Why Your Door to Door Sales Recruiting Sucks and How to Fix It

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Door to Door sales companies constantly struggle with recruiting.  It is a full-time job that never ends and happens to be one of the #1 topics that SPOTIO customers ask for my input. We’re here to address why you door to door sales recruiting sucks and how to fix it.

As somebody who has personally recruited and hired several hundred door to door sales reps, I have a matter of fact opinion on the subject.

Does this job ad look familiar?

Door to Door Sales Job Ad Bad Example

Chances are you have seen or placed a job ad similar to that one at some point in your sales career.

What kind of response did you get?

Did you attract the type of candidate that you were hoping you would get?

During my time recruiting for these positions I tried everything under the sun to find the right candidate.

You know, the one who is going to show up on time, have a good work ethic, willing to learn, has a positive attitude and outgoing personality.

Not so easy to find much less hire because as it turns out everybody else in the hiring world is LOOKING FOR THE EXACT SAME PERSON.

From job ads on Craigslist, CareerBuilder, Monster, Newspaper to $10,000 CareerBuilder ran job fares where we interviewed up to 75 people a day to cold calling resumes, LinkedIn, referrals you name it and I have tried it.

Some with more success than others and all can be a good way to recruit talent but you have to have the right combination of opportunity and offer.

All of my experience boils down to this…

If the job you are offering is a commission only job with no base, advancement or draw and don’t have a locked in place training program or sales process to help make new reps earn money quick then you are going to be very hard-pressed to scale your team to any level over what you can personally hire, train and oversee.

Most business owners that I have met are pretty charismatic people and have a knack for selling their vision and where they are going to take their business.

This is enough to get some people in the door and start working but after that, you need to step your game up in order to continue to find, attract and hire top talent.  More on that below.

Why is it that outside sales companies do not want to give any other compensation than commission when a job is sold?  Many times the commission is earned weeks or months after the sale has happened.

Is it because they feel that a commission only sales rep will be the one type of candidate hungry enough to go out and pound the pavement hard enough to make enough sales?  Maybe.

Why Your Door to Door Sales Recruiting Isn’t Working

But I would argue that the #1 reason door to door, field, outside whatever you want to call it sales companies want to pay only 100% commission is because they simply don’t have the systems in place to hire, train and make a new rep successful.

They can’t guarantee that if a sales rep does x, y and z they will be successful therefore they can’t afford to invest any upfront capital into that rep because they don’t know how long the rep is going to stick around.

The company is thinking that the rep will either sink or swim and if they swim then GREAT we all win!!! if they sink then who cares because I have spent as little time and money as possible  thus creating a turnover machine that rolls downhill gathering up speed until it crashes and dissipates.

It is much easier for a call center, let’s say, or inside sales team to create these processes and replicate them because everybody is in one room, calls can be recorded and listened to, scripts can be displayed on computer monitors, etc.

The activities that lead up to the sale are transparent and readily available therefore providing an opportunity for immediate coaching.

Whereas an outside sales force has to have somebody follow along with the rep in the field  or do roll playing before they hit the field and getting accurate, actual results are hard because everybody is typically out doing their own thing.

Turnover is the Enemy

I’m sure I don’t have to tell you how bad turnover hurts you right?  Just because it didn’t “cost” you dollars in terms of payroll doesn’t mean it didn’t cost you in many other ways.

According to this article by SalesManage.com there are both direct and indirect costs associated with sales turnover not limited to the time wasted recruiting and training to the burned leads and territories.  It adds up quick

How the Big Boys Recruit for Door to Door Sales

Go look at any of the larger door to door or outside sales companies and I would be willing to bet they offer more incentives than just a commission check if something is sold.

While writing this post I looked at some Craigslist job ads and came across a large window company that was hiring canvassers at $11 to $15 an hour plus commission.

Now how can they afford to pay canvassers that much money but you can only offer commission?  It must be because they have deep pockets and can throw money around.  Hardly.

