Door to door sales have been a tool used by American business for years. Watkins products used the technique as the only method to sell their wares. A Large part of encyclopedia sales was using the door-to-door method. Publishers sold Mark Twain’s first books door-to-door.

Ad for Huckelberry FinnCredit: Charles L. Webster & Co.

Order Takers

Order takers are a big part of door-to-door sales. It is a cold calling method to approach someone to buy something without previous preperation. They take orders for such things as siding, house painting, doors and windows and roofing. They generally work as a crew, dropped off in a neighborhood, and follow a map with a specific area to cover. After canvassing the city, the company starts over. It isn’t uncommon for companies to have these as part time sales jobs.


Some companies have a script to recite with memorization with strict adherence to the text. All  follow a general form. The first section introduces the order taker and ends with a question to discern if person is homeowner or the person to make the pitch. The second section informs homeowner that this is just to sign them up to get a free, no obligation overview of the product. The third is to ask if they would like to have someone call. The text is worded so as not make the interview a big deal. The emphasis is on the free with no obligation to the homeowner, and at a time completely to the homeowners choosing.

Even though the script is memorized, the salesmen and order takers don’t always follow the presentation word for word. They read the person and change the script to fit their needs.


Those doing the walking realize it is a game of numbers. If they knock on enough doors, they will get leads. The ones that can pull marginal signers in are the ones that get more leads. The office doesn’t see it that way. They don’t accept excuses, reality or reasons. Those that don’t get enough orders are let go quickly.


Appearance is important. The pitchman shouldn’t appear threatening. They should approach the door with a smile and pleasant expression. Some feel women are better than men, as they come across as less threatening.

Morning Meeting

Before going out to the neighborhoods, there is a morning meeting to pump up the employees. The people with the most orders from the previous day are commended, and those with orders that had interviews scheduled and sales are noted. Some companies award bonuses for orders that result in sales.

In the field, order takers may be told not to compare their numbers to others or the amount of orders the vehicle has taken.  One should only concentrate on their own orders. This is the opposite of the success of others lauded in the office.


Selling door to door is a tough proposition. It is a brief presentation. The script allows the presenter to get the pitch out quickly, and put pressure on the individual to sign up. By using a script, door to door marketing allows a short training period. Training can be contridictory. Techniques used by one trainer, are derided by another. If the presenter isn’t performing up to company standards, they are soon made aware of that fact, or let go. After being hired, the time for this can be a week or shorter. The only exceptions are those who previously have a superior record. Door-to-door marketing is a quick lesson in how adapt, think on their feet and to be a good sales person.

Not all companies operate in the same manner, and don’t follow all the examples outlined in this article. This is a general overview as to how some selling door-to-door sales companies operate.