The lead is a window lead, but I've been there for more than an hour, and we're talking about a lot of things besides windows. The prospects, a nice couple, include both husband and wife, but it's the husband doing the talking. He's big. He's tall. He could be playing in the NFL. I give him a price —$8,500. That includes windows, gutters, and trim. He says he wants to shop around, that he and his wife would like to “pray on it.”

Now that's a serious objection.

I explain that we can drop the price $500 by scheduling it to coincide with other work in the area. His eyes narrow. He's got me in his sights.

“Is this one of those damned things where I have to buy today?”

Suddenly he's yelling. Really upset. I'm now responsible for every crime since Lincoln's assassination, and my only comfort is that I can very likely outrun him.

But when I listened to him, I realized he hadn't really heard me. In spite of my saying so, he was unaware that we were going to throw in gutters and trim. So I repeated it. Silence. Now he swallows his pride. Suddenly the proposal amounts to a wonderful idea. “Honey,” he says to his wife, “I'm going to write him a check.”

Prospects have all kinds of ways to stall the completion of a sale, even when the terms are favorable to them. In this case, the prospect didn't realize the value he was getting for the price until I tiptoed through an emotionally charged moment to remind him. Then we clinched it.

Another tactic people use to throw the sale off course is to suddenly insist, right before signing, that they have to “check you out.”

Think about it. I've just walked through every room in their house, measuring windows. And now they want to check me out?

The truth is that “check you out” is often “get you out.” Of the house. When you've lost a few sales this way, you quickly realize that you need to prepare the ground for this objection well in advance. A great way to head it off is to hand them a list of references at the start of the sales call. I give them that along with my Maryland license to sell home improvement products. I also build credibility by showing them pictures of me jack hammering a wall, carrying buckets of concrete, putting up trim coil, installing a window, and digging footers for a deck. This happens long before we get to the close.

Let's say they indicate they don't, won't, or can't make snap decisions. I'll say: “I can certainly understand that and I wouldn't want you to.” Then I offer incentives for signing that night. I might throw in some extra service, such as window trim. I might discount the price, based on subtracting out the cost of a second sales visit. I might point out that my company has a five or six-week backlog and that I can help them get that job started sooner.

I don't just simply drop my price. If the price is $10,000 one minute, and $9,200 the next, that makes no sense to the prospect.

Not long ago I had a lead for pair of patio doors. It was a husband and wife, and the opening was covered with plywood. In the course of our conversation, the husband told me he'd been a Marine fighter pilot in Vietnam. Later, when I went to close, he told me he didn't like to make quick decisions.

I said: “You probably made lots of fast decisions flying a fighter jet. Why can't you decide on a pair of patio doors?”

They bought the doors. —Tom Henderson, aka Tommy Steele, aka Tommy Hollywood, has been selling home improvement products for 20 years and in the business for 29 years. Visit him at