Door-to-door is a very successful system for network marketing. It involves delivering catalogues to entire streets or neighbourhoods - then following up with the people who are interested in your products.
It's a tried and tested method of selling products. Over time you can build up a good list of regular customers. Some of them may wish to become agents themselves. Famous brand names that recommend door-to-door selling include: Avon (cosmetics not tyres) and Kleeneze.
The once-traditional style of the aggressive door-to-door selling is thankfully becoming rare. They became counter-productive as customers simply refused to buy on that high-pressure basis - and often gave as good as they got in the aggression stakes! Don't even consider any scheme that requires you to intrude uninvited into your customers' homes.
Many network marketers achieve great results using door-to-door techniques - but only through hard work and careful preparation. This section runs through the steps in door-to-door selling - and includes suggestions and questions to consider when designing your particular approach.
Choosing A Product
There are many network marketing companies with products suitable for selling door-to-door. Research the various companies to find products which you like yourself and would use. Read the compensation plan carefully. Make sure you're clear what you have to do to earn commission - and how much you need to spend up front. See Our Criteria.
Make sure you understand what your role is in collecting customer payments and delivering orders. The best companies - from your point of view - allow the customer to order directly from them (by mail, phone, fax or email) and deliver the goods directly to their door. As long as your name or reference number is on the initial paperwork you'll get the commission. You just have to deliver the catalogues and collect them back. Many companies still expect you to collect payments and deliver orders.
Register with the company of your choice and order a set of catalogues, order forms, and re-sealable plastic bags (to protect the contents). If the company doesn't supply them you can buy suitable bags from supermarkets. Work out how many of each you'll need, then add a few for losses. If you order too many you'll only be wasting your money - and filling your cupboards!
Make sure you know your products well. Buy them and use them yourself if possible. Then, if asked, you can truthfully recommend them. This sells more products than anything else - because people can see that you mean what you're saying. Don't try to sell something you don't like. Potential customers will soon detect your insincerity.
Picking Your Territory
Some companies will just allocate a territory to you. So you either take it or leave it. Make sure you know where the boundaries are. The company ought to give you list of streets or a marked-up map of the area.
If you're allowed a choice, try to get a territory close to your home. You're going to be spending a lot of time tramping round your patch. You don't want two long journeys as well.
Try to avoid run down areas. The people who live there probably won't have much spare cash to spend on your products. And, don't go anywhere you feel unsafe. Trust your instincts and you should be fine.
You probably won't have much success in a really expensive area either. Posh people are often out, and tend to frown on buying at the door. It's still worth doing a test drop - but only after you've saturated the middle market.
The First Drop
Deliver the catalogues in batches day by day. Do it in the day time while your children are at school. Work your way systematically around your territory - from door to door, street by street.
Each day, write out a list of the addresses you're going to visit. And use it to keep records as you go along. Don't try to deliver too many at one go - they're heavy!
Stick name and address labels on each catalogue and order form. Place them in the re-sealable bags along with a friendly message - something like:
If the catalogue will go through the letterbox then make sure you push it all the way through. Otherwise, if they're away, your catalogue will tell burglars that no-one is home.
If the catalogue is too large, you'll have to leave it on the doorstep. Try to put it somewhere out of the rain, and where it can't be seen from the street.
Be as quiet and unobtrusive as you can when delivering catalogues - and when collecting them back.
Collecting The Responses
You've asked the customer to leave the catalogue outside their door on a specific day. So make sure you collect when you said you would. Otherwise they'll think of you as someone who doesn't keep promises.
Take the list of the addresses you went to when you did the first drop. And use it to keep records as you go along.
At each house look for your catalogue left out on the doorstep. If it's there - great! Check it immediately to see if there's an order. Make sure they've filled in the order form correctly. Or you'll have to knock and ask for the missing details. Best to do that while you're there rather than have to go back later.
What are you going to do if someone hasn't left the catalogue outside their door? They may just have forgotten that today's the day you're collecting. Or maybe they're just not interested. Do you knock on the door? Leave a note? Or abandon the catalogue (that you've paid for)?
Knocking's best - but be prepared for the minority who'll be very rude to you. Tramping the streets is very tiring - especially in bad weather. So, you'll be tempted to be rude back. Don't! This will only make things worse. Just apologise and walk away. Make sure you cross them off your list - and don't go near them again.
If there's no-one home you'll have to leave a note - or come back another time.
When you get home, update your records carefully. Keep the customers' order forms somewhere safe. It's no good taking an order if you forget who it's from!
