Confidence is different from bravado. Bravado is a pretense of confidence, and potential clients can spot it like a bad toupee. Bravado is useful when we’re unsure of our own value proposition, but it’s disastrous in the relationship-oriented world of full-service remodeling because we must actually deliver the quality we promise. Genuine confidence comes from the knowledge that we excel at what we are selling.

In a marketplace with many options, buyers are asking themselves which choice will make them happy. Will they be glad they invested more to buy from you? Their first indicator of value is your own confidence in what you offer. We’ve all heard that the best time to make a sale is right after making the previous one because our confidence is at a peak. It’s easy to be confident when you feel successful, but how can you maintain confidence in challenging times?

  • Identify what you do well. What types of projects consistently bring you happy clients and a good profit? What types of clients do you consistently please? Where do you excel in the sales/design/production process? Honest answers will help you define target clients who are naturally inclined to value what you offer.
  • Support personal charisma with sound business systems. Systems make good performance replicable and thus increase your confidence. Writing down your systems for selling, pricing, design, and production ensures that you understand them well enough to explain them. Sales confidence rises as you teach potential clients how your sound business practices provide value to them.
    For example, a consistent pricing system, integrated with your annual budget, gives you confidence in the accuracy of your prices and enables you to justify them without defensiveness. One Minnesota remodeler uses unit averages from actual previous jobs to set an initial budget, which becomes a reference point for pricing subsequent options. He builds trust with a process that allows clients to critique his pricing without needing to seek competitive bids.
  • Focus on value, not costs. Clients make buying decisions to achieve their own goals — not to reimburse your costs. Exactly why will they be happy they hired you? To answer that you must understand and respond to what they want and value.
    There’s no substitute for being a good questioner and a good listener. Your confidence increases when you know you’re addressing their real values and concerns. No one can offer a superior value proposition to every potential client. As you identify the cases in which you can, and refine your ability to communicate the substance of the value you offer, your confidence will increase. Genuine confidence is contagious, and your clients will be happy to catch it from you.

—Richard Steven, president of Fulcra Consulting, specializes in helping remodeling companies create and implement effective management plans;