Back in the day, there were price drops. If you wanted to create some some urgency in the sale, you started high, lowered the price, and watched the prospect get anxious. Today, that’s perceived as over-the-top pressure. You might even call it “Old School.”

Actually, tactics like that aren’t tired—they’re just bad. The game has changed. A sales presentation is a living thing. There’s a framework and a goal. It depends on the people, the chemistry, and the interaction. But it’s more unpredictable today because you’re dealing with a younger, more educated homeowner.

Today, we’re often selling to people in their late 20s to late 30s. They’ve got good jobs. They’ve just bought a house and it may not their first one. They’re educated. Go in there with Old School tactics and they’ll shut you down—fast. They want to know why you’re selling the job for that amount. They’ve done their research and sometimes they even know your costs.

What’s Your Name Again?
I do things now I never would’ve believed I’d do. For instance, I give prospects itemized pricing. I also streamline the product demo. If I’m showing a window and it takes longer than 15 minutes, that’s 10 minutes too long.The modern-day demo has to quickly hit all points. It has to be engaging and full of benefits to the prospects.

For instance, call them by their names. Don’t call him “Mr. Smith” or “Sir.” And you’d have to be one of the dumbest guys on the planet to call her “M’am.” I start memorizing my prospects names as soon as I see them on the appointment list. I call them by their first names from the moment I arrive.

Not too long ago, I was on a call at the home of Peter and Linda. The way the call was going it turned out that I was talking mainly to him. But at some point I turned to her and said: “So, Linda…”

She responded: “You remembered my name! You don’t know how many points you get for that.” The sweetest sound in anyone’s ears is the sound of their own name.

Armed With Information
Today, you better be knowledgeable about what you’re selling. I used to be able to churn out salespeople in five days. Those days are over. You have to know your stuff when it comes to the product, the installation, the house, the financing—all of it.

And if you don’t know, don’t say that you do. If you’re caught in one little white lie while you’re trying to look good, you’re done. Don’t try to bluff. People see right through it. They’re not a forgiving bunch.

I had a guy the other day who had more information and knew more about the product than I did. He knew all of the nuances. At one point, I was talking about the colors that the product comes in and he corrected me: “That particular model doesn’t come in that color.”

He knows, of course, because of the Internet. My response: “You’re probably right, but let me double-check that and get back to you.”

It’s okay to say: “I don’t know and I’ll get back to you.” The game has changed. You can quit the game, or you can learn to play by today’s guidelines.

—Sales veteran and trainer Mike Damora has been the sales manager at several large home improvement companies. Reach him at