Top 16 Door-to-Door Salesperson Tips 2021

Check out these top door-to-door salesperson tips for improving your results, including the best strategies for cold canvassing.

Door-to-door sales can be a major lead generator for your business and a great way to make money as a salesperson. Getting started can be nerve-racking, and we want to make sure you feel as prepared as possible. To help, we talked with experienced sellers and scoured the web to compile the best tips that develop your skills as a door-to-door sales professional.

1. Do Homework on Your Ideal Customer

Every marketing process starts with the same step: Identify your ideal customer. When doing this, you are answering the following basic questions about prospects you hope to speak with:

  • How old are they?
  • What do they do?
  • Where do they live?

While hammering out their general personal profile is important, all sales professionals can benefit from digging a little deeper. We spoke with Stephen Bumb, VP of Marketing at American Medical Technologies, and he had this to say about it:

Do your homework. Understand the priorities of the person you are calling. Use all resources to gather info on strategies, objectives and challenges . . . Understand how your solution aligns with one or more of top three priorities of your potential customer persona. If it doesn’t, rethink your value [proposition].

Stephen Bumb
Stephen Bumb
VP of Marketing, American Medical Technologies

You see, establishing a customer profile isn’t enough to make sales. You need to think about what your ideal customer’s top three priorities are in regard to your product. Typically, with door-to-door sales, there are a few obvious places to start.

Your prospects usually want:

  • To spend less money
  • To increase productivity
  • To solve a problem at home or in the workplace
  • Peace of mind

While you will want to do some personal research on your own prospects’ priorities, these are some important objectives to most leads. So, your job is to link these priorities to your product or service. Even if your product costs more than the competitors’, is it a better product that produces results that make life easier or external costs lower? Is it more reliable so the customer can sleep easy and not have to worry about the cost of replacement? These answers are key.

2. Listen to Your Prospect

While many low-quality sales training materials will talk a lot about “controlling the in-person interaction,” or not giving your prospect the space to voice concerns, a good salesperson focuses more on listening to their prospect. Content creator Chandler David Smith encapsulates the idea well:

Don’t talk too much. You want to find a way to ask good questions, and get the other person talking . . . They don’t care nearly so much about what you’re saying as how they feel about you, and a lot of that comes back to how good of a listener you are to what they’re saying.

Chandler David Smith
Chandler David Smith
Content Creator and RSM for Aptive Pest Control

When you approach somebody’s door as a salesperson, they are already on guard for pushy salespeople. As a result, exerting too much control over the interaction is more likely to put them off than to somehow prove to them that they are ready to buy.

Instead, you should try to strike up a good conversation. Get the customer to open up a little by asking quality questions, then listen to their responses. A great door-to-door salesperson will encourage them to continue talking until discovering a pain point — that leads us to our next tip.

3. Leverage Your Prospect’s “Pain Points”

Selling a product is often a process of finding a need and filling it. These needs are often identified as “pain points,” or problems that your prospect is experiencing that your product could help. Usually, these problems are regarding their current solution that your product would be replacing or fixing.

In order to find the pain points, we have to do the following:

  • Identify what pain points sound like in conversation.
  • Get the customer to express theirs.
  • Convert pain points into sales opportunities.

Once you get that process down, you’ll be able to convert far more often. Not only that, but you also build rapport throughout, making the customer more likely to refer you to others outside of your canvassing territory.

Identify What Pain Points Sound Like

Knowing what pain points are doesn’t always mean you’ll catch them whenever they are stated by the customer. It can be tricky to catch them sometimes, and if you miss one, you could be losing a great sales opportunity.

Here are some examples of what pain points can sound like in conversation:

  • “My electric bill is so high, sometimes I have to leave the AC off in the summer.”
  • “I can never get my security provider to answer my calls about new sensors.”
  • “I haven’t gotten my attic checked in a while because my pest control guy charges for estimates.”

