Cold Knocking Strategy That Get You Into A Sales Presentation Right Now. "I'm Taking A Survey"

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This isn't in any of my books. I decided to share these methods because I spent the first 20 years of my sales career selling life insurance and then vacuum cleaners....door to door. (First 18 months selling life insurance) I had a referral system when selling vacuum cleaners, but I still found it easy to knock on a few doors to get an immediate appointment to present my product. I think this will word well for you. I've done this approach thousands of time, and can promise that it works.

"I'm taking a survey". I actually learned this from the first month I sold life insurance in the mid 1970s. And I used it again as a cold calling technique selling vacuum cleaners years later.

What doors would I knock on? I sold in people's homes. These methods can also work when walking into offices or small businesses. When cold calling...or canvassing, I would pick out middle in some homes that were close together, or work in higher end mobile home parks, or high end apartment complexes. The main reason was that the doors were closer together, and I could see more people.

I'll give the the vacuum cleaner version. Although it's easy to adapt to any product or service.

They come to the door...."Hi. My boss sent me out to do a quick survey. It's just a couple of quick questions I'd like to ask if I could get you together (if husband and wife were both there) for a minute". Frankly, they either asked me to step inside or they didn't. I didn't want to stand there and try to convince them to let me in the door. I wanted it easy for them to say "No". About a third would let me in.

When I was standing there, I had my short form clipped to a clipboard. And I had the questions typed out (for their benefit if they looked). The questions were mostly qualification questions to see if I thought they could buy a new vacuum cleaner...or at least qualify for financing. So I'd ask if they were the owner (unless it was an apartment)...what kind of work did they do...What year their car was (for credit)...and what kind of vacuum cleaner did they own? After a few years, I'd also ask if they ever saw a vacuum cleaner presentation...or any sales presentation in their home. That question became very important when I was trying to figure out whether they were going to be likely to buy from me..or not. That was pretty much it. If I liked what I heard, I'd offer a gift if they let me come in and show them a vacuum cleaner...and about half of them said "OK". If I didn't like what they said, I'd thank them for helping me with the survey and I'd be on my way....

When I sold life insurance, the questions were insurance oriented, and the answers let me know if there was an area of concern for them. I could tell by the language they used and if they sounded concerned. About half the time (if they let me in at all) they would be interested in..or at least open to talking about...a specific solution that I offered.

With homeowners, I'd start at about 6PM and work until it was dark...or until I started a presentation. It was very unusual for me to have to talk to more than 10 people, to find a great prospect.

One evening, I decided to take a new guy with me to show him how I prospected...and how easy it was. We were driving to the street I was going to work on, and he asked "What are the odds of doing a presentation tonight?"

I said "What are the odds of getting in the first door I knock on? One in six. What are the odds of me giving a sales presentation tonight? About 100%".

One thing I liked about knocking on doors was that I could choose who I presented my product to.....The first decision was theirs..would they let me in the door. But the next decision was mine, did I want to show them my product? You see...I was just looking for that nice couple on the street that I "clicked" with. If they agreed to talk to me, but had a bad attitude, or one person there was against me being there, I'd thank them and leave. I was very easy to say "No thanks" to. In fact, I was trying to get through the "No thanks" people as fast as I could to get to that nice guy and his family that I had some rapport with, and were likely to buy from me.

Weather was a concern. If it was raining, I would work in nice apartment buildings. Yes, people in apartments still buy high end vacuum cleaners. Actually, if it was snowing, it was easier to get them to invite me in the home, because it was cold outside. But if it was raining, and I was wet, it was less likely that they would invite me in.

In Winter, it got dark about 7PM, so I had to find the person I wanted to present to in about an hour. Usually not a problem.

Two quick cold calling stories;

It was decades ago, but it was the last day of the month and I was in a contest. I need one more sale and I'd get a huge bonus..even bigger than the retail price of the vacuum I was selling. The problem was, a huge storm was coming into town...and I knew I had to get an appointment quick...

So...I ran door to door...and I didn't use any of my prepared door approach. I would just say "Hi. I sell vacuum cleaners and need to show one right now before this storm hits, and I need a sale. If I give you this cutlery set, will you promise me to decide to buy one tonight if you like it?". Believe me, I know how that sounded. But I had to get in a door right then, and I needed a sale that night...no ifs ands or buts.

Amazingly, about the 8th door I knocked on the guy said "Sure. we've been thinking about a vacuum cleaner, what have you got?" And of course he bought. Thank you kind Sir, wherever you are.

