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Saying Hello to Rejection: A Doorknocking Guide

6 min read


 Take a breath, smile, and be genuine. Then the doors won't be so scary.



First, I will admit I am not an introvert. I don't have social anxiety and I have long practiced how to make people feel at ease. However, that doesn't make picking random neighborhoods,  knocking on countless people's doors, speaking to dangerous-or-harmless (who knows?) strangers and trying to win their confidence easy.

Surprisingly, the scariest thing for me is waking up in the morning.

I might have done well the last week, or the previous day, "...but will I succeed today? -or was it all a fluke?"

Confidence seems to be part of the key, but I also think a healthy sprinkling of delusion might contribute positively. This is the first case in which I think, to a point, almost religious-like faith in your success to the point where it contradicts reality might actually help you -although, please keep your logic as well. 

Despite the odds, despite three days in a row of 1) no one being home when you knock, 2) no one who answered being interested or even 3) people being downright negative and aggressive to you.... If you want to stick with the business you are selling, you have to 1) keep smiling, 2) keep positive and 3) don't take any of it personally. After all, on the fourth day you might really do well and it will make up for the previous days. 

Of course, learn to read your audience; certain neighborhoods have certain vibes, and people definitely are more trusting if you mirror their tone and demeanor. But really, you have to be genuine or they'll distrust you for seeming fake. 

If you have never taken an improv class and you want to really up your game, consider dropping into a local community theater. The moment it seems like you're clueless is the moment the client loses a little bit of faith in you and your product. Don't be afraid to say "I'm not sure about that answer, but I certainly can find out for you". Showing that you aren't a 'know-it-all' can also be humbling and disarming. Do it with a smile, genuinely seem interested in helping the client find what they need and want. Remember, you aren't selling anything; you are helping match a product to the client's needs. That means... investigate, ask questions, and see if it's a right fit!

Buyers who make a purchase under pressure aren't going to be good referrals for your product. They will have Buyer's Remorse a few days later, and with many things there is a cancellation clause of a few days.... Which means you have wasted all your 'aggressive sales tactics' just for them to back out anyway.

As another blog said, "Get to the 'No Thank You's' quicker". Undoubtedly, you're going to hear "no" more often than "yes". Don't let that dissuade you. I want to rush to the 'no' so I can move on and get to the next door and get closer to the 'yes' that will pay off. If they are really on the fence about something, leave a card or informational pamphlet. However, I really don't think it pays off as much as it's worth considering the cost of paper and printing and the environmental impact of wasted paper. More often than not, you're just littering by leaving pamphlets with them (-some places go to the extreme of fining you for 'littering', and of course be careful of soliciting without a permit in areas that require one). Plus, people think it's your job to leave information and advertisements, so they just ask for a card or pamphlet to give you false hope and get you off their porch. Don't waste the paper or time. Move on.

My best leads when door knocking are: 1) They give me the information I need to run a quote for them, or 2) They give me their number so I can call them back. Only in those two cases do I even leave my card or a pamphlet. (They still end up losing it, by the way.)

When I call someone, I don't push the sale. It makes people run the other direction when you put pressure on them,  so please just take a few deep breaths and contain your anxiety or excitement. You are simply a neutral -but supportive- assistant in finding the solution to their problem, the product for their needs. You don't make false promises and you don't over-exxaggerate the possibilities. Don't even say, "This is going to be so awesome and amazing for you!" because that makes their nervous system rev up. Nervous people don't like to make decisions unless it's impulse decisions... and as I said before, they might get Buyer's Remorse and cancel a day or two later or -worse- leave a really bad review of you and business. Calm buyer's are conscientious buyer's are happy buyer's.

If you're not in it to help them, get out of that business. It isn't sustainable in the long run and will only bring you trouble down the road. It's about time that we make decisions based on ethics and think about the communities and the societies we are building. Create trust and sell things that have warranties and good workmanship. Sell things you would recommend to your own family and friends, that would improve the lives of people you care about. If you don't believe in the product, your charm and/or manipulation will only take you so far before people start to wise up and shut you out forever.

Most importantly for me is what I've learned from this experience of putting myself out there. I have learned to be diligent, to be consistent and to keep my chin up. I've discovered a new level of confidence in my own abilities and the possibilities open to me. I have learned not to take things personally, that everyone is going through their own thing and you see a small part of that when you knock on the door to their home -a most intimate place where people go to let their guard down and the external facade fades. I have always wanted to put myself out there as a musician and artist, and now I know how to take rejection without crumpling, how to be consistent and keep trying, and how to pitch an idea within the space of a few sentences. 

It isn't a job I think everyone can or should do, but it is a truly valuable experience if you are ever going to try to sell your personality (comedians, performers, small business startups) or a product (all sales, in general).


Good luck, all you out there hoofin' it! Buy some good shoes and keep your head up. And, comment below or give me a 'Star' if you liked this blog!