The lighter evenings are coming and that means door canvassing teams will be out in force. What can you do to stop them?

Door canvassing is hugely profitable. One of the national double glazing companies has published a report, available to anyone online, that details where the business comes from. It shows that 48% of the total revenue was attributed to canvassing in the first half of 2015. That is a vast £37 million in 6 months. This is even more impressive when you consider that door canvassers are paid on commission only. As with the sales team, no result equals no cost to the company. Who could force them to cease this practice?

It is clear that most people dislike door canvassing, do not want it, discourage it and yet it persists for one reason and that is that it is successful. Good door knockers and telephone canvassers can earn more than £50,000 per year. The job requires a certain mentality that enables canvassers to keep going, call after call, regardless of how often rejection or rudeness is encountered. Every time a canvasser is rejected, he tells himself that he is one call closer to making an appointment and this keeps him going.

As a commission, only sales person, I did my fair share of cold calling. Commission is much higher on self-generated business. It pays as much as an extra 10% with some companies. Bearing in mind that a sale of £10,000 could pay £1,000 in extra commission, the sales person can sell at the lowest price and forego the normal commission. This gives him a higher chance of the sale or of increasing his earnings by selling at a price that pays the normal percentage as well as the bonus. Sales people are encouraged to knock five doors either side when they attend an appointment which does not take up much time. Neighbours are often interested to know that someone in the road is thinking of having something new. It is an easy conversation that generates a good rate of appointments.

Door canvassing is not illegal in the UK. In America, the Supreme Court has ruled that ‘going door-to-door to communicate a message’ is a First Amendment right. Any attempt to outlaw the practice could result in an expensive lawsuit. Trading Standards receive thousands of complaints but there is nothing that can be done unless something is mis-sold on the door step. The need for companies to make money is more important than the disturbance of house holders.

Councils will support householders through education, supplying stickers and setting up ‘no cold calling’ areas but it is up to the individual to make it clear to the canvasser that they are not welcome. The council can do nothing to stop them. Certain places are targeted more often than others, typically, large private estates where it is easy to walk from one house to another, allowing the canvasser to knock on more houses in a shorter time. I have never experienced rudeness from anyone when I have knocked on their door, even if a ‘no cold callers’ sign was displayed on the door. I have made appointments at homes where those signs were displayed.

If the public want door canvassing to stop, it is up to them to stop responding to it. If a home owner is thinking about buying a product when a sales person knocks on the door, to them it seems to be like fate. Fate or not, if the sales person does not impress, the customer will not buy, but if the timing is right and the sales person designs a product at a price that is agreeable, the chance of a sale without that customer ever doing more research is high. From the point of view of the customer, he or she had a problem that was resolved with the minimum of effort.

If you want to display a sign on your door that would have stopped me knocking, try using the one above.

The aim of this book is to save money and minimise the risk of problems by encouraging you to put more effort into the purchase of your product. My advice will be, to never make an appointment with a door knocker. That does not mean that you should not buy from that company. Take a card if you must but then look them up online and continue with proper research and an appropriate number of quotes.

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