All of these are problems that different door-to-door products can solve, and they aren’t always stated right after a direct question. Sometimes, if you are starting a good conversation, they can come up naturally without your even having to ask directly what their dissatisfactions are.

Get the Customer to Express Their Pain Points

As you can probably tell, pain points make for pretty easy sales pitches. So, your goal is to get the customer to express their pain points through some open-ended questions. Luckily, you don’t have to come up with these yourself. There is a tool door-to-door experts swear by called Sandler’s Pain Funnel, which includes a chain of questions that cover most common pain points.

Sandler's Pain Funnel questions
Sandler's Pain Funnel questions

Now, you’ll notice all of these questions above work sequentially. This is the purpose of the funnel; you’re asking them in succession to slowly get your customer to expose a pain point. Sometimes, you’ll expose one in the first few questions. Other times, it’ll take the whole funnel to get the problem stated so that you can solve it with your product.

Convert Pain Points Into Sales Opportunities

This is the easy part. Once you’ve exposed a pain point, the sales opportunity is in your hands. Prepare some pitches based on common pain points in your industry. Make sure you have these rehearsed so that when the pain points expose themselves, you can quickly and confidently convert them into a sale.

4. Be Honest

There are many door-to-door sales tactics that involve saying things like “I’m not selling anything” or making false claims about your product to keep from getting the door shut in your face. These compromise your integrity in an obvious way, but there are other dishonest strategies that are less visible at times.

Avoid tactics like these:

  • Using “creative” phrasing to get somebody to sign up for contact or give approval to run their credit without realizing it
  • Not properly informing your prospects about balloon payment structures
  • Dropping “worst-case scenarios” to illicit a fear response in order to manipulate a lead into making a purchase

Selling in person makes these even less desirable, as people can read you more easily. These sales moves are not new, and they may not be outright lying, but they are still dishonest. You want a prospect to trust you and be comfortable referring you to people they know and care about, and you don’t get there by compromising your integrity. Integrity is an asset, not a liability, and you aren’t sacrificing anything by staying honest.

5. Maintain Good Eye Contact

One of the worst habits that new door-to-door sellers tend to have is avoiding eye contact. It can feel awkward looking people right in the eye, but it’s essential to show proper respect and attention to your prospect. The effect of eye contact during any conversation has been studied deeply and found to affect a few different things that serve your goals as a salesperson.

Specifically, the three things eye contact affects are:

  • The prospect’s memory of what you said
  • Your position of authority on the subject
  • An emotional connection to the conversation

Let’s look at the influence of eye contact on all three, and most importantly, why it matters.

Make Your Pitch Memorable With Eye Contact

Sales is all about first impressions, and a memorable first impression can keep you in a prospect’s mind even if they don’t make a purchase right away. As it turns out, maintaining good eye contact can make your words more memorable.

A National Library of Medicine study found that good eye contact made people remember more about a sales pitch. They found that all it took was making good eye contact 30% of the time to increase what the subjects remembered about a product they were pitched.

Look Like an Expert With Eye Contact

Another stereotype of door-to-door salespeople is that they are just lackeys that don’t know what they are talking about. So, through our communication, it’s important that we express a level of authority on our product and the problems it solves. A study by Idiap Research Institute showed that people in a position of authority tend to make more eye contact; doing so will make it clearer that you know what you’re talking about.

Connect More Personally With Eye contact

Finally, the primary benefit of door-to-door sales is the emotional connection you can make with your prospects. Another study from the National Library of Medicine showed that direct gaze increases activity in the part of the brain that picks up on facial emotion. This means that if you are a kind, sincere salesperson, you can communicate that through your eyes.

6. Overcome Your Environment

Door-to-door sales offers a lot more excuse fuel than most other sales jobs. It can get hot, it can get cold, people can keep shutting the door in your face or not opening it at all. In order to be a great door-to-door salesperson, remember these wise words from Sam Taggart, founder of Door2Door Experts:

Excuses don’t make you money . . . I hear every excuse in the book: it’s hot, it’s cold, I’m hungry, bad area, whatever . . . it doesn’t make you money. Therefore, if you don’t take extreme ownership, you’re always gonna be broke in this job.

