Are the days of the door to door salesman over?

26 replies
When I was a very young child, I remember how my mother would invite door to door salespeople into the livingroom for sales presentations of things such as cookware, cosmetics and even vacuum cleaners. Many of these presentations would result in sales. And, maybe back in the day this was a feasible way to earn money. And, it seemed like such a personalized way to buy items, in one's own home.

These days, I rarely have a salesperson knocking on my door.

And, maybe that's not such a surprise since you can buy almost anything you want online at Amazon, Ebay or any of a hundred thousand shopping sites online.

Is it possible the days of the door to door salesperson is really over? Have times changed so much?
#days #door #salesman
  • Profile picture of the author Freebiequeen1999
    Yes but when I was a kid we didn't have to sit in carseats, let alone wear seat belts.
    Many people did not lock their doors , kids could walk anywhere...or even take public transportation
    It was a lot safer
    I don't mind walking into a business but homes? NO thanks )
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    • Profile picture of the author XponentSYS
      Originally Posted by Freebiequeen1999 View Post

      Yes but when I was a kid we didn't have to sit in carseats, let alone wear seat belts.
      Many people did not lock their doors , kids could walk anywhere...or even take public transportation
      It was a lot safer
      I don't mind walking into a business but homes? NO thanks )
      Yeah. When I was a kid, I'd take the buss all over town, play football in the street after dark, walk all over town unsupervised (sometimes at night) and in the summertime...... I did many of those things (being from California) barefooted.

      When I arrived home in the evening sometimes my mom would let us jump in the car with her (still barefoot even) for a trip to the mall.

      Many a time, my Aunt, a heavy smoker, would be with her.

      Nobody cared.

      She just smoked in the car.

      When we got to Macys, no problem. The shopping carts had ash treys on the handles. That way, you could continue to consume Palmalls while you buy Coach bags.

      Somehow, I turned out fine.

      YES....... times have changed.
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      • Profile picture of the author mojo1
        With the Stand your ground laws rampant throughout the US, who in their right mind would
        want to casually walk onto anyone's property uninvited to sell.
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        • Profile picture of the author Claude Whitacre
          Originally Posted by mojo1 View Post

          With the Stand your ground laws rampant throughout the US, who in their right mind would
          want to casually walk onto anyone's property uninvited to sell.
          Well....
          You don't walk on their property. You walk on the sidewalk, and their driveway. You don't prospect after dark.

          You don't dress like a convicted felon, and you don't wear a hoodie or sunglasses. You don't prospect after dark. You dress like a business person. You carry ID. You don't prospect after dark.

          You don't walk on their lawn. and....You don't prospect after dark.

          In 35 years of knocking on doors, I've had someone be rude to me perhaps 5 times. And I've never been threatened.

          And the stories you hear about someone bodily throwing a salesman out the door? I've never even met a person that has had that experience. It's a common lie, told by people who want to look brave.
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          • Profile picture of the author tryinhere
            Originally Posted by Claude Whitacre View Post

            In 35 years of knocking on doors, I've had someone be rude to me perhaps 5 times. And I've never been threatened.

            And the stories you hear about someone bodily throwing a salesman out the door? I've never even met a person that has had that experience. It's a common lie, told by people who want to look brave.
            I have had a person threaten to blow a shot gun through the front door if I did not leave immediate ( and it was the real deal, the guy was in the middle of a huge mid life domestic argument with his wife when I knocked the door )

            I was asked to leave / thrown out by a customer who some how flipped during a presentation, went from a gentle frog to a bionic monster, something tripped his wire, even his wife was yelling at him whats wrong, but this guy did flip it large and left me no room but to pack up and to vacate as fast as possible. As best I can figure he thought we were trying to pressure him into a sale and he flipped on it.

            I was thrown uot of a yard by a rotwieler who emerged from the long weeds in some dingy house, there were no signs on the yard in regards the dog, and next thing a rustle in the weeds and huge rotwieler 2 inches from me in full frontal I am pissed of mode. It seemed like it took me an hour to get from the door back the front gate moving one mm at a time and expecting this monster to eat me, I felt like I sheit myself that day.

            I was threatened by another customer who indicated he was in the mood to kill someone and by that in the real terms of kill someone / this guy was the real deal. That moment alone took many years of in home skills to stay calm on the outside and excuse myself from the house as soon as possible. he turned out to be a screw loose in home detail, but I was never told before.

