If you and your company are all about closing tonight, this might not be for you. If you want to find out about a way to sell more business, better jobs at a better price, and you’re not wed to a method increasingly seen as old-fashioned and out of touch with consumer needs and trends, read on.

I never sell on the first visit. I tell the prospects right off that I’m there to get an understanding of what they want, the better to come up with a design they like. I take some photographs with a professional camera. I ask questions.

What do they like about their home's exterior? This is not a question they expect a salesperson to ask. It's amazing the responses you get. Number one: “What is there to like?”

Already you can smell the wood burning.

I move from there to this question: When you acquire your new exterior, what would you change?

Not if you acquire your new exterior, but when?

Some homeowners have definite ideas; some don't have a clue. I make suggestions. Maybe it’s time to go with cooler colors as opposed to earth tones? Or, how would it be if we highlight the dormers, or the front entrance? Already they’re choosing.

Psych 101

Studies show that people’s blood pressure rises when they enter a car dealership. The same thing happens when a home improvement salesperson gets to the house. Homeowners expect to be sold. Bring their blood pressure down by getting them to talk. And what’s everyone’s favorite subject? Themselves. This is Psych 101.

Sometimes people want a price right away. They ask for a “ballpark” or an estimate. I don’t do estimates. What I prepare for them is a proposal with a to-the-penny price based on designs I develop. This takes price off the table.

And since they have no price, but they want one, I never leave without setting a second appointment. The second appointment gathers all buying parties. It’s usually rock-solid because if I’m doing it right, whoever I talked with the first time out is now my advocate.

Within 24 hours I put together three designs using a program called RenoWorks. It takes an hour to do. I email the homeowner the proposals, which include photos of the house as it would appear with new siding, new roofing, or new windows, so when I go back there for the second visit we’re not talking about pictures of houses our company has done for other people, we’re looking at their house.

Upsell the Particulars

Here’s the response when they see their house dressed up in new colors, with new windows, or a new roof. "Wow, it could look like that?"

So, say they’re buying a siding job. Now you can show them different kinds of siding in different grades and colors with different trim. But why stop at siding? This is how that siding job would look if you replaced your roof with a different color shingle which, by the way, comes with a 30-year warranty. This is how that siding job would look if you changed out the windows. And added, say, bay windows. And here’s how the whole thing would look if you put on a deck, or a portico.

I remember showing my designs to a company owner once right before I emailed them to the prospect. He said: "Hey, they don’t want a door."

I said: "They do. They just don’t know it yet."

They bought the door.

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