The first time it happened, it was funny. A builder customer called to schedule an appointment in our showroom for one of his clients.

“They need cabinets,” was all the builder told us. The project was a new addition to a home in a modest neighborhood.

The client came in, took a tour of the showroom, and sat down with our salesman. Since we had picked up a set of prints from the builder, we had a first-draft design completed to review. The client made some changes to the design and selected a very nice, semi-custom cabinet line in cherry.

Not a word was spoken about price.

The following morning, the salesperson worked up a quote, applied the builder's markup, and faxed it to the homeowner. They called with a few questions about the design, then signed the quote and faxed it back; we then forwarded it to the builder.

The next day, the salesman found a fruit basket and a thank you note from the builder waiting on his desk. It turns out, the builder had given the clients a $4,000 allowance for kitchen cabinets. We sold them a package worth $12,000.

Imagine that: The sale increased by 300 percent! Had he known the allowance, the salesman would have shown the client stock cabinets and it would have been a much smaller sale. We had a good laugh about that one.

Sometimes, it is best not to limit yourself as you interact with the client. Your expectations of their budget can rule out the presentation of higher-end items. On the other hand, sometimes not knowing the price allowance can come back to bite you. The second time we ran into a similar situation with a homeowner, it wasn't a laughing matter.

Different builder, same salesperson. The clients were building a new home on a very large tract of land. When the couple came in, they were immediately interested in the most expensive cabinets we displayed. Again, the builder didn't inform us of the allowance, so the salesperson allowed the client to steer the product selection.

The clients went from display to display choosing options and amenities. The salesman diligently incorporated them all into the kitchen design. This time, after faxing off the quote, he didn't receive a fruit basket. Instead, he got an earful from the builder.