Sam Taggart
Sam Taggart
Founder, Door2Door Experts

You’re entering in one of the more gritty settings for sales, and it will come with its own unique challenges. You have to mentally prepare for these and set yourself up for success. There are a few steps you can take to prepare to stay the course during a long day of knocking doors.

Take these actions before you start going door to door:

  • Bring outerwear in case it gets cold.
  • Always store an extra company T-shirt or polo in your vehicle in case it gets warm and you sweat through your first.
  • Pack extra food and water in case you need to refuel while canvassing (but never eat in front of a prospect).
  • Keep some type of instant coffee or energy supplement for those days where you just get drained.

These may not cover every possible excuse, but they’ll keep you maximally prepared for most of them. At the end of the day, the way salespeople make money is through perseverance and maintaining energy.

7. Leverage a Product Demo

If you’re canvassing for a physical product, demonstrate it if you can. One of the main benefits of in-person sales is the ability to show prospects how your product works. So, bring some props for demonstration and offer to do a demo for the customer at their home or business.

8. Create Physical Flyers & Marketing Materials

In-person sales benefits from things that the prospect can hold in their hand, or even keep. Even if you don’t have a product that can be physically demonstrated, it is still good to have some printed literature explaining your product, pricing, and warranty information. So, print out flyers or other attractive marketing materials to educate them.

In addition to being helpful during the sales process, they also work as leave-behinds for doors that aren’t answered. This way, even prospects that aren’t available still get an idea of what you have to offer. If you end up circling back, you’ll have a bit of a headstart on your pitch if they have read your flyer.

Pro Tip:

Keep your marketing materials concise. Trade out extensive explanations for pictures and graphics that explain how the product works visually. This keeps your materials from being too wordy, as most people aren’t going to take the time to read long text.

9. Invest in Quality Shoes or Insoles

This may seem unrelated to sales, but in door-to-door, your capacity to keep momentum rolling can easily be limited by your physical ability to keep walking, knocking, and talking. So, a good pair of walking shoes is one of those “I didn’t even know I had to think about that” things that can help you push through on a long sales day.

You are looking for shoes specifically for walking for long periods of time. Running shoes don’t have enough ankle support, and clunky “work shoes” can be too heavy. Here are the things to look for when considering work shoes for door-to-door sales:

  • Comfortable soles
  • Arch support
  • Ankle support
  • Lightweight

One of the things that doesn’t need to be high on your list is style. Inevitably, though, there will be salespeople who don’t want to give that up, and some markets may be helped by more attractive shoes. In these cases, I would recommend getting a pair of quality custom insoles from a reputable manufacturer like Dr. Scholl’s or Road Runner.

We promise this will make your life easier. Not having to worry about foot, ankle, knee, or back pain can make a massive difference in your quality of life; this will show in your level of energy at the end of the day.

Pro Tip:

With the amount of time you’re going to spend on your feet, expect to replace your shoes and/or insoles at least every 8-12 months. Even if they don’t look beat up, the soles get compressed and become less supportive over time.

10. Don’t Live Deal to Deal

Many salespeople get used to the commission lifestyle. This often looks like making a bunch of money at once, then coasting for a while until your bank account gets sore before you turn on the gas again. This can make your life needlessly stressful, and ends in less success than if you just put the work in. Sam Taggart touches on this concept:

They’ll sell a lot, and then they won’t work for a week, and then they’ll be broke again . . . If you have the mindset of ‘I work the hours no matter what,’ I promise you will be a lot more successful than those that go on the ‘salesmanship rollercoaster.’

Sam Taggart
Sam Taggart
Founder, Door2Door Experts

This really just comes down to discipline. You have to make sure that having a good sales day motivates you to get out there and do it again and again. For some, it does the opposite and makes them comfortable or complacent. If you’re going to sell door to door, treat it like an hourly job, and get that time in.

