News, Tips and How-Tos

How-To: Dealing with Pushy Home Improvement Salespeople

Common ways they pressure you into buying, and tips to help you fight back

Most salespeople are honorable, hardworking folks who just want to make an honest living. Unfortunately, there are a few out there who give the whole bunch a bad name. And home improvements are expensive enough (and, for some, mysterious enough) to be a draw for unscrupulous salespeople looking to take advantage of unprepared homeowners.

As DIYers, we’re not afraid to tackle almost anything with our own hands, but sometimes we need to hire someone to work on our homes. Getting a referral from a trusted source is the best way to go. When we can’t, we should all know how to recognize slimy, high pressure tactics, and how to stop them in their tracks

Here are two of the most common ploys, along with suggestions on how to deal with them:

They won’t leave 
A favorite tactic is to use the clock to wear you down or wait you out. How many times has a sales call started with the statement, “I just need a few minutes of your time…” and two hours later, they’re still talking and your eyes are glazing over. You’d sign almost anything just to get them to go away. 

How to deal with it:

  • If you’re dealing with a door-to-door salesperson, you don’t have to open the door at all. This may seem rude, but it’s not. If you’re truly not interested in purchasing anything, it saves your time and theirs. 
  • If you choose to open the door, don’t EVER let an unknown salesperson inside your home. For your safety, financial wellbeing and sanity, keep the conversation at the door. Again, this may seem rude, but it is not. You are at a significant disadvantage once you let a salesperson in. As one sales trainer said, “We’ve been trained to sell. You haven’t been trained to resist.” Be polite, but firm. Take a business card, and schedule something for later if you’re interested.
  • If you’ve scheduled an appointment with a salesperson, of course you should let them in. Just make sure you give them a window of availability upfront – then stick to it. As the closing time approaches, give them fair warning. When that time arrives, stand and open the door. 

Limited time only pricing
This one is super common. A salesperson will tell you they can only offer this “special” price during their visit or until close of business, or some other artificial timetable. Once they walk away, they say, the price goes up. This is designed to stop you from comparison shopping and to get you locked into a contract right away.

How to deal with it:

  • Comparison shop before the scheduled appointment. You can ask friends and family what they’ve paid for similar projects, or a quick Google search will give you a broad range of prices for almost any home improvement job. The “deeply discounted” price you’re being offered likely isn’t. Arm yourself with facts so you feel comfortable negotiating or rejecting the offer entirely.
  • If you’re not sure whether a price is fair, you’ll need to get additional quotes. Make it clear to the salesperson that this is a dealbreaker for you. They may magically lower the “bargain basement” price on the spot. 
  • Even if they do, don’t jump at the offer. Here’s a tip that works for every major purchasing decision: Set an “impulse spend maximum.” Decide the maximum amount of money you are willing to spend without giving yourself 24-48 hours to think seriously about it. How much money are you willing to risk on a quick purchase that may turn out to be a disappointment? $100? $250? Stick to your rule and your number, and you won’t be tempted by “limited time only” sales tactics. 

With these tips, you can hold your own with almost any salesperson, no matter how pushy. You’ve got this.

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