Boots on the Ground – Old Fashioned Door-to-Door Sales and Marketing
Truth be told, motivation for this article came when two young, highly motivated, recent college grads, Tim and Steve, were canvassing our neighborhood, going door-to-door and introducing themselves, their company, their products and their services. The name of the company, Power Home Remodeling Group. The company is headquartered in Chester, Pennsylvania and manages many satellite offices throughout the US, including metro Detroit. I would venture to say that 90 to 95 out of 100 visits by door to door solicitors are met with a less than friendly greeting. That said, the young gentlemen (Tim and Steve) were extremely professional and personable so we struck up a conversation that lasted about 45 minutes.
Additional motivation for the article is the fact that EVERY SINGLE DAY, I am asked to engage in conversations with people to help solve lead generation challenges. EVERY SINGLE DAY I am challenged with developing web, digital, social, search, email, print and direct mail solutions to help people find new business, minimize costs and maximize return on those investments. EVERY SINGLE DAY I have this conversation;
“You are asking me to help you change; change your marketing, change your advertising, change your business strategy. At the end of the day, the commitment and decision to change is completely yours. If you really want to change, if you really want to capture, engage and retain more customers or more clients, you gotta do something different. Door-to-Door, Boots-on-the-Ground, Digital, Networking, Anything; YOU GOTTA DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT!
These gentleman taught me that despite being young, despite being tapped into social media, they understand and appreciate that business still starts and ends with real life people and relationships.
An Undercover Marketing Spy Mission – Little Did They Know
I am both a professional and a student of sales and marketing, fascinated with the process. Since the inception and proliferation of social media, I have wondered how sales and marketing professionals survived in a world pre-technology and pre-social-media. Without knowing any better, old school sales and marketing pros are probably victims of “you don’t know what you don’t know.” Except, maybe they DO know something we do not!
The Hook – Cast the Line and See What is Biting
As Tim dives enthusiastically into his marketing script, he is asking questions and writing down the answer on a piece of paper that looks like a form letter. I shift into “marketing spy” mode as I want to learn all about his process and how they move me through their sales funnel! This is going to be GREAT.
An A-HA moment for me is while Tim is filling in a hardcopy form on an old school form letter, capturing the typical consumer information; name, phone, email, address, type of house, how many windows, how long have we lived here, etc.
WAIT A MINUTE – I DO THIS TYPE OF THING ALL DAY, EVERY DAY. I PUBLISH FORMS ELECTRONICALLY, DATA IS CAPTURED IN A DATABASE AND WE AUTOMATE THE SH*T OF THAT DATA. YEAH, THAT’S WHAT WE DO! TIM’S PROCESS IS OLD, ARCHAIC AND NOT EFFICIENT, GET RID OF THIS OUTDATED PROCESS, TIM!
The Reel – Reeling in the Big Fish
Now it starts to get good, Tim uses his power of persuasion to explain his outdated process. The conversation goes like this;
- Tim: Okay, thanks for the info Mike, when would be a good day and time for a sales consultant to come out and give you a free quote, how about tonight?
- Me: Tonight is not good and although Mondays are normally good, today is not. Monday evening and Friday evening are best.
- Tim: Okay, well the next step is that I must call headquarters in Chester, Pa and our customer service agent will schedule your appointment.
FREAKING FANTASTIC, without Tim even knowing it my undercover mission is going better than planned. I am being granted an invitation to talk with the elusive and sneaky back-office customer service agent!
I speak with Amanda, the customer service professional, while she asks me questions my mind is racing; Why is she asking this question?, How can asking that question help qualify me as a potential lead for this business? It’s getting deep now!
Some of the questions they asked and information collected;
- Household composition
- Marital status of household members
- Age of house
- How long we have owned the house
- Neighborhood composition (they asked specific questions about how we interact with neighbors)
- Decision making for upgrades to house
- … Much More
Intel Gathered and Conclusion of My Spy Mission
Most interestingly for me, the process of “boots on the ground marketing“, or face-to-face marketing, is in many ways similar to digital marketing. There are introductions, a brand presentation, an elevator pitch, relationship and trust building, capturing consumer information and the value proposition. Tim utilized non-intrusive top of the funnel CTA’s (call-to-action), i.e. schedule a session for a free quote. There was absolutely NO selling at this stage in the sales and marketing process (once again, top-of-the-funnel activity).
One subtle difference here, my personal consumer interest in Tim’s pitch was NOT necessarily about the product or the company but rather Tim himself. In the digital world, it is EXTREMELY difficult to showcase the individual talents of people, much of the process is automated and you have no clue with whom you are dealing.
Given my phone conversation with customer service, Power Home Remodeling Group now has a VERY detailed record of my consumer information somewhere in their database.
Immediately I went to my computer and researched the company, reviewed their website and read some online reviews. Here is what I learned and know about them;
- Customer Service – A+, from Tim to Steve to the lady I spoke with on the phone, it was a great experience.
- Workplace: Power Home Remodeling Group was voted #1 workplace in 2015 for Millenials by Fortune Magazine. Tim and Steve were a testament to that prestigious award.
- Reviews: From a low of a 3.0 review rating on Yelp to a 4.5 rating on Google, the spread in these numbers are just further evidence why online reviews can be misleading. From case studies, customer reviews on their site and the priority they give to media and press on their website, I would be more inclined to trust the Google 4.5 rating than the Yelp 3.0 rating.
- Overall – Power Home Remodeling Group left me with an impression that they care; care about customers, care about employees, care about the environment and care about their future.
Obviously, their mission is to sell their products and services, however I started to further consider how they are marketing, what they are marketing, how much their marketing costs and what are their organization goals with this data. Whatever comes of my relationship with Power Home Remodeling Group, whether we purchase from them short term, long term or not purchase at all, I know they are empowered with a WHOLE lot of consumer data and information to help them continually fine tune their sales and marketing process.
The Takeaway – Marketing is Marketing, Face-to-Face, Digital or Otherwise
Many are enamored with marketing automation and the latest and greatest in terms of technology and advertising, I am certainly guilty of this. Striking a marketing balance between the digital world and the physical world is more important now than every before. Everybody will have a different mix of digital, social, networking, search, PPC, direct mail and “boots on the ground”, i.e. a pizza shop will rely heavily on direct mail while a local car dealership will heavily invest in TV and radio. Some lessons we learned from this story include;
- It’s About People – Tim and Steve taught me that one nicely presented in person elevator pitch CANNOT be duplicated in the digital world.
- It’s About Relationships – Tim and Steve taught me that building a rapport and relationship with me (the consumer) was a pre-requisite to a relationship with the company (Power Home Remodeling Group, PHR). Meaning, if Tim and Steve were not good at relationship building, I would, today, not being writing about PHR.
- Marketing Balance – A mix of boots-on-the-ground networking and relationship building with strong backoffice support, certainly my consumer information is in some fancy database somewhere! Certainly, my email inbox and phone will be hit hard with promotions here shortly.
- Tim and Steve – Certainly, Tim and Steve are headed on a path to sales superstardom! It sounds like many young people that work at PHR are headed for sales and marketing superstardom.