What happened: On one of my earliest sales calls, I visited a retired artist. He had three rotten window sills. Our computer estimating system indicated a repair cost of $2,000. That seemed like a lot, so I talked to my boss, Bill Wilder. He told me it was a reasonable number because it's surgical work that takes a long time. I wasn't on the call long when the client said, "If this is going to run me $2,000, I don't want to waste your time." I blurted out, "Well I did check it on the computer, and that's about what it is." The prospect said, "Well I'm just not going to be able to do it."

I suggested that I tell him about the company anyway, so that he (or a neighbor) could consider contacting us if he changed his mind, and then I did a 15-minute presentation.

What I learned: We're taught not to give a price range until we build the value of the company. I gave away too much too soon. I should have said, "Let's talk about it after we review the job, and after I tell you something about us," to regain control. We do budget qualifying after the presentation about the company. We're not selling a repair, we're selling a concept, a relationship, like a warranty where someone comes back if there's a problem. Had I followed the sales process, I would have maximized my chances of getting a customer. --Guy Marzano

What the sales expert says: You can't personalize the sales experience. You need to believe in your process and control it. If you think the price is too high, you can't project your sale with conviction. Customers will pick that up. You have to believe in your price and what you're bringing to the table. --Lon Bennett

Guy Marzano is a sales rep with Case Handyman Services of Golden Valley, Minn. In his first month of commissioned selling, he made six sales on 20 calls, some results still pending. We'll recap his experiences over coming issues. Lon Bennett is national sales manager with Case Handyman Services, Bethesda, Md.