I remember the very first painting estimate I did on my own. I was nervous as hell and barely knew what I was doing despite having watched my mentor do one live.

There was a very specific estimate process that was designed and refined over years and taught to each new branch manager. It starts with the walkaround. When I show up at a house, I invite the customer to walk around the house with me and show me everything that they want painted. It’s an opportunity to build some rapport with the customer as I take detailed notes about what they need.

After that, I send the homeowner inside with a Client Manual full of testimonials, pictures, and processes. As they flip through the client manual and become more knowledgeable about the company and me, I’m outside calculating a budget and filling out a contract.

Once I’m finished, I sit down with the customer inside to go over the contract piece by piece. The contract is designed to lead me through a fluid and convincing presentation. It starts by explaining in detail all the work that will be done so there are no details left untouched. Then it leads into dates, logistics, crew size, and other details that help to paint a vivid picture in the customer’s mind before stating the price. The flow of the entire process — the walkaround, the client manual, and the estimate presentation — is designed to handle every objection a customer might have so when the time comes they have no reason to say no.

Of course they often do, and I offer rebuttals to try to close the deal.

My first solo one didn’t go terribly. I didn’t book it, but I probably could have. It was difficult doing them before I had hired a crew to do the work. In an estimate, you are selling a customer on the vision of their house being painted by your crew. Not having a clear vision myself made that difficult because I had to make it up before I conveyed it.

No matter how smoothly I executed the estimate or how perfectly I handled objections, deep down I wasn’t confident in what I was selling. I believed I would find a way to follow through with my word, but there were many reasonable doubts in my mind. What if I can’t find good painters? What if my painter screw up the job? What if I miss something?

Those doubts ooze out as you carry yourself through an hour-long customer interaction.

My confidence increased each time I did an estimate, hired a painter, or got one step closer to understanding the vision I was selling. But the one thing that boosted it more than anything else was getting a kick-ass testimonial from a happy customer. Standing there and hearing someone tell you they’re glad they paid you to do the work you did.

Once somebody raves about your work, it is confirmed that somebody subjectively values the work you do. This is key, since the primary goal in business is to provide genuine value to customers no matter how good you think your product is.

Then, when you talk to prospective customers, the vivid picture of that happy customer comes into your mind. It gives you an edge of confidence that wasn’t there before, and the new customer will be able to tell you’re quite sure of the value you provide.

I’m noticing my sales confidence slowly increasing again. I’m slowly gaining more confidence in what I’m selling as I improve my understanding of the video-creation process. It opens up the option to charge more and gives you a unique edge.