A veteran roofing sales rep once proudly announced to Andrew Dalby, president of Atlanta Re-Roof Specialists, in Roswell, Ga., that he'd sold more than $700,000 the year before. But Dalby, who was selling $3 million annually at the time, was more interested in the rep's number of appointments, since he believes that overly long roofing presentations are counterproductive. Dalby likes to be in and out of the house in no more than half an hour, and sometimes runs seven or eight “high-quality” leads a day.

PRODUCT DETERMINES PRESENTATION The number of leads reps can reasonably expect to run is a function of your product, lead source, logistics, and business philosophy.

Since homeowners are typically looking to get a roof repaired or replaced in a hurry, that need sits at the center of the sale, and “we find that we don't have to sell ourselves maybe as much as some folks do,” Dalby says. Ten years ago Troy Marshall, owner of Marshall Roofing, in Lorton, Va., used to run seven or eight leads a day. “All it took me was 10 minutes to get measurements, and then I'd go to the next job.” Marshall mailed prospects his proposals. Today, his estimators do an attic inspection, walk the whole roof, and take pictures, then go to the truck where they run the job on a spreadsheet to determine the price, type it, print it, and hand it to the customer. He expects them to run two to three leads a day.

LOVE THE ONE YOU'RE WITH High-ticket items, which are defined as “luxuries” in the consumer's mind, are another story. For instance, reps at Home Comfort Now, in East Hartford, Conn., typically run one sunroom or basement finishing lead a day, according to vice president Carl Tyler.

Such products require a longer presentation, Tyler says. The company has found it effective to distribute one lead a day to reps. “If you start giving a guy more, his closing percentage will actually go down because he'll start to pre-judge and won't sit there and work it,” Tyler says. Issuing one lead “keeps your cost down because they love the one they're with and they don't have another one to go to.”

Sales representatives for window replacement companies typically run two or three leads in a day. “We put a lot of time in up-front trying to understand exactly what the customer is looking for and what problems they're trying to solve,” says Steve Rennekamp, owner of Energy Swing Windows, in Murraysville, Pa. The approach may be time-consuming, but it isn't high-pressure. “Some people sit there until the homeowner has to say yes or throw them out. We don't.”