Opal Enterprises, in suburban Chicago, requires its five salespeople to take pictures of each job and to post them online at Google+ for internal use.

Increasingly, home improvement companies expect salespeople to do more than just run an appointment. There are two reasons, says well-known sales and marketing consultant Rick Grosso: customer service is now a key to competing, and many home improvement companies have shifted salespeople from “independent contractor” to employee status. “If a guy's strictly on commission,” Grosso says, “his job is to sell. He's not an employee.” If that salesperson is an employee, “they should treat his job like any other job.”

POINTS OF CONTACT Randy Leeds of First Choice Windows Remodeling Group, in Port Chester, N.Y., says that with homeowners carefully researching companies, it's more important than ever for salespeople to get to know their customers. “Once they get the contract, I want them to call back,” Leeds says. “Ideally, they should go back to every job.”

What will make managing the person and position much easier, Grosso says, is if those responsibilities are in a job description. They should include, for instance, a visit to the jobsite while work is in progress and owners are home, and a visit when the job is closing out. Some companies have salespeople re-visit customers a year after job completion to inspect the work and to ask for referrals. The advantage of having salespeople, rather than marketers, do this, says Opal Enterprises sales manager Tom Shallcross, is that “[the sales rep] is the one homeowners have dealt with, and he's the one they trust.”

THE BIG EXCUSE Grosso says that companies should first make it clear to new sales hires that their responsibilities go beyond simply running appointments.

Second, companies should have their marketing department set follow-up calls for salespeople to run “and issue those calls like a lead.” That cuts through what he calls “the big excuse” salespeople will give, which is that they don't have time to visit or call customers because they're busy running from one lead to the next.

That way, Grosso points out, the sales rep can get to the jobsite, do a walk-around, hand the homeowners the warranty, and ask for add-on or referral business. “The whole concept of team selling,” he says, “is that certain people do certain things on a team.”