Travis got his start selling solar installations and security systems door-to-door. Working in these top competitive door knocking niches showed him the tricks and skills he needed to cross the threshold into people’s houses when he door-knocked – effectively transforming from a stranger on the porch to a trusted advisor on the couch.
After receiving awards for managing top-producing sales teams, Travis created his own door-to-door sales company that sells water-treatment supplies to families who take their health seriously.
Travis also hosts his own podcast on his website, Build Your Network. He uses this podcast to build up aspiring sales professionals by sharing tips from top sales experts (like Grant Cardone) – empowering newer salesmen to replicate time-proven best practices for building successful businesses.
In this podcast, Travis shares 15 tips for more effective door knocking. Here’s a quick snapshot of what you’ll learn:
- Which technique gets prospects to open their door and hear you out more than any other
- The difference between ‘Field Training’ and ‘Corporate Training’ – and which is more valuable
- What turns prospects off more than anything (and it’s probably something you’ve been trained to do!)
- How to get in the door with one simple question
- How to become an expert in your niche
- Why the couch can close business faster than the kitchen table
- What sales metrics you should be tracking
Click below to watch the latest episode where you can hear the rest of Travis Chappell’s tips to improve your door knocking skills. Even if you buy leads, these tips will help you get into more doors – which will help you increase your commissions!
Interview with: Travis Chappell, Founder and Host of Build Your Network
Glen: Alright, so today on the Heroes Huddle Podcast, I have Travis Chappell here on the podcast, and Travis has a really neat Facebook group I’d highly recommend to all listeners “Build Your Network Beta.” What he’s doing in there, he’s encouraging people to expand your network, to continue to build relationships, because I think as most people know, regardless of what business you’re in, whether you’re an insurance agent, real estate agent, sales professional, it really comes down to how many people are in your network. Not necessarily that you’re selling directly to them, but that they can help you grow your business and help you in various ways. There’s so many things you can do when you have an established network.
So that is Travis’ background, he’s also got a wonderful podcast, Build Your Network, which I’d highly recommend. Like I said just a moment ago, he just interviewed the Grant Cardone, I highly would recommend listening to that episode. Travis, anything else I’m missing on?
Travis: No man, that’s good. Just yeah, check out the Facebook group, listen to the show, reach out to me and say what’s up, too. There’s a link in my Facebook group at the welcome post pinned at the top that links directly to my calendar, so if you want to just have a one-on-one chat sometime, I’d love to hear from you.
Glen: Awesome. That’s how I originally met Travis. I reached out to him and we were chatting, and we immediately connected because my background originally came from doing door-to-door sales, and Travis actually has—not only does he have a background in that, but he actually has a team of people that work for him that also do door-to-door sales. So that was something that I wanted to be the focus of our conversation today, talking about things that we’ve done that have worked, haven’t worked, things to help people who are listening, how you guys can be more efficient with your time on the doors.
I mentioned previously to a friend of mine, I value my time selling door-to-door probably more than my college education. I didn’t quite finish my bachelor’s, so maybe that’s not saying much, but I felt like I just learned a lot – a lot about myself. It takes a lot of grit and determination, I think.
You don’t know—you’re approaching someone at their house, most people aren’t excited about a stranger showing up and knocking on their door, and so you have to jump that hurdle and then also build some sort of rapport. You’re trying to get into their house and then you’re selling them something. You’re doing all of these things, multitasking all these different things at once. I just felt like I learned a lot about myself, I learned a lot about sales, and that was for me almost 10 years ago now.
So Travis, why don’t you take it away. Explain a little bit about your door-knocking experience, and maybe things that you’ve done or what your team does, and kind of go from there. [02:37]
Travis: Yeah, for sure, bro. So like you were saying, I basically built my entire career, I guess you could say, off of door-to-door sales, so it was something that I—it wasn’t on my radar at all, I was basically in a ministerial college, meaning I had got my bachelor’s degree in church ministries, I was going to be a youth pastor and stuff like that.
And then basically by sophomore—at the junior year, actually, my junior year—a buddy of mine started doing door-to-door sales just to make money while we were going to school. At the time, I just had a little landscaping business that I was tired of doing the work on it, I’d been doing it since high school. I was tiring of doing the work on it, so I just paid somebody else to mow my lawns for me. I wasn’t actively seeking new business or clientele, so I was making just a few hundred bucks a month off of it basically. I didn’t do anything for it, which was nice, but I just wasn’t making much money.
So my buddy came up to me and showed me his paycheck, which looking back, it wasn’t a lot of money, but at the time to me, it was because it was like $850 for a 20-hour work week, which at the time, I was like, “Oh man, that’s actually pretty good.”
It stuck out to me because this was the same friend who had, the summer before this, we never saw each other because he was working two full-time jobs, one at Walgreen’s and one somewhere else, he was working literally 80-hour work weeks, two full-time jobs the summer before. The thing that stood out to me was that he was like, “Bro, I made more money on this paycheck than I did with both of my combined paychecks working 80 hours a week, and I only worked 20 hours last week.”
I was like, “Oh, interesting.” The concept of leverage was big, big in my mind at that point. So I was like, “Ok, this might be something I’m interested in.” So I was like, “Can you get me a job interview?” He was like, “Yeah, I’ll talk to my supervisor.”
So he got me the interview and really, I think one of the only job interviews I’ve ever had, but ended up getting the job, and then first week got promoted, fourth week I got promoted again, and then about two or three months in, I was promoted up to a team leader and I was managing a team of about 12 guys. It actually started out about four or five guys and then we did a big recruiting push, got like 12 guys, and then one of the other team leaders got let go from the company and I absorbed his team.
