In this last part of our T.R.U.S.T.® (Truth, Relationship, Understanding, Showing, Telling) series, we continue from last month with preparing and delivering a proposal to customers based on the information gathered during the “Understand” process.

Armed with the knowledge of what the customer wants/needs, you can begin offering choices to fulfill those needs.

Now let’s put everything together that makes T.R.U.S.T. work :

Step 1: Create the Customer's Most Important Priorities

The notes you took on your survey form are probably a little messy and not in a professional-looking summary form. I recommend you transfer the relevant information to an important priorities page that will only include those needs the customer has explained are very important.

Why focus only on the very important priorities? In building trust with customers, you want to assure them you’re there to serve them. That includes listening to what they want and proposing solutions to meet their needs —nothing more, nothing less.

Disciplining yourself to design their system with only their very important priorities keeps customers happy.

Step 2: Create the Proposal

This has now become a fairly simple task. Just look at the customer's priorities, then pick the best solution you have that achieves those priorities.

Example: Let's say the customer has said the following are very important priorities:

  • Quiet operation
  • Eliminate dryness in the winter
  • Reduce dust, pollen, mold and viruses in the air
  • Save money on utility costs
  • Want a system that will last a long time
  • No worry about repair bills.

Here's what you'd recommend, at a minimum, starting with the best system first.

1). 90% variable speed furnace: because they said quiet, money saving, and worry free are very important

2). 12 SEER, or higher, air conditioner: because they said quiet, money saving, and worry free are very important

3). Whole-house humidifier: because eliminating dryness is very important

4). Electronic air cleaner/HEPA: because reducing dust, pollen, mold and viruses are very important

5). One-year maintenance agreement: because having a system that will last a long time is very important

6). Five/10-year bumper-to-bumper extended warranty: because not worrying about repair bills is very important.

Who designed this system proposal? The customer did. You simply showed the customer how to get what he or she wants or needs.

Step 3: Prepare the Presentation

If you've had a roofing contractor or painting contractor visit your home recently to tell you what they offer, they have likely been prepared with a presentation binder. Frankly, they seem to be ahead of us on this score. Let's take a look at the specifics.

  • The manual itself, or binder, should be a broken-back, easel type that can stand on the table for easy presenting and viewing.
  • The cover should have your color company logo on it.
  • Each page should be clean, professional-looking, and current.
  • The contents should be home-grown: it should be custom made by you, not the slick, canned glossy type.

Following are some tips as to what should appear in a proposal:

Page 1: Your company story. A single page with all your accomplishments. A bulleted list is fine, or your company brochure if you have one. Don't assume they know why you are great.

Page 2: Company licenses. Put all of them on a copier and shrink them to fit on a single page.

Page 3: Company liability insurance. Just include a copy of the top page from your insurance company.

Pages 4-5: Photographs. You get two pages. Include your employees, examples of the work you do, etc. Show that you’re friendly and professional.

Pages 6-10: Product literature. Include only what you are proposing. Any more will confuse your customers.

Page 11: Company warranty I recommend bundling the equipment manufacturer's (purchased) extended warranty with your own, producing a bumper-to-bumper warranty that you get credit for.

Page 12: Maintenance agreement. Include this in every system. One year — renewable.

Page 13: Estimated energy savings. Use a single-page estimate form that will ballpark their savings.

That's it. Keep this book lean. By the time you get to this point in the sales call, the customers want to see the proposal so you will have to move through the presentation manual quickly. With practice, 7 to 10 minutes does it.

Step 4: Make the Presentation

This is why they asked you into their home. Clear the table except for (1) customer's very important priorities page, (2) presentation manual, (3) completed proposal, and (4) a pen.

Place the proposal form under the priorities page. Close the presentation manual. Call the customers back to the table and, with a confident voice and smile say something like, "Thanks for spending this time with me tonight.

“We have put a system together that I know you’ll like. Before I show you the proposal, I'd like to first review what you said was very important, then show you how we’ll accomplish that, and then go to the proposal. Would that be okay?"

Wait for, and expect to hear yes — that's always a good word to hear.

Now do exactly what you just agreed to, in those three steps, and finally show them the completed proposal (Figure 1).

Step 5: Tell Customers How To Get What They Want

When you uncover the proposal, where will the customers' eyes go to? Of course they will immediately go the bottom line.

And how will they react? Anywhere from surprise to cardiac arrest. Why? It's just the way people react to price. Don't worry about it — it's normal — and their reaction will be the same at any price, high or low.

To give the customers time to collect their thoughts, before you ask them for the sale, review the proposal from the top of the page down, going over each line quickly and reminding them how they have asked for the benefits that the product or service will provide.

When you get to the "bottom line," make sure you use some kind of choice close. My favorite is the alternate finance choice close.

Why? With the T.R.U.S.T. process, you’re assured that people will want a top-of-the-line system, but they may not have anticipated such a significant investment. So, for many, the big decision is affordability, and giving them a financing choice is crucial to your sales success.

It might go like this, "Okay folks, to get everything you said you wanted, the monthly investment is only $127 (said one-twenty-seven) or the total investment is $6,657 (said sixty-six fifty seven), which would be better for you?"

Note: Right now most retailers of high-end products, such as cars, furniture and home entertainment equipment offer 12 months same-as-cash choices. Find a local lender who will provide this trendy financing resource to you — and offer it .

Will everyone say yes? No. Will some? Yes.

If they want to spend less, what can you do? Redesign the system with alternative products — right there at the kitchen table — and ask again!

Will those who buy do so on the first call? No, about half will.

How do you get the rest? Make an agreement to follow up, personally if possible, phone if not. Make it quick — within the next few days for sure.

What's a good close rate when selling high-end systems? Between 40 and 60% at a 45% gross profit is a great close rate.

This may seem like it will take a lot of time. It takes 112 hours or so. If the customers are engaged in the process — more time is better.

What if a competitor low-balls the job? Unless you have to take the job to keep the guys busy, let it go. It will keep your competitor busy losing money while you chase jobs that will make money.

Don't worry about being perfect, just get going. As long as you are sincerely trying to help your customers, they will be very understanding. Remember above all else, the customer wants someone they can T.R.U.S.T.