Quiet time, when you've made a presentation and must now calculate the price of the job, can make customers uneasy. It's often a time for doubt, fear, and second-guessing to take hold. You can avoid quiet time and keep customers comfortable in several ways:

Use a measure person. A measure person visits the home first for needs analysis, to qualify the homeowners, and to measure the job. Calculations can then be made prior to the second appointment with a closer. This affords not only the opportunity to more precisely calculate the job, but also to produce a more professional proposal than a hand-drafted contract. And you're not out there measuring while the customers are back in the living room, brooding.

Figure your price when measuring. Measure the job early in the presentation process, when your prospects are at ease. Accomplishing the measure and price calculation in one step eliminates the quiet time later.

Introduce a new concept. If you're figuring a siding job, pull out a brochure on soffit and fascia, gutter protection, or shutters. If you're selling windows, show some door options. By doing so, you're taking the customer's attention off the situation at hand and possibly getting them to consider expanding their order with you.

Introduce financing options. If your company offers financing, give them literature that explains the financing options, terms, rates, and programs available. Even if they had not anticipated using your financing, encourage them to at least read the information to consider all options.

Play a product DVD or video. Using the television or your laptop as a temporary distraction while you figure the price can be effective, and a good product video will help convince prospects of the value in your sale.

Have them look at your photo book. Give the homeowners a large collection of job photos, company awards, achievements, licenses, proof of insurance, and testimonial letters from previous customers to peruse while you figure the price.

Any of these methods can keep the sales process on track, in your control, and can help avoid the nagging doubt that may creep in during quiet time. —Joe Knife is a freelance writer who works in the residential roofing industry.