When you fill in the company order form, double-check everything. It's very easy to make silly mistakes as you transfer details from the customer's form. The sooner you spot any slips the easier it is to correct them. Your customers won't be impressed if you turn up at their door with the wrong stuff.
Some companies ask for payment at the time of ordering. Use your credit card for this and pay off the debt in full. That way you defer payment at least two weeks. You'll have collected the customers payments by then. Note: don't do this if you owe money on your credit card or you'll pay even more interest.
Inspect the returned catalogues. Save the good ones to use again. A few will have been damaged. Throw these away as tatty catalogues will put your customers off.
Delivering Orders & Collecting Payment
Prepare the receipts and delivery bags while you're waiting for the company order to be delivered to you.
When signing for the company delivery, check the parcel for damage. If it's had a rough time, show the delivery man and write something like "parcel damaged, contents not examined" on his paperwork.
Make up the deliveries for individual customers, and check them carefully against their original order forms. Put a new catalogue and order form in each pack - to encourage them to buy some more.
For regular customers, consider letting them keep the catalogue and phone their orders to you. Some people prefer this. Others like you to come back and see them. Go with the customer's preference.
Early evening is a good time for delivering to customers. You're more likely to find them at home - and you won't be waking up people who work night shifts. If you can't do evening deliveries, you may find this restricts who you can sell to.
If you're delivering after dark, take someone else with you – watching from the car or waiting at the gate. If you both go to the door they may think you're trying to sell religion!
If you're going to accept cash payments, make sure you have enough small change - customers rarely have the exact amount ready.
Don't release the goods without payment in full - unless you know the customer can be trusted to pay later. One bad debt can wipe out the profit on a whole series of orders.
If someone you don't know tries it on, just say "The company doesn't allow us to leave the goods without a payment". That implies you'd like to help but can't - which is easier for the customer to accept than simply saying no.
Only accept payments in the forms acceptable to your company.
If you're offered cash, make sure the amount is right - not always easy in a dark front porch. Count it in front of the customer - even if that does seem a bit embarrassing. You can't go back later to claim the money was short.
If you're offered a cheque, make sure it's completed correctly. The right date. The right payee (the company or you depending on the scheme). The right amount (in words and in figures). Signed (with the right name). Make sure you see the cheque guarantee card (if required) and make sure you write its number on the back of the cheque.
If you're offered payment by credit card or debit card (and your company accepts them) make sure the details are recorded accurately. The cardholder name (as stamped on the card). The card number (as stamped on the card). The card expiry date (as stamped on the card). The issue number (for Switch cards only). The right amount to be charged to the account. Ask the customer for the cardholder's address (as recorded by the card company) if it isn't the same as the delivery address. Finally, make sure the cardholder has signed the form.
If there's no-one at home, leave a note asking them to phone you with a convenient time to come back. If you think they're not on the phone then promise to call back the next day - and give them an approximate time. Whatever you promise - stick to it!
Your campaign will have given you the names and contact details of paying customers (even if you didn't recover your costs). Record these people in your customer list and guard it jealously.
Once you've captured a customer, follow up every few weeks/months. Send them the latest catalogue when it's updated. Or phone them for a brief chat (but back off if they don't seem keen to be called). Your aim is to encourage them to buy again. Remember, it's much easier to get follow-on orders than to find new customers.
Don't forget the people who ticked the "I'm not ordering now, but please call again" box. Include them in your delivery drop for the next few catalogues.
Persevere with erratic customers - the ones who buy intermittently. They may be making up their minds about the products (and you). Once they're satisfied they may well step up their purchases.
Now and again you should review how well you're doing. Count up how many orders you've taken. Work out the value of those orders and your commission / profit. Then take away your costs - catalogues, order forms, notepaper, plastic bags, petrol, shoe leather. Did you recover your costs? Earn a bit of extra cash?
How much does that work out as per hour? Did you beat £6.60 an hour (the National Minimum Wage)? The first drop will almost always seem a poor return for your effort. Because you're delivering catalogues to everyone. Once you know who's interested, and who isn't, you only go back to the "warm" ones - which is cheaper and faster. Subsequent drops should give you a much better return.
Were the order rate and average order value what your sponsor told you before you started? If they were higher - well done, you've found good products that sell well in your territory.
If you haven't done as well as you hoped, do you have any clues as to what went wrong? If you spoke to customers, or non-buyers, they may have said something about why they bought (or didn't buy). There isn't much you can do about the products and catalogues - except tell the company. But if you listen carefully you may find something you can change which will make a difference.