5 Entrepreneurship lessons from my past in door-to-door sales

About 15 years ago, I held a position selling encyclopedias door-to-door with a publishing company called Southwestern. That job is now long in the past, but the lessons I learned during that period have shaped my understanding of business and sales, and they continue to influence my career as an entrepreneur.  

Although I’m not a natural salesperson, I was listed one of the top saleswoman in my team, as a result I was rewarded with a free trip to Egypt and promoted to team manager.

I truly believe that I owe much of the success I’ve experienced with my own portable business to the insights I gained all those years ago!  

Door-to-door is the best business school you can enroll in. Here are some of the key lessons I learned along the way.  

For more details about each of these lessons: Click here to listen to the podcast episode.

1. Practice a positive attitude to develop resilience

Positive attitude is not necessarily something that you can acquire naturally or just in a day, it is something that you have to practice day after day! As a salesperson and entrepreneur, you’ll meet with objections, rejection and resistance…a lot. If you allow each negative experience to take root in your thoughts and control your mood and behavior, you’ll struggle. Train your brain to move up, not down, after a bump or bruise, and do this by, for example, practicing positive self-talk and turning to motivating visual and audio content.

“If you don’t like something change it; if you can’t change it, change the way you think about it.” - Mary Engelbreit

2. Implement solid life and work habits

Facing each day on the job can be easier when you can count on a strong set of healthy routines and habits to carry you forward. For example, set your alarm at the same time each morning (I set mine at 5:59!) and wake up right away without snoozing. Dance or exercise before going to work to lift your energy and get your blood flowing.

Here are some resources that can help you create these solid habits that will lead you to success:

3. Understand that selling is about listening

A lot of people think that selling is about knowing how to talk. In fact, the opposite is more likely to bring success. Listen more than you talk, and spend most of the time you talk asking questions rather than selling. If you listen well to the answers, the clients will be the ones giving you the arguments that will help you sell your product or service.

4. Know your turf and your clients like the back of your hand!

You can’t be the expert in your market if you do not know your market really well. Make sure to do your market research, closely observe your clients and try to better understand their needs.

Check out this blog post where I share with how to run a survey to understand the needs of your clients.

5. Build true relationships and be part of the community

There is no marketing and sales strategy that will ever replace the power of true authentic relationships!

Each time you interact with someone, not just a client or customer, recognize that your actions and words will be remembered. Focus on providing value and being of service to the people around you. The more you do this, the more you’ll become a respected member of the community you serve. You’ll also become the “expert” to refer to when someone has a problem you can solve with your product or service.

People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. Maya Angelou

You may not have the chance to become an actual door-to-door salesperson and gain these insights first-hand, but I hope this will be helpful to you. The job may not have been very sexy, but these lessons have helped me more than any classroom experience ever could.

Share in the comments: what is the biggest take away you got from this episode?