The Sales Skill of Door Knocking

by | Mar 16, 2020 | Sales Leadership

The Sales Skill of Door Knocking

Have we lost the sales skill of Door Knocking?

Yes, the skill of door knocking – using your initiative, using the clues around you to create opportunity, have we become totally dependant on faceless Facebook Ads and anonymous Google Reviews?

We have the eternal debate that telephone Cold Calling is dead and replaced my Social Selling (read more on this in my book Funnel Vision Selling Made Easy).

This has led to a phobia of the telephone and an anti social approach to sales.

In this weeks article I’d like to wind back the clock to the good old days.

Let me take you back 30 years or so

Yes, we’re in the late 1980’s and look who was the number one single on this day 30 years ago 👇🏼 (ask you’re parents😂)

16 Mar 1989Jason DonovanToo Many Broken Hearts

I was working for Calor Gas at the time and I was moving up their career path at a rapid rate of knots

I was young, confident and – I’ll be the first to admit – a bit cocky. But hey, I was doing well and no one could sell like me (or so I thought).

I was totally unphased by ‘cold calling’ – and here I’m talking about being on the street knocking on doors!

You really were going in ‘cold’ and It was not a job for the faint-hearted

This particular day I was being ‘shadowed’ by a chap called Tim.

I’d already got my doubts about his ability to last in ‘sales’. ‘Cold calling’ in that era required an almost superhuman resilience and razor sharp skill to succeed.

The concept of door knocking sounds totally alien in today’s world obsessed with social media – a world where you can virtually nail down whether a person will be interested in your product with a quick search of Facebook and Instagram.

But 1989 was a different place – and Tim was mesmerised by my skill. He was shadowing me for a day of ‘door knocking’.

There was one particular call I was on and the ‘buyer’ (I call him ‘buyer’ in the loosest possible terms, at that point he’d no intention of buying anything!) was openly hostile towards me. In fact he was seriously aggrieved at me interrupting his day.

It went something like this

Me: “Good afternoon, my name’s Steve. Could I have 30 seconds of your time?”

Business owner: “Do I know you?”

Me: “Good afternoon, my name’s Steve. Could I have 30 seconds of your time?”

Business owner : “No – I’m busy. Go away.”

Me:“I see you use LPG cylinders – can I show you how I can save you some money and I’ll even throw in some golf tips?”

Business owner: “How do you know I like golf”

Me: “I’ve just been admiring the golf trophies up there [I’d clocked the golf silverware the moment I walked through the door!] – I think it’s fair to say you’ll be the one offering me the golf tips to be honest! “Calor actually hosts an annual golf day for the people we supply to – it would be really good to have someone of your skill come along.”

Business owner: “I must admit I do like my golf!”

Me: “Can I book a slot in the diary and tell you more about the money I could save you with Calor and invite you to the golf day?”

Business owner: “Of course – how about tomorrow morning?”

Tim was left opened mouthed

He seriously couldn’t believe what he’d just heard. He was totally in awe of the way I’d moved the conversation from near hostility to a near sale.

“Wow Steve, you could sell snow to the eskimos”, he said.

“How an earth did you do it? He didn’t even want to speak to you and now you’ve nearly sold him a gas cylinder. Are people really that gullible? I really need
to be like you.”

He really meant it as a compliment but it left me feeling about as low as I’ve ever felt.

In a few seconds he’d as good as said: 

  • I was taking advantage of people and selling them stuff they didn’t want
  • I’d got no scruples and I didn’t care if I was interrupting people in the middle of their busy working day
  • I really didn’t care if someone needed what I was selling – I’d try every trick in the book to try and sell it to them anyway

In the cold light of day it’s not unsurprising he came to the conclusion he did

To anyone oblivious to the fact sales follow a particular process (and lets face it, that’s most people unless you work in the industry!) it must have seemed I’d performed black magic on him! But for me it was a pattern I’d followed a thousand times before. One I’d honed over the years, but Tim’s reaction became a threshold moment for me.

I decided I needed to start making sense of my sales technique and, as a result, become more transparent with what was going on – my profession deserved respect!

And first things first, I definitely needed to ensure Tim knew I wasn’t in the market for selling snow to the eskimos anytime soon (or ever!)

It wasn’t all bad – let’s pick out the two good bits

One of my top priorities on the visit (which Tim missed)was to ‘qualify’ the ‘suspect’. I’d already spotted a rival’s gas cylinders on the premises so I knew he used what we were selling.

I therefore knew, once I’d built a level of trust, that I’d got a good chance of being able to sell to him if I offered a better deal with a replacement. Money always talks – or so I believed then.

I’d also have fallen at the first hurdle if I hadn’t got the caller’s trust by finding a commonality. In this case I immediately spotted the golf trophies – that was the point that turned the situation around and he let his guard down.

To underline the good bits

Qualifying the opportunity and building trust (even if it was done from a shallow premise).

Roll time forward some 31 years and door knocking made a come back –  big time!

A few days there was a the knock at the door “I was just looking at your Silver Birch trees”.

“I bet they block out the sun at around 2pm in the summer time and it looks like it’s been like that for a couple of years now” he said.

A conversation that had been going on in my household for about 2 years was “when are we going to get those trees cut back because they block out so much of the sun”.

Guess what’s happened as a consequence!

The three lessons for sellers:

🔥 Use your insight to add value – customer buy the outcome.

🔥 Use your initiative and knock on doors – make stuff happen.

🔥 Be able to provide your solution if you get a yes – “I can be with you tomorrow”

You could argue this guy was fortunate.

I would say he used experience, initiative and made the most of the opportunity – well played I say.

Note – no social media, websites, mail campaigns or sales funnels.

Only the conviction he could solve a problem for his ideal client and the confidence to make it happen.

The luck part might have been we were in the buying moment – well was that luck?

I’ll let you be the judge of that.

And just to wrap it up…

I need to ask my children who is the number one single on the day of writing as I don’t recognise them!

The WeekendBlinding Lights

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12 Cold Calling Rejections that Earned £6,190,042 per month

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