A colonial house with a two-car garage and a porch. Grass as green as it gets. Picture perfect right down to the white picket fence in the backyard.
From the street, the windows looked to be about 15 or 20 years old. The roof was the original roof and needed replacing. I knocked on the door. The door looked old.
He was probably 50 years old, she was about 45.
We were at the kitchen table, drinking coffee, talking about the windows and the new roof they might buy. I had measured, told the company story, and was moving through before and after pictures. Suddenly he gets up and walks out of the room. She looks at me and starts to cry.
I say: What’s the problem?
“He threw my daughter out of the house.”
I say: He did what?
She repeats the statement.
I say: Why would he do such a thing?
She tells me he threw her out because the daughter was pregnant.
Now he comes back in the kitchen.
She says: “What would you do if you had a daughter who was pregnant?”
I say: What are the circumstances? Is she working? Did she graduate from high school?
Yes, she’s working. Yes she just graduated from high school.
I say: So what’s the problem?
He says: She’s 18.
I say: That’s not a reason to throw her out of the house.
He says: It’s a black guy.
What am I supposed to do with that? Of course they didn’t know that my wife is white and my children are interracial.
I say: So what’s the big deal? This is your daughter and she’s in trouble. When your children are in trouble, that’s when they need you.
Both of them got quiet. I gave her some tissues.
We forged ahead and were soon back on track. They bought windows and a new roof. They replaced that old door.
We, as home improvement salespeople, are in the house to solve a problem. Sometimes it’s a window problem or a roof problem. In this case it was an emotional problem. They needed a sounding board. The fact that I’m black broke the whole thing open for them. It also forced my hand. A white salesperson might not have known what side to take, or may have said: Would it be possible to reschedule the appointment?
I learned a long time ago that you never know what’s going on behind these doors. You have to be prepared. Yes, it was uncomfortable. But I reminded myself that the deal wasn’t done and that to succeed you have to push through.
I came back out while the job was installed. She thanked me for coming out and told me the daughter had moved back in. “The only reason he did it was because of what you said.”
They got me a few leads. When the job was done she baked me a cake.
—Grant Winstead operates the Success Sales System That Never Fails, designed to help home improvement owners and salespeople close at higher rates and “put more profits in your pocket.” Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 703.728.4966.