8 lessons I learned doing door-to-door sales

A wise person once said that two years of door-to-door sales is the equivalent of four years of college (and way less expensive).  Unfortunately, I didn’t hear this until after I had completed my degree.  However, as an “educated” person, I must confess that my 15 months selling office supplies business-to-business was the most humbling, eye-opening, self-examining experience of my life, and I am much better in business and in life as a result.  Here are eight things I learned in my time doing door-to-door sales:

1. Approach every business and every customer with an optimistic attitude.  It’s so easy to look at a business or a customer and pre-judge the outcome, but it’s not in your best interest, or the customers best interest, to do so.  Some of your biggest sales will come from the least likely of customers.

2. Indifference makes all the difference.  Ever notice that it’s hard to sell when you haven’t sold anything, but it’s easy to sell when you’re on a roll?  That’s because when you are selling well, you don’t care if the next customer says yes or no.  It’s this lack of care, or indifference, to which customers respond most favorably, simply because they are no longer being sold but offered a choice.  This is an attractive quality of a sales professional that yields incredible dividends.

3. Pitch high and remove the no’s.  If you pitch one item, the outcome is either yes or no, 1 or 0.  It’s a 50/50 choice, and customers are really good at saying no when given the opportunity.  However, when you pitch 12 items, the answer is either 12, 11, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, or 0, and your odds of a sale increase by 42%.  Furthermore, giving customers what is known as a “choice close” in which zero is not option further increases the likelihood of a sale.  Next time you are making an offer to a customer, ask him, “Are we going to do three or four of those business packs today?”

4. Persistence pays off.  The typical customer takes 5-12 contacts before purchasing something, but many sales professionals only try once or twice before giving up on a customer.  A “no” today is not necessarily a “no” tomorrow, and having this attitude will encourage you to ask one more time, which might be the time the customer is ready to buy.

5. Leaders lead from the front.  Many sales professionals talk a big game, and it’s no surprise.  Talking is what they do for a living.  But leaders get the job done, and they do it with integrity.  To increase your productivity, figure out who the leader is in your office and learn the habits this person follows to consistently be out front.  Your results in sales, and in life, are often determined by the company you keep.

6. People respond to confidence clothed in humility.  There is a difference between a cocky salesperson and a justifiably confident sales professional, and that difference is found in their humility.  Not only are they respected and liked by their customers, but they are instantly in a position of influence.  Their customers and their co-workers are more open to their suggestions, whether it be regarding a product or a principle.  This confidence is built by consistently doing the right thing day in and day out.

7.  Failure is the catalyst for success.  Most people avoid failure because they believe failure defines who they are and what they can accomplish.  The truth is, only when a person embraces failure do they truly succeed, whether it be in business, sports, or another part of life.  Failure is the classroom by which we learn, and avoiding failure is choosing not to learn & grow.

8.  Ask questions in order to be heard.  Businesses professionals might be potential customers, but they are all just people with stories and preferences.  A great sales professional will ask the right questions to learn more about their customers;  this is when relationships are built and needs are discovered.  Connecting with customers personally and meeting needs professionally is the equation for success in sales.


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