If someone knocked on your door and was trying to sell you a security system, would you listen? In September 2011 Select Security, Lancaster, Pa.,joined a select few other companies in the use of the door-knocking sales technique. Patrick Egan, president of Select Security, told SDM that for him it all started when he saw a house from across his corporate building sporting a competitor’s lawn sign. He went over to the house and asked the owner, an older lady, why she had chosen that company. She replied that two guys came knocking at her door, talked to her about their security system and offered to install it the same day, so she “just said yes.”
Taking a drive around the surrounding five blocks Egan noticed 26 competitor lawn signs. “That made me a believer,” he said. “Other teams have come into my town, into my backyard, and I said ‘no more.’ I mean they’ll still come in because there’s enough for everybody, but I’m going to get my share, too.”
Egan attributes much of Select Security’s success with this business model to recruiting the right people. Many of the salespeople are college students from Brigham Young University and Utah Valley University. When asked why they only recruited from Utah, Egan replied, “What it really boils down to is the high work ethic from the Mormon kids that have gone out on missions and have done door-to-door presentations before. The skill of door-knocking is one that would scare 99 percent of the work force out of the business. So when you get a young person who has experience knocking on doors because of their religious practices, that is what makes that community attractive.”
Select Security is also a traditional commercial and residential security company whose sales team prospects for commercial and residential customers through more conventional business development and marketing methods. Egan stated the traditional business is growing rapidly, but the addition of the door-knockers provides an alternative, rapid-growth, residential channel.
Since the program started in 2011 about 2,000 sales have come from the door-knocking team, termed the residential direct sales (RDS) team. The first year the team sold about 200, the next year it doubled to around 450, and this past year it almost tripled with about 1,300 sales. Egan estimated there would be anywhere between 3,000 to 4,000 sales for next year.
Confident in this technique Egan stated, “Anybody can do this. Don’t be afraid to make the investment; it will pay off big dividends. You’ve got to be committed, you’ve got to make the time available. I run that program. Steve Firestone, executive vice president, has all those traditional guys and all those sales managers, doing millions of dollars a year of commercial business. I’ve got this baby. I want to stay close to it for a while — until I feel it’s running on all eight cylinders.”
Select Security not only recruits these college kids, but it offers housing, furniture, and transportation. It recently did a 4,000 sq. foot renovation/addition, converting warehouse space into office space to accommodate the growth of the RDS department. There are licensing issues to deal with as well. The sales reps have to be licensed to work for a licensed company. In addition they have to have their soliciting permits in certain municipalities.
The closing ratio of the average RDS team member is one out of 50 knocks. But if you only count the people they’re actually talking to, the average closing ratio is about one-third. Egan explained how it works, saying every 20 to 25 knocks a door opens and they get somebody to talk to and the same for the next 20. Then somewhere between the next 40 to 50 knocks they have a third person to talk to and they get a sale.
The other thing they found while door-knocking was that a number of homes, which may or may not have a sign, would have an inactive system. Egan estimated that 20 percent of the sales last year were homes with an inactive system. The most cost-effective way to find these homes is by knocking and talking to people, Egan said, not necessarily through a marketing campaign.
To keep the RDS team motivated, Select Security offers many sales contest that offer anything from ice-cream to a 40-in. TV. In addition, the RDS team often gets gifts from customers. “Last year Chris and the managers had a bet on who could get from the customer the weirdest gift.” Egan explains, “They are always getting offered soda or food, but one of the sales reps got a skateboard. Some got funny hats from old ladies and an old pair of shoes; it’s just funny stuff that people will give away. We had one guy get offered some scuba gear — flippers and a snorkeling outfit. But the most unique thing was, and this was my manager Chris, he knocked on a Southwest Airline employee’s house and she gave him coupons for two roundtrip tickets. So he won the bet.”
Egan encourages other traditional companies to try the door-knocking technique. “I think other traditional guys can do the exact same thing I did; all they have to do is come and visit us. I’ll show our entire program to them and they need to go and start recruiting their own team. They can do it.”