So at the peak, we were doing almost 20 guys on my team, and doing door-to-door solar sales, so we were, at the time, this was back before the big solar boom, so there weren’t a lot of people doing a lot of solar back then. Now everybody and their mom sells solar door-to-door, but back then, there weren’t really a lot of companies or opportunities. So we were basically glorified lead generators; we would do the dirty work and then a sales rep would come in and close the deal.
So we were producing—our market was the top-producing market in the company, and this was a company that, at the time, was the second largest residential installer of solar in the country. So there’s Solar City, which is like the powerhouse of the industry, and then it was our company right underneath them as far as residential solar goes. Our market was the top-producing market, and my team was the top-producing team in the top-producing market. So we were doing a decent amount of volume, but I think there was another team that did a little more volume that we did, but our efficiency was better.
So we had better hours per appointment, we had better sales percentages, we had better demo percentages, we had better everything, and that’s what they measured our team’s success off of because they wanted to see efficiency rather than just production.
Glen: Love it. [06:01]
Travis: So we started killing it with that, and then ended up getting recruited to a different solar company, actually over to Solar City—worked there for about a year, and then I got recruited out of that into the alarm industry, which is what you and I have in common, and that’s really where I started.
That’s where I would say I learned the majority of the door-to-door techniques that I have now, was in the alarm industry. Solar industry was good; it just seems like the alarm industry, there’s a lot more killers in that industry. I always knew that in solar, too. When I was doing solar, I was like, “Oh, the alarm guys, those guys are tough.” The alarm guys and the Kirby guys, those are like the two people that I was like, “Man, those dudes are just freaking killers.”
So when I got into the alarm industry, I was a little nervous at first because I was like, “Man, I don’t know if I can do this,” and just started kind of going with it.
Glen: I laugh because the same feeling, I mean I’ll never forget. Like it’s yesterday, I can remember I was following the person who recruited me to do alarm sales, and of course insurance, I’ve done cold-knocking for insurance, I’ve door-knocked leads for insurance, so I’ve done plenty of door-knocking for other things.
I’ll also take a second to plug, we have this massive guide on our website. If you go to LeadHeroes.com and you go to the blog section, you can actually find—we have—it’s more than 14,000 words. So it’s a massive guide about door-knocking. Most of it’s specifically geared towards insurance and scripting towards insurance, what to say, how to approach the door. But there’s also scripts for some other different venues on there, too, or different verticals. So definitely check that out.
But I laughed at that because I just remembered that very first day watching the person who recruited me sell, and just sitting there thinking, wow, like he was just very aggressive. That was coming from Sears Outlet at the time, so I was selling ding-and-dent appliances.
Travis: A little different.
Glen: Yeah, a little different. Ding and dent appliances, people walking into my store, and that was a very limited commission position, versus this unlimited commission, which that was really the exciting thing for me, because I love sales, so I didn’t want to be capped in my income, I wanted to have an uncapped income.
But what you said there, I really want to exploit that or have you talk a little bit more when you said techniques. What are some techniques or strategies?
And another thing I wanted to get into is marketing demographics. So when I was doing alarm sales, originally we would try to target, I still see myself doing it today when I’m driving, I’ll look at a house and be like, “Oh man, this is a good neighborhood.” You know, right? [08:26]
Travis: Yeah, totally. Totally.
Glen: I was like, “Oh man, look at these houses. Oh, the carports.” It was always the carports, too. You’d be like, you don’t necessarily want a garage and you don’t want something that doesn’t have a carport, but if it has a carport, then you’ve got that nice—there’s some money there, just weird things like that.
So kind of a two-part question there. What are some techniques or strategies you would use on your approach, and also demographic-wise? I know it would probably be different depending on what you’re selling, but demographic-wise what would you look for when you’re trying to pick a good area?
Travis: Yeah, so you hit the nail on the head when you said that there, so let me caveat everything I’m about to say by saying: This is going to vary industry by industry, because I’ve sold a number of different products on doors, went out and sold window jobs, I’ve sold alarms, I’ve sold solar in lead gen side and the actual selling solar contracts side, and then now my team that I have is all based around water sales, so we sell like water treatment products door-to-door.
So every industry that I’ve done has just been a little bit of a learning curve. Because once you have the skillset, you can basically sell anything, but they’re just little niches and little things that you’ve got to try to figure out about the specific industry that you’re working in to really excel in that industry.
So for instance, when I first started in door-to-door, this was like the epitome of a corporation, meaning that our commissions were technically uncapped, but we also had an hour lead, so they could only be uncapped to a certain extent, if that makes sense. The thing is about salary sales versus 100% commission sales is the top producers are at the—the margin between the bottom producers and top producers is going to be not that much of a difference.
So like if you have a top producer that’s making $80,000 a year just generating leads for solar, and then you have a bottom producer who is making like $45,000 to $50,000 a year. Like the spread’s not going to be too much, whereas when I switch to 100% commission, top producers re like $120,000 to $130,000; and then bottom producers are like $30,000. So there’s a huge spread there.
When I first started, it was very much in that corporate sense. So what I mean by that is the people training us were the people sitting in a corporate chair that learned how to sell based on a sales presentation that they learned in college. They weren’t people that were out knocking doors every day. These were executives sitting in their office contemplating what might possibly work.
Glen: Was that really valuable?
Travis: Not at all.
Glen: That’s been my experience from day one, and you’ll see it over and over on social media. When someone who doesn’t have actual field experience and they’re trying to turn around and train someone, not saying that they can’t offer value, but it’s never the same value as someone who’s been out in the field.
