Rep after rep has whined to me over the years about all the shoppers, one-leggers, curiosity seekers, and do-it-yourselfers they've had to spend time with. I just can't understand why experienced salesmen are willing to run bad lead after bad lead.

Here's my advice to job-seekers: Beware if a company promises you four leads a day. It's a setup. They figure that if they can throw enough stuff at the wall, something will stick. Ask to see the company's confirmation script. If they look at you the wrong way or don't have one, it's a huge red flag.

Find the Final Objection For my guys, I want to find the final objection before I issue the lead to a sales rep. If it's an objection that can't be overcome in one call, I'm not going to send my rep on a wild-goose chase. It's more important to make sure his head is right for the next good lead. Companies need to train confirmers to ask tough questions. They should also be willing to let a lead burn. Guess what? Usually only the garbage gets weeded out. Your confirmer should be scripted, and that script must produce the information that results in a qualified lead.

Here's the first thing we ask: “Who are the owners and decision-makers in this house?” Anyone who has a financial or an emotional interest absolutely needs to be there. Assume people are married until they tell you otherwise. If they live alone, ask who helps make purchasing decisions. If all owners can't be there, insist on rescheduling the appointment for a time when they can be.

Call Ahead Here's something else we do. An hour before the appointment, I call to make sure the prospect is at home. I also tell the prospect up front that we'll need an hour or more of their time, depending on what they want to know from us. Find out how much time they have. Start qualifying for need, interest, and urgency.

Know what it is they want to find out about. Play dumb. Here's where you find out if you want the job. Also, have they received previous estimates? If so, ask for a range. Here's your opportunity to price-condition the homeowner. For example: “Mrs. Jones, most of our bathrooms run between $10,000 and $20,000.” If they're OK with that, you know they won't toss you out after you lay out your price.

One other thing: identify urgency. Just use these magic words: “Sir or Ma'am, if you like what we have and you feel it fits your budget, will you consider letting us earn your business now?” We know where we stand if the answer is yes. If it isn't, we reserve the right to inquire what it would take to do so.

Script It So, if you want to be efficient with your sales calls and save yourself wasted trips and gas money, write a script. Keep it casual and conversational. Ask all of the questions and pride yourself on quality leads. We eliminate half our leads at the confirmation stage, and among them my four reps are closing 40% on the remainder. I don't have a lot of turnover. I have so many lines that I can't afford to have a revolving door salesforce.

Remember, just because the phone rings or someone says yes to an estimate does not mean there is a legitimate business opportunity for your operation. —Danny Bronstein is the owner of Washington Home Remodelers in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. He started his company in 1985.