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Exposing Deceitful Sales Reps

Lying, sleazy, pushy and intimidating were adjectives used to describe home security door-to-door salesmen in a six-month ABC News investigation that aired last month and can be seen here:

ABC News Report

A few weeks ago I interviewed and hired a potential sales rep who had been exploring several options for a summer sales job. As we discussed his options, he told me about a recruiting meeting he attended from a well-known home security company. The meeting was led by an incredibly tan and muscular fellow that sounded like, “Bane from Batman” according to my interviewee. The recruiter came across extremely “arrogant” and “cocky.” My interviewee also said most of the corporate representation from the company was cut out of the same cloth #ProvoAllStar. My newly hired sales rep couldn’t imagine working for a company that portrayed such elitism.

Quite frankly, over the past 3 years, I’ve been hiring an increasing number of sales reps that are migrating from the home security industry based on this sense of narcissism and because of shady sales techniques being taught, implemented and accepted as necessary components of selling alarms.

In fact, one of my top sales reps who sold home security two years ago told me how much better he felt selling for my company. He said, “I slept better at night knowing that I didn’t have to stretch the truth or scare people into buying a home security system like the rest of my team was doing. You taught me the right way to sell door to door.”

As noted in my book, Door-to-Door Millionaire, I’ve sold home security systems and there are several reasons why my stint was short-lived. Some of these reasons are identified in the ABC News investigation.

My primary reason for writing Door-to-Door Millionaire is to expose effective door-to-door sales tactics that are devoid of fear, intimidation and half-truths. In Chapter 11, I reveal why some sales reps feel as though they need to use unethical sales tactics to be successful. The rest of the book teaches why these practices aren’t necessary.

So all of this begs the question:

Must home security companies teach and consent to unethical sales practices to be successful?

It might be helpful to outline a couple common knocking strategies employed by home security sales teams which could lead to unscrupulous sales practices:

  1. Large sales teams are sent to communities to ‘blitz’ areas in a short amount of time.
    1. Sales reps who know they will only be in an area temporarily have less fear of offending potential clients knowing they will never see them again.
    2. Some communities require licensing and/or background checks for door-to-door solicitors. Required licensing is rarely acquired by home security sales reps knowing their stay in a particular area will be brief.
    3. Home security companies have been characterized as ‘faceless’ because sales reps only have momentary interaction with customers. This facelessness makes it easier for sales reps to engage in corrupt sales techniques because they will likely never see their customers again.
  2. Sales teams target low income / high crime neighborhoods.
    1. Obviously the need for an alarm system is greater in areas of high crime. Thus, the use of scare tactics is inherently encouraged.
    2. The biggest problem with teaching sales tactics that instill fear is that sales reps will often rely on these techniques even when there is no justification for doing so. Thus, sowing the seeds of deceit amongst potential clients.

The number of negative reviews aimed at door-to-door sales reps of home security companies leads me to believe that because these sales tactics are working, despite being unethical, the love of the almighty dollar somehow justifies the continued teaching and accepting of these techniques. However, this does not have to be the case. Success and honesty can coexist, but oftentimes success makes it easier to dismiss and ignore unethical behavior.

Although I’ve focused on home security sales reps, (because of the ABC news report) all industries employing door-to-door sales reps could be guilty of teaching and approving unethical sales practices.

Business owners, recruiters, trainers and sales reps…it falls on your shoulders. The sales practices you teach and use when interacting with potential clients is up to you. If you happen to be caught on camera at a sales call, you’d better hope you aren’t choosing the path of deceit.