How to Sell Door to Door Products when You're Shy

Three Parts:Preparing BeforehandTalking to CustomersClosing the Deal

For the shy, interactions that seem small and unimportant to most people are magnified and the smallest slips cause shame or embarrassment. Selling products or raising money door-to-door is particularly intimidating if you're shy. Yet it is sometimes necessary when you are raising funds for a school or charity. Thankfully, with some practice and preparation you can lessen your feelings of shyness and get those much-needed funds.

Part 1
Preparing Beforehand

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    Script what you want to say. It is very hard for a shy person to speak “off the cuff” and to improvise in most situations. Make things easier for yourself by writing out exactly what you want to say to potential buyers in advance. A short script is all you need. Try something like, “Hello, my name is Gina and I’m with the charity XYZ. Can I talk to you for a moment about our local fund-raising efforts?”[1]
    • Once you have a script, rehearse it as often as possible. Review the sales pitch when you have a free moment, over lunch, or during the evening. Read it aloud at least once per day. That way, it will roll off your tongue when you hit the streets.
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    Be prepared for questions. Keep in mind that some customers will have questions about you, your work, and your organization. Try to avoid being taken off guard. Anticipate the questions and have pat answers. For instance, if you’re working for a charity, chances are good that some customers will want to know exactly what your charity does and what it funds. Prepare a good reply.
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    Script your pitch to be persuasive and polite. Many people will turn you down. This is just the nature of door-to-door sales. In fact, salespeople have an average “contact” rate with customers of about 30%-40%. Out of that, less than half show interest and even fewer act. You’re looking at a success rate of 10% or lower.[2] You’ll have to have a golden tongue in order to persuade them.
    • One idea is to include more information about your charity or the cause for which you are collecting. Potential customers may be more likely to buy if they can relate to your cause.
    • Maintain a polite, respectful demeanor. Move people with your words and do not try to manipulate them – put your “frowny face” away. If a customer declines, thank them and respect their decision. Do not antagonize them with continued appeals.
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    Approach the work like a performance. Shyness for some people is ultimately a fear of feeling or being embarrassed in front of others. We start to run over every thought and detail in our minds and become paralyzed by self-awareness.[3] A possible way to deal with this reaction is to treat your interaction with strangers like a stage performance.
    • Think of yourself as an actor playing a part – not really you. Taking such an approach, and having a rehearsed script, will help you to step outside of yourself and to focus your attention on potential customers. You will interact more effectively and be less self-conscious.
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    Practice your small-talk and sales pitch. As any actor knows, practice makes perfect. Frequent rehearsal makes will make your pitch more familiar to you and the whole situation less frightening. Try giving your pitch in front of a mirror, use a webcam to record yourself speaking, or practice a cold call over the phone with a friend.
    • If you can, also ask friends to listen and make suggestions. Having an audience of real people will simulate the sales situation and ready you for the increased stress of the job.
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    Keep in mind the situation. Shy people do well in one-on-one relationships rather than in group situations.[4] Remember that, as a door-to-door caller, most of your interactions with be with one person, face-to-face. Use this to your advantage. If you feel a wave of anxiety, envision the situation and remind yourself that your pitch will be like having a private conversation.
    • The private nature of door-to-door calling should also minimize some of your fear of embarrassment. If you stumble over your words, only you and a stranger will ever know it.
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    Identify strengths and weaknesses for the future. While focusing on the task at hand, sales, you might spend some time thinking about your shyness and how it affects your behavior. What makes you shy? When do you most notice it and how does it affect your interactions? Do you stumble over your words when speaking to someone of the opposite sex, for example? Is it something that you can live with or something you’d like to resolve over time?
    • Try making a list about situations when you’ve felt embarrassed or why. Are there common factors in these situations? Think about how you might approach them in order to lessen your shyness.

