Knock, knock

While digital marketing continues to grow, door-to-door sales can still be a useful strategy to add clients.

Before going door to door, make sure you check with your local municipality about what permits you need. You should wear a uniform and an I.D. badge when knocking on doors.
Photo courtesy of GreenView Partners

Door-to-door sales is a type of outside or direct sales. A direct salesperson not only has to sell a product or service but also has to seek out prospects before they necessarily know they are in the market for the product or service. They create their prospects. This job is usually a commission-only position and is an easy way to begin a sales career. The success rate for these entry-level positions can be low but those who stick with it can have a high reward.

Just like any other sales position, direct sales has activities that will drive results. It requires the proper plan and scheduling for the day’s activities. Best practices also exist that can help ensure the activities are yielding the growth results needed to drive the business forward and provide a good compensation for salespeople. These best practices are simple: count, connect and close.

Any sales position can be broken down into activities and numbers. Daily expectations for door-to-door selling are easy to establish and measure, and will produce results when implemented. A common goal for a door-to-door lawn care salesperson is three sales per day. In order to achieve this goal we can apply some standard conversion rates:

GOAL: 3 sales

  • Fifteen percent conversion rate means you need to pitch 20 homeowners to make 3 sales.
  • An average 20 percent contact rate means you need to knock on 100 doors to pitch to 20 homeowners.

One note, before going door to door, is make sure you check with your local municipality about what permits you need.

Stick to the plan.

At first, it would seem you could never find 100 new homes to knock each day. You actually don’t need 100 because you will canvas each neighborhood twice – to do a knock and a re-knock. Each salesperson should have a scheduled area of streets that will yield 60 new knocks per day. When you add in 40 re-knocks, you will achieve a total of 100 knocks required each day.

A key to door-to-door sales is to invite a customer out to their yard and point out problem spots on the lawn. Common problems to point out include weeds, thin areas, poor color, tree and shrub issues and insect damage.
Photo courtesy of GreenView Partners

Here is how a typical day might go, assuming you want to end the day by 8 p.m.

  • Noon: Team meeting and role play
  • 1 p.m.: Start walking and knocking in the neighborhood. Complete the section assigned to you and plan to knock on 60 new doors. Track your progress through the neighborhood and count the knocks
  • .
  • 4:30 p.m.: Begin re-knocks in your second pass through the neighborhood – looking for homeowners that have returned home. Check for door hangers that have been removed or cars that are in the driveway.
  • 8 p.m.: Follow up on any prospects via phone that need a call back. Go home and celebrate your success.

There should be no less than 6.5 field hours each day. This is critical to ensure the proper number of knocks are achieved.

Salespeople should avoid house skipping and rely on re-knocks to improve their daily contact rate. Often, salespeople feel the need to roam around looking for people who are home rather than executing the knocks on the streets assigned. Stick to the plan to ensure efficiency and drive the 100 knocks each day.

Be prepared.

The tools needed in the field are simple but essential to ensure the level of activity is achieved. An ample supply of door hangers is required for the day. Every house knocked should get a door hanger which will drive leads later. Service plans for sales or call backs are needed to capture prospect information. Prospecting street assignments are required.

Associates should wear a uniform and identification badges while knocking. Other items needed include a clipboard, calculator, laminated price list, maps, water bottle and a rain poncho. The activity for the day of 100 knocks is key. Ensuring that the salesperson has a plan and is equipped with all the pertinent supplies will help avoid distractions or reasons to fail on the achievement of the daily goals.

The market area must be marketed per a developed plan to ensure efficiency and results. It also helps to avoid drive time. Develop a strategy to penetrate your market by month and week.

When working an area, park the car and walk from house to house knocking. Once the streets have been fully knocked then walk them again re-knocking on houses where homeowners have returned home. The goal is to ensure a contact rate of 20 percent.

Your seasonal plan can also assist in production density and be used to augment areas that need more customers for the route density.

Training and daily role play are important. Just like an athlete, practice improves the skills. A team meeting each day that incorporates situational role play will help drive results. Teaching agronomics and horticulture will aid in proper expectations and establishing good retention. Sales skill training and overcoming objections will create growth. Knowing what to say and when to say it, accompanied with proper body language, will increase conversions of the 20 percent of residents that are home.

After you have developed a strategic plan to contact 100 homes, it is time to connect. The approach during knocking is important.

  • The salesperson’s appearance must be appropriate and should represent your brand in the best possible way. You only have a few seconds to make a positive impression to the homeowner. Make it count. Pants should be pressed with a uniformed shirt or jacket and only hats with a company logo. A name badge should be worn at all times. Good walking shoes with little to no color or design helps avoid distraction from the uniform.
  • Knock on the door. Keep facing the door. Do not turn away because the homeowner needs to see who you are.
  • Introduce yourself and your company name. Hand them a flyer immediately.
  • Establish rapport and raise awareness. Let them know you were in the area visiting customers (neighbors) and ensuring the yards look good. Let them know you noticed some areas that could improve and want to find out what they are doing for the yard this year.
  • Pull them out to the yard. Don’t let fear keep you on the porch. Wave your hands toward the lawn, turn and walk out to the lawn and show them some issues going on. People only solve problems they are aware of so creating awareness is key. Get them on the lawn so they can see what is happening.
  • Common problems to point out include weeds, thin areas, poor color, tree and shrub issues and insect damage
  • Ask for the business. Remember, if you can’t get the sale then get a phone number so you can call them later to follow up.
  • Good retention will only happen if proper expectations are set. Training is essential to accomplish proper expectations for the customer.
Seal the deal.

Now you are ready for the final step – closing. Ask for the business to get the sale. What do you think you will hear – no? Buffer and probe during the conversation. Buffers let the homeowner know we identify with them and we understand their feelings.

This will take the edge off of the questions we need to ask to get the sale. “No” is the first reaction when asking for the sale so be prepared. They are not saying “no” to your service but rather the idea of buying something. Keep smiling and stay the course. Buffer the prospect; “I am sorry to hear that …”, “I understand how you feel. A lot of my present customers felt the same way but what they found …”, or “I am glad to see you take interest in the lawn.”

The objection usually does not provide enough information so ask probing questions to begin the conversation. Prepare for the objections and practice your responses (See sidebar, Rejection ready). After you overcome each objection with your response then close and ask for the business.

There are a few things to remember. Keep it simple in your plan and execute the metrics of 100 knocks per day. The contact rate and close rate will happen and if not, then work on the presentation. Always finish with a close when overcoming an objection. That is a basic for any sales position. Smile and show enthusiasm and remember your body language is important. Always get the homeowner involved. Exercise good posture and eye contact at all times. Success with door-to-door sales depends on your activities. Remember to count, connect and close.

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