A skillful sales rep will typically start with a relevant ice breaker that immediately transitions into a brief conversation, whereas less proficient sales reps give a forced ice breaker that awkwardly leads to their initial approach. Keep in mind, I’m not supporting a 5-minute ice breaker. Effective ice breakers can take place quickly. However, I do support a genuine ice breaker that shows you have interest in the potential customer.
As I like to say, “Emphasize how to customize, humanize and personalize the experience.”
Although you have several items needing to be discussed throughout the course of a sale, don’t forget to look for opportunities to talk with people during this process. For example, while talking with a potential customer who gets interrupted by their son who is dressed for a baseball game, you should pause your sales pitch and ask a couple of questions about the boy’s team. Showing interest in others builds trust with them.
During one encounter on the doors I observed a sales rep go through the exact protocol that I’d taught him…initial approach, qualify, overcome the concern and close…it was flawless. Unfortunately, he was missing the element of the personal touch and when it came time for the customer to give her credit card information there was some hesitation. So I interjected with a simple question,
“How long have you lived in the area?”
This question spawned the makings of a great conversation. We found out where she moved from and what she did for a living. Those two extra minutes changed the entire conversation from technical to personal.
She gave us her credit card number and even admitted that she never gives her credit card information out to anybody, but apparently we weren’t just anybody. We had built a relationship and gained her trust. A simple question was all it took to turn a sales pitch into a meaningful conversation.
Look for opportunities to talk with your potential customers…don’t just try to sell them!
Last week two unrelated events took place that got me thinking about switchover etiquette in door-to-door sales. First, my wife called to let me know that a salesman knocked on our door and tried to sell her a pest control contract. She told the sales rep we already had a service to which he replied, “Who did you sign up with this year?” She explained we’ve had the same provider for several years and without hesitation the sales rep thanked her for her time and proceeded on to our next door neighbor’s house.
I appreciated, and can relate to this sales rep’s approach of moving on quickly when discovering somebody has been with the same company for an extended period of time. I’ve witnessed in the past sales reps that will slander their competitors and/or offer absurd discounts to get them to switchover. However, this sales rep graciously moved on to the next door. In fact, he didn’t even ask what company we used, he just assumed since we’d been with them for several years that our needs were being met…and he was correct.
The second event occurred while meeting with the owners of another pest control company who are competitors in the same market as my company. Our discussion included knocking strategies, area management and scope of service. We shared candid information with the hope that both companies would be able to achieve their goals by working symbiotically. In fact, we even agreed to walk away from one another’s customers in order to preserve the integrity of our relationship as well as the profitability of the pest control industry.
In contrast to this meeting, I’ve heard of situations when competing companies deliberately seek out each other’s customers and offer them absurd discounts (in some instances they even offer free services) to switchover.
So what’s the big deal? After all, it’s not personal, it’s business. I abhor this cliché and couldn’t disagree more. These predatory tactics are personal…and unfortunately when they are used, industries as a whole can suffer.
Think about it, if companies lower their cost of service (thus lowering their margins) to switchover accounts, they end up hampering their own industry. First, as prices are lowered, competitors may be forced to do the same thing which could result in margins being compromised across the board.
Second, oftentimes business owners will make up for these lost margins by cutting corners on their service. For example, in the pest control industry a company may choose to purchase cheaper products. By doing so, the quality of service decreases as does the value customers place on the service, which once again results in the industry as a whole losing value.
Another effect of lowering service costs could be to force business owners to expect more from their employees without increasing their compensation. Of course these things could result in higher employee turnover, less satisfied customers and/or less qualified personnel to do the job.
The reality is this…employers, employees and customers all lose when companies lower their service cost to switchover accounts.
So why do companies continue to do it? From my experience it oftentimes boils down to pride. Business owners want to flex their muscles and do what they can to discourage competition because they think it will make it fade away into oblivion. However, the reality is that this behavior can actually enrage competitors and force them to employ similar switchover tactics. Nobody wins when this happens.
