You get to the house only to hear the prospects announce that they’re actually only “thinking about” installing new windows. Or that they may replace their windows “in a few months” or “in a year or two.” Now they’re gathering prices. Is this a stall? It could be. But if the buying cycle for windows is as much as two years from recognizing the need to actual purchase, it could well be that the homeowners really are far from having made up their minds to buy.

Light-Bulb Moment

The source of the lead may say a lot about where prospects are at in the buying cycle. If they contacted your company by email, they’re likely in ready-to-buy mode. If you’re there because a canvasser knocked, they may be at the beginning of the process.

The best way to find out, say sales veterans such as Baltimore’s Tommy Steele, is to ask: When were you thinking about getting this done? If the answer is “next fall, maybe,” or “a year from now,” you lose the sale by letting it drop there. “My job is to take one year and make it one month,” Steele says.

Ger Ronan, owner of Yankee Home Improvement, in Northampton, Mass., advises salespeople “put your blinders on and realize [that homeowners] are going to buy what the windows can do for them.” Now or later, it’s up to you.

“The less-seasoned salesperson will say: Oh, OK, call me in six months,” says Shane Schuckman, co-owner of Renewal by Andersen of Phoenix & Las Vegas. The experienced salesperson assumes they’re going to buy. And the way to get them to buy, Schuckman says, is to create “a light-bulb moment” where affordability and desire come together.

RBA of Phoenix & Las Vegas has lately found great success using long-term financing — 10-year loans, for instance — that reduce monthly payments to less than $100. And even among those planning to wait, the light bulb goes off.

Initiate the Process

Steele suggests that salespeople find out the time frame and “deal,” that is, offer accommodations so as to get a deposit and line up the job. That might include a scheduling discount — to keep crews busy — or the offer to throw in something extra at no additional cost.

But no matter where prospects say they are at, sell like they’re ready to buy now. “If the homeowner wants it,” Steele says, “he’ll do it.”