            No I don't lie, nor do I think I am brave, but I have always been in homes selling one thing or another for many many years and probably have other stories like this if i choose to think back.
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          • Profile picture of the author mojo1
            Originally Posted by Claude Whitacre View Post

            Well....
            You don't walk on their property. You walk on the sidewalk, and their driveway. You don't prospect after dark.

            You don't dress like a convicted felon, and you don't wear a hoodie or sunglasses. You don't prospect after dark. You dress like a business person. You carry ID. You don't prospect after dark.

            You don't walk on their lawn. and....You don't prospect after dark.

            In 35 years of knocking on doors, I've had someone be rude to me perhaps 5 times. And I've never been threatened.

            And the stories you hear about someone bodily throwing a salesman out the door? I've never even met a person that has had that experience. It's a common lie, told by people who want to look brave.
            I luv ya Claude, Lord knows I do

            In this case, I didn't mean to rattle your cage with the Stand your ground reference but a homeowner's sidewalk and driveway is technically located on their property. Therefore, I didn't see any point in saying sidewalk opting to use the term property instead. I would never walk on anyone's grass. Odd you say that along with the hoodie and convicted felon comments. Strange? It's sad stand your ground is now synonymous with hoodies.

            However, I am the consummate professional in all manner of speaking, dress, etc yet as a person of color if I walk on your well manicured sidewalk even wearing professional attire, trust there would a level of distrust subconsciously. Statistics bear this out time and time again.

            These are things people tend to take for granted or never even stop to consider in sales discussions and life in general.

            Respectfully, your reality is yours and all of the limited negative experiences you've been lucky to not have and mine, well is unpopular but true as well.
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            • Profile picture of the author Claude Whitacre
              Originally Posted by mojo1 View Post

              I luv ya Claude, Lord knows I do

              In this case, I didn't mean to rattle your cage with the Stand your ground reference but a homeowner's sidewalk and driveway is technically located on their property. Therefore, I didn't see any point in saying sidewalk opting to use the term property instead. I would never walk on anyone's grass. Odd you say that along with the hoodie and convicted felon comments. Strange? It's sad stand your ground is now synonymous with hoodies.

              However, I am the consummate professional in all manner of speaking, dress, etc yet as a person of color if I walk on your well manicured sidewalk even wearing professional attire, trust there would a level of distrust subconsciously. Statistics bear this out time and time again.

              These are things people tend to take for granted or never even stop to consider in sales discussions and life in general.

              Respectfully, your reality is yours and all of the limited negative experiences you've been lucky to not have and mine, well is unpopular but true as well.
              MOJO; I have no doubt that you have had the experiences that you talk about. And, I am ashamed to say, I think that being black (I'm assuming that you are black) may be the sole reason that you have had a few more negative experiences than I have.

              Some people are stupid. A smaller number are drunk and stupid. A few are drunk, stupid and prone to violence. Being a white tall male puts me in the best position, when someone is watching me walk up their drive. I don't tend to trigger most prejudices. I know that it's true, even though it's not a pleasant conversation.

              My remark about hoodies, and walking at night, and walking in lawns, was a direct reference to the Martin case. I know you know that. But when you mentioned "Stand Your Ground" it's the image that popped up in my mind.

              My post was really for anyone selling. Common mistakes are walking in people's yards and prospecting after dark.
              Anything to trigger a bad reaction. I've never had a problem, if I stick to the sidewalk and drive. If there is anything about the home I don't like, or if it has a fence, I just don't bother them. A "No soliciting" sign is always honored.

              When I was canvassing one day, I decided to get lunch in a neighborhood bar. It was very sunny out, in the middle of Summer. When I walked in the bar, the difference in light, made me blind for a minute or so. So I just stood inside the doorway. Someone said "Can I help you?" and I said (I swear to God this is true) "It sure is dark in here".

              A couple guys laughed. One guy said "Are you sure you're in the right place?" and I said "If you serve beer and sandwiches, I am. I just need to wait for my eyes to adjust, I can't see a thing right now" There were maybe 30 guys in the bar, all black. A minute later, I realized what I had said, and what it must have sounded like. I thought that was hilarious.

              After about 5 minutes....everyone was happy, and I went back several times.