That’s why I had—I knew it was my duty to start putting content out for insurance agents, because there wasn’t enough. Most of the content I was seeing firsthand as an agent previously myself, it was coming from those types of people. The people sitting behind a desk who said, “Oh, this looks cool.” Like not actual field experience. But yeah, go ahead. [11:22]
Travis: Yeah, so a great point to bring up, bro, because especially in door-to-door and 100% commission things, you have to seek out people who not only have done it, but are still doing it. A lot of times, especially in industries like insurance that are constantly changing and shifting, don’t go find a coach that was successful in insurance a decade ago and now has a coaching practice that he’s been doing for 10 years. Find somebody that’s in it right now that’s doing the work and able to coach.
That’s one reason I have my business, my water business, is that when I bring on coaching clients and I teach people sales, like one-on-one or I coach people on how to podcast one-on-one, it’s because I’m doing the things that I’m telling them to do. It wasn’t like an idea that I had that I think may work if you put it into practice. It’s like no, no, I’m literally doing this on a daily basis and seeing good results from it, so do it, and I’m telling you you will see results, because it works right now. So that’s just a quick little thing out there.
But anyway, getting back to that story. So that’s what was happening at this company. So the training that I learned at corporate and then came back and learned from the people in the field, the people in the field are like, “Yeah, forget that. It doesn’t work. Do it this way.” So I was like, “Ok, that makes sense.”
But it was still sprinkled with all the corporate stuff because these weren’t door-to-door killers at the time, these were people that were doing this based off of the corporate pitch anyway. So they would say stuff that the stereotypical sales training might tell you to do, like have a smile at the door, speak loudly so people can hear you, enunciate properly, like be energetic. That’ll catch onto people.
So I was going door-to-door with all of that kind of hocus pocus stuff sprinkled on my pitch, and then I didn’t realize that that stuff didn’t really work until I was in the alarm industry and started learning from door-to-door people that were actually killers in the space. So when you’re lead generating on doors, you don’t want to be like Happy McSmiley up at the door, because people can smell door-to-door salesmen from a mile away.
So I had to learn that when I switched the alarm industry, so that was one of those techniques that I’m talking about is instead of coming up to the door—like in solar I would tell them my name and my company right off the bat and I would say it loudly, energetically, with a smile on my face. So it was like, “Hey, how’s it going? Sorry to bug you guys. My name’s Travis, I’m with a company called Verengo, we’re just out here today talking to people.”
So very much sales pitchy, most people could tell it’s a sales pitch right from the beginning, and it turns them off, they don’t like that. So you know, people’s wall is about as high as you can go with a door-to-door salesman. So our job as door-to-door guys is to use every single tiny, psychological trick that you possibly can to bring that wall down so that you can actually speak to a person one-on-one and get them to treat you like a regular person, instead of a door-to-door salesman they want to kick off their porch.
Glen: That is a really great point. I’d love to get some actionable tips and advice of what you do. Right here I’ll throw one out first, because my goal was never to sell on the door, because that almost never happened. Very rarely was I actually transacting business on the porch. It did happen, sometimes you just—I just had to do what I had to do, but typically my goal was to get in the house, like all I was trying to do was get in the house from the time I knocked on the door. [14:30]
Glen: One of my favorite ones that I was taught or that I learned was wiping your feet on the doormat. I don’t know if you ever used that one, but one of the best door-to-door salesmen that I ever got to see in action, he was just a machine, and it was like he would—it was like two or three sentences and then he’s aggressively wiping his feet. I never got quite to that level, but it was like the second he started wiping those feet they were like, “Alright,” and they would always just open the door wide open. They go, “He’s coming in.”
So what’s some actionable scripting or just something you would do or say to try to get in the door? Something along those lines.
Travis: Yeah, so first of all: Avoid what I just did, the whole energetic, smiley person at the front door. You want to differentiate yourself from the other nine people that knocked on their door in the last six months trying to sell them something.
So immediately what I started doing was lowering my voice and speaking really softly. What happens is when you speak really loudly like this, then people start—their tendency psychologically is to back away from you a little bit, because you’re coming on really strong and they don’t know you. But when you speak really, really quietly and more softly like this, people have a tendency to kind of lean in. If you’re listening to this right now, you may have even turned up or turned down the volume based on how loud I was talking.
So what you want to do is have that really soft, calm, cool, collected presence at the door that makes people think, “Oh, this is just a service tech.” Like I said, whatever you can do to take that wall down. So if you come up really bubbly and all that kind of stuff, people are going to think salesman right off the bat. But if you come off really just like soft-spoken, just like more concerned about the neighborhood type thing, then people have a lot more tendency to lean in and hear what you’re saying. And when they lean in, they’re psychologically more in-tune with what you’re actually going to talk to them about. So that’s one thing.
The second thing that I always did to get into the house was I asked them if they wanted me to take my shoes off. I didn’t do the feet-wiping thing on the doormat, but I would ask them if they wanted me to take my shoes off.
Glen: It’s the same idea, though. [16:34]
Travis: Yeah, same idea. 30 to 45 seconds, like just a quick explanation and then, “I just need two quick seconds to show you where the equipment goes and how it works. Do you want me to take my shoes off?” And then as I’m saying that, I’m taking a step toward the door.
So however they answer that question, it takes their mind off of the question, “Can I come inside? Do I normally let people in my house?” and puts their mind on the question, “Do people take their shoes off when they come in here? No, they don’t.”
