The Leading Edge - Taking Care of Business
Secrets of a Sales Rep #7 – Door-to-Door Success
The following article was written by Mike Wicks; He is currently a ghostwriter and author, but at the beginning of his career he was a professional salesman. He has developed dozens of sales and marketing courses and has provided hundreds of hours of sales and marketing training over the course of his career. His book "How Not to Sell: Why you can't close the deal and how to fix it" is due to be published by Harper Collins Leadership in August 2020. "Door to Door Success" is the seventh in a series of articles in which he shares with his readers his secrets to sales success. The sixth "Secrets" article was published in this publication in December 2019.
Recently, I was thinking about how long I've been selling and this brought back memories of when I was 13 or 14 and started a car-washing business. Shamefully, I started this business with no business plan, no real strategy and with zero capital.
One Saturday morning I simply grabbed my father's bucket and sponge, and filched some washing-up liquid from under the kitchen sink and headed to the last house at the bottom of the street. I started door-knocking and within half-a-dozen houses someone agreed to let me wash their car. This was in England and I charged two shillings and sixpence, aka two and six or half-a-crown. This was pre-decimalization and I chose this amount as it allowed people to pay with just one coin. In today's currency that would only be 12.5 pence or a little under 21 cents, but back then it was half the allowance my parents gave me.
By the end of that first morning I'd washed four cars and after lunch I went back to door knocking and did four more. My day's wage was the princely sum of £1 or today a buck 70 and I was proud of myself.
After washing each car, I asked whether my new customer would like me to come back at the same time next week and most said yes. Over the next few months I became quicker and more skilful at washing cars, in part because of purchasing new equipment and a real car shampoo.
Then a challenge cropped up; some of my customers asked whether I could clean the inside of their cars too! This caused a problem as I was already booked for the day with washes. It was then I hired my first 'employee' – a friend who was happy to wash, or detail a car for a shilling (I'll spare you the lesson in currencies again) a little less than half what I was charging.
I remember, at the end of one particularly busy day arriving home with my pockets bulging with half-crowns (quite a heavy coin) much to the surprise of my father, who I am sure immediately cut my allowance!
One of the lessons I learned back in those days was that honesty pays off. I was detailing a car one day when I found a bunch of change down the back of a seat. When I handed it in to the owner, I noticed my tip (yes, I usually got a tip as well) was higher than it had ever been.
Unfortunately, as a young teenager the lesson got a little warped. Realizing that I could get larger tips, I started planting small change in cars to hand back to the owner! As I write this, I am a little red-faced but what can I say, I was a budding entrepreneur.
So, what can we take from this story that's relevant to today? I suppose the biggest thing is that simply getting out there and knocking on doors is a great way to bring in business. That, and pricing well and working hard.
Business doesn't have to be complicated; all you need is a good idea, a service or product people need, hard work, and of course the supreme confidence of a child!
How to be Successful in Sales (in Less Than 250 words)
Be well informed and knowledgeable – about everything. Be trustworthy and act with the highest integrity. Focus on selling to people who want, need, can afford and have the authority to buy what you are selling. Discover their needs.
Understand people and be able to read your prospects' personalities and behavioral types and also your own so you can sell to them in a way they can relate to, while building long-term sustainable relationships. Realize it's not you versus them – it's a decision-making partnership.
Know the objective of every call you make – and realize that that objective may not be to get the sale today but to reach the next stage in the sales process.
Know all the reasons why someone might object to buying what you sell and be prepared in advance for every single objection.
Listen for five times longer than you talk and when you do talk ask open-ended, probing questions. Search for the reasons prospects might have for not buying what you sell. That is, love objections. Persevere when searching for hidden objections – they are what will prevent you closing a sale.
Develop a list of trial close questions and use them frequently. Know when to ask for the order and remember it has to be the right decision for the buyer.
Follow-up with new customers and existing ones frequently. Remember it costs more to get a new customer than to sell to an existing one.
Selling is easy, it's us that make it difficult.
Coach's Corner - What's On Your To-Do List?
"Checking items off a to-do list doesn't determine progress; focusing on your priorities is what counts."
Frank Sonnenberg, Author
We all have to do lists. Sometimes they are merely jottings on a piece of paper and sometimes they are more formal. Either way we prepare them to remind us of what we feel needs to be done.
"Before you eat the elephant, make sure you know what parts you want to eat."
Todd Stocker, Author/Speaker/Pastor
Here are five thoughts concerning our to-do-lists.
- Be clear on what's important. This may seem obvious and straightforward, but studying your to-do list from the perspective of importance allows you to ascertain priorities. Sometimes we simply get mired in the length of the list without really looking at the importance of individual items.
- Assign value to a task. Look at each task as having some sort of value; this could simply be a range such as 1 – 10 where ten is the highest value assigned. Or, look at it from a monetary point of view in which the dollars spent to accomplish the task gives an indication of who will actually do the task. What is it worth to us to accomplish each task?
- Urgency of each item. In an earlier Coach's Corner, we looked at a four quadrant matrix in which we categorized actions/tasks as "urgent and important," "not urgent but important," "urgent and not important, and "not important and not urgent." With this perspective in mind, look at your to-do-list. How urgent is each task?
- Put the hard stuff first. At times we look at our to-do-list and simply start on the easiest items. Although one item may be less difficult than another, it does not usually result in highest satisfaction of accomplishment. We usually feel much better when we have made an impact in some way, not simply finished a task. Consider which is the most difficult item while also considering the urgency/importance matrix.
- Be clear and specific about outcomes. In addition to ascertaining the importance and urgency of each task, be clear on what outcomes you desire. Ask yourself, what do you want to accomplish with each item?
"Sometimes our stop-doing list needs to be bigger than our to-do list."
Patti Digh, Author
Paul Abra, Certified Executive Coach, Motivated Coaching