Beware: In your effort to produce best customer-service practices and not come off as too sales-driven, you may overlook selling concepts that build rapport, eliminate many price objections, and make it easy for prospects to say yes.

Help Them Decide Today's customer is besieged daily by exhortations to buy, try, or consider, and to write or call for information.

So when your company receives an inquiry, your process is to set an appointment, visit the prospect's home, do an extensive walk-around/needs assessment, make a presentation, and present a price.

Then what? Do you come back whining that the prospect had already gotten lower prices from competitors? Or that they intend to get other bids, after which they'll call you again?

Sometimes they do call again, but more often you won't hear from them. Research tells us that the major reason a contractor/salesperson doesn't get the contract is because he didn't ask for it or didn't ask for it properly.

Despite what you've heard about the one-call close, the two-step close, hard sell, soft sell, price drops, or high-pressure tactics, here's a fact: If you don't ask for the order (sometimes more than once), your chances of getting it are almost zero. This is true whether you're selling specialty products, renovations, or design/build. There may be two or three visits before the appointment when you give a complete presentation that includes price and how the homeowner would pay for the project (i.e., financing).

Here's your opportunity to ask for the order. Sometimes it's as simple as: “What would need to exist for you to make a decision on starting this project now?” Sometimes it's a series of probes or questions that culminate in a meeting of the minds. Essentially, the one-call close consists of this: give the price, then ask for the order (more than once if necessary).

Feeling the Pressure If you consider a first-call close to be high-pressure selling, you are proving what you don't understand about the buy-sell relationship.

Selling a project or an idea to others is based on understanding the who, what, why, where, or when of your prospect's value system. (This is explained in greater depth in the “7 Myths of In-Home Selling”; free at You may be surprised to find out what you don't know. —Dave Yoho is president of Dave Yoho Associates (, the oldest, largest consulting group serving the home improvement industry.