On the last day of the year I was having a talk with one of my sales managers. It was about 8PM and we were almost snow bound. It was a blizzard outside...and I was ready to call it a night. Honestly, I don't remember what caused this argument, but I told him that if I wanted to, I could make a sale on New Year's eve, in a snow storm, by knocking on doors. And he called me on it. I said "Get in the car". We drove to a nice street and I started knocking on doors. It had been dark for over an hour...and I didn't realize how cold it was. After About 6 doors, I was ready to concede..but I decided on one more door.

Of course the lady was nice, and asked us what we were doing on such a cold Wintry night. I told her what we were doing and she agreed to let me show her a vacuum cleaner. At about 10PM, we walked out with a check and a trade in.

OK, one more. After years of not buying life insurance, I decided on buying a million dollars in term life insurance. At my age, that was still about $4,000 a year in premium. I was at my retail store..on the computer....getting a quote to buy online. At that very moment a life insurance guy walked in my store and I went out to greet him (thinking he was a customer). He said "I'm with New York Life. May I ask who you have your life insurance with?" And I pointed at him and said in a loud voice. "You!". And he wrote me up.

Take care, and have a great year.
#cold #im taking a survey #knocking #presentation #sales #strategy
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  • Be so cool to just say, "Coughs...I'm doing a survey to see if I can sell you this wonder widget"


    Steve


    P.S. I know "survey ads" can do extremely well ( bringing in a goodly amount of quality leads)
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  • Profile picture of the author expmrb
    Thanks for sharing Sir.

    Life Insurance in mid 70's must have been hard!!!
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  • Profile picture of the author ezjob
    Life insurance in poor neighborhoods is very tough.
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  • Profile picture of the author max5ty
    Yes, this definitely fits into the Friedman and Fraser experiment from 1966:

    Freedman & Fraser: Foot in the Door Technique

    Thanks for the post.
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  • errr Max,

    It might only be you, claude and me who were born before 1966.


    Steve
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    • Profile picture of the author max5ty
      Originally Posted by Steve The Copywriter View Post

      errr Max,

      It might only be you, claude and me who were born before 1966.


      Steve
      Hmmm...actually I was born in 1960...and yes I remember this experiment well ha ha.

      Seriously though, the experiment set the tone for any good door to door salesperson.

      I do like the twist Claude put on it.
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  • I remember the original in 1866...

    Getting your foot jammed in those oak doors was no joy.
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    • Profile picture of the author max5ty
      Originally Posted by Steve The Copywriter View Post

      I remember the original in 1866...

      Getting your foot jammed in those oak doors was no joy.
      ...so your sell of vacuums in 1866 would have gone something like this:


      A door-to-door vacuum cleaner salesman manages to bull his way into a woman's home in a rural area. "This machine is the best ever" he exclaims, whilst pouring a bag of dirt over the lounge floor. The woman says she's really worried it may not all come off, so the salesman says, "If this machine doesn't remove all the dust completely, I ll lick it off myself." "Do you want ketchup on it?" she says, "we re not connected for electricity yet!"
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      • Profile picture of the author Claude Whitacre
        Originally Posted by max5ty View Post

        ...so your sell of vacuums in 1866 would have gone something like this:


        A door-to-door vacuum cleaner salesman manages to bull his way into a woman's home in a rural area. "This machine is the best ever" he exclaims, whilst pouring a bag of dirt over the lounge floor. The woman says she's really worried it may not all come off, so the salesman says, "If this machine doesn't remove all the dust completely, I ll lick it off myself." "Do you want ketchup on it?" she says, "we re not connected for electricity yet!"
        Did you know that in the entire vacuum cleaner industry...there are only three jokes?

        A few tidbits from my bad "selling vacuum cleaners in people's homes" days.

        I sold to two separate people that were completely blind. That was an experience, trying to figure out how to sell with no visual references.

        I've made two sales to people with no electricity. Honestly, I have no idea why they bought, I certainly wouldn't have. but they both were sold when the electricity was temporarily off due to a snow storm.

        In my town there are two streets where literally everyone has bought a vacuum cleaner from me. About 20-25 homes on each street.

        I made a sale to a couple...and when I took the vacuum out of the box, I realized the idiots at the factory forgot to put a motor in it. It was the only vacuum I had with me. I had to "describe" how it worked and promised to deliver one later that day. They bought without even seeing it work. Weird.

        Selling high end vacuums in someone's home is a weird way to make a living. Personally, I would never let anyone into my home to see a sales presentation. But for some reason, it was never hard for me (except the first several months, when I knew nothing).

