By: Jimmy Maddox
Alarm consultant/ technician – AUS Inc.
This article should bring awareness or at least understanding as to why some door to door sales reps can seem Shady and downright untrustworthy.
As the summer months approach, the seasonal door to door sales people will be out selling. For the majority of them, they are just trying to make an honest buck.
Here are some things to be aware of.
Here’s the issue:
Your local sales guys who solicits for a living all year round in a town can sell anything from Home security service, cable TV, Electricity etc. Often times the so called out of town “Gypsy” sales reps come into a city, unannounced, sometimes unlicensed and temporarily disturb the somewhat tranquil and trusted reputation that local door salesman try to maintain with their community. This can apply to any company, selling any product.
Some of these salesmen are rookies and can seem highly motivated and bright eyed, but in the end they can seem more of a nuisance than a helpful service to you.
The local sales reps who work in their own area all year round, many of them veterans in the business, become irked when the out of state-ers come into their territory, which by the way is not exclusive or protected in any democracy.
It’s unfortunate because a lot of them “block” their own potential based on their own demeanor. The first 15 seconds of contact is all we have. By that time the customer has already made a decision whether they like us or not. If a customer doesn’t like who they are dealing with at the door, it’s over.
TIP to door to door salesmen:
Establish a genuine cause for being there. Immediately.
Many sales reps can fail from the get go because they give off a negative impression unbeknown to them. Let me give you some examples.
Rep knocks on the door: “Hey ma’am, how are you doing today ” ???
Response : ” Why would you care“? Lady closes the door.
OK, a lot going on here. Asking a phony question like , ‘how you doing today’ let’s the person behind the door immediately know that this is a sales call. At least it sure does sound like it and that is what 90% of the people will think. The older generations will actually take that opening line literally because in 1952 ‘how are you doing today’ was considered genuine and honest. But we won’t go into to stereotypes here, but suffice to say that in today’s times, some words have different impressions than they did 60 years ago.
My point here is when one asks “How are you doing today ma’am”? do you really think they care about your health ? They don’t. So let’s not pretend that we do.
“How are you doing today ma’am?” may seem like a comfortable harmless opening line, and generally speaking it is, but it can also create an unnecessary defense mode from the customer and it can increase unwanted skepticism. So right off the bat, the sales presentation is spiraling downward.
Here is an alternative Example
Why not say, “yes, hi there ma’am, We’re here as a courtesy to advise the neighborhood what will be going on here over the next few days. Our licensed home security technicians will be installing alarm systems in some of the homes here on your street this week only. This will only be temporary. If you want, I can authorize you to get your home monitored with us, (insert company name here), at a promotional rate that will stand for a long time. This is in light of some recent activity that occurred in the 2300 block of…… blah blah blah. So basically I’m here to answer any questions you may have or concerns.”
In the above example, the salesman gives a statement at the door. I do not think it is wise to immediately ask a Yes or No question right off the bat. Because if the answer is No, then the whole direction of the sale can turn negative caused by the customer’s defensive response. And you aren’t giving out prices right away either. Try to establish if they are interested in the service or start talking about a concern they may have. Justify a need for them to want it or have a need for monitored security (ie: user controlled interaction via computer or smart phone).
The price will not matter after you win their approval.
None of us really need a 70″ flat screen TV. But I bet a lot of us want one.
If homeowners are buying an alarm system because they ‘want it’, price is not necessarily an issue. But consumers will also buy home protection simply because they feel they ‘need it’. Either way it can be a win win situation for the salesman, that is, if they don’t screw it up.
By the way, if you are going to cite ‘recent activity’ as a way to get their attention, that’s fine in my book, but DON’T make up crap. Be specific. And don’t say “we had a break in down the street”.. Name the street. you don’t have to name the house number but do drop street names. The customers who live in the neighborhood will recognize the local street names and their response will be “oh really?” At that point, as a salesman, you’v got their honest, genuine interest about a current issue/concern. Now don’t ramble on and on, slowly shift the concern to why you are there. Again, do not manufacture a lie about a crime or burglary that never happened. That is just low down and cheap. Do not become a sleazy sales rep, there are plenty of those still out there. If a crime happened recently clear across town, use that to establish why you are there. Do not make up things.
As with any line of business there are exceptions to everything.