And then if they say no, then ok great, I leave my shoes on and I go inside. If they say yes, ok great, I take my shoes off and I go inside, but either way I’m going inside. They have to actually like stop and psychologically think about the fact that they’re going to let you in their house and then say, “Oh, actually no, you’re not allowed. You can’t come in.”
Very few people will do that. Will some people do that? Yeah, of course, and that just means you have to work around it and talk another couple minutes, and then try to figure out another angle.
Glen: Onto the next, right? Onto the next, go bang the next door. But see, that’s a novice agent or someone inexperienced would say, “Can I come in?”
Travis: Yeah, open-ended questions with a yes or no—I mean yes or no questions are not what you want to ask, especially when you’re on the door. People think they’re doing the customer a favor by doing that, but the bottom line is if you believe enough in your product and you believe enough that what you’re selling has real good benefits for people, especially if you’re in insurance. Like if you’re selling life insurance and stuff like that, you have to believe that what you’re selling is really, really beneficial for people.
If you really believe that, then you should be willing to do whatever you can do to get people to say yes, as long as it’s legal, ethical, and moral. You never cross those lines, but any sort of little psychological things, it’s just having the confidence to be able to deliver those things when you don’t feel like you should be able to have the confidence to do that yet, if that makes sense.
Glen: So I’ve seen you post that exact question on social media before, and it’s something that I live or die by: If you really don’t believe in your service or your product that you’re offering, I can’t really sell it. I’ve tried it. [18:28]
Travis: I have, too.
Glen: Yeah, for example, trying to sell warranties on appliances. I personally didn’t see the value in it, so it was hard for me to sell it, even though I knew that I made more money selling that at the time. You’re absolutely right, like if you don’t—you need to find something else, really. If you’re not just 100% committed and behind what you’re selling, it’s time to move on. So yeah, I totally agree with that.
Travis: You’ve got to be convinced of your own product, for sure.
Glen: 100%, yeah, 100%.
So now you’re in the house, so you’re in the house, you got in the house, now what’s some lingo to continue the progress? Because again, you have to kind of tightrope. I just remember always feeling like you don’t want to be too aggressive, because you’ll get thrown out, and then you can’t be too soft like the yes or no questions, or else again you’re going to get no, you’re going to get thrown out. So where are you going from there?
Travis: Good question. So this part for sure is going to be very, very different, industry by industry, but the bottom line is this: When you are on the porch, you’re a random stranger. When you’re in the house, you are now the trusted advisor, so do things that a trusted advisor would do. So when I was selling alarms, I would get into the house, I would just immediately start walking them through where the equipment’s going to go and how it’s going to work.
So we’ll go like, “Ok, really quick, where’s the living room? I want to show you where the motion sensor’s going to go. Ok, you see this? You’ve got the backdoor right here, you’ve got the garage door. Ok, so there’s three or four entry points. Ok, let me show you exactly where these door sensors are going to go, that way if somebody comes in through this door—you know, 60% of burglaries happen to the front door,” whatever, throw out some statistics, and just start walking people around.
The thing is, most people are fairly compliant, and I don’t mean that in a rude kind of way, it’s just how it is. Like psychologically, you’re compliant. If you want to watch a really good Netflix special on this, it’s called “The Push.” It’s on Netflix, a mentalist does this really big social experiment; it’s fascinating, you should definitely check it out. It’s like an hour, hour and 15 minutes long or something.
Glen: I’m adding it. I’m going to add that right now. That sounds like a great, great show. [20:33]
Travis: Watch it and thank me later. For real, it’s fantastic.
So when you’re in there, you’ve got to assume people are going to follow you because you’re the advisor at this point. When I first started doing door-to-door alarms, I had no idea what I was looking at, like what kind of panel, like if it was a Honeywell or a DSC or if it was a 2GIG or if it was a GE. Like I had no idea what I was looking at.
But the bottom line is: I knew more about alarms than that customer did, so to them, I was the expert. You don’t have to be an expert and know every single thing about what you’re selling in order to be ‘the expert’ in that situation. If you know more than the other person, then you’re the expert of the two of you, so just portray yourself to be that, and people will believe who you are. I don’t think like there’s anything sketchy about that at all, because you do know more than that person does, and as long as you know more, you can be the expert. So I would just start walking around and start showing them where stuff goes.
Glen: Well, and the first sale, I’m thinking my very first alarm sale, I mean yeah, same thing. I knew almost nothing, but again I knew more than them. Ethically, as long as you’re not lying when something comes up you don’t know, you just have to make sure you answer it appropriately, “Hey, let me check. I think I know what this is, I don’t want to tell you the wrong answer. Let me get back to you on this.”
Travis: “Let me call my manager really quick,” or something like that.
Glen: Exactly. Now, are you going for the table? I always would try to get to the table.
Travis: No, I would try to get on the couch because the table is where business is done; the couch is where friends talk. So I always wanted to be a friend more than a business transaction.
Now, a lot of times we would end up at the table because they would suggest it and I’m not going to override something that they say, because I’m going to do whatever they feel more comfortable with. But if it was my choice, as soon as I walked in, I had a binder that I would knock with that had my contracts and all that stuff in. As soon as I walked in, I would go straight to the couch and set my binder down on the couch to let them know that this is where we’re going to end up after we do the walkthrough.
So I’d set my binder down on the couch and then I would be like, “Ok, let me show you where this motion sensor’s going to go. This is the application that’s going to—if somebody walks in front of the camera, it takes a picture, sends it to your phone, this is how it works. Ok, this is where this is going to go, this is where that’s going to go.”
