Top-performing door-to-door sales representative Mark Fisher explains why knowing his product inside-out and caring about customers is the secret to his success.
Mark is currently representing Appco UK’s solar division client, A Shade Greener, which offers customers free solar panels in support of a government programme aimed at cutting carbon emissions. He tells us why he made the switch from business consultancy to face-to-face sales and why selling a free product has proven trickier than anything with a price tag…
Before becoming a direct sales field representative… I was a business consultant managing companies in financial difficulty. I was very good at the job, but I didn’t really like it – it wasn’t a very happy environment to work in, and there was quite a lot of stress.
One day, I went into this direct sales office and there was music was playing, there was banter in the background and everyone seemed to be having a good time. I just thought ‘this looks like fun’, so that was the turning point.
I like doing direct sales because… pretty much all the campaigns I’ve worked on have had a massive benefit to the customer. I use the term ‘integrity-based sales’ – I wouldn’t work on something I don’t believe in. I believe this has helped me achieve the campaign’s highest number weekly sign-ups (52 customers), and the highest number of daily sign-ups (13 customers).
The fact that representing A Shade Greener means I’m actually helping people save money on their bills, helping to reduce carbon emissions and it’s a very interesting business is why it’s working for me.
Also, mentoring other sales people, and knowing you could be giving them a fantastic career opportunity, is more important and satisfying than anything else.
I make sure I’m up to date with product and solar-industry information… by reading a lot of scientific and general news feeds and the owner of the marketing company I’m contracted to fires information over to me, so I’m constantly updating myself. It’s crucial because it means I can speak to people about current issues.
The most difficult part of this campaign is… convincing people the solar panels are free! Unfortunately, there have been a few scams in this sector in the past so, understandably, the market can be sceptical. Also, there’s a general perception that, if it’s free, it’s easy come easy go and they’ll get the chance again.
Building up trust with the customer is essential… I answer their questions directly and don’t oversell. A Shade Greener has also been endorsed by BBC Watchdog, and Martin Lewis has done a write up on the company on MoneySavingsExpert.com, so we use those independent sources to explain the benefits to people and reassure them this is a reliable option.
Some of the more challenging aspects of door-to-door sales… are that you see all aspects of life, which can be great, but there can also be difficult situations. They’re normally between a customer and their partner. One side will want to go for it the other side won’t, which can be a bit uncomfortable!
We also see real poverty, where people aren’t able to afford the electricity they need. That’s hard to see, but it’s also nice to know you are offering something that will help.
The feedback from customers has been really positive… One lady showed me an email from A Shade Greener showing she’d saved £838 over 18 months through her solar panels. She was pointing out all the other people she’d introduced to the scheme. That sort of direct feedback from customers who have benefitted from something you’ve offered is hugely rewarding.