Recently this article appeared in The New Yorker: “Sam Taggart’s Hard Sell” (8/8/22). It is an essay on perhaps the most reviled group of people in the world — Door to Door (D2D) Salespeople. And as a former salesman I thought it was a brilliant read and full of fascinating insights.
For example, who knew the Silicon Valley of D2D selling was the Salt Lake area in Utah? The explanation: each year 70,000 young Mormons start a two-year missionary program selling a very difficult product — Jesus. It is perfect training.
From the article I learnt a new people profiling system; the BOLT standing for Bulls, Owls, Lambs, and Tigers. A Bull’s force must be met with equal power; you “stand your ground and redirect, and then mount the back of the bull while he’s disoriented.” Owls study product specs and buy reluctantly, if at all. Lambs want to be told what to do. And with Tigers you chitchat and reassure them that they’re getting the latest tech. Bulls drive a black Dodge Charger, Owls a Toyota that gets great gas mileage, and Lambs whatever the salesman wanted off the lot. Tigers leave their garage door open so everyone can admire their red BMW.
One of the more fascinating insights is how the death of D2D selling has been repeatedly forecast because of mass advertising, magazines, telephones, radios, and televisions. Finally with the advent of the internet in the eighties and nineties the decline happened. The customer finally achieved information parity. But the last 20 years has seen D2D stage a comeback. Why? Again the reason is the Internet – now prospective customers are overwhelmed by too much choice and information and need help in making decisions.
If you ever wanted to get inside the mind of a sales person this is a great article to read. Probably my favourite quote from the article is “On the door you’re a pest, in the home you’re a guest.” There are two excellent cameos described in the article where Taggart is selling first a solar system to Kay and then secondly to Geo. How Taggart manipulates the prospect is (if you have ever tried your hand at selling) almost poetry in action. The irony in the article is Taggart sees himself as messiah lifting the ethics of the industry.
This irony has been with the D2D industry from its beginnings. The link between selling and evangelical Christianity is another key insight I had never realised and the article’s focus on the history of the industry is worth reading.
There are not many people who can handle the conflict between the gold-rush mentality and ethics. One group that can are people who have a dominant GoGetter temperament component in their personality. And that is why if you are ever contemplating D2D selling you need to find how strong your GoGetter is. The other dominant component you want is Socialiser. Taggert has both of these in spades. Then comes down to how much Regulator you have in your temperament. If it is reasonably strong you will be very successful financially as many D2D salespeople are. If not you will probably have problems as Taggart demonstrates.
I believe a model of temperament like the 7MTF is the secret to lifting your emotional intelligence. If you want to quickly lift your EQ consider doing my practical emotional intelligence courses. Do the basic 7MTF course for an investment of A$25 and 5 hours of your time and you will dramatically increase your EQ competency in days and learn if you have the right temperament to be a D2D Salesperson.
This blog was first posted on LinkedIn on 1 November 2022.
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