11. Don’t Knock on Doors With “No Solicitation” Signs

Many people don’t realize that these signs aren’t just a suggestion. Once you have read the sign, that is your notice that you aren’t welcome on the property. If you don’t leave, you could be subject to fines or other punishment for trespassing. Not only that, but you are not going to sell to somebody who feels disrespected when you ignore their request not to be bothered.

Example no solicitation sign

12. Avoid Overwhelming Your Prospect With Information

While it’s important to show your authority on the subject, the prospect doesn’t need a free seminar on what you have to offer. There are ways to give product information without sounding like an infomercial.

A few good ways to share information are as follows:

  • Give product information as a response to customer questions and pain points.
  • Use product information to assist in a preplanned demonstration.
  • Correct your prospect’s misconceptions with product info (in a non-argumentative way).

As you can see, we are using information in a responsive way. We are reinforcing the idea that our product is an answer to their questions and concerns, giving them just enough to demonstrate value without overwhelming them. If you feel like you aren’t educating your customer enough, ask more questions, expose more pain points, and respond with the necessary product information.

13. Read Your Prospect’s Body Language

One of the best ways to gauge how an exchange is going in door-to-door sales is to read your prospect’s body language. Most other sales situations don’t allow for you to do this at first contact, so it is a massive advantage for cold canvassers.

Here are some things to look out for during your pitch:

  • The Prospect Is Still Holding Their Door: This usually means you haven’t really caught their attention yet, and they are ready to rush you off and close that door.
  • They Try to Create More Space Between Themselves and You: They are probably feeling a little overwhelmed by your volume, energy, or how close you’re standing.
  • They Keep Eye Contact and Point Their Body and Feet Toward You: You’re doing a good job, and you have successfully grabbed their attention.

These and other physical cues will be the key to determining whether your pitch is landing with a customer. Use it to alter your delivery as you speak with them, and watch for signs that they are feeling pushed or dominated by the way you deliver. It’s easy to talk too fast or too loudly, or to stand too close when trying to demonstrate something, and these cues will warn you if you’re starting to do that.

14. Prioritize Rest on Your Off Time

During the workweek, it’s vital to make sure you are getting proper rest after your workday is over. Door-to-door is one of the most tiring forms of selling that exists, and you need to keep that in mind when you’re at home. There are a few things you can do every night to maintain your energy, confidence, and physical health as a door-knocker.

Specifically, follow these practices:

  • Get at least 7 hours of sleep.
  • Avoid caffeine after work.
  • Save adult beverages for the weekend.

We don’t judge what anybody does with their own free time, but these three habits are guaranteed to boost your energy for the workday. Positive habits create positive results, and if you prioritize your rest in your off time, you’ll get a lot more done when the work day begins.

15. Focus on Quality Over Quantity

If you are the one who controls your door-knocking territory, prioritize quality prospects over areas that just have a lot of doors. While quantity is nice, quality is what converts your time into income. If you are only focused on hitting a large territory, you are likely not making the best use of your time and are leaving income on the table.

So, think about the locations you have at your disposal. Which area has the highest concentration of your target demo? Which areas are most likely to have somebody there to answer the door when you’re knocking? Prioritize these factors over sheer quantity, and you’ll find that it takes much less time to meet your monthly goals.

16. Set a Door-Knocking Goal

Before you head out for your workday, set a goal for how many doors you want to hit that day. Consider how long it takes to make quality contact with the prospects that open the door, and set a goal that pushes you to keep things moving but doesn’t make you feel like you need to rush through your pitch. This goal will keep you accountable and motivated, as the sense of getting closer and closer to completing a goal can help you generate momentum on dry days.

Bottom Line

These door-to-door tips will help you increase your conversion, make your life as a door-knocker more enjoyable, and make more money while doing it. At the end of the day, it’s all about maintaining your momentum and maximizing the benefit of in-person selling: personal connection. If you can do those two things, you’ll be a great door-to-door salesperson.

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