Cold canvassing is a tactic used in sales to look for new business by approaching potential customers in the field with a sales offer. It’s best for companies like residential contractors, whose potential customers may be easier to approach in person than over the phone or by email. Costs vary depending on approach.
Using a customer relationship management (CRM) tool with a mobile app to track cold canvassing leads while you’re out in the field and navigating your territory helps increase your productivity. Pipedrive’s lead management and mobile app features make lead and sales management easy on the go. Sign up for a free trial today.
What Is Cold Canvassing?
Cold canvassing is a strategy used to generate new business leads by approaching your target customers with a sales offer. It’s usually done door to door in residential and commercial areas. Sales professionals either walk or drive through a neighborhood to make sales, spread awareness, or gauge interest. However, they also work business districts making sales or generating leads for business-to-business (B2B) organizations.
How Cold Canvassing Works
This lead generation tactic works by first planning where you want to focus your efforts and then going out or sending an external sales team to visit potential customers in their homes or at their places of business. During these visits, introduce your prospects to your company and products or services, and then ask them for a sale or to engage in the next step of your sales process.
A major benefit of cold canvassing includes face-to-face interaction. In general, it’s easier to build rapport face to face than it is over the phone. It’s also harder to be rude in person, which can give you an opportunity to begin a relationship and present your offer. Additionally, if your product relates to your prospect’s business or home, on-the-spot product demos are a lot easier and are in context of how they can be used.
Drawbacks include not being able to make as many sales calls as you might be able to over the phone. If you were cold calling, it’s possible to make 50 to 100 calls an hour. Because you are physically going door to door, you can’t make nearly as many sales calls. It’s also more expensive if you need to drive and carry demo products with you. It’s important to factor in travel and wear and tear expenses.
How to Plan & Execute a Canvassing Strategy
Once you’ve decided this sales tactic is right for you, you’ll need to plan how to execute it. This includes deciding what your territories will be and how to divide them among your sales team. If you’re a sales rep or solopreneur, it includes how to efficiently approach customers in your territory or where your target market is and to track your interactions and results.
The way to do this includes considering the following:
1. Conduct a Preliminary Assessment of the Area
After you’ve mapped out your sales team plan or your individual plan, start canvassing. Walk or drive in your territory, identify members of your target market, and start prequalifying them. For instance, if you sell solar panels, visit areas with houses where they are more likely to believe in the benefits of solar panels. You’ll want to avoid areas with apartments or places where they’re against solar panel use. You can decide on specific places to go with research.
2. Practice Your Selling Activities
Your first contact with qualified prospects is often your only chance at making a good impression. Be prepared to do your product demonstration and to ask to close them if that’s appropriate. For something like solar panels, where the sales cycle is longer than a product demo and instant sale, your presentation will lead to the next step in your sales process, such as an assessment. For products with shorter sales cycles, you close the deal.
3. Ask Questions
This sales tactic can also be used for generating qualified leads, because a person who is not ready to buy today, may be ready to buy tomorrow. Your canvassing strategy should allow you to adjust your sales pitch to make sure the prospects you approach are right for your products and services by asking qualifying questions. Once you’ve determined they are qualified, you’ll need to send contact and other details to the team that closes deals.
Information to Collect in Your Cold Canvassing Campaign
When using this sales tactic, it’s important to collect prospect and customer information to make the most of your efforts and to set you up for success. The type of information you should collect includes contact details, notes from interactions, sales order details, and follow-up appointment details. This information is important to close deals at a future date, to get referrals, and to offer upsells and cross-sells.
Below is the information you should collect during your cold canvassing campaign:
- Contact details: Always gather contact details of people you talk to, even if they’re not the key decision-makers. Make notes about who they are and how they’re related to or affiliated with the customer.
- Key decision-maker details: Find out and document who makes the major decisions for the business or household. Also, find out and document who the key influencers are.
- Conversations and interactions: Document conversations and interactions. This comes in particularly handy when you see the prospect or customer again or when you do a follow-up call.
- Sales order details: Collect all information for a sale. This is important because you don’t want to go back to the customer after they’ve already signed a contract to get information you should have gotten at the time of the sale.
- Appointment details: If you’re scheduling a follow-up appointment, collect information needed for the appointment to take place and run smoothly, like time, date, and other key details.
