Someone once advised me that “buyers are liars.”

You’ve probably heard the expression. It means that at various points in the process from selling the job to collecting the final payment homeowners will twist the truth to get more out of a company. They might tell you that you’re the first contractor they’ve talked with when you’re the third or fourth because they don’t want to have to make a decision. They might tell your installer that the salesperson promised them he’d fix the back door while putting the windows in when no such promise was mentioned let alone made. They may lie to you at the end of the job pretending there’s an issue to be resolved because they don’t want to pay.

Some people will say almost anything to get what they want. To some extent they do that because they’re expecting you to be less than truthful. Straight away they ask to see your insurance certificates, your license, your proof of workmans’ comp. And they should ask for those things because a lot of companies and their salespeople do stretch the truth and will make false promises. So while salespeople are thinking “Buyers Are Liars,” homeowners are thinking “Buyer Beware.”

Strangers in a Strange Land

Homeowners twist the truth because they believe they’re buying from a stranger. They assume, probably correctly, that when all this is finished they’re never see you again. You’re a stranger.

Here’s what I’ve found to be true: A customer can like and need your product, and believe your company story, but if they don’t like you, they’re not going to buy. Consider your own experience. You may like the merchandise at a particular retail store, say a shoe store, but if you walk in and the clerk’s rude or yammers away on his cell phone you probably won’t go back. That’s because buying is an emotional as well as rational decision. For many, it’s much more about the emotions than the strictly logical need for something you want to sell them. Selling is emotional as well. When a salesperson tells me about the job he just sold, he’s going to say, “They really liked me.” If he didn’t sell that job, they “were jerks,” “unreasonable,” or “just wasting my time.”

Getting To Know You

I took a psychology course once in college. One session involved class members breaking up into groups of four. We took turns giving and receiving appreciation. Our assignment was for each person, working together as a group, to find characteristics in the others that were likeable.

People thrive on being complimented. So go in to the home with the theory that you’re going to like those people, then find reasons to appreciate them. Notice the artwork. Think about it and offer a comment. Appreciate what the customer does for a living and tell him you appreciate it. Ask about the family. The more you find out about people, the easier it is to actually care that they’re getting a good product, a good installation, and a fair price.

Make it a goal that the customer enjoys your visit. And in your post-close turn and tell them that you’ve enjoyed getting to know them, that they’re good people. When people find out you like them they tend to like you back. And they’re a lot more open to buy. —Jake Jacobson is vice president of sales at Premier Window & Building, Inc., in Baltimore, MD.