ADT sales reps often encounter Vivint sales Reps in the field
So what to do? I just encourage all consumers to be smart. Do not easily fall for sales gimmicks that seem so fantastic.
Some reps are paying their customers upwards to $200 to get them to sign up !!The sad part is, what they are offering might actually be good, but some reps can compromise themselves just by acting too “gimmicky” and pushing their services so hard. So I say research the product. There are two sides to everything. Many alarm companies offer free installation and free equipment but they are almost always tied to a 3 – 5 year contract. Also Make sure it is something you can understand and handle, and operate. If you sign a contract for a security system that you really don’t understand how to use, then it is a waste of money.
Here below are some good pointers to think about so that you are mentally prepared for the next door to door knocker. These tips can also be applied to any kind of door to door salesperson selling anything.
First of all, if you’ve never heard of the alarm company they are representing, do some research. Look them up on the internet. Ask to see a valid alarm state license. In Texas alarm sales reps must hold a pocket card issued by the Texas Dept. of Public Safety. Some states may not require an alarm representative to hold a license. Do some online internet research for fast answers. If you do not feel comfortable with your rep, then ask for a card and get back with them as soon as you are comfortable. If you are familiar with the company by all means, do what you feel is best. I’m not saying don’t buy on the spot, I’m saying use caution and be certain of what you’re getting in to. Do a quick Google search. Read reviews. Type in the company name followed by “customer reviews”. You will be amazed what you will learn.
I try to work smart
As an alarm technician and state licensed alarm sales rep, I work in the state of Texas and cover several counties. I am not the authority when it comes to do’s and don’ts, but, personally, I try not to come off as too pushy. It’s not my nature. And I won’t twist anyone’s arm to buy something either. I’d much rather walk away and go the next address. I am looking for quality customers; ones who won’t cancel. My cancellation ratio is pretty good. That is what alarm companies like – not a bunch of ‘go getter’ sales reps that will sign up anyone and everyone and then half their orders go into ‘non pay’ status right off the bat.
Some door to door knockers don’t necessarily go to every single door in the neighborhood. They cherry pick for ideal reasons. In order to gain quality (bill paying) customers, applicants must have satisfactory credit according to my monitoring company’s policies. So personally speaking, I will use my experience and discretion in order to work smart. Also I tend to target the older demographics as I have always appreciated the honest responses and reaction from them. They seem to be stable minded consumers who are responsible and straight forward. They have a good old fashion head on their shoulder. If they want what I have to offer I can feel it and I know it. If they are in their high senior years and have trouble grasping what I’m telling them, I have learned to just kindly come to a soft closure, say good bye, and walk away unfortunately.
I’ve sold many senior citizens, but I am leery about other reps who use seniors as easy prey. It is so low down to sell a senior citizen a service or a product they won’t be able to operate or use because they are just too old to understand and deal with it. As much as I hate to lose a sale, I will do the right thing and walk away. Many sales reps can’t say that. To their credit, I have observed that some of our senior citizens are very adapted to what’s going on and surprisingly some are technically savvy and they will not tolerate the BS of having a slick sales rep try and twist their mind around to get something they don’t need or want. When other sales reps do that it ticks me off. But some of them aren’t with the times, and unfortunately they may fall prey to an unethical door salesman. For the sake of mankind, let’s hope not. A bad egg from just one salesman can cause customers to increase their defenses even more and makes it harder for the next salesman who knocks at their door who might actually have some common sense.
I have no problem saying “thanks keep me in mind for later”. Or if they tell me they are still shopping’ around for a company, I sometimes say “OK, well this is my best offer, it would be my pleasure to take care of this for you, please give me a call before you make a final decision so that you know yr getting the best deal”. That style of selling earned me $102K my first year in 2008-2009.
It’s not hard to identify aggressive or inexperienced sales reps out there who are pretty much “programmed” to hard sell a certain way. Because for many of them it may be just a temporary job and won’t care who they pee off. They can be more of a nuisance than provide a service. Again, there are exceptions. Use your good judgement.
So do your homework, and use good discretion with your door rep based on how he or she reacts to your questions, objections and/or concerns. Ask them for the specific details especially how long the contract is.
So are all Door to Door Reps sneaky and low down ?
No, not at all. If they carry themselves professionally by their attitude, demeanor or reaction, then by all means, make your own call as to whether or not you will do business with them. A large percentage of door to door sales reps can actually be bright people with futures and have pure intentions who are just trying to make a buck. They might be doing the job temporarily, yes, but it might be because it’s flexible with their school schedule or other work schedule. So yes, to be fair, there are some “good ones out there”.
