Victoria Yu is a Business Writer with expertise in Business Organization, Marketing, and Sales, holding a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from the University of California, Irvine’s Paul Merage School of Business.
Sallie, holding a Ph.D. from Walden University, is an experienced writing coach and editor with a background in marketing. She has served roles in corporate communications and taught at institutions like the University of Florida.
Updated on June 1, 2023
Techniques and Tips for Successful Door-to-Door Sales
What is Door-to-Door Sales?
Before Knocking: Preparing Your Door-to-Door Sales Campaign
Techniques for Door-to-Door Sales
Tips for Door-to-Door Sales
As consumers increasingly embrace the convenience of online shopping, door-to-door sales are becoming a thing of the past. But this may be an opportunity in disguise for you and your business.
These days, salespeople who do take the time to make in-person pitches leave much more of an impression, boosting their chances of closing the deal. If done right, door-to-door sales can be a great way to boost brand awareness and stand out from the competition.
But the only true door-to-door salespeople these days seem to be the Girl Scouts, so it’s understandable if you’ve got a lot of questions. If so, you’ve come to the right place, as this guide walks you through all the techniques and tools to make any door-to-door efforts a serious success.
Door-to-door sales can be an effective, cost-efficient strategy for emerging businesses.
Successful door-to-door sales hinge on capturing customer interest in the first minute, often by answering questions, sending information in advance, and building a personal connection.
Door-to-door sales pitches need to be faster and more direct and have a stronger hook in order to grab and keep prospects’ attention.
The in-person element of door-to-door sales is a double-edged sword: though a salesperson can glean personal information about the potential client, they must be careful to conduct themselves properly at all times.
What is Door-to-Door Sales?
Door-to-door (D2D) sales involve a salesperson visiting the homes or businesses in a specific area to make direct sales pitches.
Widespread in the ’50s and ‘60s, the tactic fell out of favor in the ‘70s as stay-at-home women joined the workforce, leaving no one at home to sell to.
But just because it’s no longer popular doesn’t mean it’s ineffective. Salespeople who make face-to-face pitches are 10% more likely to meet their quotas, according to sales software firm Spotio.
As opposed to cold calling and online selling, D2D sales encourage a more personal connection, increasing the chances of closing the deal.
Who Should Use Door-to-Door Sales?
While it may be tempting to jump straight in after hearing the benefits of D2D sales, it’s a tactic that may not work for all businesses.
The companies best positioned to use door-to-door techniques are those who sell lower-priced consumer goods and target a certain geographic area.
In the old days, door-to-door salespeople often sold insurance or cleaning appliances, but today’s consumers are unlikely to make large purchases or sign lengthy contracts without some online research and comparison shopping.
Also, it’s a breach of privacy to follow business owners home to talk shop, so B2B companies that go in for door-to-door sales should focus on making visits to the target businesses. For instance, a salesperson for a cement company might drive around town making pitches to local contractors at their offices.
Still, D2D campaigns are best for products whose target markets tend to cluster together in communities. If you run a tutoring service, for instance, you could go door-to-door in the neighborhood surrounding a large school.
If you’ve just started a business, D2D is the most affordable sales approach and a good way to build an experienced and dedicated sales team.
Before Knocking: Preparing Your Door-to-Door Sales Campaign
Before you and your team hit the road, there are some key elements to consider to get the most out of your door-to-door campaign.
1. Set The Campaign Goals
Let’s be real: every house your sales team visits is not going to deliver a sale – and that’s okay! Closing is always the ultimate goal, but adding prospects to your sales funnel is also a reasonable objective, as is increasing brand awareness.
Here are some common campaign goals:
Make an immediate sale
Collect contact information from prospects
Hand out discount coupons inviting customers to your store
Gain insight on consumer views of the industry
Increase awareness of your company, products, and their benefits
A wise approach is to choose your campaign goal or goals, develop a strong sales script, and set key metrics, then decide how many houses you’ll visit per day. With strong metrics, you’ll soon know which elements of the campaign are working and be able to optimize your approach accordingly.
2. Know the Product
Next, gather strong data and develop convincing arguments detailing how your product solves a variety of pain points. Knowing the product specs and company policies inside and out translates into confidence during the sales pitch.
If your company sells multiple products, be prepared to pitch any of them at the drop of a hat; if one product fails to meet a prospect’s needs, another might do the trick.
3. Know the Target Audience
Target audiences vary depending on the product being pitched, so it’s important to have a clear picture of your buyer persona and do targeted research. Residents of a given neighborhood tend to be of similar socioeconomic classes or demographics.
