If you’ve ever been to a home show — and who hasn’t? — you know that that prospect who signed on for a free estimate, i.e., appointment, is going to be seeing at least three or four of your competitors.

That makes your home show lead a tough one to sell. The prospect fixates on the number of contractors he’s talking to and the prices given by each. And when you give your price and deliver your proposal, your home show prospect can effectively say no, or maybe, by falling back on two objections:

1) You’re the first company we’ve talked to, and we’ll certainly need to speak with others before making a decision, or

2) We’re committed to speaking with at least three companies before we decide on anything.

Late in the Game

If you’re closing a prospect from a home show, and he or she gives either of those as a reason for not buying, it may be too late. They’re not going to buy, and they know why they’re not going to buy. Their reasoning is not all that solid and is actually more in the order of dogma. Why three other companies? Why not 10?

But if you set out to pick their argument apart, you risk giving offense — and then you’re really nowhere.

The point is that you don’t want that prospect your company connected with at the home show to say either of those things when you’re closing. Whether you’re the first or second company in the house after the show, you have a shot at getting the sale, but you have to handle the lead differently if you want to close business. Here’s what to do.

1) Timing is everything: The prospect is going to get an impression of your company based on your presence at the show (clean, polite, well-behaved) and on your punctuality for the appointment. Salespeople are often late and often don’t bother to explain why they’re late. So don’t call and change the time of the appointment. Be there when you said you were going to be there, and be exactly on time. That way you immediately procure an advantage.

2) First impressions: Present a professional appearance that exceeds anything the prospect is going to see from any other company. Wear a company shirt or uniform. Let your appearance and demeanor be the embodiment of service, quality, and integrity.

3) Credible is reliable: Roll out all your company’s insurances, licenses, and awards. Tell them why these matter. Sell your company as the superior alternative to anyone else your prospect might be talking with.

4) Follow-through: Do what you say you’re going to do when you say you’re going to do it. Fear is a powerful motivator when it comes to buying a remodeling or replacement project. If a homeowner tells you that he’s been burned by a contractor who took the money and walked or simply took forever to finish a job, now’s your chance to prove that that’s not what your company will do. What does price matter if the project drags on and on? Show them pictures of jobs and indicate start and completion dates.

In Addition

Here are a few other things to remember. First, book that home appointment within 24 to 72 hours after the show. Send the prospect a card to remind him about the appointment and have someone from the office call ahead first.

I don’t ask if my home show prospect has other appointments. With anywhere from 70 to 100 home improvement companies at a large metro-area home show, they probably do. If they do, they’ll bring it up whether I want to know or not. If I’m the one who brings it up, I’ve just given them a chance to embrace the “We can’t buy from you or anyone until we’ve talked with X number of contractors.”

My closing percentage on home show leads — (30%) versus across all leads (40%) — is lower by about a third. If the homeowner is committed to seeing other salespeople, there’s not a lot I can do. Sometimes it’s all about attrition, serendipity, and timing: At some point the prospect gets sick of the process. Other than that, you have to differentiate, and the only things you can control are punctuality, presence, and what you’re showing. Tommy Steele has been selling home improvement jobs for more than 26 years in Washington, D.C., and Baltimore. View his website or contact him at [email protected].