My Own Personal Door Knocking Hell

door-knockingFresh out of university I started my ‘career’ in direct sales.

There was a degree of irony about the world of an agricultural science graduate. The Ag-Chem companies wanted sales people with degrees in agricultural science and relevant sales experience. Kind of hard to do when you’ve spent the last 4 years studying full time and before that you were too young to hold a full time sales position…

Anyway, I didn’t necessarily want a career as an ag-chem salesman. I wanted to sell. Sound familiar? (Robert Kiyosaki’s advice ‘learn to sell’ had happened to me before I finished high school).

I landed a job door knocking for a roof restorations company. Every day from 4pm until sun down and Saturday mornings I would go to neighbourhoods with houses of a certain age and knock on doors. Trying to worry people into getting me to come back for a quote.

Thankfully, if you knock on enough doors (even when you are really bad) you get enough yeses to get enough appointments to make your sales. I hated it. Two weeks in and I was thinking about what next.

This was hard, soul destroying physical labour – grinding out a living, not a very good one at that I might add. I knew some people who are very successful at it. The one thing they all had in common was their ability to get leads from somewhere – the appointment getting was done for them.

It started me thinking – how do I get leads? If I could crack that the rest of this would be easy.

Weeks turned into months, months turned into seasons. (Winter is a tough time in this business – almost everybody worries about the outside of their house in spring and summer when they are outside – Autumn if something is leaking – so that winter doesn’t ruin their house).

I still had no answer except to pound the pavement. Knock on doors and not stop until I had my quota of leads.

I would do it again today if I had to because I learned so many lessons. I learned to sell belly to belly. The most important skill in sales.

If you can’t do that you will never succeed in business. However, if that is all you can do you end up ‘a long-in-the-tooth, direct-sales-guy who’s burned out.’ There is huge churn in this business and many like them because it is soul destroying work. You could see it in the veterans – often they were stuck. There was nothing else they could do and make the same money. But if something came up they would have jumped in an instant.

I knew that I didn’t want that.

After Two years of pounding the pavement, what I discovered was lead generation marketing. I figured that if I could do direct mail to the houses that needed a roof restoration I might get somewhere.

I cobbled together a pretty primitive flyer, (no sales letter) and put it in an envelope and mailed it to a list of people’s houses that I had door knocked when no one was home. I made a $1,000 commission for the $100 I spent on postage. In my defence I didn’t know what I was doing was called copywriting. But hey, it worked.

I did that until the laws changed and completely crippled the industry for 18 months by which time I had learned a different lesson – about cash flow management and the difference between making a sale and getting a customer for life.

I learned a lot about myself in those two years. About work ethic and the like. I also learned that a business that is a single transaction is not a business – the next time I was to journey into the world of an entrepreneur I was going to be sure I had more than just a single transaction business.

That experience informed the creating of Newsletter Marketing Systems the next time I looked at starting a business. (FYI I understood that writing copy, was not a business, I can’t sell those skills to a buyer one day. I am the one with the gift of the golden brain, or the golden fingers depending on how you argue it.)