Does Door-to-Door Selling Still Work?

Written by | Updated April 18, 2013


Door-to-door sales are often thought of something of the past—a method of selling before the age of the internet. Before technology was at our fingertips, door-to-door salespeople were the way to find out about new and exciting products, but now you can Google anything you can think up. Yet, despite the prevalence of online and over-the-phone sales, many industries still utilize door-to-door sales, including the security system industry. It may make you wonder if this is a result of old habits or intelligent, tried and true marketing.

Door-to-Door Trends

The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicted that door-to-door sales jobs would decline 15% by 2018, but the current trends don’t seem to point in this direction. According to the same organization, 2010 saw direct sales—80% of which are door-to-door sales—was a $28.6 billion industry. That’s up from $28.3 in 2009, with no sign of a downward spiral.

Trends in the Security System Industry

In the United States, selling security systems door-to-door is a multi-billion dollar industry. On SDM Magazine’s 2011 list of the top 100 home security companies, more than half of the top 20 use door-to-door salespeople. Out of the top 10, several companies cite door-to-door sales as comprising more than 90% of their sales growth each year. Clearly, door-to-door sales aren’t extinct yet.

Why Door-to-door Works

If so many companies are profiting from the model, there must be something that door-to-door sales offers that online and over-the-phone sales don’t. According to Johnny Hebda, who has been training and developing different door-to-door sales teams for over seven years, it’s about the personal touch. “I have found that consumers often prefer to purchase a home service when someone comes to their home,” Hebda said. “Consumers appreciate the personalized touch they get when one of our trained sales team members is able to offer a free inspection of their home and suggest a tailored package or service.”

While having a customized package and free inspection might be part of the appeal of a door-to-door salesperson, as Hebda suggests, there’s more to the equation. According to Robert Cialdini’s book, Influence, if we trust and like someone, we’re more likely to be influenced by them. A salesperson in the flesh is more likely to be able to build a relationship with a homeowner than someone over the phone. A door-to-door salesperson has the benefit of seeing the kind of house you have, the kind of car you drive, the general décor, and a salesperson has a better opportunity to find common ground with you and build a relationship, rather than just giving you a straight sales pitch.

Until other kinds of marketing can mimic the personal connection of a salesperson in the flesh, it seems that door-to-door sales will stick around. This day in age, we do have social media outlets, such as Twitter and Facebook, where brands can interact with customers on an individual level and forge connections, but that’s still not the same thing as having a person, with a name, facial expressions, enthusiastic gesticulations, and the ability to see and adapt to your reactions. In a nutshell, door-to-door salespeople in the security industry do indeed make quite a difference in the success of security companies, and it doesn’t appear that will change any time soon. What do you think? From your personal experience, do you think door-to-door sales will soon be a thing of the past?

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Written by Hillary Johnston

A proud mother of four, Hillary is passionate about safety education. She holds a degree in Public Health and Disaster Management. Learn more

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