Best practices for door-to-door alarm sales

Alarm industry pros tell SIW about 26 tips that work for door-to-door sales of security systems

Measure integrity. Believing that integrity is effected top-down, APX surveys individuals who work for and with managers, including sales representatives, technicians, and workers from the corporate office. They even interview individual customers. "If the snake is going to be good, we have to make sure the head of the snake is who we want," explained APX's Brenchley.

Recognize the three objections that will block your sales. Per Brenchley, the three objections are as follows: I don't want it; I can't afford it; or I don't need it.

Provide customers the ability to finance the program. Especially today, customers are not willing to lay out a lot of upfront money for their security alarm system.

Encourage objections. Brenchley said that people who don't provide objections to the security system are often the same ones who cancel they system. "They often haven't thought it out," he says.

Perform a NEADS analysis when dealing with potential customers who are working with a competitive monitoring firm. NEADS equals Now, Enjoy, Alter, Decision, Solution. Now: Ask them what they have now. Enjoy: Ask them what they enjoy. Alter: Find out what they want to alter. Decision: Identify who can make the decision. Solution: Present the solution.

Explain everything in writing. Nothing makes a potential door-to-door customer more comfortable than having everything in writing. This means contracts, marketing materials, and anything else you think you might need.

Pre-survey your customers. This is important for selling to existing users of security systems. "We ask them point-blank if they have an existing alarm system," said Brenchley. "Make sure they are aware of cancellation policies [for the existing system] and that those [fees, cancellation processes] are up to them."

Set conditions for customers. Brenchley says that APX uses the following conditions: 1. If they are renter, APX moves on to another potential customers. 2. If they are in the initial term with another security provider, they move on. Only if they are outside the initial contract (i.e., in a renewal situation), do they continue to approach that customer. Other companies simply will not touch customers who are in any sort of contract (initial or renewed), and they will only pursue those existing customers who are already on a month-to-month program.

Adopt the ESA Code of Ethics. Both ADT and APX have publicly signed the code of ethics, and Strade says that the company requires their dealers to sign it. All of their sales representatives have to sign it as well. "We don't have a lot of tolerance for dealers that violate it," he explains. The code of ethics was also signed publicly at ISC West 2010 by Protection One, Pinnacle Security, Broadview Security (now part of ADT), Monitronics, Moon Security Services and Smoky Mountain Systems as a show of support for the code of ethics. For full info on the ESA code of ethics, go here.

Know when to walk away. Willie Nelson was right if you take Strade's advice. He explains: "Walking away is a fine line. You want to be persuasively persistent. It is a judgment call to know when 'no' is the last 'no.'"

Respond quickly to customer reports that a salesperson came on too strong. The first step might be through the sales person's immediate sales manager, but Strade says ADT will even move major personnel issues all the way up to executive leadership if the situation warrants it.

Recognize that your direct sales people are going to be easier to manage than your dealer channel (if you use a dealer channel). Just for the fact that their paychecks come directly from you, you'll find it easier to manage and implement changes with your direct sales team. The level of separation between your company and your dealers' sales people often means that most of the problems will crop up in that dealer model – if those problems are going to crop up at all.

Identify your sales people. Uniforms aren't always practical, but at the very least, sales people need business cards. If you can, implement a company-issued photo ID badge. Some states and local ordinances require photo ID (a requirement that has appeared only in recent years, for the most part).