He’s a sales rep that I trained at a former job. Now he’s tearing it up at a local window company. He’s tenacious and knows all the things you have to do. He asks for the sale the first night, and he typically gets it.

Here’s the problem: Although I trained him, I don’t sell that way anymore. I explain that to him and he says, “I can’t believe I’m hearing this.”

Pre-Close, Close, Post-Close

In the one-call close days, we never wanted homeowners to know what a window costs. A 10-window lead was my nightmare. Homeowners could divide that up too easily and figure out my pricing.

We followed a multistep system that built toward a pre-close, a close, and a post-close. The pre-close was a set-up to establish a high price. And we didn’t just close. We closed a minimum of seven times. The first time, you’d write a number on a piece of paper, push it across the table, and say, “John and Mary, this is your total investment. To get the ball rolling, we just have to do some paperwork and we can have your windows here in four weeks.”

If that didn’t fly, you’d say whatever it took—“Let me just show you this one thing and then I’m out of here”—to get the homeowner to pick a monthly payment. They’d pick a payment—say $150 per month—and I’d ask what their energy expenses were each month. Let’s say their answer was $300 a month. I’d say, “So if these windows reduce your energy consumption by 50%, you’d only be paying $150 a month. So whether you own the windows or not, you’re still going to be paying for them.”

Irrefutable logic. If they still hadn’t bought by that point, well, that’s only Close Three.

New Ways

Today, here’s what I don’t do in the home. First, I don’t dance around cost. I look people in the eye and tell them what my prices are. If you’re afraid that your price is too high, how do you expect the homeowner to feel good about it?

Second, I don’t throw out a number. I break the job out, item by item, page after page. I itemize down to the nth degree—every grid, lock, and color. In the one-call days, I didn’t tell homeowners how many squares of roofing or siding were in the contract because then they’d figure out the per-square cost and buy from someone else.

Now I share the measurements and show them how I get those measurements. I sit in the living room with them and I say: I’m going to measure your roof now using Pictometry. Here’s you pitch, your square footage, your slope … and then I add in waste for a per-square figure.

Many of our prospects are millennials. How seriously do you think they’d take anyone coming at them with that old-school sales pitch? Besides the fact that nobody argues with the price anymore, there’s another benefit. A customer called recently and said: I had Company X out here and I couldn’t get rid of the guy. He wanted the order that day. He gave me every reason. He lowered the price, then he offered whatever the daily discount was. You got my business because the reviews of your company were stellar. You gave me itemized pricing, and I never felt pressured to buy.

Just the Facts

These days, I prepare a proposal based on accurate facts, and I get it out in a timely manner. Follow-up calls ensure that homeowners have everything. Then, it’s all about diligence.

All the pressure is on the back end—to deliver a great job—not at the point of sale. I don’t make as many sales appointments, but I earn as much, if not more. Leads are not just so much grist through the mill. And the jobs are bigger. We still sell some jobs on the first night, especially roofing jobs. (And half the people who don’t buy the first night will buy from our company within the following year.)

I explained all this to my former trainee and then asked how he felt about coming to work for us. He discussed his current situation and laid out a wish list. “I still can’t believe this,” he said, “after everything you told me.”

“I know what I told you,” I said. “I was there. But it’s not what I do anymore.”

He told me that he was still trying to make up his mind, and I encouraged him to take whatever time he needed.

“Aren’t you going to try to close me?” he said. “No,” I replied, “not today