After doing it for a long time, I discovered that there are two ways to sell in the home: the old-school way and the other way. Here’s the old-school way: You go in, make nice, show the prospect the product, and push a price across the table. When the prospect balks, you drop the price. If he balks some more, you drop the price some more. Balk. Drop. Balk. Drop. When he wavers, the close kicks in. It’s now or never.

Of course, well before the close you can see the prospect sweating. His tone and body language are pointing toward the door. But if he refuses to make a decision, there’s still a way to save the situation.

As you’re gathering up your samples and putting things away, the paperwork and the pen remain on the table. You can see relief on his face. You turn and say: Hey, you know, I was just thinking … you seem to like our company and our product. But it seems like the investment is getting in the way here. We do some commercial work, and right now we’re putting together a 180-window job and … if I can save you a substantial amount of money, that’s something you can give me a simple yes or no on, isn’t it?

Out comes the phone. It’s a manager: Hey, I’m here at ______. Yeah, they love us. They love the windows. Where is that job we’re doing? Bayonne? Has that been placed? No, it’s going to be? OK, wait, I’ll drop it off at your house tonight. If you do this for me I’ll buy you lunch tomorrow.

When You’re Caught, You’re Caught

This whole way of selling is like the Abbott and Costello Show.

Sometimes people buy, sometimes they don’t. Hardly anybody ever calls you on it. I had one customer who said: “Hey, do you have to go to school for this? I had a guy in my house last night who did the same thing.” When you’re caught, you’re caught. I told him: “Does it matter who I called? Here’s the number, here’s the price.” He bought the windows. But it stayed with me.

Many people sell this way, and there are all sorts of justifications having to do with retail discounts. I did it for years.

Until one day, about six years ago, I just said: I don’t feel comfortable doing this anymore. People are smarter than this. There has to be another way. Why fall back on ruses to get people to buy something that they want anyway?

I met a guy who showed me how to go in the house and sell without a price drop. Was I ever dubious! He insisted it worked. And it was scary at first. It was like going into battle without your biggest gun.

What People Respond To

Imagine my excitement when being honest and forthright with people worked right off the bat. Not only would they buy, but they liked me more and I could sell them more at a higher price.

I sell the product, the company, and myself as a salesperson, purely on value—without any sort of Buy Now sleight of hand. If there’s a discount, it’s small and it’s real. For instance, if the homeowner is paying cash, Enerbank’s 6% goes off the price. Not using a credit card? OK, you’re saving us both 3%.

Now, I go gather enough information based on their wants and needs to prepare a design and proposal, email it, and come back to show the homeowner that design.

The argument against two-step (or consultative) selling is that it takes too much time. Actually, I run fewer leads, I spend less time in my car, and I close a lot more business. And when people call me back, it’s not to cancel the sale or complain about the product, it’s to invite me to their barbecue.  —Sales veteran and trainer Mike Damora  has been the sales manager at several large home improvement companies. Reach him at   [email protected].