It’s like, “Ok, you mind if we sit down for a second?” And then I point over to my binder, like, “Let me go grab my binder. Let’s sit down for a second.” So they just follow you to the couch because that’s where I put my binder down. So this is totally preferential for me, but I would rather sit on a couch because it’s more collaborative, whereas if I sit at a table—if you’re going to sit at a table, make sure you sit next to them, don’t sit across from them. That stance is more confrontational. When it’s chest-to-chest, face-to-face, it’s more confrontational. You want to make it seem like you’re working on a project together, like we’re on a team, we’re working to figure out a solution here.
Glen: That’s the wall, and in insurance specifically, I felt like that was really—I had to become, “Hey, I’m the broker. I’m working for you. There’s all these companies out there.” The same thing I think really applied to door—because again, door-to-door sales, you can sell anything once you knock on their door, but it has to be, “Listen, I’m trying to help you make this decision. There’s all these different companies out there. Let me help you,” versus, “Hey, I’m the company and I’m trying to sell this item or service to you.”
So yeah, I totally agree, you have to get behind—once you’re behind that, it’s really pretty much smooth sailing because you have that trust, really. You build the rapport, you get that trust, and then it’s just, “Ok, well this guy’s the expert. He’s telling me this is what needs to happen.” [23:56]
Travis: Yeah, exactly. You become—once you step foot in the house, you’re now the trusted advisor, you’re not just some Joe Schmoe that knocked on their door. So take that role seriously. We used to just—I would just say educate—like I would just spout off some sort of statistics just for education purposes to let them know that I’m not just trying to sell you equipment.
So for instance, if I went to the backdoor and I jiggled the handle and it was loose at all, I’d be like, “Hey, this is something that, just for security purposes, I would highly suggest going and replacing this doorknob. Because with this being this loose, it’s going to be a lot more vulnerable as far as an entry point goes with somebody kicking in the backdoor. So if I were you I’d go get this thing replaced.”
Did that make me any money? No. Was I going to sell more product because of that? No. It’s just because I’m going to throw out as much knowledge as I can to make them perceive me to be the best expert that they know on alarm systems. If they know, like, and trust you, they will buy from you.
Glen: Absolutely. So a couple questions too that came to mind. I’m thinking statistically, kind of the other way, sales-wise, how many doors would you typically knock—the team that you manage today that still sells—how many doors do you tell them they should be knocking when they’re going out?
From the lead side of the business, I always have to explain the law of large numbers, which again, I learned this originally from the doors. I mean it was all a numbers game. I knew that even if I had 20 doors in a row that got slammed on my face, I knew that, well hey, onto the next door. I mean I’ll never forget some of those days where I’m out there, I’m sweating, I’m just—it feels like I sweat every drop of water in my body, haven’t made a sale, but again, I’m going to the next door because I know eventually, I’m going to get someone to say yes.
So I’m curious to know like statistically, and a little different than the stats you were referencing, but like what would you do on a sales—if you were going out selling or something you would tell your team today—what sort of numbers would you say? [25:51]
Travis: Yeah, so it’s totally different based on the experience level of the rep. Because when you’re first starting, you’ve just got to do bulk. You have to get a sample size and people work off of too small of a sample size. So their first day, they’ll go out and knock 20 doors, the second day they’ll go out and knock 30 doors, and then they’ll be like, “This doesn’t work. I’ve knocked 50 doors and haven’t sold anything.”
Well, first of all, you’re going off of way too small of a sample size. So you should be going out for like four or five hours a day when you’re first starting. I know a lot of summer programs, they’ll do like 10 or 12 hours a day. If you’re doing it year-round, you’ll burn out really quickly. A lot of people doing year-round will stick to more of the four or five hours a day, which is always—I’ve always done year-round.
So some of the summer programs will just go kill it for the summer and be done, but if you’re doing year-round, you’ve got to be out, you know, knocking about 100 doors a day for your first month or so.
Glen: Is that nights? I’ve done it both ways, so I totally understand what you’re saying, but if you’re a year-round door-knocker, are you door-knocking nights Monday through Friday and then Saturday all day or what?
Travis: Totally, yeah. So if you’re doing door-to-door, you’ve got to work when everybody else isn’t working. So the most—when people are home. So we’d go out like 3:30 to 8:30 in the summer time or like 12:30 to 5:30 in the winter time, you know, stuff like that, like right in those hours where people are actually home and you can speak to decision-makers and stuff like that. Especially in alarms because you’re trying to make a sale right then and there, so you have to have both homeowners home to be able to do that.
Glen: Yeah, just to get back to what you’re saying, so new agents or new salespeople, they’re going to have to do both, totally agree. There’s just—that doesn’t matter what business or industry or vertical you’re in, you’ve got to do it, you’ve got to put numbers behind you to get the experience.
Travis: You have to have that sample size, man. You have to have—because the numbers will always work out, but if you’ve never done it before, then you have no idea what your numbers look like, so you don’t know what kind of production you need to put in in order to reach the goals that you have. So like if it’s your goal to sell an alarm a day, five alarms a week or something like that, if that’s your goal, just a deal a day, a deal a day, that’s your goal but you’ve never sold a deal before, you don’t know how much work you need to put in in order to come away with that one deal.
It could be eight hours, it could be three hours, it could be five hours, it could be 100 doors, 150 doors, it could be 40 doors. You have no idea what that looks like until you go out and make a couple sales. So once you’ve made three, four, five sales, now you can look back and say, “Ok, how many hours have I worked? How many doors have I knocked? How many doors have I got into? How many people have I talked to? How many complete presentations have I done? How many of those have actually closed? How many of those have actually installed and gotten funded?”
