Top Ten Tips For Door to Door Sales

Door-to-door sales is a demanding profession, but it’s also extremely rewarding when done well. A lot of sales and canvassing mastery comes from practice and experience, but these 10 tips will give you a strong foundation.

1. Constantly Learn More About Sales

“The best investment you can make is an investment in yourself…. The more you learn, the more you’ll earn.” - Warren Buffett

It doesn’t matter if you’re a canvassing rookie, a vet, a manager, or a CEO-- there is always something to improve, and door-to-door sales is one of the industries that MOST rewards you for mastering your craft. If you make it a habit to regularly spend time learning from sales masters and teachers, you’ll dominate the porches and grow as a rep and as a leader.

There’s no excuse to not be learning every day; quality resources are cheaper and more accessible than ever. Sign up for a free Audible trial and listen to books from door to door or on the road. Or invest in the Kindle app so that you always have a book with you when you find those few minutes of free time. You can even download an app like Libby and borrow digital library books on your phone or tablet.

If you’re looking for book recommendations, check out our list of the Top 8 Books for Door-to-Door Sales.

2. Maintain Confidence While Selling

When you’re a canvasser, you’re the face of the company for everyone you interact with. If you’re dealing with self doubt, you’re going to project that doubt to the people you speak with. To your prospect, that gets interpreted as doubt in the product, doubt in the company, the brand, and everything else.

That’s why you need to have enough confidence to let every prospect interact with the most optimistic version of you. It can be hard to give the hundredth door the same level of optimism as the first door, so here are some tricks to keep a level-headed, positive attitude:

Stay grateful.

Yeah, easier said than done in the middle of a day where everything seems to be going wrong. But scientists have found that being actively grateful is one of the best ways to expel toxicity from your mind. It’s even an effective weapon against more serious problems like depression and anxiety.

If you’re in a rut, take a few minutes and take your mind off your problems and focus on being grateful for what you have. Write out a short list. Take a moment and meditate on it. Then get back to work with a sense of peace and a positive presence.

Set long term goals to overcome temporary setbacks.

Did you know that the stock market has never had a negative return over a 20 year period? Yeah, we’ve had big crashes like we did in 2008, but the market always recovers (it usually takes only a few years), and it never fails if you give it enough time. Of course, people still lose a lot of money during crashes because they panic, cash out, and essentially seal their losses.

Selling is the same way. You’re going to have rough doors, rough days, and maybe a rough week or two. But don’t cash out. Instead, set a long term goal and stay persistent. Remember that setbacks are temporary. Just keep improving and keep striving. Don’t panic. Be patient with yourself, work hard, and let the rest take care of itself.

Bring a reminder of something positive.

Once you’ve set your goal or identified what you want to accomplish, make sure that you always keep an external reminder. When you’re having a difficult time, it can be hard to create positivity in yourself out of nothing. But if you keep an external reminder of what you’re trying to accomplish, it can help transport you to a more optimistic state of mind.

It’s a simple thing, too. Keep a picture of your family as your phone background. Buy a hotwheels version of your dream car and keep it in your pocket. Get a fake $100,000 bill and carry it in your wallet. You know better what your goals are, but make sure you find a way to take them with you everywhere for when you need the reminder.

3. Become a Trusted Advisor

You’ve probably heard the term “trusted advisor” before, but just in case-- a trusted advisor is the type of salesperson that a client trusts to advise them on the subject at hand. That means the client doesn’t question your motives, doesn’t feel unhealthy pressure, and (most importantly) doesn’t get offended or put off when you disagree with them.

People actually like to find trusted advisors in life. Interviews of Warren Buffett garner millions of views on YouTube, because people trust his financial advice. Some will pay thousands to attend a Tony Robbins seminar because they hope he’ll help them improve their lives. As long as people trust that someone cares about their well-being, they’ll be open to their advice.