And how much is really gained by using these predatory switchover measures? Generally, competing companies will switch over roughly the same amount of accounts and by doing so are only affecting their own bottom line which makes no business sense whatsoever. What a foolish game this is.
Companies and industries have far more to gain if competitors set and follow parameters that will enable them all to prosper. Companies and consumers all win when industry prices and margins aren’t compromised and the quality of goods and services meet the needs of their customers.
If you are knocking doors and come across somebody using your competitors service, it might be in your best interest to ask if they are satisfied and then move on to the next door if that’s the case.
Last month’s D2D Millionaire Conference was well attended by participants from all over the continent. It was enjoyable for me to have such talented and proven individuals in one room to teach and learn from. Several industries were represented all of which have and will continue to succeed as they implement the proven principles of recruiting, hiring, training and managing door-to-door sales teams.
There were several takeaways from the meeting, 3 in particular I will highlight:
#1 – Anything can be sold door to door
A well-trained, managed and dedicated sales team can be successful selling just about anything door to door. I was flattered that all participants had read (some multiple times) my book, Door-to-Door Millionaire: Secrets of Making the Sale and found that the sales principles taught were working superbly for them and their sales teams. In fact, one participant at the conference was using my sales techniques in a business to business setting and was excited to apply them in an e-commerce setting for his party supply store. Regardless the service, product or setting, the understanding and proper use of proven sales techniques is a guaranteed way to increase sales production.
#2 – Door-to-door biases can be overcome
Door-to-door salesmen don’t have the best reputations, thus it’s vital to debunk these biases by being the anti-salesman at each contact. Two of our attendees employed year-round sales teams for the HVAC industry. They mentioned that their sales reps started to notice a big change in how they were being received once they altered their approach and came across as messengers instead of salespeople as taught in Door-to-Door Millionaire. Potential customers will be much more inclined to hear you out if your approach describes how you are simply sharing information their neighbors have deemed valuable.
#3 – It’s not easy running a business
Business owners have to make important and sometimes critical decisions every day. The juggling act of pleasing clients, employees and managing expenses are just a few of these all-important decisions. The fact of the matter is that door-to-door sales have been and will continue to be a means to increase revenue with a limited amount of risk. The challenge becomes how to do it? That’s where the D2D Millionaire Conference and D2D Team come in. We teach business owners and managers how to make door-to-door sales a valuable piece of any company’s landscape.
I wish nothing but the best for those in attendance at January’s conference. I’m encouraged by their passion and desire to take their companies to the next level. If you wish to do the same, please join us for the next D2D Millionaire Conference.
Before you know it, finals week will be here and then you’ll be off to knock doors for the summer. Question is…for which company?
Nowadays there is an overabundance of companies hiring summer sales reps…which makes your decision on choosing which one to work for all the more difficult.
Having been in the door-to-door sales industry for the last 17 years, I’ve identified 6 red flags that you should be aware of when making this choice.
Red-Flag #1 How many sales reps are being hired per office?
Last year I met with 2 prospective salesmen who were going to sign with a company that was hiring 30 sales reps to knock in one market. In my opinion, that particular market would be maxed out with 15 sales reps. Thus, having a team of 30 would create 2 huge problems. First, if all 30 reps worked the entire summer, they would be knocking on the same doors 3 or 4 times…and that’s miserable! Second, which is the more likely scenario, companies overstaffing a market have built in attrition into their business model. Meaning, they plan on a certain percentage of sales reps quitting. Kind of like the Hunger Games of door-to-door sales reps. If this is the case, you might not be as important to them as they are making you believe you are.
Red-Flag #2 More sales reps = inferior training.
Companies that recruit mass quantities don’t have the infrastructure to guarantee quality training to each of its sales reps. Because I do it myself, I’m a big fan of company owners taking responsibility to train their sales reps. If the owner of a company is invested in training, then this is proof that the owner is invested in your success. The company you choose should provide you with excellent trainers and training. Don’t settle for a watered-down version of training, your success as a sales rep should matter to your company as much as it matters to you.
Red-Flag #3 Who’s recruiting you?
