The Sales Game: Estimates vs. One Call Closing

Should you leave estimates behind or try to close prospects on the spot?
Dec 26 / Noah Lantz
Sales are crucial to the success of your gutter company.

When you write every deal you can, from the big jobs to the small jobs, the numbers add up and the money follows. Therefore, success in the gutter sales game, as in all sales, is a numbers game. The more leads you run, the more deals you close. Period.

That being said, there are different ways to play the numbers game.
Should you simply leave estimates behind...or should you take a more sales-oriented approach where you measure a home, present a solution, and attempt to close it on the spot?

The “estimate game” relies on low-profit margins and high volume to close business, while the one-call close approach is more aggressive and allows for higher profit margins. As a gutter company owner, you must decide which of these two approaches is best suited to your needs - and aspirations.

The Estimate Game

Most gutter companies fall into the estimate game by default. An employee drives out to the location, takes measurements, and leaves an estimate behind or sends it via email later. In many cases, the estimator never speaks directly with the homeowner.

Once the proposal is delivered, it’s up to the prospect to take the next step and schedule the job.  Assuming your prices are competitive, you can reasonably expect to close 35%-45% of your prospects by simply leaving estimates behind. 

Estimate Game Advantages

Anybody can do it

Excellent communication skills are not required to “succeed” in the estimate game. Most people can walk around a property and estimate how much it will cost to put up gutters with minimal training and preparation.

Estimators can handle more leads

It is entirely possible to do something like eight to ten estimates a day per estimator when you’re merely planning on leaving a price behind. 

Easier to control results

With estimates you are essentially bidding on jobs. If you need to win more bids, you can try changing what you charge. Drop your rate and you should, theoretically, see more work come in.

This also makes the estimate game predictable. All things being equal, you can typically move the needle by changing your pricing.

Easier to get started

The estimate model works well with smaller companies who can’t afford dedicated salespeople. Installers, or the company owner, can step in to write an estimate and then go about their day.


Simpler isn’t always better. While easier, the estimate game can only get you so far.

Lower commissions

Estimators make less money than good salespeople. As an employer, this can make retaining talent difficult. As an estimator, it means less money in your pocket. You have an easy job, but it pays accordingly.

Estimators cede deals to more aggressive competitors

Whether it’s another estimator who undercuts your price or a salesperson who pushes and pushes until the deal is closed, your competition will find ways to close your prospects without you at the table.

This is especially true in the gutter industry, where a low barrier to entry means new competition is constantly emerging and bidding on the same projects.

Marginal profits

The estimate sales model relies on putting together a pricing scheme that appeals to the broadest customer base possible. This results in a marginal profit rate.

Leading us to our final point…

The “estimate game” makes it difficult to scale a gutter company.

Buying new trucks, hiring/retaining staff, and opening up new branches all require significant investment. Without high profit margins, these essential steps to growth can end up out of reach for gutter companies who don't take steps to improve their sales practices. Gutter companies who simply leave estimates behind instead of actively selling customers will struggle to scale past $500,000 in revenue.

If you’re satisfied with slow growth and relatively low profit margins, there’s nothing wrong with simply leaving estimates behind and calling it a day. That’s how most gutter companies operate. However, if you have higher aspirations, there’s a different way to play the numbers game of sales...

The One-Call Close

This approach is quite different. Rather than simply leave an estimate behind, the one-call close approach pushes salespeople to try and close prospects during their first visit to the house.

This is an aggressive approach, but it can work if companies do it well. Your average salesperson will close about 50% of their prospects, while top performing salespeople will close about 60-70% of prospects using this methodology. 


Shorter sales cycle

Rather than wait for prospects to call in to book a job, the one call close methodology places the impetus on the salesperson to close the prospect during their first visit. This is obviously a more efficient way of closing business and making the most out of each of your leads.

