The “in home” sales guy…

As an “in home” salesman, I come across all different types of people on a daily basis.  Unlike a traditional store owner that has to wait for someone to walk in his door each day, I have the distinct privilege of being invited into a customer’s home to discuss our products or services.  You just never know what you’re going to see on the other side of that door.  Unlike a friend, you really get to see how people live.  For friends, we clean up and vacuum.  We will dust and put away laundry.  We will wipe  down counters and bring out the cleaning supplies.  After all, we don’t want our friends to discover that we are really disgusting slobs.

But for a sales guy, homeowners don’t spend a lot of time cleaning up for us.  I can’t tell you the number of homes I go in where the homeowner (usually the woman) will apologize for the amount of dust and how busy she was this week.  I always love that excuse.  Sure, we are all busy – I get that.   And I understand that dusting is lower on the priority list.  But that excuse always comes from the woman whose home should be condemned.  I’m always very gracious in the home even though I want to say, “Good grief lady!  How can you live like this??  Where is your dust mask??”  I would never say something like that.  Again.  The truth is, three years of dust does not accumulate because your schedule was busy this week.

I estimate that in the last five years I have been in over 5,000 homes.  Averaging at least three house calls a day, I have literally seen it all.

  • I have been accosted by an overly friendly Saint Bernard the size of Marmaduke.
  • I have been bit by a “friendly” pit bull.
  • I have been hugged by children who just met me.
  • I have been offered jobs.
  • I have been “hit on” by single women and propositioned by gay men.
  • I have seen rooms filled from floor to ceiling with junk.
  • I have been in the homes of hoarders.
  • Once I walked by a parrot’s cage and it grabbed my shirt and wouldn’t let go.
  • Another time a parrot landed on me during my presentation.  (I still made the sale!)
  • Several times I have been “trapped” at a customer’s home because of bad weather.
  • Once I was trapped by an incessant talker.
  • Some homes have had such a pungent smell that I literally gagged as I entered.
  • One customer had so many clothes on the floor in her foyer that I could barely enter without stepping on something.   Humorously, she told me she ran out of hangers.
  • I have met eccentric collectors.  One couple had collected over 400 PEZ dispensers and prominently displayed them in their kitchen.  Another man collected exotic carousel horses.   These gigantic horses were all over his house and imported from all over the world.
  • I had one lady break down and cry in the middle of my presentation as she told me about her difficult life.  Um, awkwaaard!   How do you transition from that??   “So, anyway – our flux capacitor will solve all your severe emotional problems too.”
  • Another woman answered the door totally drunk.
  • Speaking of which, I have been offered a beer on more than one occasion.  As a general rule of thumb, if you can’t drink at your job – we can’t drink on ours.  🙂
  • One woman had full-blown Alzheimer’s.
  • The most shocking was the minister who had forgotten about our appointment.   He answered the door in just a pair of boxers.  Needless to say, I was grateful for his modern-day loincloth.

Over the years, I have discovered that many homeowners believe some “myths” about “in-home” salesmen.  Here are the most common:

  1. Every sales man is a liar.  Granted, a few tainted apples can spoil the bunch but most of us want to make an honest living, earning an honest dollar.  Do not assume just because someone is in sales that they are willing to do or say anything to get the sale.  We tell you what we are supposed to tell you and for most of us, it’s legit.  Snake oil does cure cancer!  It says so on the bottle.   Jeez.
  2. Salesmen are greedy and just want my money.   Granted, many of us are motivated by money but before you climb into your pulpit, so are you.   Why do you work?  For money so you can pay your bills and take care of your family.  We are no different.   Yes, of course we want your business.  But for most of us, we also like the satisfaction we receive of helping you get what you need/want in the process.  Many of us really do want to help improve your life with our products or services.  In exchange, you can help improve ours with some green paper.
  3. We are paid a salary.   What most people do not realize is how “in-home” salesmen get paid.  Many of us are not salaried employees.  We have no guaranteed income.  We travelled to you on our own dime and many of us travelled a good distance to get there.  As an “independent contractor”, we invest 1-2 hours with a customer on our own time with no guarantee of a sale.  Many many days we feel like a volunteer.
  4. We get paid per appointment we run.   Most “in-home” salesmen are paid 100% commission which means that we only make money if you buy something WHILE WE ARE WITH YOU.
  5. All salesmen use high pressure tactics.   Yes, there are some salesmen that are former mafia types that “make you an offer you can’t refuse.”   And sadly, they do not take no for an answer.   But many of us are not wired that way.  Statistically, we have found that if the homeowner does not make a decision in the home while we are with them, they rarely buy later.  This is one reason why we put some “pressure” on you while we are there.  Look at it from our perspective.  YOU called our company and made the appointment.  YOU wanted to learn more about our product or service.  YOU have a definite need/want for what we have.   WE have just given you an hour (or more) of OUR time and expertise FOR FREE.   And WE are held accountable for the result of YOUR appointment with our company.   Every appointment we run is compared against our total sales for the month.   When we are with you and you do not buy – you cost us much more than just our time/gasoline.  You hurt our overall sales percentage which, in turn, affects our income.  Most of us do not put the pressure on you that is placed on us.   HINT: One way to avoid any pressure is to get out your checkbook immediately after our presentation.  🙂

So, on behalf of my “in-home” sales compadres all over the world – may I suggest the following:

  • Do not call our companies to make an appointment unless you are seriously investigating your options.  If you are just curious and window shopping with no intention of making a decision to do this project in the next few weeks, go to google and get your answers there.
  • Only make an appointment if you actually own the house.   You would be surprised at how many phone calls we get from the renters – the people who are not authorized to make major purchasing decisions on a home they don’t own.
  • Have all interested homeowners available when we come.  If you are married, make sure your spouse can attend the appointment.  If you co-own the house with siblings, make sure they can all be there.  There is nothing more frustrating than spending an hour or more OF OUR TIME to discover that you can’t make a decision.  While you were wasting our time, we could have been in another home actually making a sale and supporting our families.
  • Give us time.   Depending on the industry and what we are selling, it takes time to check out your house.  It takes time to measure and take pictures.  It takes time for the small talk.  It takes time to show you our products and explain our services and answer your questions.   Ask the appointment setter on the phone  exactly how much time we will need and then add 30 minutes.
  • Be prepared to make a decision while we are with you.  This is important for 2 reasons.   First, if you don’t decide now – you will not decide later.  You know you want whatever we have.  You know you need it.   Just bite the bullet and get it done.  Secondly, it is in your best interest to do so on the day we arrive.  For customers that decide “today,” we are often in a position to give you the best deal possible.  If the salesman has to come back out to a home to close the deal on another day, that means he cannot be somewhere else making a new sale.  To maximize our time and company resources, we are usually willing to reward you with a discount for simply saying “Yes!” today.
  • Ask for a better price.  The first price offered, though fair, is often not the best price we are allowed to give.  Don’t feel bad about asking for a lower price or adding services to the package.  Most of us who are honest will do whatever we can to help you get what you want at the price you can afford.   We are often willing to give you a MAJOR discount on the spot.  We know if you don’t bite now at the slashed price – you will never bite later when the price goes back up.
  • Be prepared to give a “down payment” of at least 20%.   We ask for this for two primary reasons.  First, it locks in the price that is offered in the home.  Secondly, it is considered a “good faith” deposit and shows us that you are truly serious about moving forward.  When a customer has some “skin in the game,” we find they are more serious about their decision.

Oh.. and one last thing… clean your house and put your dogs away.  We are tired of sitting at your sticky dining room table being licked by Spot.

See you soon!   🙂