              That's just another thought that popped into my head.
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            • Profile picture of the author longrobnc
              Originally Posted by mojo1 View Post

              I luv ya Claude, Lord knows I do

              In this case, I didn't mean to rattle your cage with the Stand your ground reference but a homeowner's sidewalk and driveway is technically located on their property. Therefore, I didn't see any point in saying sidewalk opting to use the term property instead. I would never walk on anyone's grass. Odd you say that along with the hoodie and convicted felon comments. Strange? It's sad stand your ground is now synonymous with hoodies.

              However, I am the consummate professional in all manner of speaking, dress, etc yet as a person of color if I walk on your well manicured sidewalk even wearing professional attire, trust there would a level of distrust subconsciously. Statistics bear this out time and time again.

              These are things people tend to take for granted or never even stop to consider in sales discussions and life in general.

              Respectfully, your reality is yours and all of the limited negative experiences you've been lucky to not have and mine, well is unpopular but true as well.
              I'm a business owner and we do in home presentations. The salesperson that holds every sales record in my company is black. My customers are overwhelmingly white and we are in the South. I have yet to figure this out because he is NOT high skill and has a hard time implementing new information. Yet, he's top dog.
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              • Profile picture of the author socialentry
                Originally Posted by longrobnc View Post

                I'm a business owner and we do in home presentations. The salesperson that holds every sales record in my company is black. My customers are overwhelmingly white and we are in the South. I have yet to figure this out because he is NOT high skill and has a hard time implementing new information. Yet, he's top dog.
                But if your perception of what "high skill" is was off,at least for this kind of offer?
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              • Profile picture of the author Claude Whitacre
                Originally Posted by longrobnc View Post

                I'm a business owner and we do in home presentations. The salesperson that holds every sales record in my company is black. My customers are overwhelmingly white and we are in the South. I have yet to figure this out because he is NOT high skill and has a hard time implementing new information. Yet, he's top dog.
                If he's the top salesman for 6 months straight (which may or may not have happened yet) then he does have a higher skill level than the rest of the office.

                He may have several things going for him, for example;

                He may be a great conversationalist. He may be interesting as a person. He may be likable.
                He may not be afraid to ask for the sale. That alone can put someone at the top in an office.

                An interesting thing I've noticed with a couple of successful black salespeople I have trained and worked with. They sell prejudiced people.

                Why? Because the people are emotionally involved when the guy shows up at their door. The fact that it's a negative emotion isn't that important. And after the rep shows that he's a good guy, and isn't going to rape and pillage...their emotions about him start swinging in the opposite direction. By the end of the presentation...they like him. And they like him more, because of the direction of the change in emotion.

                It can also work with prospects that are mad, when you arrive. I don't care why they are mad, or even if they are mad at me. They are emotional. There is emotional momentum there. Changing the direction of emotion is far easier than creating emotions.

                That's very advanced stuff I just shared. I hope someone benefits from it.
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                • Profile picture of the author The Niche Man
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                  • Profile picture of the author The Niche Man
                    Spot on, those are good points. That reminds of Jackie Robinson and Martin Luther King. I'll explain in a second.

                    I've had that experience myself in my former career. Selling real estate in White neighborhoods in Southern California. Where the only Blacks most of the people saw was on the evening news - and of course basketball and football games.

                    I wouldn't say they were prejudiced (although some may have been), but cautious, curious or extra-critical. There's not many Black real estate agents anywhere, much less in Orange county California. So, I had to work a little harder, smarter and creative to win trust - as opposed to the white agents (even by my brokers admission).

                    But once I did, they were incredibly loyal, and even referral minded. Like after finding out I was alright ("knew my stuff"), they had to psychologically make up for it. Through experience I've found that's an almost natural human reaction.

                    I credit that to applying what I called a "Jackie Robinson" mentality (keep your eye on the ball/goal and not be "offensively" distracted).

                    History has proven he, Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela has been the best at doing it. It's definitely not an attitude for "wimps" or "sissies"

                    Originally Posted by longrobnc View Post

                    I'm a business owner and we do in home presentations. The salesperson that holds every sales record in my company is black. My customers are overwhelmingly white and we are in the South. I have yet to figure this out because he is NOT high skill and has a hard time implementing new information. Yet, he's top dog.
                    Interesting. Reminds me of the saying, "customers don't care how much you know ... until they know how much you care". While everyone else is focusing on skills and learning new information ... he's focusing on connecting to the customer. Just a hunch.
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                  • Profile picture of the author Claude Whitacre
                    Originally Posted by The Niche Man View Post

                    I wouldn't say they were prejudiced (although some may have been), but cautious, curious or extra-critical. There's not many Black real estate agents anywhere, much less in Orange county California. So, I had to work a little harder, smarter and creative to win trust - as opposed to the white agents (even by my brokers admission).
                    It can also be guilt. If you have apprehensions about dealing with someone, because they are a different race, short, gay, a different sex, have a strong accent, etc....after a few minutes, they realize that their apprehensions are unfounded. Then they want to over compensate. They may laugh harder at your jokes, agree with you more than usual, that sort of thing.

