The contract is signed and the salesperson leaves, but the next day the homeownercalls to report that her son (or daughter or grandson) says the windows (orsunroom or siding) costs too much, and she wants to cancel. How do youhandle these third-party kills?

The problem exists because too many companies sell lower-quality products andservices, says Mark Curry, president and CEO of Appleby Window Systems, inYork, Pa. They set the bar too low. “When a third party hears thattheir friend or relative has just purchased a home improvement product at aprice two or three times more than the commodity product or service, thenthe immediate conclusion is that this person has overpaid.”

Anticipate Possible Problems As with all rescission, it's easier to anticipate third-party kills and sellagainst them than attempt to resell the homeowner and the third party oncethe contract has been cancelled. For instance, call-center people at TrueNorthHome Systems in Kennebunk, Maine, ask prospects whether there are otherdecision-makers who should be invited to the sales appointment. After that, though, it'sup to the salesperson. If, during the appointment, the homeownerbegins to talk about checking with a relative or friend, the TrueNorthsalesperson tries to two-step the process and come back when that third partyis there, says sales manager Brad McCrum. “Once [the thirdparty] sees the quality, they can be our biggest aid.”

Another option is to simply ask the homeowner to get the other person on thephone during the appointment, suggests Ken Bressler, president of Buildersand Remodelers in Minneapolis. “Often the kids say, ‘Let's goahead and do it,'” he says. Or, when the children who might object arementioned, the salesperson can agree that they have the homeowner's bestinterests at heart. But then he asks: As busy as they are, when was the lasttime those children last helped clean the windows?

Best Protection: A Solid Sell “The best way to defend against third-party influence is the sales presentation,” Currysays. “It has to be done so that the homeownerdoesn't just buy based on emotion, but understands the nuts and bolts ofthe decision.” If the logic behind the decision is sound, he explains, thecustomer can defend himself against third-party influence. “Ifthey make the decision merely on emotions — relationship selling or friendshipselling — the homeowner will second-guess his own decisionand be easily influenced by a third party.”

Tri-State Home Improvement salespeople button up their appointments with a question: “Doyou feel you made a good decision?” That anticipatesthird-party intervention later on, says Brad Pompilli, president ofthe Branford, Conn.–based home improvement company. “Normallypeople cancel because something is left up in the air. We should be answeringall questions in the demonstration.”

But third-party kiboshes happen. “Most of the time, you do end up gettingblindsided,” McCrum says. “I look at it as being more of anexcuse than an objection. They're not objecting to the price. They just don'twant to make the decision.”

Tri-State has an employee who goes out to visit the homeowner to determine whatthe problem is and try to negotiate the deal, “but it's difficult,” Pompillisays. “At that point, there's not a whole lot you cando.”