Pricing and Closing During a First Sales Call

This thread presents good arguments for being prepared to present a firm quote and close the deal during your first meeting with a customer. August 28, 2010

Presently, at first contact, I try to qualify the potential customer by giving some broad ball park numbers. Then if those numbers are within their budget I arrange an appointment to choose materials and measure. I then return to my office where I work up a tight quote in the next day or two and email it to them. I then follow up in a couple of days.

Can anyone critique this process? Do any of you non box store refacers have a method by which you give the customers a quote at the first meeting? I would like to close more bids.

Forum Responses
(Business and Management Forum)
From contributor K:
The only suggestion I have would be not to e-mail but to set an appointment to present the proposal in person, face to face and ask for the job. It is a lot harder to say no to your face than on the phone.

From contributor C:
I agree with contributor K. By setting an appointment and meeting with them a second time, you get to show some real enthusiasm for the job. An email, no matter how carefully worded, will not convey the same enthusiasm. I am not talking about jumping up and down and screaming enthusiasm. It must be sincere. You must actually like what you are doing and want to do the job for them. That will show through in person, but most likely not in an email.

What do your competitors do? Do they send email quotes? Do they mail them? Do they go back in person and explain to the prospect exactly what they are getting for their hard earned money so they understand what is being offered? Be different than the other folks. Make the extra effort to be personal. Folks are buying your trust. That is hard to convey in an email.

From contributor A:

The way I see it, a lot of people miss out on sales they could have had right there the first night they meet with people. Think about this for a minute - our one-call close average is 33-42%. That means that while you have gone back to work on the numbers we are in there closing the deal. Most people hate sitting through in-home presentations, and if they can find what they need without having to go through another, the chances are much better that you can close the first night. What this means is that you should not have to go back to your place to go through the numbers. You should already know them. Put yourself together a price list to use in the phone. This will help you focus on covering all your costs and what that entails. If you can give a broad overview of pricing, you have a sense of it, but putting together a price list will force you to really look at your costs and whether or not what you are charging is appropriate or not.

From contributor R:
You must know your numbers. Have a price list, tell your customers, "I believe I understand exactly what you are looking for give me ten minutes here and I will have a price for you." Price it, present it to them, get their reaction and say "can I put you on my production schedule?" They'll ask, how much do you need to get started and you'll say "50% down, 25% when things are done in the shop & 25% when things are complete" or whatever your terms are. At that point they'll say that sounds good and either offer you a check, or I'll say I'll email you an invoice to present to the bank, or they'll say they are going to think about it or get one more bid. Iím not sure I've ever received another answer outside of those four. Close 90% and I'm not the best salesman.

From contributor D:
I agree with Contributor A and Contributor R. You need to go to the initial meeting with a price list, contract and good pen. Just remember that while you are thinking, one of your competitors is handing your best prospect a pen.

From contributor G:
I bring my laptop with me. I have all of the prices from my door supplier entered in an Excel spreadsheet. The key is the spreadsheet. Sheet one is a form for entering in door sizes (I do this as I am measuring). When I am finished measuring it has calculated my square footage for me. I plug that number into my estimating form on Sheet two (as well as any other additional materials such as hinges, drawer boxes, etc.). I also enter in my estimate for the number of hours it will take me to complete. Excel then spits out a number. I give them the price and if they agree I let them know that we have a deal and I will e mail them an invoice that evening. I send them the email as an attachment and then say something like, "Please sign this proposal and return it."

From contributor D:
Contributor G - you are still doing it the hard way. Build yourself a quote form that has all your information for quoting. For example, cabinet doors up to three square feet, $200 each, drawer fronts up to two square feet, $175. Of course those are for square top raised panel, fancier door cost more. Then add extras, new drawer boxes, end panels, upper cabinet bottoms, etc.

As for trying to figure the exact square footage for doors, only you and your door maker cares. The thing is to pull out your form and start counting and adding. At the end of your meeting you should be able to present your contract, get a signature, and get the check. Once you have the check, get out. Make an appointment to come back after 72 hours when their right to rescind expires for your detailed measurements. You will find you will close more deals. Just to bring this to reality, how many appointments have you had that were canceled before you got there? Was it because your competitor closed the deal before you got to present?

From contributor G:
To contributor D: do I understand this correctly: You use a generalized form that lumps doors together (my assumption is that this is based on price) and then quotes them based on whether they are over or under a certain square footage? Is your cost of labor as well as hinges, etc. included in that? This seems like a very generalized way of coming up with a price. Could you post an example of your quote form?

From contributor D:
Yes, I do lump all the doors together and that includes the edge banding, painting, new hinges, etc. I do not include drawer pulls or door handles but I do include their installation. As you can see from the form, I charge for end panels, upper cabinet bottom panels, new drawer boxes, moving appliances, etc. If you want to see experts in action, call Sears or Home Depot. I usually offer them as competitors to those that just have to have a competitive quote. Sears in this area runs about $300 per opening and Home Depot runs between $250 to $300.