Now you have statistics, you have numbers, you have data, you have everything that it takes from the very beginning, all the way through the very end when you get money into your bank account, which is all that matters. So at this point, now you can be like, “Ok, I want to do five deals a week,” but you know that you’ve got to knock 100 doors to get one deal. That means you’ve got to be knocking 100 doors every single day and you’ve got to go put in the work to get out on 100 doors every single day.
Yes, some days you’ll come away with a goose egg, just flat-out zero, you won’t close anything. But then some days you’ll come away with two or three deals. So the numbers will always work out, and the coolest thing about the law of averages is that you can get better at it.
So when I first started, it was probably about 50 to 60 doors I would need to knock to get a sale. After I was pretty proficient at it, it was like 10 to 12 doors I would knock and I would get a sale. That just comes from, like you were saying before, scouting out neighborhoods, knowing which doors are good, knowing which ones to expend time on, which ones to walk away from.
Glen: That’s my next question, perfect segue. So like area, demographic, and again, depending on your vertical and what you’re doing. So most of the listeners to this podcast are going to be senior insurance agents, so targeting for Final Expense life insurance, you know, you’re talking about seniors maybe 50 to 80, lower income. I would probably say it’s going to be a similar demographic to alarm systems. You know, lower income, maybe not the best neighborhoods.
I know a lot of Final Expense agents might laugh at that because I’ve been in my fair share of houses where it’s like, “Oh my goodness.” Online there’s a community of agents who will share their horror stories and I laugh just because I know there’s not a lot of fabrication going on in these stories. I’m sure you have your own fair share of stories of homes you’ve been in that were just crazy.
So but marketing demographics, which is something at Lead Heroes I stress about and I look at all the time, and it’s very applicable to door-knocking, so what is something you would do or you would look for to be like, “Ok, this is a good neighborhood”? I mentioned that whole carport thing, and again, there’s no necessarily rhyme or reason to that, but it was just one of those things that some of the guys— [30:30]
Travis: You looked for, yeah.
Glen: Yeah, we looked for it, we felt like that kind of helped us scout these good areas. So what’s something that you would or your team would look for and you felt like, “Ok, this is a good area?”
Travis: Yeah, so first of all, it’s going to definitely vary by the region of the country that you’re in as well, as far as that kind of stuff goes, too. Because for us, carports wasn’t really a thing, so that wasn’t something that we could look for, but I totally get what you mean by that, like there’s definitely little things that you can look for in a neighborhood. So I’ll give you what I looked for and just keep in mind, this was for alarms specifically.
So if you’re in the insurance field, it might look a little bit different, but I’m assuming it’s probably about the same clientele, because you want people typically that—you’re looking for the middle-class American that likes making payments on stuff, is typically what you’re looking for when you’re in door-to-door. You don’t want to go to the super nice ritzy areas where people pay cash for stuff and they’re really savvy consumers. And I don’t mean that in a rude or degrading way to the middle class at all, I’m just saying—
Glen: It’s just your target market. Well, and the older crowd’s home all day. So like I said, I’ve done it both ways. I’ve door-knocked year-round, I door-knocked the summer blitz where you’re going from sunup to sundown, and that was the beauty of it. Grandma, who is retired and she’s 70 years old and she’s got a little extra income and she’d love protection, and again, I think alarm sales is so applicable to insurance because you’re selling protection. That’s really what it is.
Life insurance is protection for their family when they pass away and alarm service, a monitoring service, which is essentially what you’re selling, is just protection for them while they’re living. So it’s very similar in that sense.
Travis: Yeah, so a couple things that we would look for is first of all you want to be—as far as like a general rule of thumb—you want to be in an area that is basically the worst area that you can find that can still pass credit. So you can’t go door-knock downtown Compton in the straight-up ghetto; you’re not going to get good results from that. But the area right above that, that still has some houses that are dilapidated and just pieces of crap.
The best people that are going to be—the best people are the people in those neighborhoods that have good credit and take care of their stuff. So that’s when you could start like cherry-picking and finding and getting really good at figuring out which doors are going to be deals or not. So I would say that’s the first rule of thumb is try to go to the lowest area that you can that will still pass credit, like people that are still competent and working, and have decent money coming in.
And then when you’re driving around, you want to look for things like a lawn that’s taken care of. If you’re in insurance or if you’re in alarms, looking for alarm signs in the front hard, that’s a pretty good sign, especially if it’s like a Vivint, or an Alder, or Skyline or something—
Glen: Because they got sold. [33:30]
Travis: It’s because they got sold by a door-to-door sales rep. So you know that they’re at least open to talking to people that knock on their door. Most people that buy those kinds of systems are like—most of Vivint’s systems are done door-to-door, so Vivint’s probably a good one to use because they’re all over the place and they’re a billion-dollar company. So you see that orange circular sign, that’s either Vivint Solar or Vivint Alarms, you know that they got sold by a door-to-door rep and so you might be able to sell them your product because they could have been in the market for an alarm, but you know that they’re at least willing to talk to somebody that knocks on their door.
So looking for alarm signs, looking for solar systems that are set up on the house, those are both pretty good indicators for us. Looking to see what kind of car is in the driveway. If they have a—it doesn’t have to be a BMW, but if they have like a new Camry or something like that, you know that they, like I said, they love those payments, that they have decent credit, that they love having payments on stuff, and that’s how they pay their things off. They don’t pay cash for them, they’ve probably got a payment on that new Camry.
