It's amazing what excuses homeowners will come up with when it comes to avoiding spending money. Even though I have found that most people in our field truly feel they are helping people, salesmanship (often uneasily) still comes into play based on homeowner perception of sales people (and based on all the BS that floats around out there do you blame them). Getting past objections can sometimes become an art form.
I recently performed a full energy audit on the home of a local pilot for a large air lines. He fancied himself quite the do-it-yourselfer, but based on personally viewing his handy work, perception is truly reality. The typical procedure is to perform the audit, report the findings, and recommend the most cost effective solutions. Because I am a full service provider, I also offer to quote the homeowner on the improvements and manage the full project. Considering the level of involvement (he was by my side the entire audit), the prevailing issues, the prescribed improvements, and the homeowner's level of income, it was pretty safe to assume I would be hearing the question "So when can you start on the improvements?" And if that were the case, I wouldn't be writing this now.
The problem with the avid (or rabid) do-it-yourselfer is they often do it to save money, not because they have any idea of what they are doing. In this particular case the two main needs were attic air sealing and insulation. After quoting the homeowner on these services, I got the response "Well, the cost of the insulation seems a bit high. I went to Home Depot the other day and the insulation was a lot cheaper and my neighbor said he did it himself." Note he mentioned nothing about air sealing because you can't buy air sealing off the shelf. To try and ease his concerns I countered with the following: "Well Eric, I understand how you feel, but I am offering you a service, that includes both product and PROFESSIONAL installation." I then asked them the following questions:
He then told me that those were some of his wife's concerns. I also explained to him that the pricing for the job was relatively inexpensive (less than $1,000) especially considering that in our area right now, costs are higher due to the raised demand caused by the record low temps and expiring tax credits (scheduling right now is a week out). Almost on cue, he responded with "Well, will it be cheaper if I wait until spring when demand is lower?"
This is where the art of combining science, numbers, and selling comes into play. I simply said to him "The question you should be asking is what would be the difference in your utility bills over the winter if the work were done now versus waiting till spring?" I then used his own utility bills from the previous winter to make my point. Over a three month period from the previous winter, his utility bills totaled $1,300. I told him that if we improved his efficiency by a conservative 15%, that would be the equivalent of almost $200. I then asked him "Is that worth three more months of dealing with the same comfort issues you've been dealing with for years?" and then boldly added "Do you really think the job cost is going to drop more than $200 in the spring?" (Certainly not on a $900 job)
My final statement to him was prefaced by having him read my "Is There a Doctor in the House?" blog, which is also posted on my website. "Eric, you go to the doctor when you're sick so he can prescribe you a cure for what ever is bothering you. You don't ask him that if you wait a few months, would the treatment be cheaper. You have serious comfort issues in your home that you have been dealing with for years and based on the audit results, I have prescribed the most cost effective ways to deal with those issues. The improvements are permanent, will start saving you money from the day they are completed, and will make your home a more comfortable place to live in. When do you want to get started?"
Having to test your salesmanship is not always the most comfortable place to be for some people in our industry. Combining it with science, historical data, and numbers (in an understandable form), and even a little tactful selling, can help you get past even the most difficult objections. After all, they did call you didn't they?