What the Door-to-Door Salesman Can teach Us About Effective Website Selling

February 9 2016

James Hipkin

Online marketing can learn a lot from what worked in the past. If you step back and look at what was done, not what it was called, but what was successful, you will see that there’s a lot about marketing that hasn’t changed in generations. Effective website selling can use the same layered approach that was perfected by successful door-to-door salesmen.

For example, back in the day, Fuller Brush Men sold brushes and related cleaning supplies door to door.

Can you imagine?

If he didn’t sell, he didn’t get paid. Everything he did was focused on selling as efficiently as possible. He used the school of hard knocks to fine tune his selling system. He learned how to turn strangers into loyal customers. He had a crystal clear understanding of the sales process and his place in it. He had to. You can use the same, time-proven system to improve your online marketing.

So lets break it down. What did he do that we can apply to our online marketing for more effective website selling?

The Introduction

He told the woman who answered the door that he was from the Fuller Brush Company. He didn’t tell her what the Fuller Brush Company was. The company’s advertising in magazines and on television did this for him. He didn’t waste her time telling her what she already knew. He told her that he had something new / interesting / valuable / etc. that would make her life easier / more fulfilling / more enjoyable, etc.. He told her how he would solve her problem.

He had many ways to engage the interest of the customer. But he didn’t just pick an approach and go. He tailored his pitch to reflect his relationship with the woman at the door. He used one technique if they hadn’t met before. He used another approach if she had purchased from him in the past. One size fits all wasn’t effective for him.

Above all else, in the introduction phase, he needed to keep that door open. At this point, nothing else was important. He never lost sight of his primary goal. Regardless of the approach he used, he emphasized the benefits she would receive from their conversation.

The Presentation

Once she was receptive and a conversation had started, he used colorful brochures to show his customer how the products would benefit her. He emphasized how they would make her life easier, more worthwhile, and more satisfying. He used product features to support his claims. Many times he demonstrated the product. He used testimonials to give everything he said a ring of truth. Product features were easy to duplicate or dispute. But a testimonial was gold. Demos and third-party testimonials were his most effective tools. A one two punch that was hard to beat. If you could, he provided a testimonial from a neighbor. Hearing what someone this woman might know and trust had to say was his secret weapon.

No hard sell here, just a friendly presentation of the facts.

The Argument

This part of the conversation focused on making the sale. Nothing else mattered at this point. It had to be about how the product solved her problems.

When the women intrigued and engaged, he would present the argument. For each product benefit he had three to four salient “reasons why.” Three was often enough. He never used more than four. The selection was tailored to reflect his relationship with the women.  It was a delicate balance. The Fuller Brush Man was wise enough to know that it wasn’t about the products. It was all about the woman he was speaking with. He needed to give her the information she needed to convince herself that purchasing his products was the most sensible and reasonable thing that she could do today. No more no less. Too much information and she would shut down and close him off.

The Call to Action

Finally, he would ask for the order.

He supported “the ask” with assurances about how easy it was to buy. There was a brief reiteration of product benefits, and the offer. If this was a repeat customer he would pre fill the forms. He closed with the extra benefits she would receive if she took action right now.

“It only takes a moment to complete your purchase. Then you can enjoy the benefits immediately. Plus, you get everything at the low, limited time, introductory price. And if you buy two, I can give you the third for half off.”

During the sales process he would take a moment to learn a bit more about the woman and her family. He’d learned that his customers were surprisingly open while filling out forms. He also took note of his surroundings. He was always on the look out for problems the woman faced. These were new ways he could help.

For returning customers, he asked questions about the neighborhood. Who else would like in his products? Would she be willing to provide him with a reference or testimonial?

When the check was in his hand and the product delivered, he wasn’t done. He gave his customer a small token of his appreciation. This was often a sample product, perhaps something that was soon to be available. He told her that since she was such a good customer, he had one just for her. He demonstrated, in a tangible way, how much he valued her patronage. Good customers expect to be rewarded. He wanted her to look forward to his next visit. Why? He knew that…

The Most Important Sale is the Second Sale

He made notes about what he learned:

  • What his customer bought,
  • What he observed about the home, and
  • Who else in the neighborhood he should visit.

He used this information to inform his next visit. When he next appeared at the door, he didn’t want to be the door-to-door salesman. He wanted to be a valuable partner in his customer’s household enterprise.

Effective website selling – What can we learn from the door-to-door salesman

Effective Website Selling

Effective Website Selling is a process.
Craft each step to be efficient and effective at its job. And don’t expect any single step to do all the work. Understand your sales funnel and its corresponding flow of information. Reveal only what’s needed, when it’s needed.

Design your advertising to be the introduction.
Banners and search engine marketing have only one job, and that’s to get clicked. Don’t ask advertising to do more than it can do. Let the landing page do the selling. Equally, don’t ask the landing page to support the brand.

Keep the door open.
Follow the five second rule – you have five seconds to do three things:

  1. Communicate that the consumer is in the right place,
  2. Show them what they’ll get if they stay,
  3. And make it crystal clear what they should do next.

Make landing pages as relevant as possible.

  • If the ad talks about left hand widgets, then the landing page should as well.
  • Use benefits to make the argument. Reserve product information for support.
  • Only as much information as is needed.

Invite interaction.
Capture information about the customer. Record what they are saying through their actions, what they do. Use it to improve future conversations.

Make it easy to buy.
Ask for the sale. Don’t bury the CTA below the fold, or ask for too much information, or put your customers through too many steps. Make it easy.

A long post. I hope you stuck with us. The application of these time proven techniques will contribute greatly to more effective website selling. I hope you agree.

No Comments