Higher profit margins

To help close the deal right away, salespeople who adopt the one call close methodology will engage prospects with a presentation. This allows you to build value in your product and differentiate it from your competition. Once you’ve raised the value of your product or your service, you can then ask for a higher price in return.

Reduced competition

By closing the sale during the initial visit, the salesperson can reduce the chances of the homeowner seeking other quotes or comparing prices with other competitors.

A better customer experience

A salesperson who uses the one call close approach should focus on educating the customer about the product and its benefits. By providing the customer with all the information they need to make an informed decision, the customer is more likely to feel confident and satisfied with their purchase.

And instead of using a one-size-fits-all approach, the salesperson can take the time to understand the customer's specific needs and offer customized solutions. This can help the customer feel that their unique situation is being taken into consideration.

When you combine these elements together, you get increased customer satisfaction along with more profit. That’s a win-win.


Although the one call close methodology is more profitable, it is the harder road to go down, especially for those without sales experience.

Unfortunately, most gutter contractors do not have the necessary skill set to implement one call closing well.

Here are some of the disadvantages of pursuing a one call close sales methodology.

It (can be) high pressure - for everyone involved.

The one call close approach places high expectations on both salespeople and prospects. Homeowner’s can feel rushed to make a quick decision, while salespeople will feel pressured to make a quick sale.

The type of salespeople you hire and your sales script play a pivotal role in how high-pressure your sales presentations will be. Ideally, sales calls feel more like a friendly conversation between friends than a zero sum battle of wills where one person wins and the other loses.

Trust issues

Some homeowners may be skeptical of salespeople and/or companies who use one call close techniques and may feel that they are being pressured into making a snap decision.

More expensive

One-call close salespeople spend more time with each prospect - so you’ll need more of them to cover the same amount of territory as a company using estimators. If you are setting appointments with every prospect and walking through a presentation, you can, at best, expect to run about four leads a day per sales rep.

They’ll also demand higher commissions due to the pressure and skill involved with the sales process. You’ll make up for this with a higher gross, but it will be more expensive to get started.

It’s hard to find salespeople who can effectively implement one-call close techniques.

    Implementing one call close techniques requires a set of skills and personality traits that not all salespeople possess. One call closing requires:

  • Sales skills: A one call close approach requires strong sales skills, such as the ability to build rapport quickly, handle objections, and close the sale effectively. Not all salespeople have these skills, and it can take years of practice to develop them.
  • Product knowledge: A salesperson who uses a one call close approach needs to have a deep understanding of the product they are selling - in our case, gutters - so they can explain the product's features and benefits clearly and concisely to the customer.
  • Confidence: A one call close requires confidence on the part of the salesperson. They need to be able to create a sense of urgency in the customer and persuade them to make a decision quickly. This can be difficult for salespeople who lack confidence or are uncomfortable with high-pressure sales tactics.
  • Mindset: Finally, a one call close approach requires a particular mindset. The salesperson needs to be focused on closing the sale during the initial meeting and be willing to push the customer to make a decision. Some salespeople may be uncomfortable with this mindset or prefer a more consultative sales approach.

    Finally, if you go all-in with the one-call close method...

You’ll limit your market to the residential space.

Builders will not be pressured into purchasing gutters, especially at a significantly higher rate than what subcontractors charge.

If you decide to implement a one-call close approach, consider offering builders an exclusive rate - if you want to earn their business.


So which one of these approaches do we recommend at the Rain Gutter Association?

If you want to quickly grow a company, you will need the higher margins offered by a one-call close approach. You’ll also need to hire out or develop the marketing and branding skills necessary to feed the lead generation machine required to support it.

On the other hand, if you are content with building out a small gutter company, the estimate model will typically keep you afloat - albeit at a much smaller scale.

Regardless, you can learn a great deal about sales and marketing by taking our gutter sales course. Even if you go with the estimate model, you’ll inevitably find yourself in situations where homeowners will want to learn more about your company and your solution. Learning how to advance your proposal and negotiate will serve you well in these instances.

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