Door-to-Door Sales: The Complete Guide

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Rachael Nicholson
Rachael Nicholson

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The art of door-to-door sales is timeless — even during the rise of modern sales strategies.

salesperson conducting door-to-door or dtd sales efforts

There’s no two ways about it: D2D sales can be tricky. That said, the typical base salary for D2D reps is around $61,800 per year — a figure above the national average. To top it off, high performers can earn over $100,000 annually.

So, if you can master the art of door-to-door sales, the juice is worth the squeeze on the income front. But that’s not all. The skills you learn on the job may also help you climb the sales career ladder. Keep reading to learn 20 D2D sales tips that can fast-track your growth.

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What is door-to-door sales?

Door-to-door (D2D) sales involves knocking on people’s doors to advertise or sell products/services. The canvassing technique is also used to gather information (usually through survey responses), for campaigning, and by different charitable groups.

D2D sales is more commonly associated with reps visiting people’s homes. But in the case of B2B sales, reps are more likely to canvas workplaces. Field sales executives, charity fundraisers, and business development reps are roles that often include door-to-door sales.

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    20 Tips for D2D Sales

    From getting hands-on experience to building trust, we share 20 D2D sales tips based on data and expert advice.

    1. Slow down to speed up

    Before working for a Fortune 500 company, Jim Norton (AOL’s former EVP Global Head of Media Sales) worked “an old-school sales job.”

    Norton, who helped AOL drive 30% YoY growth, got their start in sales selling office equipment for Pitney Bowes. Jim’s next job was “banging on doors, selling 60-second radio ads.”

    Norton attributes his “rock-solid foundation of training and experience” in sales to his early years in D2D. “The fundamentals I learned 23 years ago as an office equipment salesman have stuck with me to this day,” says Jim.

    That said, Jim sees “too many Millennials impatiently jumping from company to company every 18 months, in pursuit, I suppose, of ‘experience.’” If you have itchy feet, Norton recommends that you first “take a step back and realize that in order to speed up, you need to slow down.”

    What we love: If you want to see “Mighty oaks from little acorns grow,” look no further than Jim’s sales journey. And we love that he attributes his future success to getting the fundamentals down early in his career.

    2. Find a company that will invest in you

    “When I started at Pitney Bowes, they put me in a classroom for six months and taught me sales fundamentals: how to listen, how to prepare for a call, how to present, and how to close,” Jim continues.

    So, if you’re new to D2D sales, Jim’s advice is to find a company that will invest in you. And then immerse yourself in their training rather than worrying “so much about the pace of your career advancement.”

    For long-term success, Jim recommends you “Learn how to prepare, present, and provide great customer service. Keep that focus on service — making it easy and enjoyable wins you business and always will — no matter what industry you’re in.”

    What we love: Inside or outside the classroom, seeing everything as a learning opportunity is a mental paradigm shift. It will make you less scared of “failure” and set you up for long-term success.

    3. Get hands-on experience selling

    “Take all of those lessons you’ve learned from all of your training and, you know, use them. And use them again. And again. And again.” says Jim.

    Because “ultimately, the way to move up in sales is to get really good at selling. And the only way to get really good at selling is to sell.”

    Jim’s final advice? Well, it’s golden.

    Above all, trust that investing in yourself now will give you the fuel you need to find and — just as importantly — stay on the real [sales] fast track.

     A salesperson out in the field doing D2D sales.

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    What we love: The quickest way for any learning to stick is to put your knowledge into action. Plus, you’ll pick up a few unique sales tips along the way. Tips you’ll only stumble upon by getting real-life experience.

    4. Don’t stress about rejection

    Long story short? When you do door-to-door sales, you will get rejected. It’s not only inevitable. It may happen a lot. In fact, only 2% of D2D knocks typically end in a sale.

    When it comes to rejection, the real trick is not taking it personally. The second is not to let it put you off your stride. You can do both of those things with a little perception shift. Yes, top performers will generally have a higher success rate than this. But you're not far off the mark if you’re averaging around a 2% hit rate.

    What we love: Building your resilience to rejection is something tangible that you can focus on. You could invest in a sales coach, mindset work, or something else entirely. Either way, how you handle rejection is something you can work on over time. Plus…

    5. Because D2D sales is largely a numbers game

    …when it comes down to it, D2D sales is mostly a numbers game. Seriously, the most successful D2D sellers will canvas the same neighborhood three times, talking with 90% of the residents.

    Then, when it comes to the average D2D seller, they typically create one lead per 50 doors they knock on.

    So first, understand that rejection is part of the role, but it isn’t personal. Then couple that with this knowledge: Even top sellers see D2D as a numbers game. They know that not every door they knock on will create a sale.

    What we love: Persistence and resilience are the keys to success in this field. Seriously, we can’t stress this enough. Developing in those areas will go a long way to increasing your confidence. And as we’re about to discover, a confident mindset is critical in sales.

