If you’re a “one call house,” essentially you’re looking to create a scenario where you, the salesperson, can force a buying decision at the first meeting. And that means you want all of the players - mostly that’s husband and wife - on the field for the whole game. The reason you want them all there is simple: There are objections, and there are also conditions.
Objections are resistance, and you can deal with that. If you’re good, you’ll quickly get around the “I need to think it over” objection or the “It’s just too much money” objection and most of the others.
Conditions, on the other hand, are a reason, and conditions are often fatal to the sale. And at the top of the list of conditions is this: “I have to talk to my husband/wife.” Who of course isn’t there. So come back later.
Conditions are tough to get past. You might push back against it by saying something like: “Doesn’t he trust your judgment?” or “I thought you said you were the decision-maker on this?” But that will probably just make people defensive. From a salesperson’s point of view, not having the person with the authority to make the final buying decision present gives the homeowner a foolproof way to not buy that night.
This is why companies committed to one-call closing almost always refuse to run “one-leggers”—appointments where the entire buying party is not present. In companies where I’ve worked, the philosophy was: If it’s a one-legger, don’t pitch it, you’re wasting your time. Typically it’s the appointment setter’s responsibility to explain to whoever picks up the phone that both the husband and the wife have to be there or no appointment.
I don’t envy that appointment setter. Try explaining to any empowered woman that she needs to have her husband there. She’ll get incensed. You can explain that you need to have all the decision makers present because the salesperson/estimator is going to be giving a lot of information. You can explain that you’ll be happy to accommodate their schedule.
But homeowners may well sense that they’re being maneuvered, and if they don’t sense it, all they have to do is go online and read about it. There are no industry secrets anymore. More and more people refuse to be subjected to that kind of pressure. It’s the same kind of pressure—literally, your blood pressure rises—that happens when you walk onto the lot of a car dealership.
Working Around It
So the “one call house” will try to work around it. That’s the appointment setter’s job. The company’s strict criteria are two legs or nothing. If he gets resistance, he may put a manager on the line. The manager talks to Mrs. Jones for a few minutes, trying to make the judgment call. She says it’s impossible for her significant other to be there. Or she flat out refuses.
So now what? Pitch it or not pitch it? The manager hands the lead to the salesperson saying, this is a one-legger, but don’t worry, I just talked with her. The salesperson’s thinking: What’s the point? He comes back and tells the manager: Yes, Mrs. Jones listened (for two-and-a-half hours) and then Mrs. Jones told me she has to talk to her husband.
Sometimes homeowners will simply lie. Of course he’ll be here! And then he’s not. So what happens if you sell for a company and you go on what you’re assured is a “two-leg” appointment and find only the wife or only the husband? Turn around and go back? Imagine the review on Yelp.
Under those circumstances—you get there and it’s a one-leg appointment—some companies’ protocol has the salesperson arranging to gather information and reschedule the appointment when all buying parties are present. It’s two-call selling by default.
Why beat your head against the wall? Companies that operate this way are fighting a battle they don’t need to fight. Besides, there are many different kinds of households today. Single men, single women, same-sex couples, extended families, stay-at-home dads, you name it. How are you going to know who the decision maker is until you’ve had a chance to go there and evaluate the project, and them, in an environment free from the need to close at all costs tonight? Many times you can’t know the particulars until you’re there. I’ve encountered husband/wife situations where the wife says: He’s not interested in any part of this, you don’t want him here. And sure enough, she was right.
Add to this a younger generation of homeowners coming onto the scene that’s rapidly changing the buying dynamic. A young (under-40) married couple many times consists of two professionals. Their time is already really at a premium, and now you’re going to insist on a two-leg call?
Make It About Them
There’s an easier way to do this. Simply to move to a two-call sales process.
First call, you don’t care who’s there. All you’re doing is collecting data. Go to the house, look the situation over, ask a lot of questions, take some pictures, and size up your homeowner. Do it on the first call the right way and that homeowner will readily agree to a second meeting, one which, you explain as you’re setting the appointment, needs to include all decision makers since you will be bringing back your proposal.
If they prefer, arrange to have that second meeting online, via screen sharing. Software exists that makes that possible. Contractors are already doing it. (We do it.) At the end of the meeting you obtain an electronic signature. They get a copy, you get a copy, and not a single tree chopped down.
Remember that you’re there to facilitate the purchase of products. That’s your purpose. The harder you make it for them to do that, the more hassle and hype you put in the process, the easier it is for them to pick up the phone and call a competitor. And maybe that competitor is already two-call selling.