Here’s a contradiction: People like having choices, but they don’t like making decisions. So if you’re in the home selling them roofing, siding, and windows, what do you do? You can take the easy route and offer a single product at a single price. Of course if there’s nothing else available and you’re pushing hard, it may feel to them like you’re trying to jam something down their throats. Or, opposite extreme, you can offer 22 different options, leaving your prospect brain dead by the time you leave, so that they make no decision.

Salespeople often make the mistake of thinking they know what the customer wants. You might know what the best solution to their problem is, but until it’s clear to them that it is, and why, your ideas don’t mean much to them and the customer may default to price. They have to feel they’re in control.

So offer the homeowner a series of options — good, better, best — that easily differentiate by product or service quality. Explain how one differs from the next and allow him or her to make the decision. Start with the best and move from there. Here’s why.

Clear Options

First, customers will never ask you for a more expensive option. For instance, if you price out a re-roof, ask the customer who’s already talked with four other roofing companies whether or not anyone has talked to them about designer shingles. Chances are they haven’t. Most customers don’t know to ask about designer shingles. You bring the subject up. They say, naturally enough: “I might be interested, depending on the cost.” You reply: “I’ll include that as one of the options here.” Make every option you present simple and clear. A good/better/best series of options on a re-roof, for instance, should be similar in the scope — broken out as line items — but differentiated at the end of the proposal, so people can readily grasp the differences. If you ask them to sort through lists and numbers they don’t understand, they’re going to feel overwhelmed and stressed out. At that point decision-making shuts down. People won’t buy what they don’t understand.

Believe in It

Second, if you don’t actually believe in the product and solution you’re describing, they’re going to hear it. Your expectations have a direct bearing on what they choose. If you think it’s overkill, they’ll think it’s overkill. If you believe in the solution you’re presenting, they may believe. Start at the top, with the best products, and move down. You’re the expert.

Beyond Price

Third, price shouldn’t determine the kind of job someone buys. If you lay out a series of options and your prospect automatically indicates that he or she wants the low cost, don’t be afraid to ask why. They’re going to state one of several reasons. Most likely they’ll say that their budget won’t accommodate anything else. Ask them if that’s what they really feel is the best solution. If they have $12,000 and the best option is $15,000, point out that they have almost enough to afford the best and focus on helping them find the other $3,000. Focus on the difference between good and best. Point out that they can have the exact roof that they want for an extra $8 a month. Mention, for instance: “When your 5-year-old daughter is grown and married, this roof will still be here.”

If you’re aggressive and present well, 20% of your customers will opt for the “best” when you offer good, better, and best price options. Another 20% will always go the least-expensive route, no matter what. Challenge yourself. Take the time to explain. And have an open, honest confrontation about the pros and cons of what you’re proposing. If you sell this way all the time, you’ll get more customers stepping up from good to better, and from better to best.

—Tom Shallcross is sales manager at Opal Enterprises, an exterior remodeling company in Naperville, Ill.