Of course, you’re no Warren Buffet or Tony Robbins. (Yet.) So here are some tips for reaching trusted advisor status with someone that doesn’t recognize you from TV:

  • Know the product - This one’s a no-brainer. We listen to Warren because he’s one of the wealthiest men alive. We listen to Tony because he drastically changes people’s lives. If you want people to listen to you, you need to be an expert about the product you’re selling, about the market it exists in, and about the way it addresses the needs of your customers.
  • Actively listen, acknowledge and ask questions - As a trusted advisor, your primary responsibility is to establish a connection between the needs of the customer and the solutions that your product/service provides. If you’re not paying attention to the customers’ needs, how could you ever accomplish that? Listen to what they’re saying. Ask questions to gain deeper understanding. Seek to build and demonstrate empathy.
  • Don’t be scared to challenge preconceptions - A lot of times it can be hard to challenge a customer directly without feeling like you’re being overbearing. The trick here is to establish early on with your customer that a) you have the kind of product and market knowledge that makes your opinions valuable and b) you care enough about their results that your disagreements with them don’t come across as greedy or self-centered. If a customer trusts that you’re both working together on a common goal (improving their life) then they will be open to your advice, even if it challenges their beliefs. In fact, you’ll actually gain respect from customers when you take this approach. Nobody likes somebody who just agrees with them all the time.
  • Focus on relationship building - Obviously being an active listener is going to be a great first step here. But if your initial pitch is the only time that the customer feels as though they’re being listened to, you’re going to have a tough time building a business long term. Everyone will go to online reviews to learn about your product, and it’s amazing how much stronger leads are that come from customer referrals. Cultivating customer relationships will give you more leads, and when you listen to compliments and complaints about your offering, it will help you improve for future customers.

4. Stay Organized

When it comes to door-to-door sales, there are a lot of negative consequences for not getting organized. You’re definitely going to let leads and deals slip through the cracks. You’re going to work an area poorly. You’re going to waste time on non-selling activities, like spending too much time in the car or wasting time inefficiently tracking your progress.

You need to get organized, and you need to automate things as much as possible in order to maximize time selling. We’ve built our app around this mindset, and you’ll find that we make your team much more organized and efficient. But no matter where you’re at, you can find ways to be smarter with your time.

Reduce travel time

Every smartphone has mapping capabilities, so take advantage of them. We’ve recently built a route planner directly into our app so you can travel quickly between appointments and leads.

The great thing about a map is that it gives you a visual reference point for your work. It can be hard to plan when you’ve just got lists of names and addresses in front of your face. A map shows you everything around your area: leads, customers, salespeople, everything. This makes it much easier to make smart decisions about how you’re using your time.

Schedule wisely

Be sure to plan around your appointments. If you know you have to be in a certain area at some point during the day, plan around that area. You don’t want to commit tons of time to an appointment that cancels and not have a gameplan. Make sure you have a Plan B or C and you’ll avoid wasting time when things change throughout the day. Trust us, it’ll happen.

Canvass intelligently

A lot of opportunities are lost when canvassers don’t track their progress through their area or use that data strategically. Obviously every area and industry is going to have a different approach to this, but here are a few different approaches that work:

  • Label every house you knock on in the morning and then revisit that same area at a later evening and knock every house that didn’t answer. That way every house is knocked at different times of day, increasing the chance of a conversation.
  • Start working around current customers and move outward. Ask them for referrals and use their names in conversation with their neighbors.
  • Use satellite view to locate homes that are ideal customers for your industry. For example, is their roof ideal for solar panels? Do they already have a pool? Are there signs of roof damage? Etc.
  • Use DataGrid to identify ideal customers by income, credit score, renting/buying, time in house, and more. Prioritize areas that are most likely to buy.

5. Build Strong Habits

We highly recommend the book The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg.

Everyone has big dreams, but they think that they have to do huge things to accomplish those dreams. They get so overwhelmed by their own aspirations that they get analysis paralysis and are sluggish to accomplish anything, much less the big things they had planned. They forget that everything great is accomplished through consistent daily effort. In other words, greatness is a habit.

Everyone has habits, whether they know it or not. It’s simply the way the brain works. But the real power of habit, as Duhigg says, “is that your habits are what you choose them to be.”

When you learn how your brain creates habits, you can figure out how to hack the brain and start replacing bad habits and building good ones.

Here’s a quick overview: every habit is centered around 3 things: a cue, a routine, and a reward. Maybe you’d like to create a better morning routine. A lot of people wake up, hit snooze a few times, pick up their phones and catch up on news, Instagram, etc., and then get ready for work. The reward is more sleep, a comfortable morning, a slow start to the day.

