The 2 Most Controversial Words in the Alarm Industry

Which practice has gotten a bad reputation for being unethical?

DOOR KNOCKING; arguably no other two words have stirred up so much controversy in the history of the alarm industry. For some, those two words equate to massive success while to others, those two words equate only to the ethically challenged.

But knocking on doors to sell products and services is nothing new and has long been a tried-and-true method of selling in America. Even billionaire entrepreneur Mark Cuban began his career knocking on doors, selling of all things, trash bags. I even began my own career in 1975 selling the Houston Post (one of two Houston newspapers at the time) door to door. In fact, the alarm industry began with door-to-door sales.

In the early 1860s, Edwin Holmes, owner of Holmes Burglar Alarm Co., got his company off the ground by selling burglar alarms door to door in New York City. Holmes constructed a model of a home with a scaled down model of his newly designed battery-powered alarm system replete with relays and sounding devices. He was very successful conducting demonstrations and quickly built a burglar alarm empire by knocking on doors. Of course, he had no competition because his was the first burglar alarm company in America, so that also helped!

Learn How to Persist, It’s Not for Everyone
I have had several alarm company owners tell me that they are conflicted about whether or not to sell door to door. Some of them equate door knocking to perceived “evil empires” and because of that, they are slow to adopt the practice. But selling door to door is not unethical or wrong by any means. What is wrong is lying and misrepresenting one’s products and services while selling door to door.

Unfortunately, a small percentage of unethical door-to-door alarm salespeople have given door knocking a bad rap (pun intended). In addition, the television news shows “20/20” and “Dateline” have exposed some unscrupulous alarm company door knockers and caught them on camera in blatant lies. This negative exposure has only advanced the notion that door knockers are inherently “ethically challenged.”

On the other hand, I know of many alarm companies that have leveraged the door-to-door sales tactic with honesty and integrity to build large portfolios of residential monitored burglar alarm accounts. It all begins with proper training of salespeople and with a zero tolerance policy for unethical selling practices.

I wholeheartedly believe that selling door to door can be a very effective way to grow recurring monthly revenue (RMR) and to build a strong portfolio of monitored alarm accounts. I also believe that many alarm companies choose not to sell door to door for one big reason: fear of rejection.

Courtesy: Watchdog Magazine

I go back to my own experience as a 14-year-old kid knocking on doors and selling the Houston Post. I literally had doors slammed in my face as I was pitching to the homeowner. It was tough because rejection hurts. Some people can be unpleasant, but like other salespeople a door knocker has to develop thick skin and forge on knowing that just a few doors down, a sale awaits.

Besides, nothing beats the rush of closing a sale on someone’s doorstep or dining room table. It is amazing how the elation of one sale can erase the sting of a dozen rejections. The key to success in selling door to door is not to take anything personally and to maintain a friendly, positive attitude, no matter the reception from the homeowner.

Read Next: Does Your Security Business Accommodate What Customers Want?

Protect Your Territory, but Stay Within Legal Bounds
It is important, of course, to obey the law and to stay away from neighborhoods with posted “no soliciting” signs or with no soliciting ordinances. Door-to-door salespeople should also be respectful of individual property “no soliciting” signs and homeowners who have clearly and firmly said “no.”

I know that some alarm companies detest the door-to-door selling of alarm systems – particularly those that have lost accounts to the unethical selling practices of certain door knockers. However, far more accounts have been lost to hardworking ethical door-to-door salespeople who just had a better system and service to sell. That’s just more proof that door knocking works!

One final note: While there’s significant data that shows door knocking can help grow your business, it’s also important to protect your customers from companies looking to grow their business with your customers. If you’re not talking to your customers, there’s a good chance someone else is.

Keep the customers you worked hard for by essentially continuing to knock on their door – only now, it’s because you are regularly communicating with them and promoting the new products, features, services and benefits that your company has to offer.

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About the Author


Mark Matlock is Senior Vice President at United Central Control, a division of Lydia Security Monitoring Inc.

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