Thus, closing more sales could be a matter of visiting the neighborhoods that best fit your ideal customer profile. Be sure to consider key factors such as demographics, location, and budget.
For example, if you sell luxury goods, you’re better off selling in high-income neighborhoods. If possible, research who lives at each house in advance to personalize each pitch – at least the family’s surname, if you can’t find the full name of the head of the household or the family member matching your target market segment.
4. Pick a Good Time
Find the best time to knock on people’s doors. In this neighborhood, who’s likely to be home in the early evening? Might they be busy wrangling their kids? Before heading out, consider the day of the week and time of day and what your prospect is likely doing at the time.
You could even go one step further and use the time of day to your advantage. If you’re selling breakfast bars, for instance, you could make your visits in the morning. If you’re selling umbrellas, a perfectly dry sales rep appearing on the prospect’s doorstep in the middle of a downpour would be a very strong advertisement!
Though you might invite a cold going door-to-door while it’s raining or worse, this could also work in your favor: the residents might take pity on a waterlogged sales rep and make a purchase, or invite them inside to dry off, opening an opportunity to build a rapport.
Different times and situations tend to bring out different pain points, so you may decide to mix up the days and times you choose to go door-to-door.
5. Dress to Impress
One key advantage of door-to-door sales is that the prospect can see the salesperson, including how they present themselves. By dressing well and taking care of their appearance, salespeople show respect for their prospects and can make a great first impression, potentially increasing the level of trust.
Nothing is more suspicious than a rumpled, scruffy person trawling the neighborhood. When potential buyers look through the peephole, they should see a well-dressed professional offering a friendly smile.
Techniques for Door-to-Door Sales
Now you’re face-to-face with your potential customer and it’s time to deliver a compelling pitch that expertly highlights their pain points and how your product addresses them.
But unlike a customer visiting the store, D2D prospects rarely want to hear a sales pitch on their doorstep. Here are a few techniques to make the most of the situation, turn the tide, and get a sale.
1. The Survey Method
Residents may be unwilling to hear a sales pitch, but there’s no harm in a quick survey, right? Using the survey method, the salesperson opens the conversation by asking the resident to answer three questions. The resident’s responses are then used to qualify the lead or launch into a pitch.
Here are some example questions:
How many people are living in this house, and how old are they?
How often do you pay attention to the news, and through what media?
Which vacuum cleaner brands can you name off the top of your head?
This approach can build a rapport with the customer and get them to open up both literally and figuratively. A potential buyer can’t rudely slam the door once they’ve begun a conversation, and now you’ve gained some insight you can use to hone your message.
2. The Two-Hitter
Most people, when they see a stranger on their doorstep, will ignore them or ask them to leave. The two-hitter subverts this by leaving a business card on their day on the first visit, then knocking on the second visit.
The idea is that on the second visit the salesperson is no longer a stranger and has a better chance of being given a chance to pitch. Of course, this requires sales reps visiting each neighborhood twice. But the second time around should lead to a great many prospects.
And who knows? Some residents might develop an interest in your products from your card and reach out on their own.
3. The Time Crunch
A prospect is likely to have a few questions upon seeing someone on their doorstep, the most prominent one being “how much time will this take?” People are busy and attention spans are short, so be respectful by being ready to make a direct pitch.
A reassuring opening line might be, “I don’t want to take up too much of your time,” or “This will only take a minute.” Relieved that there’s an end in sight, the prospect may be more receptive to the pitch.
The downside, of course, is that the salesperson now needs to deliver a great pitch in a very short period. You should be able to deliver your entire pitch in two to three minutes, and the key is to focus on creating a succinct pitch that leaves the customer wanting more.
With those tips in mind, here are some ways to enhance your sales pitch.
4. Invite Objections
The last three techniques have focused on the opening, but convincing the prospect to buy can be just as much of an uphill climb. The customer may try to end the pitch by saying they lack the money or don’t need the product.
Yet for a good salesperson, these objections are opportunities. Addressing such concerns gives the salesperson a chance to lay out the product’s value proposition and persuade the prospect to buy.
Just like any other sales pitch, a door-to-door pitch should seek to elicit these objections with questions like “Do you have any concerns about X?” or “Do you see any obstacles that would stop you from buying?”
The longer a person holds an opinion, the more deeply rooted it becomes. The faster a salesperson can uncover and alleviate these concerns, the more likely they are to get a “yes” from the prospect.
5. Leverage Social Proof
Showing a prospect strong customer reviews and testimonials and impressive sales figures tends to increase the credibility of the salesperson and the brand. Customers are likely to trust fellow customers over a salesperson, a concept known as social proof.