It doesn’t have to be a BMW or Mercedes or whatever, but if they have a decent car in the driveway and they take care of their lawn, they have an alarm sign, maybe they have upgraded windows. If you’re in some of these older neighborhoods and you can see that they’ve upgraded their windows to the vinyl dual-pane windows instead of single-pane windows from the 50s. Little things like that, you’ll just be like, “Ok, they like to improve things, they like to spend money on things like that, they like to have payments. They have decent credit, they have decent income coming in. They’re probably one of the more well-to-do people in this particular area.”
Those are the houses that I would look at and be like, “That is a mother-effing deal right there.”
Glen: Well, and just to translate for the insurance agents listening to this, unfortunately there’s not signs. I wish there were signs in the front yard that said, “I own life insurance. Don’t talk to me.” But at the same time, I’ll have agents who reach out to me and they say, “Well Glen, I just got this lead and they said they already had insurance. How am I supposed to sell them? I don’t want this lead.”
For me as an agent, when I would get in the house, the first thing I’m doing is I’m trying to figure out if they already have insurance, because it’s actually a lot easier if they’ve already been sold before, because you really just have to put them in a better situation, whether that means adding coverage or replacing coverage if it makes sense for them, or maybe it’s the wife needs coverage, the husband had it.
I remember in alarms, it was the same way. A lot of people would skip those houses, they wouldn’t even knock the doors. For me, I’m just saying, you’re crazy.
Travis: No, those are dollar signs in my eyes, bro.
Glen: I know, and it’s the same way in insurance, it really is. I love what you’re saying about the homes, because it’s this very niche—and again, as a new agent or someone who’s inexperienced, a sales rep, whatever it is you’re selling, it’s going to be hard to spot these. But I just remember the person who recruited me originally, he would spend hours driving before he would ever get out and knock. He would probably drive for about two hours in a local area just kind of scouting, because he knew how big of a difference it was when you found the right area versus just the mindless, “Ok, I’m going to knock this neighborhood. I’m going to go neighborhood, to neighborhood, to neighborhood, regardless of what it looks like.”
Being strategic in your area, and this again applies to everyone, being strategic in the area you’re marketing to, whether you’re spending money on lead generation or whether you’re going out there and using your own blood, sweat, and tears, you want to save yourself some energy, save yourself some time, and be strategic. There’s no sense in this blind approach.
Again, the law of large numbers holds true. So if you are blindly approaching and you want to just go for it, you can probably still have success. You will still have success, but combine a little bit of smart in there. Be smart about it. [37:25]
Travis: Yeah totally. So that’s what I was going to say, is if you’re first starting, just get out on doors because you’re going to psyche yourself out. So I totally agree with what you’re saying as far as if you’re an experienced knocker, then yeah, take some time to scout out a good neighborhood, because you know exactly what you’re looking for.
If you’re not an experienced knocker, you’ve just got to knock doors. You have to collect data. The more that you sit in your car and ‘scout the neighborhood,’ you’re going to just psyche yourself out and then eventually just go sit at Burger King for three hours looking at your training videos.
Glen: It’s advanced, yeah.
Travis: You have to—if you’re brand new, like I know this is what you meant, but I just want to make sure we throw that in there because if you’re new, taking action is more important in the beginning. You have to collect the data.
Glen: That’s definitely—I’m glad you mentioned that. But at the same time, if you are brand new, don’t go knock like Beverly Hills. Still don’t be—and that’s what I’m saying. But you’re absolutely right.
Travis: Travel around with an experienced person and have them tell you where to knock at first. That was one thing I did when I first started with alarms—again, my whole podcast is about networking because I believe in it so much. The only reason that I was a six-figure alarm salesman is that I had a guy that I was working with that was a seven-figure alarm salesman that knew exactly what he was doing. So that kind of stuff I didn’t even know was possible in my other door-to-door job, because we just got assigned territories.
You get assigned a territory and you go knock the territory that was assigned to you, because like I said, it was more corporate. This other guy was more like ok, we would go out knocking and then if we would go out with him, he would drive us around and be like ok. I would sit there and watch, like we would pick an area. What we do is we would knock crime areas where a break-in happened recently.
So when we were leaving the area, if there was still some daylight out, if it was like, “Alright, we knocked all those streets, whatever, now let’s take off.” When we were leaving the area, if we had like an hour left, he would just drive around and then just point out houses and be like, “Ok, go get that one.”
When I first started, it was amazing to me that he had it down to such a science because I was like, “Man, how do you do this?” because we’d just drive, and then he would tell one of his experienced reps, he’s like, “Oh, that’s a deal. Go knock that door.” And then he’d get out of the car and he’d say, “Bro, watch this. This is going to be a deal right here.” And then literally 20 minutes later, he walks out with a signed contract.
I’m like, “Man, how did you do that? How did you know that that was going to be a deal?” And then I started doing it, and then I became a manager, and then I started pointing out houses, and then I started telling people that was going to be a deal, and it actually ended up happening, and it was like, “Oh my gosh, this is definitely science.”
Glen: Fascinating that you say that, because I had the same experience. I think at the core of it, and again the main reason I wanted you on this podcast because I knew you were an expert at door-knocking, and I think at the core, selling door-to-door is selling door-to-door, and I had almost an identical experience where everyone’s exhausted, you’re in the car, you’re driving around the area, and yeah, same thing. The person who recruited me who was managing us, it was, “Hey, go check on this door.” Yeah, a lot of times it was a deal.
But my question to you would be: How much of it is psychology? Because I can tell you right now, I knew when I was going out if I was going to have sales or not that day because it’s such a confidence. And I had someone on the podcast earlier and we spent most of our conversation talking about mindset, and I feel like with the doors, it’s the same way.
