell” us something. But a testimonial from a customer tends to overcome this sales hurdle.

7. Look sharp.They say, “You can’t judge a book by its cover.” Maybe. But your prospects will judge your salespeople by the quality of their presentation materials. That’s why you must have good-looking brochures inserted in a presentation folder for all sales materials.

8. Instant access.Create a proposal from a template by printing it up on a portable printer. This is the only way to present a proposal at the time of the call, which automatically differentiates you from your competitors. All the salesperson needs to do is ask for permission to take 15 to 30 minutes to create a proposal. Remember, a second appointment is more time you don’t have and they don’t want to spend.

Note: My clients have never encountered any difficulty in getting a customer’s permission to take the time now because they explain the process when they call initially.

9. Be thorough.Go through the proposal line by line with the potential buyer face-to-face. This allows a salesperson to share a “Feature-Advantage-Benefit” for each of the items on the proposal. Anything other than a face-to-face presentation may cause your closing rate to tumble and your sales dollars to slip away.

Practice these techniques at your shop and on your phone in role-plays and I assure you your closing rate will skyrocket and you’ll make more sales for more profit.