To create a successful sales presentation, first understand what a sales presentation is. If you have no competition, your presentation could be simple: "This is what I do, how I do it, how much it costs, and when I can start."

Unfortunately, real world remodelers face generally well-informed clientele and competition for the same dollar. The consumer must be convinced you and your company are the right fit. In a sense, you're on trial.

Prepare your presentation as an attorney prepares a case. Help the "judge" choose in your favor with compelling evidence: testimony and visual aids. Remodelers often fail to include testimonials in sales presentations. But customers' words offer credibility, show there's nothing to hide, reveal previous relationships, and alleviate up-front buyer remorse.

Visual aids are powerful. Consumers want to see examples of your work, but only work similar to their project.

Every sales presentation, like every trial, is unique. Preparation is key. Before your initial visit, discover all you can about the prospect -- family structure, lifestyle, functionality of the home, outside interests, and more. Then determine if they would pay for a "feasibility study" (see " Selling Feasibility Studies"). After a visit, prepare a visual sales presentation that defines the project; qualifies your company with testimonials and visual aids and describes the benefits of doing business with your company; and closes the sale. Combine all the evidence with key sales points gleaned from your prospect on your first visit. Focus on the convincing points and win the case. --C.F. Moore, of Olive Branch, Miss., is a business consultant who contracts as a sales coach,