The thin metal coatings known as low-E — “E” for emissivity — applied to window glass to reduce the U-factor by reflecting away heat, are not news. Low-E has been around since 1979, and though it was once an option and an upsell, today it typically comes with the window. Last year all of the 4,000 windows sold by Swing Line Windows, in Pittsburgh, were low-E-coated. “It's standard,” says owner Ken Moeslein, “like belted radials and air bags in cars.” And according to Harley Magden, co-owner of Window Nation, in Hanover, Md., “It doesn't make sense to buy a window without low-E because of all the energy-saving advantages and the 2006 tax credit.”

TELL ME ALL ABOUT IT But just because low-E windows have become increasingly common doesn't mean you should take low-E coating for granted when presenting to prospects. Typically, when it comes to low-E, window salespeople make two mistakes: They either fail to mention it and explain what it is and how it works, or they start explaining … and don't stop. In fact, relatively few homeowners know about low-E, and that's an opportunity to sell your expertise, says Don Darragh, vice president of sales for Energy Swing Windows, in Murraysville, Pa.

Make sure, however, that you provide this technical information after doing the walk-around and telling the company story. “Until you build rapport and the prospects trust you, they couldn't care less about low-E or argon,” Darragh says. But, when the sales presentation reaches the stage when rapport has been established, that's the time to talk low-E and explain its role in the energy-saving properties of windows. An excellent method is to have reps quiz homeowners on what they know about windows and how windows and glass work, and to then explain.

LITERATURE AND LAMPS Selling aids will enhance your credibility accordingly. For instance, when selling a window job, Maryland contractor Matt LeFaivre, of LeFaivre Construction in Taneytown, gives homeowners information on low-E and other aspects of the wood and vinyl windows his company installs. “They read while I'm measuring,” he says. “Tell them about low-E and you're ahead of the guy coming in behind you.”

Swing Line Windows, like many companies, uses a glass presentation kit that includes heat lamps to show the different properties of its glazing. “You can sit there and talk all day,” Moeslein says. “But the salespeople who are successful will always have some way to demonstrate to the homeowner through seeing, touching, and feeling.”