A real endorsement from a satisfied consumer often builds more trust in a product in one minute than a sales rep could deliver in 10!
To build a local customer base, research the neighborhood and target the most qualified prospects first. Then, once you’ve made sales in the area, whenever you make your pitch you can name the neighbors who’ve already made purchases, increasing the level of trust.
With each sale, the next one will be more likely to hop on the bandwagon!
Tips for Door-to-Door Sales
Here are a handful more tips to improve your D2D sales campaign.
1. Watch the Front Yard
Before getting to the front door, take a moment to observe the space leading up to it. Is the garden neatly cared for? Does the car in the driveway have a bumper sticker for a local college or sports team? Is there a child’s chalk art on the sidewalk?
Each home tells a story, and a good salesperson uses that to their advantage, building a connection with the prospect by complimenting them on their garden or asking about last night’s big game.
2. Be Aware of Personal Space
Especially with the recent lockdowns and social distancing, people are going to be understandably leery of strangers entering their home or getting into their personal space. Respect this by taking a few steps back after knocking.
A salesperson should be aware of their personal stature and take care not to physically intimidate the prospect on first impression. Once the conversation gets going and the customer seems more comfortable, then it’s OK to get a bit closer and hopefully draw the customer away from the door.
3. Be Direct
Keep in mind that if you’re pitching to someone at home you’ve probably interrupted them. Maybe they’re doing laundry, working remotely, watching their favorite show, or preparing dinner. Respect that likelihood by not beating around the bush.
Once you’ve got the customer’s attention and they’ve shown interest, be frank and explain the product, its benefits and price, and ask if they’re ready to make a purchase. They’ll likely give a clear answer and you won’t waste any more of their time or yours.
4. Have a Powerful Closer
Similar to the last point, finishing your pitch with no clear course of action is likely to result in a brush-off as the prospect returns to whatever they were doing. Each sales pitch should end with a powerful closer and a clear call to action.
Some ways to ask for a sale are by asking for it directly, offering a time-sensitive deal, or using an assumptive close. These three methods are the shortest and work best for shorter sales conversations such as a door-to-door sales pitch.
5. Have Good Conduct Between Houses
After a near-sale gone sour, you might be tempted to punch a tree before arriving at the next house. That would be defacing private property, and even worse – news of an angry salesperson skulking about would spread like wildfire through the community, ending any chance of local sales.
Especially in private neighborhoods, salespeople need to conduct themselves with poise at all times; you never know who’s watching. If you need a break, retreat to your car and take a minute before setting back out.
Rare as door-to-door sales may be today, it remains a worthwhile, low-cost tactic, especially for smaller businesses. Adapting your sales pitch for D2D could be the difference between getting doors slammed in your face and easily surpassing your quota.
With quality salespeople implementing sharp door-to-door techniques, you and your business can tap into this underappreciated channel to gain an edge and drive sales growth.
Door-to-Door Sales FAQs
Why should I use a D2D sales campaign over selling online?
A door-to-door sales campaign puts you right in front of the customer, giving you a window of opportunity to build a personal connection, make your case, and pitch a product. They’re also very cheap, costing nothing but gas and time.
Online marketplaces, on the other hand, are inundated with millions of offerings and other distractions. If you’re just starting out as a business, a low SEO score makes you doubly unlikely to get noticed. Customers might also think you’re a scam, which is impossible if you demonstrate a product in person.
How do I know if it’s okay to knock on a house?
Steer clear of houses with “no soliciting” signs. Research local laws to see if there are regulations about what type of products you can sell door-to-door or if you can only sell during certain times of the day.
If your city required you to apply for a solicitation license, you also should’ve been issued a copy of the “do not knock” registry, which is a list of houses that you’ll be fined if you try to sell to. These are common in Massachusetts and gaining traction throughout the country. Generally, go for houses with lights on or cars in the driveway, standard indicators that someone is home.
What do I do if nobody answers the door?
If nobody answers the door, don’t worry. Tuck your business card and promotional material in the door and move on. You can try again the next time you visit the neighborhood.
What should I do if the prospect says they’re not interested?
If the prospect truly isn’t interested or their objections are insurmountable, that’s okay. Thank them for their time and move on to the next house. There are almost eight billion people on Earth, so surely you’ll make a sale eventually.
Alternatively, if the resident isn’t too busy, you could ask them to recommend people in the area who might be interested in learning about your product. More so than any online research, a resident is likely to know who in the neighborhood fits your ideal customer profile and might have a need for your product.