Part 2
Talking to Customers

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    Project confidence and warmth. Yes, it is easier to talk about confidence than to feel confident. At the very least, try to project it to customers. Note your body language. Are you standing in an assertive posture? Do you look defeated or confident? What does your facial expression say? These are all important in projecting yourself.[5]
    • Stand with your legs aligned with your shoulders and feet about four to six inches apart. Distribute your body weight evenly and keep your shoulders back, turning your body toward your customer. This is an assertive – but not aggressive – posture.
    • Watch your hands. Avoid crossing them over your chest or putting them on your hips. Also resist playing with your hair or fiddling with objects like pens.
    • What about your expression? Smile and maintain eye contact. Try not to look away when the customer looks into your eye.
    • Try to relax, and remember to breathe!
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    Be professional. Approach each door with a sense of professionalism. Your charity matters. You are representing the charity. Your goal should be to show customers that the organization – and you by extension – are worthy and respectable. As with body language, you will want to create this sense of professionalism through your words and behavior. For example, speak clearly and audibly. If working from a list, address your potential customers by last name: “Good morning Mr. Johnson” or “Hello Ms. Gonzales.”
    • Always greet your customers and thank them on leaving, even if they decline to contribute. Do so with a smile.
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    Follow the script and make your pitch. Now is when all of your preparation comes together. Ring the doorbell, greet your potential customer, and make the pitch. If it helps, remember that you are only playing a role. Just recite your lines and follow the script.
    • By now you should have rehearsed your sales pitch so that you can recite it by memory: “Hello, Ms. Gonzales. My name is Jeremy. I’m raising funds for the XYZ charity, which is buying jars of pickled beets to help relieve the beet famine in Kansas. Would you like to donate? Every dollar helps!
    • You can keep your pitch attached to a clipboard. Even if you have memorized it, customers will not notice if you glance down at the text briefly once or twice. Consider this a backup.
    • Remember to thank customers graciously when they accept as well as when they decline. Then, move on to the next house.

Part 3
Closing the Deal

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    Make it easy for customers. Great! You’ve met your customer and have given your sales pitch. Things are going well. Now is a crucial moment - you need to close the sale. Closing can be hard for shy people, because it takes a bit of confidence and brashness. However, there are some good methods for the chronically shy.
    • One approach is to take care of as much as possible beforehand related to the sale. Do all the paperwork for the customer, fill in all forms, and him assure that everything is already taken care of. This is called the “no hassle” close in sales terms.[6]
    • Try saying something like, “I’ve already filled in the paperwork. All you have to do is sign here.” The ease of the transaction may end up convincing him.
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    Let them save the world. If you are raising money for a charity, suggest to your customers how buying or contributing will lead to a greater gain elsewhere. People can often be better persuaded if they are able to see a causal connection between two events. Focus on conditional statements, i.e. “If you contribute X, then Y will happen.” For example, “If you contribute $20 per month, you’ll give enough to feed beets to a Kansas family of four.”[7]
    • Closely related to the “save-the-world” close is the “shame” close. This technique makes the customer ashamed to refuse your product or charity or frames them as stingy. For instance, “Are you sure you don’t want to help starving orphans?”[8]
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    Try the “puppy dog” close. If you are really confident in your product, the “puppy dog” close may be for you. This is when you allow the customer to have a trial run. The idea is that the product is so good that the trial run closes the deal – the product in essence sells itself.[9] This technique is also well suited to shy people, as it saves you the effort of convincing customers.
    • The “puppy dog” works by the investment principle. When people use the product or spend time with it, they associate and come to identify with it. Naturally, it works better with some products than others.[10]
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    Appeal to the customer’s rational side. Use logic and reason to convince your customers. Some people make decisions through thinking and others emotion. Try to appeal to the thinking decision maker with this closing technique. Like your sales pitch, you can even script it beforehand to practice or have outlined on your clipboard.[11]
    • The rational close requires you to construct an argument for the sale, often leveraging proof and science. For example, “Now, you want a carpet that wears well with your children and pets, right? Our carpet formula is scientifically proven to repel dirt and stains and to leave a fresh, pine scent. In fact, the formula is so effective that we can offer you a ten-year warranty.”
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    Try the “assumptive close.” This technique works by acting as if the customer has already agreed to the sale, turning to the next questions: when they want the product, would they like it delivered, how they would like to pay, and so forth.[12]
    • Try moving slowly from the customer’s questions about the product into this technique, saying something like, “OK, how much money would you like to donate today?” “How many cases do you want to purchase?” or “When would you like us to deliver it?”
    • The assumptive close relies on the “assumptive principle,” where acting as if something is true makes it hard for the customer to deny it without feeling embarrassed.
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    Give them time. One final technique is the “think-about-it” close. This is where you offer the customer a bit of time to think over the details of the sale. Don’t leave for too long, or ask how long they need. Then, when you return, look for signs that they are ready to buy. As a shy person, this technique also works without words.[13]
    • Say something like, “Perhaps the two of you would like to talk it over together for a few minutes?” or “I can see that you’re thinking. How about I step outside for a few minutes to let you consider?”
    • If the customer still needs a nudge after thinking it over, you can then take an assumptive line of questioning, i.e. “I can read your face. How many cases would you like?”

Article Info

Categories: Retail Sales | Job Search for Youth