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March 06, 2011

Dos and donts of door to door selling and Sugging (trying to market in guise of market research)


Yesterday a girl student apprehensively asked me “sir would a career in sales mean always doing the beat?” For the uninitiated doing the beat means going from one house to another. Popularly referred to as door to door selling it is in the worst nightmare for any budding sales person.

I was thrown rudely back to my own sales days. I was a bag holding salesman. I have not done the beat but have experience of doing an extensive door to door campaign for a multinational giant who wanted to introduce chips and other snack items. It was in the mid eighties and I was surprised to see the reception that I received.

To put things in perspective the nice response could be because I was not marketing any product or service and I was only doing market research. My appearance as an obedient student also would have helped. It is said that sales people wear shoes with thick leather at the fore leg. The minute the door is opened the foot is thrust inside and the door can’t be banged shut again.

Jokes apart this is not done at all. But it is a lesson in perseverance that one needs to have to do the beat. Mind you doing the beat is tough and the following tips might help.

Dress well: Make it a point to dress well. Dress and address are important. The way we dress and the way we talk create a powerful impression in the mind of the customer.

Manners:  are very important. Greet the customer with respect. Once the calling bell is answered step away from the door and respectively greet the person with warmth. Treat women with extra care. Preferably visit the house early in the morning or late in the evening. Try to fix up an appointment with the owner and his wife at a time that is convenient to them.

Do not attempt to sit unless asked. Remain standing and try to conduct your business. Do not appear to be over smart. Much time will not be given. Do not ask for personal information like telephone numbers, income, religious affiliations, e-mail IDs and others.

Demonstrate the product or service and try to be respectful at all times. When dealing with woman and girls being extra cautious would be helpful. If the segment where you are trying to do door to door sales or market research is predominantly middle class it is better to have a lady and gent enumerator work together. Fluency in the local language is a mandatory requirement.

Identity cards: In the modern world every one is a suspect. It is better to have one’s identity card and an introduction from the college, institution or the company. Getting permission from an apartment complex is getting tougher and tougher. So always fix an appointment with the apartment owners’ association or the president before the process of door to door marketing is initiated.

Do not Sugg: Sugging in market research means "selling under the guise of research". This behavior occurs when a product marketer pretends to be a market researcher conducting a survey when in reality he is trying to sell the product.

Generally considered unethical, this tactic is prohibited or strongly disapproved by trade groups and most reputed companies. Do research for research purpose. Do not sully the fair name of market research by trying to Sugg.

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