Conventional wisdom suggests that, at some point in the sales call, it's best to step away and measure, leaving clients to arrive at some consensus about the purchase. Bert Lebhar, owner of Atlantic Roofing, in Baltimore, favors a different approach. He suggests that at that mid-point in the presentation, when the salesperson goes to measure, he take the client along. Hand them the tape. Have them write the figures down. Get them involved, Lebhar says.

A Matter of Trust Taking the client along when measuring accomplishes several things, Lebhar says. It communicates the salesperson/estimator's expertise while giving the prospect a refresher course on their home and its needs. “If you called 10 homeowners tonight and asked what color their vinyl siding is, I bet they couldn't tell you,” Lebhar says. “Two out of 10 couldn't tell you what kind of siding they have on their house.”

Another subject to broach, he says, is how their house looks in relation to others on the block, “because everyone wants to keep up with the Joneses.” That adds urgency to the sales process. And having the customer measure alongside builds trust.

“Let's say the last estimate was $9,000 and you're at $11,000,” Lebhar points out. “But [that estimate was] off by five squares. You're showing that prospect you're more professional and that you're going to be dead accurate with your numbers.”

No More Timeouts Clients, he says, may not want to go outside, especially if it's cold or wet. In addition, many salespeople want a break, to de-stress, in the middle of the presentation. Taking clients along to measure eliminates that tension release — “That's one of the negatives,” Lebhar says, “that you don't get a break” — but it also allows the salesperson to “recreate the warm-up. Talk about life, sports, the house.”

And maintain the momentum of the sales process.

According to Lebhar, though, the most important aspect is that the policy presents the salesperson as the expert. “Everybody wants a guy who'll just hop out of a truck and give them a price in five minutes,” he says. “But nobody [ends up wanting] to do business with that guy. They want to do business with an expert.”