    6. 80% is mental — 20% is what you’re saying

    "There‘s a difference in what’s going on in your head and your confidence and your own belief system.” That’s D2D sales expert Sam Taggart's response to reps who say the same things as him but don’t close as many deals.

    Sam explains that 80% of sales is the unseen mental work. Rather than the words you say, “It‘s the energetic state that you’re in that's really one of the bigger secrets to door knocking.”

    For Sam, that means seeing the door like it’s his office, “I own that doorstep. That's it.” He also recommends being enthusiastic, courteous, and confident enough to demand attention from prospects.

    What we love: Confidence isn’t a secret club you need special access to — it’s a skill anyone can develop over time through self-improvement. When you grow more confidence, that becomes your default state of mind every time you approach a door.

    7. Get prospects talking

    According to Sales Insights Lab, top sales performers get their prospects to talk more than bottom and average performers. By that logic, you’ll also want to encourage your prospect to talk.

    Now, that doesn’t mean you have to talk less — top performers don’t speak any less than average to bottom ones. But they do leave enough space for prospects to tell them precisely what they need from a product/service.

    Some prospects don’t want to talk. We get it. But if you take a question-based consultative selling approach, people might open up a little more. So, instead of focusing on yourself, think about targeted questions to discover pain points and needs.

    What we love: Even if this doesn’t result in a sale, you’ve gained a great insight into what people really think about products/services in your niche. You can apply that knowledge to your next D2D conversation.

    8. Go back-and-forth

    Aside from getting prospects talking more, top sales performers make around 54% more conversation switches on calls. Increased back-and-forth in a conversation doesn’t just keep it interesting — you get to learn more about your prospect.

    What we love: Following the “I talk, you talk. I talk, you talk”’ conversational structure means less awkward silence. The approach also feels more natural/conversational. That’s because you’re not selling at a prospect but conversing with a prospect.

    9. Nurture relationships

    LinkedIn’s VP of Global Sales Solutions, Alyssa Merwin Henderson, predicts “relationship-building will be framed as a key KPI” in 2023.

    According to Alyssa, this “fundamental shift from the smile-and-dial approach of transactional sales performance” will occur because of “reduced demand.” And the best sales organizations will rise to meet the challenge by spending “more of their time nurturing existing relationships.”

    If you apply this logic to D2D sales, it’s a safe bet to focus on the people you have already built relationships with. As opposed to, say, seeing your door-to-door sales relationships as a one-time transaction.

    What we love: You can’t beat strong relationships in sales. Through consistency and longevity (i.e., you’re the same rep doing return visits), you will build up trust. When you become a trusted advisor, you’re more likely to foster lasting relationships with your customers.

    10. Build trust

    Research by Dale Carnegie found that 71% of customers “would rather buy from a sales professional they completely trusted than one who gave them a lower price.”

    LinkedIn research also shows that customers ultimately see the salespeople they buy from as “trusted advisors.” So, even if they don’t generally trust salespeople, they trust the ones they go on to purchase from.

    When you become the ‘go to’ rep, you can visit people to see if they need to top up on existing products. They’ll also trust you to recommend new products or services that meet their needs.

    What we love: If you’re not too pushy, meeting people face-to-face is a great way to build trust and nurture lasting relationships. You can influence feelings of trust in the first meeting. But trust is something best fostered over time.

    11. Leave a door hanger

    “Just because a person did not answer the door doesn't mean the sale won’t happen,” says Jay Bean, CEO of FreshLime.

    Jay recommends leaving behind a door hanger, business card, or pamphlet “with your contact information.” That way, you can let a homeowner know you’ve stopped by even if they didn’t answer the door.

    What we love: Jay says, “This gives the person living there the opportunity to reach out to you if they're interested, and it may make them more comfortable with opening up next time you knock.” Ultimately, it’s a less invasive form of selling that puts prospects in the driver’s seat.

    12. Include a QR code

    “You can take it a step further by including on your marketing materials a QR code that directs people to your website,” Jay continues. Jay recommends that D2D sales companies add QR codes into designs in a way that allows “them to stand out” within marketing collateral.

    What we love: Not only are marketing materials/door hangers a less invasive way to sell, but a QR code adds a layer of convenience. After a quick scan, potential customers can see who you are and what you offer, then decide if they’re interested.

    13. Create a positive sales experience

    Creating a positive sales experience will help you nurture relationships, build trust, and increase the likelihood of making a sale. According to buyers themselves, the top way a salesperson can create a positive selling experience is to listen to their needs. That’s followed by not being pushy and providing relevant information.

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    What we love: Even if you choose to leave D2D, this knowledge is transferable to many areas of sales and different career paths, too. Creating positive experiences is critical in customer support or marketing, for example. It’s also much-needed within inside sales.

