Every owner likes to talk about how different his company is. Yet, we churn out salespeople that do pretty much the same thing—especially when it comes to windows. Everybody has that double-hung display, usually in white. Windows are like tires: You could get $20 retreads or $300 steel belted radials, but from 10-feet away they look identical. So the window salesman is  forced to go into an elaborate demo—taking the prospect from 10-feet away to 2-inches away—to show them how his white double-hung window is better.

Breaking From The Pack
Why not suggest a window so spectacular, so different, that prospects are wowed when they see it. Why just vanilla? I once had all of my salespeople change their samples to tan with concord grids and wood grain. As soon as they did, we started selling tan windows and wood grain.

It’s important to know your market. Here in the Northeast, it’s a double-hung market. So if you want to stand out, don’t show a double-hung. Talk about casement windows—they’re so much better. Casement’s provide way more visible light and you get more ventilation because the opening ventilates from top to bottom. On top of that, there’s energy efficiency. The harder the wind blows, the tighter it seals.

It’s not going to work in every application, but a lot of times casements will give the entire house a facelift. They provide a clean, contemporary look to bi-levels, Capes, split-levels, and ranches, which have no real accent points except for the doors and windows.

The Grand Tour
Don’t just show them stuff that’s different. Be different. If they only want to replace four windows, measure every opening. Most reps won’t because it’s more work. Explain that if you have the information on file, the others can be replaced with a phone call. When you get to that old wood or aluminum patio door, make sure you measure. It’s the biggest window in the house and a built-in add-on.

Take them with you. Get them involved. Ask: "Mary, would you mind jotting a few things down on my iPad while John holds the tape?" Open every window to see whether or not it works. You’ll find screens missing and windows painted shut. I was in a house once where the guy had three sticks of different sizes to prop the window open.

And pay attention. Notice all of the competitors’ business cards tacked to the fridge? True story: I visited a woman in her late 60s who was looking to replace windows. I noticed that she had a lot of plants in the house and a vegetable garden outside. I persuaded her to buy a garden window for the kitchen so that she could start seedlings early—she even enlarged the opening. The difference between your average double-hung vs. a garden window is $750 vs. $2,500.

Most salespeople do what they’re trained to do. Most are afraid of price. Remember, you’re not there to sell them you’re there to help them. That might involve installing a better window. Once you’ve established that you’re different, it’s not going to seem so strange that you’re suggesting products like bows or bays. It works for them and it works for you. Price is just a number.

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