How I got sold by a door to door salesman

…and how he ruined the sale afterwards.

Yes, you read that correctly.  A person I did not know actually came up to my front door and rang the bell, and I answered. Who says face to face marketing is dead? “What am I thinking?” I muttered to myself, wondering why I even opened the door.  Nobody answers the door anymore, unless it’s an Amazon delivery, right?

Anyways, against all good advice, I opened the door and was greeted by a young man in his 20’s totally decked out head-to-foot in cable-guy gear. Now, my usual impulse is to slam the door before the first sentence is complete. In fact, this exact thing happened one week ago when another (older, less innocent-looking) salesman came to my back door, and knocked while I was up to my eyeballs in book-keeping.

“Excuse me sir you have a minute to —”

SLAM.

But this time, I don’t know, maybe it was his puppy dog eyes, his aloof, almost bro-like demeanor. (In fact, I think he did say bro a few times in course of the sale). Maybe I was just open to the idea of talking to someone for a few seconds.  But somehow he got the hook in with an irresistible value proposition: “Would you like to double the speed of your internet for the same price”?

Dang, bro, you got me. Who wouldn’t want that?

He quickly played the herd mentality card on me “I’ve been signing up a lot of your neighbors today… do you have 30 seconds I can show you what I mean. Do you have a cell phone?”

I found my hand sneaking into my pocket. My god, I’m not actually still standing here… but I couldn’t resist. And sure enough, the speed test I ran was pitifully slow! How could I be surviving with such prehistoric internet speeds? And I supposedly run a business here? I’m almost embarrassed at this point.

But there is no way I am going to buy from this bro. Am I?

“Look” he said, flashing his baby-blue eyes, “You don’t have to sign up with me. It’s totally up to you. I’m just walking around, and I figured maybe you’d want a faster connection for the same price with no monthly commitment.”

The hook went deeper.

No monthly commitment. Fiber optic goodness. Same price. And, didn’t my current ISP get under my skin a zillion times in the past with terrible service? This bro is a godsend! And with net neutrality going out the window, and this ‘limited time’ offer expiring soon, who knows… this might be my only chance to grab the bandwidth deal of the century…

He smiled. “It’s simple… I just need some information from you. What’s your date of birth?”

And, before I knew what was happening, I was giving out sacred personal information to a person I had just met 10 minutes ago. A person who was violating all kinds of rules of good salesmanship and still closing me. “Hey, silly question,” he asked, “Do you have an iPhone charger I can borrow? My phone is just about dead. Maybe you could charge it up for a few minutes?”

Like that, I was off in search of a charger for my bro. This is not really happening.

Before I knew it, I was signed up for fiber-optic. How did I get sold by a door to door salesman? In retrospect I think there was a few things that worked flawlessly in his favor:

1.  Timing was everything.

If my kid was crying, If I was looking at a P&L, or any number of other things were distracting me, I am closing the door before he’s got the first sentence done. This happened the week before with Salesman #1.  Truth: there’s not much you can do about timing (except try again at another time).

2. Keep it colloquial.

The casual tone broke down my barriers to the sale. There were quick stories about how he drove to New York from LA. He repeatedly insisted I didn’t need to sign up.  Everything felt like we were sharing a beer at the bar.  Heck, he gave me his personal cell number at the end in case anything went wrong. Net takeaway: People buy from folks they trust (and would share a beer with).

3. Have an irresistible, can’t-lose value proposition.

Double the speed of my current service, and the same price, with no monthly commitment. That, my friends, is a no-brainer.

4. Make closing easy.

Aside from a few bits of info I’d rather not share with a random dude from LA, the signup process was super easy. The UI/UX on the ISP’s site was pretty epic as well. There’s enough buying resistance, don’t make a cumbersome sign up (or opt-in) process the deal-breaker.

5. When all else fails, ask if your prospect has a charger you can borrow.

If they are willing to do that, then buying your product or service should be child’s play in comparison.

In the end, good-old face to face marketing still packs a punch. There’s things you can do in person you just can’t accomplish online. The ability to read facial expressions, change your approach on the fly, and interact on a more human level means that this is still a powerful channel in your marketing arsenal.

POSTSCRIPT:

It’s two months later and I am not on my new blazing-fast fiber optic connection…  What happened?

On the day of installation, an engineer came to my door and told me that my house was not wired to the main cable on the street.  There was “nothing he could do,” and “They will call you”. But wait!  I have my Bro who gave me his personal cell phone number.  He can fix it!

Ring. Ring. Ring. Voicemail. Mailbox is full.  Uh-oh. Not good. In fact, pretty disappointing. I tried a few more times that week. Same deal. 

It seems my Bro has forgotten a core pillar of any sales process: be authentic and do what you say you will do.His line about “call me anytime” ended up being worthless, killed the sale, and ruined my perception about door-to-door salesmen for the next 75 years.

Way to go, Bro.

But worse, my feelings on the brand have tanked as well. Other salespeople eventually tried to follow up but I wasn’t having it.  The odds of me signing up for their services anytime in the next decade are pretty slim. 

This is why every employee in your organization, especially sales, can have a real impact on your brand value. Make sure they are aligned with your brand values, mission, and positioning… and always have a phone charger with them.

Share this article