Don’t buy “just because”, get the product because you want it… or because you may need it.
A good sales rep will sell a product by pointing the benefits and the reasons why they think you need it.
I wouldn’t sign up or buy just because they are running a special or you want to want to avoid saying No. I see sales going on at the store everyday but that doesn’t mean I’m going to buy the product (unless I feel I can really use it). I appreciate stern No’s rather than someone who pretends they are interested and allows me to ramble for 20 minutes knowing full well they aren’t going to get it. Gaughhhhh
When it comes down to it, I personally try to sell an alarm system to someone who I feel needs it for a certain reason and then I ram it home with that reason and hopefully they will then WANT it. For example, “yes ma’am I see you have burglar bars on the windows, but since you told me you live alone, wouldn’t you like this security system because of the panic button and medical button included on your alarm’s remote control ?” Burglar bars can be dangerous too, especially if there is a fire. It’s like living inside a BBQ grill.
What are Alarm sales reps supposed to wear in the field ?
There is not an industry standard as far as what color shirts alarm salesmen wear. That varies from company to company. Based on personal observations in the field, Vivint reps seem to wear orange or white shirts. maybe even gray.
I work for an ADT authoirxed dealer. We do not have a unifrom standard, just wear nice shirts with Logo on it.
I wear dark jeans, a nice collared polo shirt with an embroidered company logo and my state of Texas alarm license clearly hanging around my neck on a credential lanyard. My shirts are generally Black, but I have some blue and yellow ones as well. Even a white shirt. That is just me. Some reps wear regular shirts with just a logo or a credential badge on it.That’s the main thing “I” would look at if some stranger I didn’t know came knocking on my door. Ask to see a business card or better yet, their pocket card issued by the state if that state requires them to carry their alarm license. I know here in Texas it is required. Some states do not require an alarm license.
Because let’s face it, no one is going to buy anything from us if a customer sizes us up and there is something they don’t like about us.
I have seen corporate ADT reps wear nice polo shirts (unknown if there is a certain color) and I have seen them wear business attire clothing – men and women.
Some of us ( I know I do) wear our state license around our neck in a credential holder.
Pictures are a 1,000 words
You may want to take notice of how professional (or not) their vehicle appearance seems to be. I and other professionals in this business drive in a professionally marked car or van with visible custom graphics (not a just a cheap crooked door magnet) and when we get out to knock on a door, I position the car running in the background where the homeowner can clearly see the markings on the vehicle – that’s just my personal preference. Sometimes that can be a determining factor whether or not the customer even opens their door to begin with as they gaze out the window to see who is knocking at their door.
If I could leave you with one final tip, it would be this. This will weed out 80% of them in the first 30 seconds. If your door to door rep is selling alarm systems, kindly ask to see his or her valid state alarm license. If they don’t have it, do not do business with them. Period.
The Texas Department of Public Safety has policed random parts of the state of Texas in undercover vehicles spot checking alarm sales persons for their valid license. If you are not sure if someone is licensed or not, feel free to look them up online on the state’s website. Here is the URL. TX DPS Private Security Bureau Individual Search.
Here is a link to verify a Texas based Alarm company. This is from the Texas Dept. of Public Safety’s web site. Remember, just because your alarm rep may be from out of state, if they are conducting business here in Texas, selling or installing, they must be bonded and licensed in the state of Texas. Other states may have different rules.
When you get to the page, enter the last name and the first name only.
DPS will not take a date of birth as a means to search an individual even though there are fields on there asking for it.
Just last name and first name only will do well. You may find multiple listings of a particular name. You will just have to click on the names of each one until you find your person.
The PSB page will reveal the alarm company that particular individual is licensed under as well as the expiration date.
You may also ask for the alarm company’s license and type that in. Or do a generic Google search with the license number.
For example ” TXB08420 ” is the company I work for.
If you find your rep in there you’re good to go. But still be wary about the terms and conditions of the product and service they are pitching you.
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Thanks for reading. All feedback welcome.
This BLOG is written by Jimmy Maddox, employed by America’s Ultimate Security. The opinions and advise are strictly his and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the company, AUS Inc., ADT Security or any other company that may have been implied.