By C.F. Moore. For many salespeople, the best way to make a sale is to ease their way into it. To do that, explain the steps of a successful project. Include the initial meeting, scope of the project, feasibility study, design agreement, construction agreement, and completion.

For many clients, the feasibility study may be most important. It gives a clear picture of the project and determines if the project can be done. Because it allows information gathering and major changes to be discussed with no project commitment and allows the prospect to make a more educated decision as to how, or whether to, proceed, it's a small investment that can help avoid pitfalls. The study's cost can become part of total project cost if the client proceeds, so you can argue no additional money is spent.

The client objects

So what if your clients ask why they should pay to discover what the project's going to cost? Or at least how much it's going to cost to hire you?

Explain to them that they're not only paying to create a budget. The study can uncover unknown issues, like encumbrances, zoning issues, easements, or setbacks that could stall or kill the project. Architectural fees could rise due to these factors and mean time lost in design.

The transition from feasibility to design should be smooth. The key to the feasibility study is that by going through it, you've created a trusting relationship. Once the study is complete, you're all ready to begin the next phase.

What's in it for you? You now have a prospect with an investment in you and your company -- a prospect more connected to you who's ready to move forward. Feasibility studies usually range up to $1,500, depending on project size and scope. --C.F. Moore, of Olive Branch, Miss., is a business consultant who contracts as a sales coach,