As I met up to train one of our first year sales reps he had been knocking in his self-described ‘prime-time’ area for about an hour. Unfortunately he wasn’t having a lot of success so we talked for a few minutes about what people were saying and how he could address their concerns. During the course of our conversation he mentioned that he had sold 2 accounts earlier in the day in his ‘afternoon’ knocking area. Upon hearing this I responded, “It appears that your ‘afternoon’ area is much more prime than your ‘prime-time’ area.” I asked how long it would take to drive back to his ‘afternoon’ area and explained the benefits of knocking in neighborhoods where sales have already been made. Although we were 15 minutes away, I figured it would be worth our time to drive back and continue knocking that area. Within minutes of knocking doors in this sales rep’s ‘afternoon’ area we made another sale…his 3rd of the day, a personal best.
This experience reminded me of several things:
•It’s dangerous to get in the mind-set that only certain areas should be knocked at certain times of the day. If you’ve made sales in an area, it’s best to stay there despite the time of day.
•Sales can be made in any area. Everybody wants to maximize the number of sales they make, but everybody should have the confidence that they can sell anywhere. I recommend knocking in areas out of your comfort zone at least weekly.
•When you have made sales in an area, show the service agreements (briefly) to the neighbors you are approaching. This gives you a legitimate reason to be knocking doors in an area.
•If you plan on bouncing around to different areas throughout the day, make sure the areas are within close proximity to one another. This will cut down on time spent following up with return appointments.
At the end of the day, when sales reps pigeon-hole themselves into thinking they can only be successful knocking certain neighborhoods at certain times of the day, they are limiting their potential and suffocating their growth and development as a well-rounded salesperson.
A few years ago I attended an auction for a charity event and I was fascinated with the auctioneer. Although his words per minute were off the chart, I was able to follow just about everything he was saying. He had me and the entire audience captivated. However, despite him being entertaining there was no question that he was a salesman trying to get people to spend money on the items that were up for auction. Earlier this year I knocked doors with three auctioneers…errr, three of my sales reps who very well could have been mistaken for auctioneers. Although what they were saying was spot-on, how they were saying it was extremely salesy.
Unlike auctioneers, most people speak quickly because they are either nervous or so accustomed to saying something that they mindlessly rattle it off without much thought. The sales reps in question were certainly not nervous…they had all sold door to door before, so I concluded they were in such a hurry to relay their information that they were failing to personalize the message and make the potential customer think what they were saying was specifically catered to them and/or their situation (house location, age of home, pets, kids, etc.).
As sales reps, we have to pay close attention to the speed at which we are delivering our message. Notable is the fact that speed can vary depending on the person we are trying to sell. A potential customer backing out of their driveway may need to be spoken to more quickly than a potential customer sitting on their front porch in a rocking chair. Consider mirroring the speed of the person you are talking to. Most people will speak at an average speed, thus your speed should be average or conversational.
In general, speaking at a comfortable pace will allow you to cater the message and be perceived as less of a salesperson and more as somebody who is sharing information. Don’t be in a rush to get through your pitch, instead find ways to make each approach different. Talk at a comfortable speed and leave the speed-talking to the auctioneers.
Knocking doors in Oklahoma this week with a few of our new sales reps I was reminded of a valuable skill to becoming a great salesperson…conversations.
As I observed a sales rep trying so hard to make the sale to an interested prospect, the sales rep just couldn’t quite convince her to sign up for the service. He was going through the exact protocol as I had taught him but I sensed that the potential customer didn’t know him well enough or have enough trust in him to pull the trigger and come to the decision to sign the agreement.
I interjected with a simple question, “How long have you lived in the area?” Which spawned the makings of a great conversation. We then talked about what she did for a living and that escalated the conversation to an entire new level. For the next five minutes we had a conversation…nothing about sales, and that’s what it took to earn her trust.
Not only did she sign up for service but she also gave us her credit card number to reserve a spot on the route. Admittedly, she told us that she never gives her credit card number out to anybody but apparently she trusted us enough, even though we had only known her for 15 minutes, that she was willing to give us her card number.
A simple question was all it took to have a meaningful conversation and shed the cloak of a stereotypical salesperson.
Technically I’ve been writing this book since I started as a door-to-door salesman in 1998. However, I really began organizing my thoughts and ideas last November. For four months straight, six days a week from 6am to 8am and from 10pm to midnight I wrote, re-wrote and edited what is now my finished product:
Door-to-Door Millionaire: Secrets of Making the Sale
Although grueling and frustrating at times, I can look back and appreciate the process and most importantly the final product.
I would be remiss if I didn’t thank my wife and kids for enduring this process with me. Even though my head was oftentimes stuck in a cloud of door-to-door experiences and sales techniques I was trying to put on paper, they were patient and understanding throughout.
I have found so much joy in teaching others sales and communication techniques that simplify the sales process. It’s thrilling to hear from salespeople after I’ve recently trained them about how a certain phrase or response changes an entire conversation.
What happens next is anybody’s best guess. I never wrote this book with the intention of selling thousands of copies, only with the intention to help struggling salespeople or those who desire to become better communicators.