Think Before You Knock!


You can find countless books on every aspect of the sale – except one. I have never, ever found one on a salesman’s guide to a fast exit.

At age fourteen, I sold door-to-door subscriptions for the Long Island Press. We traveled in groups on the public buses and subways to the areas we would work each evening. As I was to learn, the group could provide a false sense of safety because once we chose a door, we were on our own. One evening we worked East New York, a tough working class neighborhood, where the houses were mostly converted into two-family units, but sometimes not. On this fateful evening, I came upon a home that I thought was a two-family. When I didn’t see a doorbell or get a reply, I walked inside, thinking that I was in an outer hallway separating one downstairs and one upstairs unit. Suddenly, I was sprung upon by a man in a “wife beater” tee-shirt, who flung me out the front door and knocked me to the ground. My supervisor, rushing to my protection didn’t fair any better.

There are many rules and regulations across the country to protect homeowners from inside workers, such as the California Livescan. What the public may not be aware of and what the state cannot easily do is to protect salespeople from the rare homeowner or occupant who is dangerous. Contractors are most familiar with occupants who are litigious, but there is also the possibility of encountering people who are inappropriately enticing, emotionally disturbed or violent.

Sooner or later, you will encounter a potentially dangerous situation in someone’s house. It may not fit the description above, but there are all kinds of danger. Before you knock on the next door, ask yourself, how would you retreat in a potentially threatening situation? Consider developing a company policy for the diplomatic, but fast exit. And don’t neglect to document the event.

Do you have any inside sales work stories – good, bad or otherwise? Do share if you feel comfortable doing that.

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