Be leery of companies that use recruiters who have no ties to you once the summer begins. If the person hiring you isn’t your manager or the owner, they may only be interested in getting your signature and not your overall experience or success. Recruiters are notorious for painting the perfect picture of what your summer will consist of…fun, sun and money. However, their omission of explaining the challenges and struggles of the job will not be appreciated once you realize these difficulties on your own. Recruiters get paid to recruit, managers and owners get paid when you perform.
Red-Flag #4 Was the hiring process too easy?
If a summer sales company hires you without a formal interview then they are probably just looking for warm bodies to fill positions. This mindset is common for companies that hire large sales teams and plan on a certain percentage of sales reps quitting. Companies that are truly invested in your success will carefully and thoroughly interview you before offering you a job.
Red-Flag #5 Is the compensation plan transparent?
Before making your final decision on who you will work for, you must have a complete understanding how the commission structure works and specifically how chargebacks work. Chargebacks are commissions charged backed to sales reps if their customers cancel their agreement or are delinquent in paying for their service. Some companies’ chargeback a sales rep’s entire commissions, others only chargeback a portion of commissions and some don’t chargeback any commissions.
Companies use their own discretion to determine if a customer is unlikely to pay for services depending on how many days late they are on their payment. One company may chargeback accounts that are 30 days delinquent, while another company may chargeback accounts that are 90 days or more delinquent. These numbers are subjective for each company so it is vital that you know exactly how chargebacks are determined.
You should also pay close attention to the average contract value listed on the compensation plan. This number is often inflated and shows unlikely earnings based on selling certain number of accounts. Be sure to know a realistic average contract value.
Red-Flag #6 The sexy pick.
Some companies use advertising and swag to reel in potential recruits. You should realize that the dollars spent on these types of things is taking away from the commissions you will be earning. In fact, it’s the sexy pick that often has the highest chargeback rates because they are trying to cost save from overspending their marketing budget.
Bottom line, your choice of who to work for this summer is an important one…so don’t make it without doing your homework. Talk with former sales reps, find out how long the company has been in business and look for online reviews. Trust me, the offer they tell you will only be good for a few days, will still be there once you’re ready to commit.
Remember the scene near the end of the movie Karate Kid when Daniel Larusso wins his first match at the All Valley Karate Championship? His girlfriend yells, “Daniel, you’re the best!” and then Joe Esposito’s, “You’re The Best” anthem begins as a montage is shown of Daniel-son defeating several competitors from the Cobra Kai dojo.
You can watch the scene here – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iBktYJsJq-E
Oftentimes we view our competitors as the villainous Cobra Kai, willing to do whatever it takes to defeat us and run our company into the ground. But it doesn’t have to be this way. In fact, competition can actually be healthy and improve the overall quality of our goods and services.
Last week at the D2D Millionaire Conference we discussed why establishing positive relationships with competitors would likely yield a better outcome than the contrary. One of our attendees couldn’t quite wrap his brain around this idea. His philosophy was to do whatever it took to crush his competitors yet we were preaching the benefits of taking them out to lunch.
Competitor tactics vary. Some take the low road and drop their prices to differentiate themselves from their competition. This is a simple measure, lacking in creativity and also diminishing profit margins for the industry. Wise business owners choosing to reduce price will oftentimes decrease the quality of their good and/or services to maintain the integrity of the profit margin, thus giving consumers the ultimate choice of price versus quality. Either way, keeping the integrity of the profit margin helps all competing companies.
Even in the smallest of markets, there is room for healthy competition. At the end of the day, competition should motivate us to make improvements, and in the long run, these improvements benefit our industries and most importantly our customers. Although the occasional low blow to our competitor may bring short-term pleasures, the lasting results of this action could undermine the very industries we’ve worked so hard to prove valuable.
A constructive relationship with our competitors has the potential to enrich our industries. Daniel Larusso became the All Valley Karate Champion because of the Cobra Kai and if we view our competitors as a means to assist us in improving, they can ultimately help us to become, ‘The Best Around.’