Your prospect tells you he’s ready to buy, to sign right now, except for one thing: “I need to talk to my credit union.” Now you’ve hit a stall.

Here’s what’s worse: when your prospect wants to take your estimate or proposal and “run it by the credit union.”

Not that your price is outrageous or your proposal shady. But the buying process has stopped and you, the salesperson, have lost control.

You want the customer to make the decision on his or her own, without third parties — friends, relatives, or the loan officer at the credit union — weighing in to possibly kill it. And you want them to make the decision while you’re there, so you can walk them through any doubts or hesitations they might have.

Here’s how you get around that: offer financing.

The Big Advantage

If you don’t do it, or if you never have, financing can seem like one more detail you have to attend to among the various facets of selling a home improvement project. In fact, making financing available is a big advantage. Laying out a payment plan makes the sale easy and affordable for homeowners. That big price tag for a house full of windows or a five-figure siding job can seem intimidating until you’ve broken it down to 60 payments or 72 payments or 120 payments.

But financing has to be handled in a certain way. If, at the end of your presentation, seemingly out of nowhere, you announce your financing plan, you can leave your prospects feeling blind-sided and suspicious. You don’t want that.

I introduce the idea of financing while I’m talking about the company, i.e., when I’m telling the company story and when I’m explaining our credentials, certifications, and licensing. I say: “We are approved for ______ bank financing.” I also offer a letter from that lender attesting to the company’s reputation. Then I let it lie awhile and bring it up again when they’ve decided they want the windows or siding, and now we — the homeowners and myself — are figuring out how to pay for them.

You can mention financing again, if you see an opportunity. But the time to lay the cards on the table is right after you’ve given the homeowners a price. Once I present the price, and the call’s going well, that’s where I move to financing options.

—Tommy Steele has been selling home improvement jobs for more than 26 years in Washington, D.C., and Maryland. View his website or contact him [email protected].

Related articles:

Be Frank on Financing: Be honest with homeowners about what it takes to buy that job on credit, and have a back-up plan if their credit application is denied

Same-as-Cash Financing: Deferred interest promotions are a great way to increase sales of smaller jobs, but it could take some time to get your salespeople onboard

Custom Fit: Contractors who understand the various types of credit products and know how to present them will be more likely to lead the customer to make the decision to finance