        When I was selling life insurance, (in 1976 or 1977) my district manager wanted to spend the day with me because my production was so high. We met at a restaurant in the morning. He asked me what appointments I had lined up. I told him I had no appointments....that I was going to cold call on factories in an industrial park nearby. He got really upset and told me I was wasting his time. I didn't understand is point of view, I was outselling very experienced agents by a huge margin. I was the third top selling agent in the company (out of 2,200 agents). I had no idea that cold calling was "Stupid" or "beneath my dignity". I just knew it worked.

        Later I realized that he was upset because he had never cold called and was scared to tag along. But he did.....I think I talked to 20 CEOs (or CFO, VPs, etc). And two companies allowed me to talk to all their employees, one at a time, on company time...to explain their employee benefits and have any insurance premiums (on policies I sold) deducted from their pay checks. Honestly, I can't remember the total sales made, but it was more than a hundred thousand of dollars in premium in the next two months...just from that one day cold calling.

        Everyone in my office hated me. At first they thought it was great, at sales meetings for "The young snot" to sell more than the rest of the office combined (OK, the truth is only one other agent was really trying. But there were about 20 other agents in the office). But I would do stunts like go to the front of the room at the weekly sales meeting and dump a briefcase full of policies on a table......the entire thing turned when I got my check and held it up at the meeting and asked if anyone wanted to know how I got that check. I was honestly willing to tell anyone how I did it...I thought they would want to know...I sure would. But I did it in a non-humble way, and they took it as bragging, which of course it was. I was a 22 year old kid that had no idea how to act professionally in an office. I just knew that cold calling worked.

        I had no idea that the rest of the office would react that way. And honestly, I wasn't very nice about it. At the end of 18 months, I saw a vacuum cleaner demonstration and knew I had found my new venture.

        I didn't use the survey approach with businesses.
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  • Lugging those vacuums on the back of an ox with a generator was no fun.

    I used to envy the pioneering "avon" ladies selling brooms they swept up the sales in the outback.
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  • Profile picture of the author Alex Cohen
    Originally Posted by Claude Whitacre View Post

    They come to the door...."Hi. My boss sent me out to do a quick survey. It's just a couple of quick questions I'd like to ask if I could get you together (if husband and wife were both there) for a minute".
    If you ever wonder why sales has gotten such a bad name over the years, it's because of approaches like the one you describe above.

    The technique is based on pretense.

    Alex
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    • Profile picture of the author Claude Whitacre
      Originally Posted by Alex Cohen View Post

      If you ever wonder why sales has gotten such a bad name over the years, it's because of approaches like the one you describe above.

      The technique is based on pretense.

      Alex
      Alex;

      This approach isn't why sales has such a bad name. It's the incompetence of salespeople, the low bar accepted, the near total lack of sales training. Nearly every direct salesperson I've ever met is a bottom feeder.

      When I did the survey, there was never a feeling of pretense. Of course the only reason I did the survey was to qualify likely buyers and build rapport before I offered a gift for a presentation. Most people just thought I was asking a few questions..and I moved on.

      And I have to say that all sales approaches are a pretense. Are you doing content marketing? Offering a free sample? Offering a free consultation? Doing a Survey?

      All of these approaches are a pretense. You are doing these things to generate sales.

      You are basing your opinion on my post. But I did it thousands of times and never had someone ask me to leave. If you saw the actual process, your opinion would change....

      These approaches aren't for everyone. I was just in the mood to share. I think I'll post my more current approach to selling Local Online Marketing services by walking into a business. Again, these aren't for everyone...no matter how well they work.
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      • Profile picture of the author Alex Cohen
        Originally Posted by Claude Whitacre View Post


        And I have to say that all sales approaches are a pretense. Are you doing content marketing? Offering a free sample? Offering a free consultation? Doing a Survey?

        All of these approaches are a pretense. You are doing these things to generate sales.
        No, not all sales are generated through pretense. Quite the opposite.

        Take for example, sales made via sales letters... both online and off.

        The headline is equivalent to your "My boss sent me out to do a quick survey" line. It's the first thing the prospect reads.

        Effective headlines can be placed into three categories...

        1. Highlight a benefit
        2. Use curiosity
        3. Strike an emotion

        Notice... none of these are a pretense. Instead, each headline type touches an emotion (or creates a state of mind) to get the prospect's attention and encourage him to read on.

        A pretense is not moral or ethical. It's a lie.

        Alex
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        • Profile picture of the author Claude Whitacre
          Originally Posted by Alex Cohen View Post

          No, not all sales are generated through pretense. Quite the opposite.

          Take for example, sales made via sales letters... both online and off.

          The headline is equivalent to your "My boss sent me out to do a quick survey" line. It's the first thing the prospect reads.