I guarantee you they know their cost per lead and per acquisition and it is low enough to provide them a great return on investment (ROI) even though they invest a substantial amount of money up front to hiring quality people.

They can do it because they know for a fact how much it is going to cost them to get that rep trained up and generating leads and from there they know how many of those leads are going to turn into $$$.  They know this because they track the important data and have historical facts on what their KPI’s are in relation to their costs.

You don’t have to be a Fortune 1000 company to be able to attract the top quality talent you just have to stand out from the 1 million other commission sales job posts out there.

Other companies offer advances on future commissions when a contract is signed.  The rep will get $X at that time and the rest is paid when the product or service is delivered.

This puts money in the reps pockets fast and keeps them fed #1 and motivated #2.

In future posts, I will dive into greater detail on how to create a sales process as an outside sales organization and get into the nuts and bolts of it.

How you can start hiring door to door sales reps more effectively:

1) Be able to offer something more than just commission.

If you are hiring appointment setters or canvassers then this is a must. A small hourly pay can go a long way because in their mind they know that at least they are going to earn that and everything else is sugar on top.  If it is not the entire time they are working for you then at least while they are in training and getting ramped up.

For sales reps a draw against their commission in the very least and if you want to get real crazy then a salary or base pay.  Fuel reimbursements, company truck or an expense account can go a long way as well.

Set it for the first week, month or until the first commission check over $X is earned but whatever you do make it something.

A few quick ideas on incentivizing other than 100% commission:

  • Hourly pay tied to activity metrics
  • Advance on a sale
  • Pay per lead
  • Pay per door knock – one of our customers paid something like $1 for every door knocked because they knew that for every 65 door knocks or so they would get a sale.

By offering something other than commission you are showing the candidate that you are willing to invest in their success.  If you are willing to invest, even just a little, then it can do a lot for job interest in the beginning and loyalty and attitude in the long run.

2) Show the Candidate What Success Looks Like

There is no better-recruiting tool than a potential new hire talking to other sales reps.

They will enforce that your company is a good place to work where they feel appreciated, receive support and have the opportunity to make good money.

If you are the business owner doing the recruiting then at a certain point in the recruitment process the candidate may become suspicious thinking you tell everybody the same thing and make all the same  promises.

So put them in touch with three of your current team members that are killing it and your candidate close rate will immediately go up.

3) Have a Good Training Program

Some of the best potential doo to door sales reps you will hire will have zero experience in your industry.  If you have a training program or structured system where a person new to your industry can get up and running and earning money quick then you will be in a much better place than if you don’t.

4) Be Able to “Prove it”

By this point, you understand the importance of sales activity tracking.  Do you have your companies DPD (dollars per door) ratio?  Do you know on average how many doors have to knock in order to get one sale?

Use this information in your recruiting efforts.  This is proof that you have a replicable system where you can plug in a new rep and have them making money quickly.  It’s almost guaranteed.  See the sample job ad below.

5) Ask for Referrals

You already ask for referrals from your customers, but also do so from your current sales team.

Some of the best door to door sales reps I ever hired were referrals from other successful sales reps.  Like minded people typically hang out together.  Success begets success.  Losers hang out with other losers and winners hang out with other winners.

Competing against friends in a sales environment is fun and creates a more enjoyable experience while working.

So your #1 goal is to hire new sales reps and make them very successful at their job by focused attention on training and watching their KPI’s and training up to them and then ask them who else they know may like to work at this job.

Heck, you may even want to offer them an assistant manager position where they can hire and train their own team and get a small override.

Combine these steps to post a much more attractive job ad that will grab the attention of your ideal candidate.

Imagine if you could post something like this:

Don’t just be another pie in the sky job ad amongst a sea of hardly believable rubble.  Have proof that your sales system works then know how much you can invest in a new rep to get them started.

Incorporate all of this into your recruiting efforts to build immediate credibility and become that company where high-quality candidates come because they know the potential.


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