Sales door knocking: tips from sales folks with more than 14 years of experience

Sales door knocking: tips from sales folks with more than 14 years of experience



Tyler Carlson


January 29, 2024

It doesn’t matter if you’re a newbie knocking on doors or have years of experience. We’re always thinking of how to get better, close more deals, and stand out from competitors.

In my recent talk with Rob, an account executive at RingCentral, I collected some great insights about how to stand out in sales door-knocking and ask questions that most of us don't usually have in our script.

I hope you find these tips helpful. Keep with me! 


  • Stand out in your door-to-door: tips from sales folks with more than 14 years of experience
  • How to Complement Your Sales Door Knocking with Other Strategies
  • Frequently Asked Questions about Sales Door Knocking
  • Conclusion: Stay Persistent, Curious, and Active Listening in Your Sales Door Knocking

4-Step Guide to Stand Out in Your Door-to-Door

1. How being genuinely interested in the gatekeeper can make you stand out

A local dentist business opened at 8 am. 

It’s 10 am and more than 5 reps already interrupted the receptionist, who still needs to confirm 10 patients throughout the day, make sure the waiting room is organized, and answer all the texts and calls (patients, salespeople, and more).

How you’re going to stand out? How you will show value and not be annoying to this gatekeeper?

First, don’t see this person as a challenge that you need to overcome. 

See how Rob usually does:

“Where I've seen success is don’t show up and immediately jump into an elevator pitch. Everybody does that. 

So just by not doing that, you're gonna be able to separate yourself. Get to know that quote-unquote gatekeeper. And that goes far beyond just being your traditional outside sales guy. Learn what makes that gatekeeper tick.

The first thing they're thinking when you walk in is: 

Here's another sales guy, they've all got the same pitch, I've heard it a million times, they're bugging me, and I'm incredibly busy

You have to consider all those little things. 

They're likely the main reason the business is running! They are likely the glue that keeps the whole business together. So the minute that you can respond to them and not just treat them like a second-class citizen almost, that's going to go far.

Just keep it short and sweet. Don't pitch them, value them, get in with them, and then treat it as a phased approach. The next meeting, if you will, would be to maybe meet the office manager or something like that.

Start from the bottom and work your way up.”

I asked Rob how else someone can stand out and be different when knocking on doors and his response cracked me up: Donuts.

Bring donuts or a bag of candy to the receptionist and business team. Nobody gonna remember Rob from XYZ Corp, but they will remember Rob the guy that brought donuts. What is his story again, what was he selling?

It’s more likely that you will be remembered and called to meet after a different approach. Well, try for a week and let me know if it worked worse than what you usually do. 

2. Building relationships in your door-to-door

In my interview with Rob, there’s one thing that became clear: we both appreciate building relationships. Connecting with that prospect on a human level, not just as a sales rep. 

Small talk can be a real game-changer. You don’t need to become best friends, don’t get me wrong, but you need to be human. Maybe you have something in common: can be a football team, a local restaurant, a favorite drink, anything. 

But don’t assume that you will connect quickly or the person is the same as you. Be interested and get to know their routine, preferences, business, challenges, and goals. Don’t assume that you know what they need, it’s fatal to your negotiation. 

Rob said:

“Getting to know the partner is the first initial sale for me, right? Selling myself as a human being, not even just a rep. Ultimately people do buy from people, right? So that's always been the first sale for me when I'm approaching the partner relationship.”

And I couldn’t agree more. 

He also gave a great tip about the difference between creating a relationship between the partner and the actual end user. 

“Get in with the end user as soon as possible. That's what I would tell anybody listening to my story right now. It's great to have that great relationship with a partner. That's always gonna pay off, right? 

However, let's get the end user in, especially if that partner doesn't have the most knowledge of the end user. 

That way you can hear what the pain sounded like with the partner, and that's always gonna be shades of colors different than what it would be with the end user because you're going straight to the source.”

3. Great questions that most reps don’t ask

There are a lot of scripts and pitch examples on the internet, but I heard some great questions that Rob usually asks on his door-to-door and I want to share them with you. 

  • What happens if we don't do anything? What happens if you walk away from my interaction and competitor A, B, or C, and your business chooses to do nothing? 
  • What's the ROI in that scenario? 

These questions can make you understand more about why they were interested in your service in the first place, and make them remember the value of what you have to offer.

I always like to allow the customer or the prospect to ask me a question. And I always kind of phrase it something along the lines of, what did I not ask you today? Or what did I fail to ask you? Or what could I have asked you better? 

And then there again, insert a pause, let them formulate something. That does a couple of different things. That always reveals something.”

4. Exercising your active listening

How frequently do you find yourself listening to someone, and as the person is speaking, you already thinking about the response? 

I am like that most of the time. And every day I try to active listening instead of “hearing from one year and getting out in the other”. Because I always want to respond, it’s natural, it’s a habit. 

Active listening it’s a skill that we all need to learn, especially salesfolks.

Read Rob's other testimonial:

“Whoever you believe in gave us two ears and one mouth. And there's a good reason for that. I've made the mistake of jumping into calls and just assuming this individual is just like me and you almost get too salesy. Definitely focus on active listening

Also, don’t fill the dead silence. Sometimes it's okay to maybe ask a question or even respond to a question and then count that one-second, two-second, three-second pause. And what that does is that's humbling and it's a tough thing to do. 

Those pauses are valuable for a lot of reasons, but you have to be able to give that individual time to process maybe a discovery question or to follow up on something that you said.” 

At the end of the day, sales is a numbers game in a lot of aspects. You miss 100% of the shots you don't take.