          Effective headlines can be placed into three categories...

          1. Highlight a benefit
          2. Use curiosity
          3. Strike an emotion

          Notice... none of these are a pretense. Instead, each headline type touches an emotion (or creates a state of mind) to get the prospect's attention and encourage him to read on.

          A pretense is not moral or ethical. It's a lie.

          Alex
          I reread my post. And I was wrong and you are right. I said "all sales approaches are a pretense". And that was incorrect.
          What I should have said (and partially did) is that all headlines and sales approaches where you offer a free gift, a survey, a free sample, or a free consultation is a pretense. Every offer of a "Free report" is a pretense.

          And....if you state a problem in a sales letter and insinuate that the problem will be solved in the sales letter, that's a pretense. All free content that's offered in the hopes of doing business is a pretense. All sales letters trying to look like articles...is a form of pretense.

          And you are right about my statement "My boss sent me to do a survey" being a pretense. Personally, I don't like it either. But I tested it and found that it got me invited in more often than "I'm just doing a quick survey" or "My company sent me out to do a quick survey".

          And you brought up my approach (or at least the first few words) as not being moral or ethical. You know, a lie. And yes, it is. A tiny little lie that nobody ever cared about..including thousands of customers.....like saying "Your child is so cute" .

          "My boss sent me" is something I would never put in a sales letter... not even "My boss is forcing me to make his offer at a special price". But when said at the very beginning of an in person door approach, it is immediately forgotten, and does open more doors.

          You are right, a pretense is not moral or ethical...... And then I remembered that you wrote this...


          Originally Posted by Alex Cohen View Post

          Do copywriters attempt to manipulate their readers?

          Yes, just about always.

          And if you're a copywriter who thinks you don't... you're in denial.

          Let's define the term:

          Manipulate: Control or influence (a person or situation) cleverly, unfairly, or unscrupulously.

          Here's proof of my contention...

          When you write copy, you accent the positives (benefits) of the product AND you mitigate (if you mention them at all) the negatives of the product.

          That fits the above definition.

          Not trying to condemn anybody, but hey, let's get real.

          Alex
          The thing is, I agree with you completely. Just don't try to take a moral high ground. We all know the business we are in.

          I wish you a good 2018.

          Claude
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    • Profile picture of the author helisell
      Originally Posted by Alex Cohen View Post

      If you ever wonder why sales has gotten such a bad name over the years, it's because of approaches like the one you describe above.

      The technique is based on pretense.

      Alex
      My responsibilities as a door to door salesperson have never changed since 1977 when
      I started.....they are :

      1. Me (to make enough money to house and feed my family)

      2. The company that pays me. (In return for creating the situation that allows me to make a living)

      3. The customer (I am always ethical though pretence may assist me in achieving my objectives)

      If there was no pretence then there would be no 'selling'. Merely stating the cold facts that 'you have a product that can be purchased' is not 'selling'.

      If that fact offends anyone, then maybe they shouldn't sell for a living.
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  • Profile picture of the author savidge4
    A different perspective from the same approach...

    I don't go for one shot closes... when you are selling life insurance and Vacuums the life cycle of a customer is minimal.. once every 7 years for vacuums and I don't know once every 10 maybe for Life Insurance ( maybe )

    With services... Entry is a gateway to a relationship... hopefully a long term lucrative one.

    I use "Surveys" in many different aspects of my business... I will go over how I use it for sales.

    2 years ago, I partnered with a few people with a medical start up. Part of the overall scheme was to have a network of Chiros and Physical therepists. And when I say network we are talking in the order of hundreds across the country. So it was my job to find em, qualify them, and close the deal. I think a lot of people reading this may understand finding and landing one is hard enough.

    My problem was I didnt understand the pain ( no pun intended ) that these practices were having. was it this? was it that? So I created a pretty decent Survey. Partly to gather the information I needed to land these people, and partly to understand a bit better how what we ( the start up ) were offereing and how it would fit.

    I travelled to 15 states and spoke with 45 differnt practices. As Claude did, i cold called each one of them. Got off the plane, got a car, Pounded the pavement, got back on the plane that evening, and went to the next town or home. A side note.. 15 cities and no nights spent in a hotel.

    Part of the deliver for me was "do you have time for a survey?" and "Im not selling anything, just would like to better understand your business. I Would like to send you the finished report when we are done." So i basically asked questions... and walked away.

    Once I had all of the data I was looking for, I created a report... Like an end of year report a big Corp does.. full color, images about us all that stuff. 60 some pages all together. Included in this was a "case study". The case study very clearly pointed out the primary reported pain, and how it was resolved. - as in they could have read the report and fixed in themselves.