But a comfortable morning is not a productive morning. So, if you can recognize the cue, you can alter the behavior, and change the reward. Lazy mornings usually happen because people keep their phone next to their bed and use it as their alarm. When you wake up, your phone is already in your hand, so of course you’re going to start your day by checking everything on it.

But if you change the cue by putting your phone across the room, you have to get up to turn off the alarm. When you’re standing there, you’re much less likely to spend much time on your phone. With the cue changed, it’s easier to change the routine to something like reading or exercise. As a result you’ll be rewarded with a healthier body, a sharper mind, and an all-around better day. These rewards will cement the new behavior and over time you’ll have a much stronger daily performance that is grounded in strong habits.

When you know how the brain works, you can recognize the cues and rewards that you’ve been giving it and change them to eliminate unhealthy habits and build stronger ones. Over time, these habits will make you stronger, wealthier, and wiser.

6. Embrace Discomfort

“You are in danger of living a life so comfortable and soft, that you will die without ever realizing your true potential.” - David Goggins, Can’t Hurt Me

Door-to-door sales, by its nature, pulls you out of your comfort zone-- so you might not think that this applies to you. But there are a lot of ways that you can crawl back into that comfort zone, no matter your experience or success in the industry.

Maybe you give yourself an easy day after closing a deal. Maybe you spend longer at lunch than you need to because you don’t want to get back on the doors. Maybe you’re far enough ahead on the leaderboards that you don’t need to give 110% anymore. Whatever your reason, comfort will aggressively look for sneaky ways back into your life.

That’s unacceptable. Here’s an anti-comfort battle plan:

  • First of all, identify comfortable areas of you life and set goals to make them uncomfortable. Make them small goals at first, so that you build momentum and confidence moving forward.
  • Control your inner voice. Your brain might not want to welcome more discomfort into your life. The difference between a catastrophe and a catalyst is attitude. Learn to silence the voice that says “I’m not strong enough” and replace it with the one that says “This will make me stronger.”
  • Seek balance. We’re not saying that you need to ruthlessly eliminate all forms of comfort in your life. Give everything you have to your work, but don’t hesitate to set aside to relax, meditate, and prepare to come back stronger.

7. Establish (And Constantly Improve) a Sales Process

No matter your industry/segment/area, every company has a process that prospects go through in order to become a customer. But if you’re not thinking strategically about that process, you might be selling inefficiently.

If you need to build a sales process, here’s a few quick steps:

  1. Outline the different steps of your sales process. What process does your prospect usually go through to become a customer? Write this down. It could be as simple as: contact, qualification, presentation, close, onboarding. Start simple and then get more specific over time.
  2. Track information about your performance on each step. This will start giving you actionable info about your sales teams and their performance. How many of your contacts are qualified? How many of your presentations turn into closes? How many of your new customers successfully make it through onboarding?
  3. Look for opportunities to improve each step. Once you’re tracking numbers, you can find weak spots based on your data. Then, you can start repairing them. Get better at canvassing in your target market. Craft a more effective presentation. Create a smarter onboarding process. Making specific improvements is much more effective than making general, blind improvements.

8. Don’t Be Scared to Ditch the Script

Just because you have a sales process doesn’t mean that you can let yourself become a slave to it. Don’t get us wrong-- it’s really important for a sales rep, especially a beginner, to find a groove and get confident with a structured pitch. When you practice and rehearse a presentation, you’ll become a stronger salesperson faster.

But eventually, just like every professional, you’ve got to figure out your own stride.

A great way to start doing this is by riffing off your script. When you go to different houses, treat them like different houses. Think about what happens when you are hanging out one-on-one with different friends or family members. None of your conversations are identical. You know that different people like, think, or are concerned about different things, and so you’re going to talk about those things.

Apply this concept to your pitches. Are you speaking to every single door the exact same way? Obviously your conversations are going to be similar, but if you treat every person the same, it’s going to seem fake or robotic. There won’t be much sincerity, and the prospect will be turned off by your approach.

