Sales Strategies

12 DO’s and DON’Ts To Getting Your Foot In the Door

This is one of my favorite things to teach – how to get your foot in more doors.

When I was living in Los Angeles back in the 90’s, I worked for Arthur Andersen – one of the largest accounting firms in the world at the time.

My job was to call CEOs and book appointments for the salespeople.

I booked more appointments in 2 hours than the other people did in 8 hours.

The director of the LA office came to me one day and asked, “How are you doing this?”

I told her that I threw away the cheesy script she had given everyone to follow and I used the same approach that worked well for me when I sold door-to-door and called on prospects in person.

The next week she put me in charge of training the entire Los Angeles office. I was only 22 years old at the time.

Over the past 20 years, I have never steered away from this approach because it is so dang effective.


DO’s and DON’Ts when approaching prospects

  • DON’T address prospects by their last name (Mr. Smith or Mrs. Jones). It’s too formal, you scream “salesperson” and it’s easy to mispronounce their name.
  • DO address your prospects by their first name. “Hey, is this Bob? Hi, Bob, my name is _____”. Talk to them like they are your friend.
  • DON’T speak loudly when you approach people. You are more-than-likely a fun, outgoing person. That’s great for your sales presentation, but not great for your approach.
  • DO lower the volume in your voice to half of what it normally is when you approach people. You will come across as MUCH more likable and not sales-y. Once you get your foot in the door, you can go back to your fun, outgoing self.
  • DON’T go into your sales talk, product or benefits during your approach. The goal is to SIT DOWN or BOOK AN APPOINTMENT (if calling over the phone). The more you talk, the less likely you are going to get your foot in the door.
  • DO keep your approach super short and ask to sit down or book an appointment within 10 seconds. LESS IS MORE – waaaaaaaaay more!
  • DON’T be “perfect and polished” or scripted. Be authentic, laid back and human.
  • DO use words like “hey”, “um” and “yeah”. That’s what real people say. It’s more natural if your approach is “Hey, are you Bob? Hi Bob my name is Kate. Your buddy Jack Smith suggested I come by and introduce myself. Jack is a client of mine and, um, he thought you might appreciate knowing about what I do. You gotta place we can sit down?”
  • DON’T rely on cold calls. You have to burn thru 10X the number of prospects to get 1 of them to sit down with you. And you have to work 2-3X the hours.
  • DO work referrals. Working referrals will get you in more doors than all of the other sales tips combined. The biggest obstacle salespeople face every day is credibility. You have little credibility with cold calls and a lot of credibility with referrals.
  • DON’T wear a suit or tie. Ladies, no need for a dress. (The exception to this rule is if you are selling to a very formal clientele or you are giving a group presentation). Don’t look like a salesperson. Many pastors and teachers are now wearing jeans and t-shirts these days. Why? It makes them more approachable and relatable. Times have changed with dress code and salespeople need to adapt.
  • DO appear clean cut. But salespeople can wear nice jeans and a blouse or khaki pants/shorts with a polo shirt. Look like someone’s BFF, not an FBI agent.
Which one of the above DO’s and DON’Ts is your favorite?

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1 Comment

  • Lucas Odegard

    The not wearing suit and tie is my favorite. I never feel comfortable which comes with friends in presentations. When I sold books D2D it was shorts and a polo. Now I wear scrubs into meetings with doctors. They are around scrubs all day and makes them feel more comfortable rather than a suit sitting across from them.

    Great post Kate

    September 17, 2019 at 6:44 pm Reply
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