Closing a Sale

How do you move a customer toward signing a contract and making a deposit? December 28, 2014

Question (WOODWEB Member) :
I have a client I have spent a lot of time with, shown samples too, have drawings made, gave a bid/contract to. She acts like I have the job but hasn't signed or given a deposit. How do you approach this situation or politely ask if I have the job before I spending any more time on it?

Forum Responses
(Business and Management Forum)
From Contributor C:
1. The next time she asks about the project, let her know that you are waiting for the "official" go-ahead to start the project. Be positive about it, but firm. When I present price/paperwork on a project, I let them know that I will start scheduling and working on their project as soon as a signed contract and a deposit check are received.

2. If you are waiting for her to respond, and really, really want to know, then politely ask if everything in the paperwork is acceptable to her, or if she has any questions. If questions: then answer and go back to #1 above. If no questions, then go back to #1 above.

Personally, I prefer not to "Chase the Bid" since this may give the appearance of desperation. Then you lose any negotiating power that you may need now or in the future. Negotiating power may mean anything from price to schedule to almost anything.

It does sound like you, as a salesman, lost control of the closing process. Hopefully this is only a temporary condition. When I present the "paperwork" I am "closing the sale" and no further work ensues until they accept, sign, and give me a check. Don't look at being a "salesman" as a negative. Look at it from a businessman's perspective. You have offered your services and goods for a price. It is your job to guide the buyer to make a decision. They can either accept or not accept. Obviously you want them to accept, but don't let it hang out there forever. This is a waste of your time, and probably the buyer's as well. It sounds like you are almost there. Just finish the "closing" of the sale and move forward. This is a professional business. Smile, be firm, and you will most likely earn the respect of the buyer and the contract.

There may be some other reasons that she is delaying. A good salesman may/should be able to figure these out - sometimes by asking the prospect questions directly, sometimes by just observing and sometimes by just listening. Maybe she is getting multiple quotes? Maybe there is another person who is influencing her? Another friend or family member? Maybe she really doesn't have the money just now, or at all? It could be any number of things.

Final thought: I never lower price without removing something from the project. If the prospect wants a lower price, then ask them what they would like to eliminate or change. Don't offer anything. And, don't get caught into playing 20 questions of What if this, or that, or something else. If you are not comfortable with this, then just inform them that you have offered them a very fair price for a quality project and that the price is firm. Then you simply close your mouth and wait. (This can be hard. It may seem like an eternity when you are sitting there face to face and no one is talking. Remember the old adage: "He who talks first loses.") Once you are known for being someone who is willing to drop your prices for no reason, word will get out in the market place. Personally, I don't need the hassle.

From Contributor D:

Are you still actively engaged in conversations with the client and still working things out and making changes? Or are you basically beyond that stage and have it dialed in and are confident it is what she wants? Assuming you have it dialed in there are a number of ways to proceed. Let her know all you need is a signed contract and a deposit to get the ball rolling and order materials and such to ensure a timely completion date.

Earlier this year I had a client that took much of my time (engineer type), and I made numerous trips to his place he needed lots of information. He asked me to come by again and finally I told him everything we talked about laid out well and honestly I will not be back until you are ready to commit with a deposit, and he did. Sometimes you need to ask for the job as well. Ask her if she would like to visit any jobs or past clients you have worked with to help build credibility if she is unsure. Tell her the timing will be perfect with your schedule if we get it going soon. I agree about not lowering your price unless you remove that dollar amount of goods and services from the scope of the job.

From contributor X:
Personally, once the drawings and estimates are submitted I no longer make contact with the customer. I wait until they contact me and want to know when I can start, then I tell them we can start once I receive a deposit so materials can be ordered. Like mentioned above, if you continue to talk about the job before it gets to that point you will look desperate and might end up annoying them.