Doorstep selling in the twenty-first century

A book worth reading

These days I mainly work from home though obviously I go out to visit clients and those who are providing me with support services to help me run my business. One of the hazards of being home-based is being “doorstepped” by people selling products and religion. I am not sure how well either tactic will have worked in the past, but it certainly doesn’t work with me. I probably haven’t given much thought as to whether I need whatever is being sold and even if I had I would want to shop around for the most suitable deal which might not necessarily be the cheapest.

When I started my own business for the first time I went on sales courses which involved learning the techniques of hard selling, getting prospects to sign up for business advice or whatever on the basis of a visit arranged by an appointment maker. I wasn’t very good at the hard sell, or maybe it was never going to work anyway because people are naturally resistant, as I would be when faced by a double-glazing salesperson I didn’t really want to see.

Whether or not the hard sell worked or still works for the sort of thing I do, I am very uncomfortable with it. I don’t like getting people out of their comfort-zone because that involves me getting out of my comfort-zone. And I only want to get out of my comfort-zone when doing something positive for my business by making a difficult but necessary choice which I can recognise. That might be buying-in marketing from an expert, or setting the legal dogs on a non-payer (fortunately rare).

I am not an expert in selling, but that is all right because my marketing brings me warm leads and referrals which are even better. Of course the referral business is a two-way street, but isn’t it great when you put together two people who need each other?

As we know that is the basis of selling really; having our prospects recognise that they have a need. I learned that partly for experience, but also from reading Zig Ziglar right after I found that the hard sell didn’t work for me. His folk wisdom of selling resonated much more with me.

In face-to-face meetings I rarely fail to close new business if I decide I want it and it is the right deal for the client. My new clients have identified their own needs and invited me to visit.

I have bought double glazing after seeing salespeople from three or four different companies. I had identified my own need and chose what I thought was the best product, which was not the cheapest deal offered.

I don’t think doorstep selling is very effective, whether physically on the doorstep or from other unsolicited calls. In difficult economic times I would have thought it of very little value. My concern is that it is only likely to succeed with those who are vulnerable such as the some elderly people and some more unsophisticated individuals. That makes it a rather unethical process. What do you think?

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