There are seven steps to selling that every salesperson should master: prospecting, the initial contact, qualifying the client, presentation, meeting objections and concerns, closing the sale, and referrals. Here's a look at the first three.

Prospecting. Use several types of marketing to attract clients. Happy, satisfied customers are your number one source of prospects. Place them on your mailing list, and periodically send them postcards or newsletters. Give them “introduction cards” to distribute. If a client comes in or calls as a result of the card, give the homeowner a $10 gift card for Starbucks or Baskin-Robbins. If you make a sale on the referral, give them a restaurant gift certificate. Branch out and use other advertising and promotions, including yard signs and door hangers.

The initial contact. This is the very first contact the client has with your company. It could be seeing your ad in the phone book, calling or e-mailing your business, visiting your Web site, dropping by your showroom, or speaking to a past client. Make sure you project the right image. Clients could find it frustrating to leave a voice mail or if they are placed on hold several times during the initial call. If you have a showroom, make sure clients can sense your professionalism both outside and inside. If you are visiting their home, how you are dressed, the cleanliness of your truck, and the paperwork you bring can all influence clients.

Qualifying the client. You should start qualifying a client early in the meet-and-greet process. Ask the following questions within 10 minutes of meeting a client and listen carefully to their reply to determine if this would be a mutually beneficial relationship.

  • Who are you?
  • Where did you hear about us?
  • What is your project? Where is the project?
  • What is your time frame? What is the budget?
  • When do you hope to start and finish the project?
  • Have you talked to other companies?
  • Have you given any thought to the style, color, finishes, et cetera?
  • Next month we'll discuss the next two steps in the selling cycle. —Hank Darlington is a sales consultant and instructor. Contact Darlington Consulting at (916) 652-6855 or

Part 2 of The Selling Cycle

Part 3: End of the Selling Cycle