What happened: In my largest job to date, I dealt solely with the wife, a repeat customer. We'd meet, she'd talk with her husband, and then she'd tell me their decision.

What I learned: Most salespeople won't go on one-leggers, but I'll go to start a relationship. I want them to feel comfortable. I've tried to force a joint decision, like, "Could you call your spouse and see what they think?" Sometimes they do. Or they may say, "It won't change anything." Being assertive is a challenge for me. — Guy Marzano

What the sales expert says: At $3,000 or below, I would say generate a contract and ask for the business. You could say, "Well, talk to your husband, but, if you could make the decision, how would you?" You can make it subject to the husband's approval.

When you get into the $4,000 to $5,000 range, not many people can make a decision without their spouse. Make that determination when you set the appointment. It's a slippery slope generating a proposal you know could result in a "No." It always equates to price, because the spouse will never convey the value of the relationship. I would challenge anyone who says he can make one-leggers work. We always remember the good ones. How many have we had that we didn't get?

Guy Marzano is a new sales rep with Case Handyman Services of St. Paul, Minn. We'll recap his experiences over the coming issues. Lon Bennett is national sales manager with Case Handyman Services, Bethesda, Md.