                    And they may unconsciously want to buy, as a way to prove to themselves that they aren't prejudiced. I've had conversations about this with 2 black reps....as long as you understand it, it can be an asset.
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      • Profile picture of the author hometutor
        Originally Posted by XponentSYS View Post


        Somehow, I turned out fine.
        How do you know that?

        Kirby still sells door to door here in Honolulu. I think Combined insurance does as well.

        Rick
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  • Profile picture of the author Claude Whitacre
    Originally Posted by Samuel Adams View Post

    When I was a very young child, I remember how my mother would invite door to door salespeople into the livingroom for sales presentations of things such as cookware, cosmetics and even vacuum cleaners. Many of these presentations would result in sales. And, maybe back in the day this was a feasible way to earn money. And, it seemed like such a personalized way to buy items, in one's own home.

    These days, I rarely have a salesperson knocking on my door.

    And, maybe that's not such a surprise since you can buy almost anything you want online at Amazon, Ebay or any of a hundred thousand shopping sites online.

    Is it possible the days of the door to door salesperson is really over? Have times changed so much?
    There are still people who sell in prospect's homes. Home improvement, vacuums, water softeners, alarm systems....

    Amazon and E-bay have hurt. Dealers selling the identical product for just above cost, on a website...hurt.

    But there are still guys out there. After the economy crashed in 2007, many of these organizations couldn't offer financing anymore, and it killed their business. But there are still strong organizations that sell in people's homes.

    The reason you don't get called, is the reason none of us get called. Lazy salesmen....who are afraid to cold call..or talk to a stranger.
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  • Profile picture of the author socialentry
    Supply and demand is economics 101 but truth is there is a cost associated with education and most people are not willing to bear it.

    For example, for something as simple as a cell phone, for heavy users, it take 3-4 hours to price shop and it doesn't guarantee a successful outcome. And there's the fact that some people are not tech savy, etc.

    For other things, it's actually a lot harder to do it. For example,most people don't know what's kind of financial products they buy. Heck, lots of brokers don't know what exactly they sell to their clients.Some industries are simply too opaque to compete on price alone.
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  • Profile picture of the author arifast
    It seems dead in Australia. Many houses have the "no salesman" sticker and knocking on the doors of these houses could incur a severe penalty. This limits the amount of potential customers. So as a result cold approaching methods is more effective.
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  • Profile picture of the author Rearden
    I do, albeit with the use of direct mail lead cards.
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  • Profile picture of the author JohnnyPlan
    Cold calling with door to door sales might be dead, however selling in home is not. Think of all the real estate and life insurance salespeople that conduct in home presentations. You can just as easily drum up leads offline via postcards to your area and at least these leads will be interested if they follow up for an appointment.
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    • Profile picture of the author Claude Whitacre
      People still knock on doors. Really.

      I've been bitten by a dog once, and had a boyfriend act like he was going to start something...of course, I just left. I've also had a few people that were so drunk, I just left.

      But tell me to leave? I think it happened twice. Someone touch me to assist my leaving? Never. Threaten me? I can't remember that ever happening either.

      The amazing thing to me is that far more than 50% of the people I know, have a story where they "Threw the salesman out the door". I'd ask if they meant literally grab him and throw him out the door bodily. Most say yes.

      It's a lie. I've even had people tell me that they threw me out the door, because they didn't recognize me from when I was in their home. It's happened several times. I'll ask them to tell me about their experience, and they will make up the most amazing story of how they bravely grabbed me by the arm, and threw me out..along with my sample case.

      I was in a social setting, and a woman told the story of how "This young guy came into our home, and my husband had to throw him out". On a whim, I said "Amazing. I was the guy that was there that day. You were both nice and polite. You even asked me to stop back and visit, if I were ever in your area again. Why do you feel the need to make up a story like that?"