If you're a pushy salesperson, nobody wants to talk to you. You probably wouldn't even want to talk to yourself. Personally, there's such an advantage to being genuinely curious about somebody and genuinely building relationships.

How to Complement Your Sales Door Knocking with Other Strategies

Door-to-door sales is a valuable strategy, particularly depending on your business industry and location. However, as we all know, sales is a numbers game, and only a small percentage of the people you contact will become customers. 

To uncover those potential customers, you need to diversify your strategies and not rely solely on door-knocking, emails, or calls. Instead, leverage the most effective methods for your business and learn to excel in them. 

Here's a step-by-step approach I find effective:

  1. Specify Your Target: Instead of targeting every coffee shop in Ohio, focus on coffee shops in Delaware, or even narrow it down to local coffee shops near E William St. Create a list with their contact information (email, telephone, and social media). 
  2. Send a Concise Email: Craft a short email without any links or attachments to avoid spam filters. Ask if they're interested in more information.
  3. Follow-Up Emails: For every 100 emails I send through Resquared, I typically receive at least 8 responses. For those who respond, I send a follow-up email with more information and schedule an online meeting. 
  4. Phone Calls: For those who don't respond to emails, I call them, mentioning that I sent an email and even leave a voicemail if necessary. 
  5. Door Knocking: If there's still no response after 2 emails and 2 calls, I resort to door-knocking.

By diversifying my outreach channels, my conversion rate has improved significantly. The best part is that I spend less than 10 minutes each day sending 50 to 100 emails, without risking domain blacklisting.

Over time, it's essential to calculate your conversion rate to make more accurate projections. 

For instance, if you find that you need to knock on 25 doors to make one sale, and your goal is to achieve 5 sales in a week, you should aim to knock on an average of 125 doors.

This approach helps you set realistic goals and assess whether you're meeting your targets. You'll also notice that some months perform better than others, providing valuable insights.

If you feel like you're spending too much time on manual tasks such as searching and spreadsheets, and if you've encountered issues with domain blacklisting in email campaigns, I recommend trying a platform like Resquared. 

Griffin, my co-founder, and I created Resquared to help sales professionals connect with small business owners in ways that platforms like LinkedIn and Apollo cannot offer.

Less than 10% of local business owners are active on LinkedIn, while Resquared provides access to all of them. To learn more, check out our platform tutorial and consider giving our free trial a try

Frequently Asked Questions about Sales Door Knocking

How do I stop being nervous about door knocking?

You won't. Even seasoned salespeople with decades of experience sometimes feel those butterflies when it comes to door knocking. But here's the deal: you've got to push through that nervousness and do it anyway.

See, bravery isn't the absence of fear; it's about plowing ahead even when the odds seem stacked against you, and you're quaking in your boots.

Now, brace yourself because rejection is part of the game. You'll hear more "nos" than "yeses." But remember, everyone goes through it, and that's why we have conversion rates!

When someone's rude or goes MIA on you, don't take it personally—it's not about you. 

They could be swamped, having a rough day, or simply not interested. If they don't buy from you, it doesn't mean your product or service isn't top-notch. It's just that they didn't see the fit.

Keep in mind, that if people truly want something, they'll find a way to get it, even if it's pricey. Emotions play a massive role in our decisions, even the ones we try to rationalize.

Try to think about how your product or service can bring safety, joy, empowerment, or convenience to people's lives. If you're struggling to pinpoint those emotional benefits, reach out to fellow sales reps for some valuable advice.

But here's the golden rule: never give up. Keep those calls, emails, and door knocks coming. Remember: you miss 100% of the shots you don't take.

What is the best way to knock on doors?

Keep in mind, when you hit the pavement and go door-to-door, you're stepping into territory where other sales reps have trod before and will tread again. 

Whether they're competitors or not, many local businesses and folks are simply worn out from hearing the same old sales pitches and feeling bombarded

So, what's your best strategy? Set yourself apart from the crowd. As Rob wisely puts it, "Donuts don't hurt." But if donuts don't quite hit the sweet spot for you or your potential customers, find something else that'll make you memorable and grab their attention. 

Don't just launch into a pitch — value these people and take the time to understand what piques their interest. Even if they're not immediately interested, being courteous and open could lead to some valuable insights. 

They might even tell you why they're not interested or introduce you to someone who might be.

How can I be a good doorknocker?

Being genuinely interested in building relationships with people. If you don’t link to build your networking and get to know different persons and what brings their attention, sales isn’t the best fit.

To be a good doorknocker, remember to keep your introduction short and sweet. Don’t get desperate to sell, your main goal is to connect with this person and make them slightly interested in a second talk. 

Conclusion: Stay Persistent, Curious, and Active Listening in Your Sales Door Knocking

In the world of door-to-door sales, resilience, and creativity are your trusted companions. It's a realm where rejection is commonplace, and the path to success is often paved with nos. 

But remember, each rejection brings you one step closer to a yes, and every conversation, whether fruitful or not, is an opportunity to learn and grow. 

So, embrace your fears, be genuinely interested in the people you meet, and never underestimate the power of a warm smile or a thoughtful gesture—like donuts. 

In a landscape saturated with pitches and interruptions, it's the human connection that sets you apart. Take time to build relationships, ask the right questions, and above all, listen actively

As you embark on your door-to-door adventures, keep in mind that it's a numbers game, and you miss 100% of the shots you don't take. Stay persistent, stay curious, and stay committed to delivering value to your prospects. 

Your next big sale might be just around the corner.

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