There’s a few ways you can break this habit:

  • Investigate the house as you approach. (Of course, don’t be creepy about it.) Just be observant. What’s in the yard? What kind of vehicle do they have? Any flags? How’s the yard look? These are all clues about the type of person that will answer the door. Incorporate what you observe into the conversation. For example, you could say something like “I love the Warriors bumper sticker. Are you optimistic about next season?”
  • We already mentioned this, but don’t be scared to listen to prospects and then change your approach based on what you’re hearing. Don’t give them a crappy solution to their problem just because it fits within your script and is something you’re used to saying. They’ll sense it and feel unsatisfied.
  • Do your research. Talk to the reps who are outperforming you. What do they do differently? What are they saying that you aren’t? Read books by the top salespeople and ask yourself the same questions. Then adapt based on what you learn.

It might be intimidating to stray from what you’re used to saying, but when you do it enough, you’ll feel much more in control. It’s worth a small period of uncertainty to help your customers feel as though you’re treating them as individuals with specific problems.

9. Honesty is the Best Policy

Don’t over promise

If your company can’t do something, saying that it will is only going to guarantee a bad experience down the line. It might be tempting when you’re in someone’s home to just say whatever you need to say in order to get a demo or close a deal, but don’t. That’s never going to result in a good customer experience.

You might think that one bad customer experience is an isolated incident and it’s worth closing the deal, but those “isolated incidents” add up fast. In the internet age, almost every bad experience gets exposure.

It’s like your parents and teachers taught you: every time you lie, you’re going to just end up telling another lie to get out of it. Trying to lie your way into a deal might work at first, but down the line you’re going to be stuck trying to dig your way out of a terrible reputation. Sometimes, that bad reputation is fatal.

Don’t cut corners

It will also be tempting sometimes to leave a few problems unsolved and figure that the technician or customer service will handle it. This is a mistake. Chances are your techs or customer service reps won’t handle the problem any better than you. Plus, you don’t want the problem to fester over time. Resolve everything you can as soon as possible.

Don’t force it

You’re going to interact with people who simply aren’t a good fit for your product. You usually have to be deceptive in these situations to make something that isn’t a good idea look like it’s a good idea. You may think you’re an awesome salesperson for closing these kinds of deals, but you’re doing more harm than good. These deals almost always churn down the line, costing you time and resources.

It’s okay to concede that someone just isn’t your ideal customer. Use that information to adapt your approach, target high-propensity areas, or even make product and service adjustments to reach a broader market.

Evolve With the Times

You wouldn’t believe what is becoming possible in this industry. In a tech-driven world, door-to-door sales feels old school. And that’s why we love it. We’re going to get out of the office, put down the phone, and talk to people, face-to-face.

But just because we love the old school aspect of outside sales doesn’t mean we can be closed off to all the possibilities that tech has to offer us. We built SalesRabbit around the idea that canvassing reinforced by tech would be a much more effective approach to sales. And we’re still building around that idea.

Here’s a glimpse into what we and other companies are building to drive door-to-door into the future:

  • Boost- Until Boost, door-to-door companies haven’t had a cost-effective marketing strategy that matched the way they sell. Boost lets you send ads to web connected devices and services in a specific area. For example, say you’re canvassing the River Heights neighborhood next month. Boost lets you select that area and blast your ads to all the phones, TVs, and computers in the area. Your ads will appear on Spotify, ESPN, Roku, NBC, Fox, CBS, Pandora, and more. This will generate awareness for your brand and make people much more open to your canvassing. You can even target a single building-- maybe a university campus on career day?
  • Zapier- We use Zapier to connect SalesRabbit to a lot of the services you already use, like G-Mail, Calendars, SalesForce, Google Sheets, Slack, and thousands more. Zapier makes it easy to connect all your apps and build workflows that automate everything. An action in one app (say you create a lead in SalesRabbit) triggers an action in another (like adding that lead to your Google Sheets) so that you don’t have to spend time doing it manually.
  • Digital Contracts- Paper is too expensive and often has a tendency to disappear. It’s also a pain to have to carry around with you. We’ve built digital contracts that you can populate with whatever information you need and that the customer can sign on the porch. We’ve also got built in credit checks and title checks, so you can qualify your prospects before moving on to the contract stage.
  • And More! We’re constantly adding new features. Recently, we’ve added a route planner, credit checks, file attachments, and others. We’re doing whatever we can to make your job easier.

If you’re looking for more tips, check out our Resources page. We’re always posting the latest on outside sales tips and best practices.