Canvassing revisited: My opinion is still “no” (except in some exceptional circumstances)

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Canvassing may be effective, but don't even think of trying it near me!

Michael Stone has posted advice for residential contractors suggesting that job-radius canvassing is a good thing.

In this model, you knock on doors (uninvited) of neighbours to a current job within a walking distance radius. Stone suggests in some neighbourhoods this would give you about 70 addresses.

He then says that you can expect about a one-in-20 or 25 success; and that quite a few of the “nos” will be doors slamming in your face.

 Your job is to get through the “No,” so you can get to “Yes.” If you can handle the rejection, is there any other method of advertising that will get you one good lead in every 20-25 contacts?

He provides some further advice on how you should dress, and behave during your canvassing calls:

Look sharp by dressing in clean clothes and preferably wearing a shirt with a company name and logo. Please don’t wear dark slacks, a white button-up shirt and a tie. Carry business cards; if you have simple brochures that explain who you are and what you do, leave them if no one answers the door.

He provides a script, which I’ll let you review on his own eletter site.

Okay, then, why am I opposed to canvassing, even if Stone suggests it is a worthy and cost-effective way of generating leads?

Simply put, I HATE canvassing. And I indeed would be one of the homeowners who would slam the door in the face of anyone trying door-to-door sales tactics on me.

Sorry, I have found that virtually any canvassing officer is scuzzy or scammy or just plain irritating. (I do not want to be converted to be sold anything, convert to someone else’s religion, and I don’t need to meet ANY politician or political representative uninvited.)

My view is that canvassing has such a negative branding impact that, while you may hit on one in 20 or 25 who will buy, you may well alienate the same number or more potential clients who will permanently strike you from the “do business” list.

Is there an exception to the rule? Well, to a limited extent, yes, and it would go this way:

If the neighbouring home is in immediate visual distance of the jobsite, and you anticipate there will be some noise or disruption, a courtesy call to explain and if necessary apologize for the inconvenience may be okay and in fact responsible. 

Canvassing, Stone acknowledges, is controversial. I held my nose to investigate the concept some years ago, even to the point of buying a plane ticket and visiting Columbus, Ohio just before Thanksgiving to meet with the consultant and see the canvassing process first hand. (My views about the whole thing soured when I discovered shortly after the interviews that the consultant had been involved in some messy sex-related scandal. Yuck.)

So, yes, I acknowledge that canvassing may work and may be profitable. So can spam emails and shady come-on offers. Just don’t even think of trying it anywhere near me.

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