Old School vs. New School

There’s no question that you can still sell effectively by employing the one-call close. But explaining the simple truth to your prospects will get you just as much, and more besides

December 10, 2015

What’s the problem in walking out of the house with a contract on your first and only sales appointment? Absolutely nothing. It’s great—provided that homeowners have a clear idea of what they’re getting. The advantage of one call over two is obvious: It’s easier to tally a price, write it on a slip of paper, and push it across the table than it is to gather information and return with a proposal that includes a detailed scope of work and line item pricing. If your appointments are Do or Die, you can run more of them.

Step by Step

All selling systems move through a series of steps designed to build value to the point where the price seems reasonable and prospects give themselves permission to buy. That’s true whether you’re making one call or 10. But in one-call selling, everything the salesperson does and says is geared toward maneuvering homeowners into a decision, rather than ensuring their satisfaction. I know because I did it for years.

For instance, as you’re driving in, you’re checking out the make and model of the car, the condition of the house. You’re looking for bicycles and the sandbox. You’re collating data that you can put to work in the call. You knock and the show starts. Say you arrive for a 6 p.m. appointment at 5:55. The door opens. You greet the homeowner, look at your watch and say: “I hope I’m not late?” Now that you’ve established that you’re punctual in an industry known for lateness, you introduce yourself, say your name, and ask theirs. Immediately you make a point of including their name in every third sentence. “So, Rob, how long have you guys lived here? And do you like the neighborhood, Rob?”

Get Them to Say Yes

Your aim is to get them to say yes to anything. Anything. “I think we had some rain last night?” They nod. Every small yes paves the way for that big Yes at the close. You’re inching your way in. They offer you coffee. You say: “Only if you’re having some too.”

This approach assumes that the prospects are morons who know nothing about the house they live in; only that they know they have a problem and want a price.

Now you go to measure. The point is not so much to measure as to identify problems. Likely there are many because people live around their problems. You point them out, one by one, and piece by piece you demolish their defenses, just like you’ve been taught.

The methodology of tie-down questions and statements—“So, John and Mary, would you agree that you could save yourselves $7,000 by siding your house in vinyl rather than repainting it every five years?”—is designed to make it harder and harder for prospects to say no. At closing, the only way they can refuse to do business with you is by denying themselves.

I call this Old School selling. And it still works if you’re running canvassing or show/event (that is, outbound) leads. But say someone’s contacted you via Angie’s List or Google. They’re in the market for whatever you sell and they probably know all about your company and your product. If that’s the case, these methods may immediately strike them as false.

Time to Level

What I call New School Selling centers on one principle: level with them.

Arrive, introduce yourself in a professional manner, and proceed to gather as much information as you need, documenting what you find using a phone camera. Get in the attic to check ventilation. Go on the roof and pull up some shingles. Meanwhile, be an educator. If you’re selling windows, explain that there are two ways to install them, a pocket installation or full frame, and what the differences and advantages are.

They may know a lot from their online research. But what they likely don’t know is how to integrate that information so that it makes sense in the context of their home and its condition. Now make an appointment to come back with a proposal that details what your company will do and breaks out project costs, so they know what they’re getting for what they’re paying.

Same Difference?

Old School or New School, a company can go in either direction. You can aim to get a contract in one visit and close at somewhere between 20 and 30 percent. Or you can educate homeowners, help them solve a problem, tell them the truth … and close at somewhere between 20 and 30 percent.

The point is that if you put the same amount of energy into teaching salespeople about the product, how it works and how to install it versus teaching them how to artfully manipulate the homeowner, your closing rate may not change. But you’ll get few to no cancels. You’ll also get referrals, repeat business, and great reviews. And your business will run much more efficiently.

About the Author

About the Author

Mike Damora is vice president of sales and marketing at K&B Home Remodelers, in Succasunna, N.J. Reach him at madamora@kbhomesnj.com. Follow him on Twitter @madamora.



Hmmm...I'm sorry that you believe that "old" school is a process of manipulation and not telling the truth. 

However, IMO, "new school" is NOT about giving every person that you go out to see a proposal and "telling" them the truth...

Unless you've educated the prospect AND told them the truth, you are wasting your time.  I also agree with the Sandler System that the best sales person is the untrained sales person (in whatever industry) because they ask numerous questions.  Without finding out what their real pain is and how much they're able/wanting to spend...that "truthful" proposal you just did, "new school", for free is worthless...and cancellation won't take into effect because you didn't get all the information you needed to give them what they want/need.

The truth is often a tricky and elusive mistress with regard to an in-home sales pitch.  What the gurus of old and new teach and preach is a process of selling that does in fact educate, while also manipulating. Sounds like you’ve drunk the Kool Aid and it still tastes good.  I empathize.  Like rounds in a boxing match, a sales presentation is made up of steps.  And while there are many truths told (one would hope); for example, regarding energy efficiency, materials, installation process, etc… the moment you begin to close along the lines of, “today and today only” you can you get the “special” price, in order to entice an unsuspecting mark into signing on the line that is dotted, you are being less than truthful, to put it mildly.

A man once propositioned a woman by offering a million dollars if she would sleep with him.  As she weighed the rather outrageously generous offer, the man noticed her anticipation at the thought of such a windfall for so little work. She agreed.  The man then asked if she would still entertain the proposal, for only a dollar.  The woman annoyingly retorted, “What do you think I am?”  To which the man frankly replied, “I’ve already established what you are, we’re just talking price.”

Regardless of how much truth you pepper into your presentation, if it’s followed by even one “act now” proposition, we’ll know what you are too.

With all due respect to Sandler’s regurgitation and repackaging of Napoleon Hill, Norman Vincent Peale and Dale Carnegie, people aren’t as uninformed as they used to be.  There’s this thing called the Internet, perhaps you’ve heard of it?

Mike, I couldn't agree more with your comment. I've had people in my home for quotes and the first ones out on their ear are the ones that patronize, want to talk to the "man of the house," and state that this offer is only good for today...tomorrow the price will be higher!



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