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When Real Salesmanship Is Required

The iconic door-to-door salesman personified by the Fuller Brush Man may no longer fill American streets, but the day of the door-to-door salesman is not dead yet. Not only is true door-to-door selling still taking place, but after a recent encounter with one of these men of the asphalt, I believe the modern version of this age old profession has it much tougher.

 It was one thing for a door-to-door salesperson from years past to convince a customer that the vacuum, knife or brush they were selling was better than what the customer already owned. At least such a salesperson can throw some dirt on the carpet or saw a soup can in half as a demonstration right in the customer’s home. However, when you are trying to sell fast Internet service, HDTV programming and an improved phone contract, well, then the salesperson really has a tough row to hoe.

 This all came to light to me during the past week. Recently my wife answered the door and found our friendly neighborhood Verizon FIOS salesman on our front stoop. I was not at home, but I was told he gave a nice quick pitch, and my wife told him that I, the CE editor, was not around, but had expressed interest in the new technology.

 Well, he followed this tip and reappeared at my house on Sunday afternoon.

Chris, from what I gathered, is a contract sales guy who canvasses streets that have recently been upgraded to FIOS. His pitch was pretty good, but since I had already decided to give FIOS a shot, I was a pretty easy sell. He showed me his tip sheet. He was very well organized, knew who was a potential customer and who slammed the door in his face. All good information for future sales calls, he said.

After he left I had a follow-up question and figured I could find him in the street. He was already chatting up my next-door neighbor. By his extravagant arm movements I could tell Chris was desperately trying to demonstrate, in the only way available, to my neighbor how much better Verizon FIOS is then Cablevision.

“It’s this much faster,” he seemed to be saying. 

I recognized the arm motion as the same one used in most fish stories. 

Alas, arm waving will rarely help make a sale except when you are testing out a new suit coat and Chris was soon on his way. Like I said, this ain’t easy.

At my house Chris had said four of my neighbors had been “converted” to FIOS. He did not say four out of how many, but he seemed impressed with the number, so I did not press for a figure. 

I did not envy Chris on his journey down the block. Getting rejected more times than a fat smelly guy at a bar full of divas must wear one down, but he had a big smile on his face as he walked passed to his next call. I think the salesman from years passed would be proud and if FIOS does not work out, there is still another place left to work

To be continued …

Up next: the installation.