We used to call it marketing recovery. That’s a friendly euphemism for the more commonly used term, rehash.

Here’s what’s involved: The salesperson visits the house, presents the product, and the answer is ... no. The next day, whoever is in charge of the rehash effort contacts the homeowner to find out how the call went. Did the salesperson arrive on time? Was he courteous and professional? Did he present the product? What was the reason that the homeowner chose not to purchase?

These seemingly innocuous questions become the perfect pretext for someone else from the company to go back to the house and pitch either the same or a different product.

Archaic Methods

When I ran rehash, I could sell about one in five products in a good week. A third of the time the homeowner would buy the exact same product for the exact same price, and the remaining two thirds of the time included either a price drop or a price increase. Usually if the product was sold, the salesperson who made the initial call got cut out of the commission. He had his shot.

There are two problems with this system: First, it’s not fair. If something is actually sold, the salesperson who did the work of explaining the company and the product gets zero reward for his efforts.

The other problem is that it’s archaic. It puts enormous pressure on the salesperson and the homeowner. And it doesn't translate to today’s buyer. Not too long ago I was in a house and the 30-something homeowner was describing another salesperson who had tried to close him on the first call by saying, “If you buy tonight…” and offering a whopping price drop.

The homeowner asked, “Mike, do people fall for that?” I told him that yes, some do, or there wouldn't be salespeople out there selling that way. And then the wife said, “That guy made my skin crawl. I couldn't wait for him to leave.”

Old Paradigm, New Paradigm

The old paradigm in the home improvement industry is: X amount of leads = X amount of business on a first call. It’s a grist mill. Put this much grain in and that much flour comes out.

At most companies, 99% of every sales meeting is about closing. Salespeople see their jobs as part-time situations where they put in four or five hours a day running their two leads. They give it a shot and they either hit it or they don’t.

How about a new paradigm? Teach salespeople how to take care of the customer. Teach them how to build a pipeline of prospects and work it. John and Mary still seeing other contractors? Send them a handwritten note thanking them for their time followed by an email with links to appropriate product knowledge sites.

Train salespeople to work the leads beyond the first visit. The more leads they have in their pipeline, the more sales you’ll get.—Sales veteran and trainer Mike Damora has been the sales manager at several large home improvement companies. Reach him at [email protected]t