This isn’t in any of my books. I decided to share these methods because I spent the first 20 years of my sales career selling life insurance and then vacuum cleaners….door to door. I had a referral system when selling vacuum cleaners, but I still found it easy to knock on a few doors to get an immediate appointment to present my product. I think this will word well for you. I’ve done this approach thousands of time, and can promise that it works.
“I’m taking a survey”. I actually learned this from the first month I sold life insurance in the mid 1970s. And I used it again as a cold calling technique selling vacuum cleaners years later.
What doors would I knock on? I sold in people’s homes. These methods can also work when walking into offices or small businesses. When cold calling…or canvassing, I would pick out middle in some homes that were close together, or work in higher end mobile home parks, or high end apartment complexes. The main reason was that the doors were closer together, and I could see more people.
I’ll give the the vacuum cleaner version. Although it’s easy to adapt to any product or service.
They come to the door….”Hi. My boss sent me out to do a quick survey. It’s just a couple of quick questions I’d like to ask if I could get you together (if husband and wife were both there) for a minute.” Frankly, they either asked me to step inside or they didn’t. I didn’t want to stand there and try to convince them to let me in the door. I wanted it easy for them to say “No”. About a third would let me in.
When I was standing there, I had my short form clipped to a clipboard. And I had the questions typed out (for their benefit if the looked). The questions were mostly qualification questions to see if I thought they could buy a new vacuum cleaner…or at least qualify for financing. So I’d ask if they were the owner (unless it was an apartment)…what kind of work did they do…What year their car was (for credit)…and what kind of vacuum cleaner did they own? After a few years, I’d also ask if they ever saw a vacuum cleaner presentation…or any sales presentation in their home. That question became very important when I was trying to figure out whether they were going to be likely to buy from me..or not. That was pretty much it. If I liked what I heard, I’d offer a gift if they let me come in and show them a vacuum cleaner…and about half of them said “OK”. If I didn’t like what they said, I’d thank them for helping me with the survey and I’d be on my way….
When I sold life insurance, the questions were insurance oriented, and the answers let me know if there was an area of concern for them. I could tell by the language they used and if they sounded concerned. About half the time (if they let me in at all) they would be interested in..or at least open to talking about…a specific solution that I offered.
With homeowners, I’d start at about 6PM and work until it was dark…or until I started a presentation. It was very unusual for me to have to talk to more than 10 people, to find a great prospect.
One evening, I decided to take a new guy with me to show him how I prospected…and how easy it was. We were driving to the street I was going to work on, and he asked “What are the odds of doing a presentation tonight?”
I said “What are the odds of getting in the first door I knock on? One in six. What are the odds of me giving a sales presentation tonight? About 100%”.
One thing I liked about knocking on doors was that I could choose who I presented my product to…..The first decision was theirs..would they let me in the door. But the next decision was mine, did I want to show them my product? You see…I was just looking for that nice couple on the street that I “clicked” with. If they agreed to talk to me, but had a bad attitude, or one person there was against me being there, I’d thank them and leave. I was very easy to say “No thanks” to. In fact, I was trying to get through the “No thanks” people as fast as I could to get to that nice guy and his family that I had some rapport with, and were likely to buy from me.
Weather was a concern. If it was raining, I would work in nice apartment buildings. Yes, people in apartments still buy high end vacuum cleaners. Actually, if it was snowing, it was easier to get them to invite me in the home, because it was cold outside. But if it was raining, and I was wet, it was less likely that they would invite me in. In Winter, it got dark about 7PM, so I had to find the person I wanted to present to in about an hour. Usually not a problem.
Two quick cold calling stories;
It was decades ago, but it was the last day of the month and I was in a contest. I need one more sale and I’d get a huge bonus..even bigger than the retail price of the vacuum I was selling. The problem was, a huge storm was coming into town…and I knew I had to get an appointment quick…
So…I ran door to door…and I didn’t use any of my prepared door approach. I would just say “Hi. I sell vacuum cleaners and need to show one right now before this storm hits, and I need a sale. If I give you this cutlery set, will you promise me to decide to buy one tonight if you like it?”. Believe me, I know how that sounded. But I had to get in a door right then, and I needed a sale that night…no ifs, ands, or buts.
Amazingly, about the 8th door I knocked on the guy said “Sure. we’ve been thinking about a vacuum cleaner, what have you got?” And of course he bought. Thank you kind Sir, wherever you are.
On the last day of the year I was having a talk with one of my sales managers (I had two sales manager that worked for me). It was about 8PM and we were almost snow bound. It was a blizzard outside…and I was ready to call it a night. Honestly, I don’t remember what caused this argument, but I told him that if I wanted to, I could make a sale on New Year’s eve, in a snow storm, by knocking on doors. And he called me on it. I said “Get in the car”. We drove to a nice street and I started knocking on doors. It had been dark for over an hour…and I didn’t realize how cold it was. After About 6 doors, I was ready to concede...but I decided on one more door.
Of course the lady was nice, and asked us what we were doing on such a cold Wintry night. I told her what we were doing and she agreed to let me show her a vacuum cleaner. At about 10PM, we walked out with a check and a trade in.
OK, one more. After years of not buying life insurance, I decided on buying a million dollars in term life insurance. At my age, that was still about $4,000 a year in premium. I was at my retail store..on the computer….getting a quote to buy online. At that very moment a life insurance guy walked in my store and I went out to greet him (thinking he was a customer). He said “I’m with New York Life. May I ask who you have your life insurance with?” And I pointed at him and said in a loud voice. “You!”. And he wrote me up.