    14. Practice active listening

    Active listening is the art of engaging with what another person is saying and actively seeking to understand their point of view. That’s opposed to passively consuming their words as a pleasantry before jumping in to speak your piece.

    When you practice active listening, you really hear what someone has to say, and your responses better meet their needs as a result.

    What we love: Active listening will help get customers talking and create a friendly back-and-forth. It also goes a long way to nurturing relationships, building trust, and creating a positive sales experience. So, just by mastering this skill, you’re more likely to excel in five other areas on the list.

    15. Do more research

    LinkedIn’s Global State of Sales Report found that “more than three-quarters (76%) of top performers say they ‘always’ perform research before reaching out to prospects.”

    Research is perhaps more applicable to B2B office canvassing rather than, say, D2D visits to residential areas. That said, the data doesn’t lie, so it’s always worth adding prospect research into your sales process.

    What we love: Prospect research is a great way to experiment with AI to become more familiar with the tech. Sales pros using AI save over two hours daily by automating tasks (The State of AI Report), and you could join them. In this instance, consider automating prospect research so you can spend more time actually selling.

    CTA: Get started with HubSpot's AI Tools

    16. Challenge a buyer’s way of thinking

    LinkedIn’s State of Sales Report found that “89% of buyers say they are more likely to consider a brand if a seller changes the buyer’s way of thinking.” In short, buyers want to be challenged about their assumptions, pain points, and current product/service solutions to problems.

    But challenging buyers in a D2D situation requires nuance. You don’t want to seem too pushy and create a negative sales experience. You do want to practice active listening (so your challenges genuinely align with a prospect’s needs), be polite, and proceed with finesse.

    What we love: If you get this approach right, you can position your product/service as the best customer fit. Plus, you can use this skill as a way to flip sales objections on their head by reframing a prospect’s thinking.

    17. Connect with people on a personal level

    Howard Tillerman, the Chief Marketing Officer for Making That Sale, has hands-on sales experience for several national and international companies. But only after painting houses for a summer in high school.

    “Before we could start painting, we had to canvas neighborhoods and knock on doors to

    convince people to let us paint their houses,” says Howard.

    Howard was given a script and an end goal but quickly realized that “people hate being sold in a telemarketing manner.”

    While it’s “tempting to launch right into your pitch and try your luck at as many houses as possible,” Howard recommends starting a casual conversation. Remember to “take the time to chat with the person who has so kindly opened the door for you and given you their valuable time.”

    What we love: As the saying goes, you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. So, rather than seeing someone as a mere transaction, aim to connect with them on a personal level. They will almost always be more receptive.

    18. Develop strong product knowledge

    “Salespeople must have strong product knowledge to effectively door-to-door sell products or services,” says Hannah Sanderson, CEO/Founder of Clever Canadian.

    Hannah recommends that you stay updated on company events and training for better “communication and decision-making.” Doing so will help you “respond to [product] inquiries and determine potential benefits” for customers.

    What we love: To sell anything, it's crucial to have a deep understanding of the product/service. There’s no better way to understand a product than by using it yourself and attending training. It’ll also give you a head start when answering customer queries and overcoming objections.

    19. Ask if people are interested

    Tim Connon, Founder of ParamountQuote Insurance Advisors, spent over five years selling ADT home security from door to door.

    In Tim’s first-hand experience, “having a scripted pitch with a question of are you interested at the end is how you generate leads and sales.” That’s because “If there is no interest, you have no business pitching the prospect on your products,” Tim warns.

    If you work from a script, aside from confirming interest, the script should also “state who you are and what you do.” In Tim’s experience, that combination “has proven to be the most effective method of door-to-door marketing.”

    What we love: It’s simple, straight to the point, and offers transparency from the word go. And let’s face it, it’s hard to close a sale if there is little customer interest in the product/service you’re offering.

    20. Share social proof

    Elliot Hall built his house painting business, Wade Paint Co, during the heart of COVID-19 by knocking on doors and getting the word out.

    More specifically, Hall reached out to his neighbors to ask if they needed help with their home painting. Luckily, “they did, and referrals picked up immediately and didn’t slow down.”

    “Once you get one person to agree, use their name on every other house within three blocks when you knock on the door,” says Hall. Wade Paint Co has grown to multiple crews supporting the Charleston, SC area by doing this.

    What we love: Sometimes, the old tricks work the best. And it’s great to see social proof in action in a door-to-door setting. Use the approach to build trust and grow your business.

    Unlocking Success in Door-To-Door Sales

    Maybe you’re a complete D2D beginner lacking in confidence. Perhaps you’ve been in door-to-door sales for a while and want to accelerate your career fast. Either way, our D2D sales tips will help you hit your monthly quota and start making even more money, stat.

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