By Joseph F. Schuler Jr. An $8,327 investment in an LCD projector, projection screen, and other audio-visual equipment turned Riggs Construction's new conference room into a "Closing Room." Three weeks after its opening, $1 million in work had been sold in the room, says owner Tom Riggs, although some projects had been in the works.

The Kirkwood, Mo., design/build firm projects Chief Architect floor plans on the screen, plus product selections either scanned from magazines or taken from Web sites or manufacturers' CDs. The sales staff can pull up design agreements without distributing paper and make changes via laptop to on-screen documents. Riggs' product-selection manager saves as many as three days per job by not having to visit supply houses with clients. "And there's no hunching over a computer at a desk," Riggs says.

John Shea, Riggs Construction salesman (left), meets with clients in the "Closing Room" to discuss their addition project.

[Photo: Matthew Nieman]

The room has sparked a change in sales philosophy. Jobs used to be closed in the clients' home; now nearly every client is asked to come in to the office during the sales process. "Some clients you can't bring in because it's pretty rich," says Riggs of the cherrywood-lined conference room. Luckily, the $3 million-a-year firm's typical client is the wealthy retiree. "The impact it will have as far as the confidence for our sales team is immeasurable," Riggs says. "It's a sophisticated, neat presentation."