How is setting appointments by canvassing (door knocking) different from doing it by telephone?

How to be good at a canvas call. 

Before some of you read on and think I’m full of you know what, I am going to make an assumption here. That assumption is that I am talking to those of you who sell something where Initial Appointments require a fair amount of time and a solid set of questions in order to qualify the target into a prospect. If you are selling something that is a pure commodity, sold on price and/or availability, for instance, the situation would be different.

A few years back, we took a sales force that was used to canvassing for their appointments and turned them into a phone prospecting culture. Their sales skyrocketed. The reasons for that decision were as follows:

  1. In some big city markets, security made it impossible to approach some targets;
  2. It was too time consuming; and
  3. Their team’s closing ratio as measured from an immediate Initial Appointment were abysmal.

The number one reason is obvious, but I sometimes will get push back on the number two reason. I actually encourage sales professionals to canvas for the initial approach to a target when they are out on previously scheduled appointments and they see a business that looks promising next door or down the street. I am now doing that again because I live in a remote area. I have to drive an hour and a half just to get to my closest targets. If I don’t have a full day of appointments, trust me, I knock on doors.

However, when doing so, we teach to set the Initial Appointment for the next time you’re in the area. In other words, use exactly the same approach you’d use on the telephone. That way if they say they are too busy, you can say that’s okay, you were only stopping by to set an appointment for the next time you’ll be there.

We also teach that when one does not get the appointment on the initial canvas call itself, get whatever information you need to follow-up by phone for subsequent attempts. It truly is much more expensive to go back out and visit the target repeatedly rather than pick up the phone for those subsequent attempts.

As to the time it takes to make an appointment setting attempt, I hope you don’t need help doing the math comparing the time it takes to do 10 canvas calls versus 10 phone calls. I can do 10 phone calls in 30 minutes calling on C-level executives and get one appointment. I don’t think you can do that canvassing—even in a high rise building where you don’t have to drive to the next business.

However, more importantly, there’s an effectiveness issue at play here as well. Remember reason number three from above. When we canvas and do get our target to meet with us in their office, or heaven forbid, come out to meet us in the lobby, here’s what happens all too often.

Most sales professional gets nervous because they don’t know how much time the target is willing to give them versus a set appointment. They, therefore, change how they run the Initial Appointment. Instead of it being run at a comfortable pace and through the full process of rapport building and questions they immediately launch into selling (telling) mode hoping that they will hit on something the target will find interesting. Unfortunately, it is way too easy for the target to feign a forgotten commitment, for instance, and cut us off to end the appointment if they don’t hear something quickly that interests them.

If you’d like ten questions to ask yourself about whether to canvas or phone for appointments, click here to be taken to additional blogs that addresses the question.

Also, if you’d like more information on why no team of sales professionals has ever failed to at least double the number of Initial Appointments they were setting after going through one of our programs, give us a call or drop us a line. We love talking about the challenges of appointment making!



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