    I visited 45 office, and sent out 45 "Case Studies" with the "Survey" results. Within a period of 2 weeks I had onboarded 42 of the 45. The 42 gave us referals for another 106. I then sent 106 "Case Studies" to the 106 referals and onboarded 104 of them.

    8 months in, and the startup has a network of 800 facilities, and I only ever walked into 45 of them.

    I love surveys.. like I said I use them in many aspects of what I do.. from Getting clients, to actually doing them FOR clients. They are just super good at #1 getting data, and #2 developing trust.
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    • Profile picture of the author tryinhere
      Originally Posted by savidge4 View Post

      A different perspective from the same approach....
      Just 2 seconds to say I appreciate your post, that is very much real and possible approach be it maybe a slightly different angle to some ongoing efforts that I am working through the best way to do things at the moment.

      I also see an added bonus of a better understanding of those people people I am trying to attract and as a result further refine any marketing from at best a best guess to a more concrete foundation to build upon.

      Thanks again to all in the post, some pearlers pop up from time to time here.
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      | > Choosing to go off the grid for a while to focus on family, work and life in general. Have a great 2020 < |
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  • Profile picture of the author JohnMcCabe
    Better in home than on the phone.

    Back when my wife and I were newlyweds, we rented a cheap apartment. No Caller ID back then, so I got a lot of calls from one particular aluminum siding guy. After weeks of telling him "no", he finally got frustrated. Said he'd spent weeks offering me deals and discounts and free information, and I still wasn't interested. Why?

    I told him there were only two problems - it was a brick apartment building, and I didn't own it.

    Never heard from him again.

    Another tin man wouldn't give up until I had a free estimate. I gave him the address, minus the apartment number. About 20 minutes after our scheduled time, he called and said I'd given him the wrong address, because the address I'd sent him to was an apartment building. Told him the address was correct, but I was on the second floor so it would take me a minute to come down and meet him. Never heard from him again, either...

    Originally Posted by Steve The Copywriter View Post

    errr Max,

    It might only be you, claude and me who were born before 1966.


    Steve
    Nope, I'm in the club, too.

    Just wish I'd been selling steel-toed dress shoes when that came out...
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    • Profile picture of the author Claude Whitacre
      Originally Posted by JohnMcCabe View Post

      Better in home than on the phone.

      Back when my wife and I were newlyweds, we rented a cheap apartment. No Caller ID back then, so I got a lot of calls from one particular aluminum siding guy. After weeks of telling him "no", he finally got frustrated. Said he'd spent weeks offering me deals and discounts and free information, and I still wasn't interested. Why?

      I told him there were only two problems - it was a brick apartment building, and I didn't own it.
      The very first thing out of his mouth when he started qualifying you on the phone should have been "are you a homeowner or do you rent?" and "Is the outside of your home brick?"

      This is why salespeople are poor. Other than simple laziness, trying to sell or even see people who couldn't possibly buy.

      In my former business of selling vacuum cleaners in people's home...and hiring and training new salespeople..I called this "Fantasy sale syndrome". It took two forms;

      1) Massive sale fantasy..... "My brother in law is in the Army. If I could just show this to The Army...I know I could sell thousands of these in one sale". I'm not joking, I had dozens of these guys and their fantasy deals.

      2) Suresaleitis.....Someone who told the new guy that they would be interested in seeing what.they had..but never would commit to an appointment...and if they made an appointment...would never buy...just string the new guy along for...month...after month..after month... and the new guy would count his "sure sale commissions" every day.

      It was impossible to cure these fantasies once they manifested. The new guys would eventually have to quit, or I would have to let them go..because they were incapable of concentrating on actually selling something.

      Now that I think about it, IM is full of these "Fantasy sale seekers". It used to be the mail order business that was full of these "A million dollars is just one envelope away" believers. Now, It's internet believers.
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  • Profile picture of the author myob
    Door knocking still works! I require my sales reps to cold knock on doors at least 4 days a month to hone their skills
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  • ...just remembered the best question to ask on a survey...

    "Would you like $10.00 to complete this short survey?"


    Steve
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  • Profile picture of the author Alex Cohen
    "Everybody does it" isn't much of an excuse.

    As for me, I never claimed to have the moral high ground. After nine years as a freelance copywriter, my recent "Manipulation" post should have dissuaded anyone of that notion. lol.

    Alex
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  • Profile picture of the author HeyAdMan
    When I was with Prepaid Legal Services I also used a survey method that worked exceptionally well. There was always a free gift offered for taking the survey. With PPL it was a free will.
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