A Tale of One Customer, Two Sales People, and Three Ruined Opportunities

A couple of days ago, my wife came in to the kitchen and said, “You won’t believe it, but there is someone at the door that wants to give us an estimate on our repairs.”You see, since settling back into our North Atlanta home months ago, I’ve known that we needed to replace a few exterior doors and shutters…but hadn’t addressed it yet.

So, I ran (well a fast walk) to the porch where I was greeted by two young men dressed in matching, company uniforms. They were pleasant and represented a national home repair company that I’m familiar with. Just as my wife had said, they explained their intention was to provide free estimates for any needed repairs or replacements.

I shared that we needed “three doors, and some shutters replaced immediately.”One of the men replied, “That’s not a problem, we can make that happen,” but then began dialing on his cell phone. We learned he had to coordinate with the dispatcher, who would schedule someone else (A bit deceiving as we thought these two would do the estimate) to come out and provide the estimate.

The man asked my wife and I, “Are you available tomorrow? It should only take about 30 minutes for our guys to measure everything up and give you the numbers.” Although I was disappointed, because I thought it was going to happen right then, I had an open hour the next day and we agreed on the time.

The following morning the dispatcher called to confirm the appointment and my excitement rose. Within a few minutes of the scheduled time, there was a knock on the door. A different pair of gentlemen confirmed they had come to take measurements and would give me a quote. I again explained that we needed the doors and shutters replaced immediately.

One of the men asked if he needed to measure windows too. I pointed out that about half of our windows had already been replaced, but he could quote the remaining twenty-two if he wished. I reemphasized the windows weren’t important right now and he could “leave me a quote on the windows”…it’s the doors and shutters that have to be fixed.

As we toured the outside of the house, one of the men accidently kicked a landscaping light, breaking it in the process. It was a solar model, which isn’t expensive and can easily be replaced, but unfortunately he didn’t make that offer. (Which made me question him, and how their crews might behave) You could tell he was embarrassed, and he did apologize, but as you can see in the picture, he simply left it lay and carried on.

After we entered the house one of the men said, “We’ll just go room by room and get the measurements for each window.” After two hours (Remember it was supposed to only take 30 minutes) of moving curtains, shutters, furniture, and taking a trip into the attic…the two men were finally ready to sit down at the table to provide our quote. As they sat, I went to get them a bottle of water, and when I returned they began spreading out their window displays for a product demonstration.

My wife and I sat patiently, because we have a soft spot for sales people, and have a good understanding of their process and training. So, we were doing our best to let them do their thing. But, as we approached the three hour mark, I finally had to cut them off and ask for the quote. To our amazement, the estimate was for 44 windows, 3 doors, and NO SHUTTERS. (And there was also no discount or dollar figure to cover the broken light)

So now, after three hours we had our quote…but the new twist was, it was a “Buy Right Now” number and unfortunately, it would go up if we didn’t sign before they left. It was an easy decision for my wife and I, and along with the “NO Thanks,” I decided (right or wrong) to share with them my thoughts on the entire process.

It’s not surprising that we haven’t heard another word from them, their supervisors, or a representative. When I was their age, I may not have told anyone either…but I would have definitely made right on the light if I broke it.

Unfortunately, many companies just play the odds, utilizing a burn and turn mentality, which hurts the overall industry and continues to give a bad name to salespeople. That might not be their strategy, but it definitely leaves me wondering by their lack of follow up.

I’m sure there are people who would say I’m too demanding…but was I really asking too much? I truly wanted them to get the sale, and we need our doors and shutters replaced. I believe they just got in their own way. It’s a pity they ruined the initial sale, the follow up windows, and the potential for me to become their best (unofficial and unpaid) salesman in our close-knit neighborhood.

The bottom line is, if they had set the right expectations from the beginning, stepped up and rectified the light issue, listened to our needs and provided the correct quote, there’s no question in our minds we’d have done business. With a little coaching and flexibility, it could have been a win-win situation. Instead, someone else will end up selling us doors and shutters.

Duane Cummings
About the author: 

In 2010 Duane Cummings founded The Sensational Group, the parent company for Sensational Literature LLC and a host of other companies and partnerships.  He is currently the Chief Executive Officer at Leadercast and previously he was the Chief Operating Officer of EFS and the General Manager of the Oklahoma City Slickers professional soccer team.  Follow Duane on Twitter and LinkedIn.