First, what is a one-legger? In the in-home sales world, there are many times two decision-makers are involved in a major buying decision. A major decision maymikebe new windows, a roof, construction renovations, a furnace, central air conditioning, and many, many more. It is always to a salesperson’s benefit if both decision-makers are present during your visit to the home. Let’s be realistic, though. There are going to be many cases where both decision-makers are not there. This is what we call a one-legger.

 Many salespeople and many companies will not run appointments unless both decision-makers are there. This is a big mistake. If you are not running these appointments or insisting on a night or weekend appointment when both decision-makers are present, you could be leaving many good sales behind. You also may be creating ill-will amongst many homeowners. There are many situations where a homeowner is looking to make a decision in a certain timeframe and, by delaying the process for them, you’re not helping. Many homeowners will sacrifice a day off to stay home and get their estimates, and if you’re not willing to be there on that day, you’ve lost your opportunity. Many homeowners take an approach where one spouse gathers the information while the other one is at work and they sit down together, alone, and make a decision. Sometimes it’s simply a matter of one spouse stays home with the kids, the other has to work some crazy hours to make ends meet. Whatever the situation, you need to evaluate this when the initial call comes in and adjust your approach to the situation in a way that helps everyone, not frustrates them.

 For example, Mrs. Smith calls in and informs you that she and Mr. Smith want to get an estimate to change their furnace. She needs an appointment at 2 p.m. because that’s the time their four-year-old twins take a nap. The nap usually lasts about an hour-and-a-half to two hours. The evenings don’t work because her husband doesn’t get home until 7 p.m. and bedtime routines start around 8 p.m. Saturdays are out because of Little League, dance classes, and other activities surrounding their busy life.

 First, welcome the appointment, genuinely, and empathize with their situation. Ask Mrs. Smith if she was referred to you by one of the neighbors, a friend, or someone else. Even if Mrs. Smith informs you that she got your name from an advertisement, welcome the information and thank her for calling. I suggest giving her a couple of references right then and there that she can call prior to you coming out, so she understands what to expect from a company like yours. Also, if time allows on this initial phone call, find out how much information, if any, she has gotten on furnaces and the process of getting one installed. Obviously, this also will be used if it has to do with plumbing, electrical, or any renovations. Again, if time allows on this phone call, give Mrs. Smith useful information that will help her and her husband make a smart buying decision. By doing this, you’re creating a great educational, helpful, and professional experience from the beginning. Do you think you might be setting yourself apart from other companies by handling things this way? The answer is yes. Also, any conversations that may take place between Mr. and Mrs. Smith prior to you coming out are going to be positive.

 Now it’s estimate day. You certainly want to make sure you follow all the steps from my previous two articles “Plan Your Close in Advance” and “Miracle Closing Technique.” I’ve experienced some pretty amazing results over the 20 years I’ve been in this business by following these steps every time. I’ve had customers decide to move forward right then and there, in spite of what I was told from the initial phone conversation. There have been times I’ve suggested we call the spouse while I’m there and been able to close it right then and there. I’ve also received phone calls the day after the estimate from the spouse thanking me for being so helpful, professional, and then booking the job. I’ve been able to maintain about a 40 percent closing rate with what we call one-leggers by handling the estimates this way. It takes time, it takes discipline, and it takes patience. Always call and confirm your appointment either the night before or the morning of the appointment. Be on time. Mrs. Smith has already explained the timeframe and the complexities of her day. Again, it’s important to go through all the structure steps referred to in my previous articles while visiting with Mrs. Smith.

 An important thing to be aware of is that if you are able to accomplish the suggested steps in your initial phone screening, and if you show professionalism, attention to Mrs. Smith, and ability to communicate on a level where there is engagement and back and forth conversation during the appointment, you can close the sale. Be a help to this person, not a hindrance. There are plenty of situations out there where only one person can be present for an appointment. Don’t pass on the appointment because of this. Embrace the way they make a decision and embrace their situation.

Excerpted from the book,Selling at the Kitchen Table: A Contractor’s Guide to Closing the Deal, by Michael O’Grady. The full version of the book is available at