When do you make the sale? Is it when you present the proposal? I believe not. More often than not, your prospect has already made his decision before you present your proposal.
Think about it. How do you buy when considering a large purchase which is primarily service-based and, therefore, hard to quantify in terms of deliverables? Much of your decision is based on the quality of the relationship that is built BEFORE there is any discussion about cost and a well-framed discussion about a match between your investment amount and the service provider's idea of project cost.
Most remodeling contractors move too quickly through the relationship building stage. It is hard to slow down. As a person who sold remodeling for many years, I know! However, without creating a relationship you are simply an interchangeable commodity, not a unique service provider.
Having a deliberate, focused discussion on scope, finishes, and fittings before talking costs helps the prospect get a better understanding of what he is actually asking of a remodeler. Going slowly here will actually get the prospect to fill in the blanks that you would otherwise do for him when you prepare a proposal and then he is shocked at the breadth of the scope (and costs!) when you present it.
Finally, addressing costs before starting on your proposal gets the elephant out in the open. You WILL have to discuss costs at some point in the buying relationship. Establishing a mutually agreed upon goal for scope and investment amount before you prepare your proposal makes working on your proposal much more fun. And remember, if the idea of talking project cost to the prospect does not make you feel a bit queasy, your ballpark is not high enough!
Keep these principles in mind and you will waste less time creating proposals that simply allow you to find out that your cost is higher than the prospect's budget. Instead, you'll create relationships as well as proposals--and that's what makes the sale!