If you’re on the fence about going out and selling, it was like, don’t even go. But if you had the confidence and you’re getting up on that door and it’s, “Hey, I really need to help you out. Can I come in? We need to talk about this.” Versus if you’re a little sluggish or you’re just not quite into it. Because I feel like mindset is just such a big thing and I feel like most people don’t talk about it.
So what do you think about that? The psychology behind that.
Travis: Yeah, I mean mindset is where everything starts. So when people are like, “Hey, what’s the key to business and success?” It’s mindset. Mindset is the key, because if you don’t have the right mindset, then none of the other stuff matters. Your skills don’t matter, your work ethic doesn’t matter. If your mindset sucks, then you’re not going to see anything happen, anyway.
So I think all of this starts with that. That’s where it all begins. So I think that it’s very much that way and you just have to—having the right mindset, a lot of it is about being self-aware. Self-aware enough to realize when you’re motivated, when you’re not motivated, when you know you’re going to sell, when you know you’re not going to sell. And then having little tips and things that you can do to put yourself into that.
So for me, I’ve always been a super low-energy person, like I just—I hit walls a lot and I want to take a nap, and I’m pretty sluggish in general. Like all throughout growing up I was always sleeping, taking naps; I’ve just always been that kind of a person.
So before I would go on doors, I knew that after lunch around 2:00 to 3:00, which is right when we’re about to start knocking, I would hit a wall. So to combat that, I would just drink something that had caffeine in it. A lot of people would be like, “No, don’t drug your body,” or whatever, but the bottom line is if you’re taking care of yourself, it’s not a big deal. So during that year, I was not taking care of myself and I was drinking Red Bulls that were full of sugar.
Was that bad for me? Yes, it was. But now, if I were doing it now, I would probably just drink a Bang or drink some black coffee, something that’s actually like decently healthy for me and gives me a little boost of energy, because I know that I’m going to produce better when I’m like that. A lot of it could just come down to that. It might not even be your mindset, it could just be that you’re really freaking tired.
Glen: Placebo. [42:51]
Travis: Yeah, exactly. So totally just get up, put some caffeine in your body, and go start knocking. Some of it is placebo, I think some of it is psychological. That’s why now, I try to get my reps into thinking that every door is a good door, but some doors are even better. So if I send them out on a door, I’m like, “Oh, that is a great door. That’s a deal right there.”
If you say that, then they’re going to be a lot more ready to answer objections, a lot more ready to get in the door and do well with it—whereas if you’re like, “Uh, this one’s not going to be good, but go knock it anyway,” they’re going to look for an excuse to not—
Glen: Yeah, “Travis told me this is a deal. I can’t walk out of here without a deal. This is definitely a deal.”
Travis: Yeah, he’s like, “I don’t want to disappoint him.” You know, because that’s totally true. When I was first starting and the owner of the company would put out some of the veterans on a door and be like, “Watch him come back with a deal,” and he did, and then he’d point at me and go, “Ok, you go get that one.” I was like, “Oh, dang, like I’d better come back with a deal or I’m going to look like a chump in front of everybody.”
Mindset totally factors into that. But at the same time, there’s definitely a direct correlation between the quality of a house and the ability that you have to sell at that house.
Glen: Absolutely. And to tie this back to Lead Heroes, it’s the same exact way in the sense that—and I can tell you because I’ve done this for almost four years now, if someone believes the leads that they’re purchasing from us, they’re on the fence, and I’ve talked to enough agents that I can hear it in their voice, even if we don’t necessarily discuss it. But if they’re on the fence about what they think the quality will be, the chances of them being successful with the leads are low.
Now if they come with the idea or the expectation, the mindset that they’re high-quality leads and that they’re going to blow this out of the water once they get them, they’re going to sell every single lead they get—which, that’s not a realistic expectation, but again, it’s just having that positive mindset—they usually do a lot better and they’re happy with the leads they purchase from us.
So again, I think mindset is just so big because again, I’ve seen it where I know it’s not the leads or the area. If I have a city and in one part of the city, I have an agent and I give them the leads, and then there’s another part of the city and it’s a different agent, and they get essentially the same leads, I mean it’s the same area, same timing, different agents. One agent crushes it, they love the leads, they come back and they want more. And then the other agent’s like, “This is the worst leads I’ve ever had.”
Well, you know, from a data standpoint, there’s really not much of a difference here except for the agent, it’s the end user. It’s not us. So it took me a while to get to that point to realize that, but that’s why I think it really all does come back to mindset, because if you have that strong mindset, I think you can overcome a lot of those objections, whereas some agents or salespeople might say, “Oh, you know what? I’m done. This was an objection I couldn’t get over. I’m walking out. I’m done.”
But Travis, I really appreciate you coming on the show today. Any final thoughts you want to share with the listeners before we sign off? [46:04]
Travis: No, that’s it, man. Just check out my podcast, would love to connect with all of you guys. I love having conversations with people. So feel free to check out my Facebook group and look for the link in that welcome post, schedule that one-on-one call, I’d love to chat with you.
Glen: Definitely connect with Travis. Also I pulled it up on the website here so I can give you the correct link. It’s www.leadheroes.com/the-complete-guide-to-door-to-door-cold-knocking/. So that’s the massive guide we have on our website, so definitely check that out. I’m going to link the guide in the podcast post on the website so you’ll see all that.
Again, thanks Travis, we appreciate you so much for coming on.
Travis: Glen, thanks for having me, bro.
Glen: Hey, no problem.