      She got red faced, and left. The reaction of the other people in the group told me that I should have kept quiet, so I learned that confronting and clarifying stories like that, isn't in my best interests. Usually, a tug on my arm, by my wife, lets me know when I should be quiet.

      Far more than 99% of the people are at least polite. I don't think I've ever read about a salesman being killed in a prospect's home...so it isn't dangerous.

      But cold calling is work. That's why it's rare. And certain communities require that you have a permit. I just never worked there.
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  • Profile picture of the author Aussie_Al
    The only people I get at home are religious people, but at work even though we have a sign on the door saying "No Beer No Entry" we still get daily sales reps trying to sell their wares on us
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    • Profile picture of the author The Niche Man
      Now that southern California real estate prices are inching up again, I'm getting tons of real estate agents knocking on my door, asking if I want to sell.

      • I get lawn care people canvassing the neighborhood.
      • Plus the, "I was just in the neighborhood" contractors knocking on my door.
      • And of course the 'Watch Tower' people.
      • Plus, tons of other people leaving their cards, flyers and notes on my door when I'm gone or refuse to answer the door.

      So yes, door to door selling is (too much) alive and well, at least in my neighborhood. And the clicker? Door to door solicitations is technically against the law in my neighborhood. Imagine what it'd be like if it was legal.
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      • Profile picture of the author blueonblue
        Cold calling door to door is still alive at least in MD.

        I worked for a cemetary to have your burial plots arranged and paid for before you died. Had to go door to door. My team mate and I knocked on this one door and a lady said..."I can't come to the door. I dont' have any clothes on".... OMG!

        I had a job a few years ago doing it for Burglar Alarms.
        One time at a house, the front door was open, the screen door was closed (thankfully) and when I rang the bell, the biggest dog I had ever seen (maybe part elephant) came to the door. I waited for the home owner, all through the dogs growling at me.

        When they came to the door finally and he asked me what I wanted, he looked at me and said...Rover here is the decision maker. He asked Rover if Rover wanted to hear my spiel. Rover Growled and snarled., He said Rover said no... I turned and ran.

        These companies that want you to change to them for your energy needs, continues to solicit for door to door canvasers and believe it or not so does COMCAST! So say what you want..it is not dead yet, but should be...
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        • Profile picture of the author The Niche Man
          Originally Posted by blueonblue View Post

          I worked for a cemetary to have your burial plots arranged and paid for before you died.
          Wow! That's gotta be one of the hardest jobs on the planet. The last thing most people under the age of 85 would want to talk about, much less spend their money on with a door to door salesman. That sounds like a job for superman.
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          • Profile picture of the author Kay King
            I sold an expensive dating service in people's homes. Employees took questions and set appointments by phone and there were three of us (2 men and me) who went (alone) to the person's location and did a sales presentation.

            That was just before cell phones and when I think of it now, it gives me the shivers. I went to mansions and hovels - sold to a lot of great people....and talked to some scary characters and more than a few drunks.

            I was going into homes of single men after dark in and around Atlanta. It was a balancing act to sell the dating membership while maintaining my personal mantle of "unavailable".

            I only did it about 4 months - couldn't take it any longer but I was earning 1500-2000 a week for about 30 hrs of work so stuck with it as long as I could.
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            • Profile picture of the author Claude Whitacre
              Originally Posted by Kay King View Post

              I sold an expensive dating service in people's homes. Employees took questions and set appointments by phone and there were three of us (2 men and me) who went (alone) to the person's location and did a sales presentation.

              That was just before cell phones and when I think of it now, it gives me the shivers. I went to mansions and hovels - sold to a lot of great people....and talked to some scary characters and more than a few drunks.

              I was going into homes of single men after dark in and around Atlanta. It was a balancing act to sell the dating membership while maintaining my personal mantle of "unavailable".

              I only did it about 4 months - couldn't take it any longer but I was earning 1500-2000 a week for about 30 hrs of work so stuck with it as long as I could.
              I can imagine you as a very good salesperson.

              I think I can also imagine the oddness of selling a dating service, if you're a woman, to a man.
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  • Profile picture of the author MikeAndrews3
    Cold calling in the UK is very much frowned upon these days.
    People tend to be very suspicious of salesmen knocking on their doors.
    Even if your product is above board people believe they are being conned.
    Utility companies were the only ones really to cold call in the last couple of years but many were found to make false promises to get the sign up.
    A lot of older aged people especially were taken for a ride as they were easily confused - hence the bad press.
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