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November 18, 2005

Door-to-Door Selling

Permission Marketing Guru Seth Godin says he considers door-to-door selling struggling. I heartily disagree. Cold calling is one of my least favorite things to do, but I started my sales career by selling copiers door to door. Seth remarks,

"A door to door salesman just walked into our offices in Irvington.

Tough job.

A job usually reserved for people selling advertising or janitorial services.

This was an assistant Vice President at Citibank. He's wandering the halls, door by door, trying to sell business checking accounts.

Clearly, all that marble, all those tellers and all that advertising is not enough to meet aggressive growth targets.

Once your business becomes a commodity, you can struggle or you can re-invent. I consider door-to-door selling to be struggling."

In fact, I think sales professionals who are willing to walk into a company without prior contact to have an advantage in some cases because it is so rare today. Not everyone will obviously look on this favorably. However, too many sales professionals hide behind technology and are reluctant to pick up a phone or walk into an office.

Seth's comment regarding the Assistant Vice-President is incorrect. First, banks have a lot of Vice-Presidents. Branch managers often have a VP or AVP title. Secondly, bank branches are managed as small businesses with a lot of autonomy. Even though Citibank as a whole spends millions on advertising, it's up to the branch manager to bring in business and other accounts.

Branch managers are sometimes the best sales professional in their branch and succeed by being active in the business community, joining the chamber of commerce and networking groups and sometimes even cold-calling. They do whatever it takes. And they are well paid for it. In addition to salary, they earn bonuses, incentives, spiffs and are eligible for annual rewards programs. It's not a bad life. If you call that struggling Seth, I'll take it anyday. Running a small business is hard work, even if it's for a mega-giant like Citibank.

My own business is small and I wish I had some of the resources the average branch has at its disposal. I'm building my own business literally from the ground up, and it's not all wine and roses. It's hard work. But that's the fun of it, isn't it?

So, if you're in sales or you're a business owner, consider door-to-door selling once in awhile. You might find you get a whole different perspective on your business. And it might even help you refine your marketing efforts.

November 18, 2005 at 12:07 PM in Business, Contact Management, Marketing, Sales | Permalink


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Seth Godin decides that when a business becomes a commodity you can either struggle or re-invent. He misses a third option. You can compete. Fight for share. Thrive. And use the commodity business to generate the cash flow necessary to [Read More]

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