- Pain points: The most important piece of information to collect is the customer’s pain points. When you can refer back to the customer’s pain points and the reasons they said they’re interested in your product, you have a better chance of selling to them.
The specific types of information you should gather for your cold canvassing efforts depends on your sales process. It’s helpful to document your sales process and all of the activities and information required at each stage. Doing this will get you to think about and decide on which pieces of information are key to make a sale or to move a prospect through your sales process.
It’s helpful to use a CRM like Pipedrive to collect information. It has a mobile app that allows you to update prospect and customer records, move them through your sales process, and close deals, all while being out in the field. Check out Pipedrive’s mobile app today.
How to Use Cold Canvassing Information for Sales
The information you collect from cold canvassing efforts should be used to close deals, get cross-sells and upsells, and get referrals. Other uses for the information you’ve collected include following up at a later date and building quotes and proposals. Cold canvassing can also be used to support other initiatives like market research or product development efforts, but here we’re focused on how to use it in sales.
Below are more details on how to use the information gathered while cold canvassing:
- Follow-up: Use the information you’ve collected to follow up with prospects and customers you’ve met. If they’re not ready to buy now, you can follow up at a better time and use the pain points they gave you to help you close the deal in the future.
- Build quotes and proposals: Use the information to tailor quotes and proposals to your prospects’ needs. When you speak directly to their needs and use their words and phrases, you have a better chance at closing your deals.
- Relationship building: Use the information to build relationships. If you noted the interests of key decision-makers and influencers, and use that to learn more about them and have better conversations, you’ll increase the odds of closing deals.
- Product demos: Product presentations and demos are great for using cold canvassing information. If your prospect told you they need work done on their house because they’re expecting a new baby, show how your solution ties to their current need.
- Gathering referrals: If you’ve built good rapport with your customers and prospects, chances are they won’t mind referring you to their friends and family members. Use your relationship with them to help you get to know other potential customers.
- Cross-sells and upsells: Sales information, along with documenting customer needs, put you in a good position to sell additional products. Look at the products you’ve sold, determine what would be the next logical product for them to buy, and offer it to them.
- Closing deals: Discovering your prospects’ pain points while cold canvassing can help you close deals. Using what they tell you are their pressing needs or the pain they feel because they don’t have your product will help you sell it.
To make cold canvassing efforts worthwhile, you should use the information your prospects and customers give you. Not using it is a waste of time and space if you’re storing the data in a CRM or other type of database. Using the information can help you close deals and make it easier for you to gain new customers through referrals, which are a lot easier and more fun.
Who Cold Canvassing Is Right For
One type of company this sales tactic is best for is residential service providers like roofers or solar panel manufacturers, where it’s necessary to do an in-home demo or physical needs assessment. It’s also great for B2B service providers like retail signage or technology companies, where it may be difficult to connect with the decision-maker over the phone and where an onsite assessment may be appropriate.
Here’s a list of the types of companies cold canvassing is particularly right for:
- Home contractors: Roofers, home remodelers, and solar panel providers benefit because their product or service centers around their customers’ homes. It’s easy to identify a problem and discuss a solution while at the home.
- Pest control: If a neighborhood has a problem with pests and it’s a well-known issue, it may be easier to cold canvas a neighborhood and let people know you have a solution to their problem.
- Window replacement: Like home contractors, window replacement companies may find it easier to cold canvas a neighborhood to offer window replacement solutions because you can discuss the windows in their homes and why they should be replaced.
- Alarm system providers: If there is a concern about break-ins, especially for businesses, sales technique works well because you can have a conversation about it in their space and talk to them about what you can do to secure their particular business.
- Landscaping: As the seasons change, cold canvassing for landscaping business is great because you can zero in on pain points right where the customer is. For instance, if it’s a pain to cut grass or remove snow, you can sell them on your solutions in their yard.
- Retail signage: This sales tactic is great for retail signage companies because they can easily spot the type of signage a prospect currently has, compare it to competing businesses, and demonstrate how they’d make their signs look more appealing.
- Retail technology: Similar to retail signage companies, retail technology companies can see the type of technology a retailer has (like retails TVs, point-of-sale (POS) devices, and so on), let them know what their competitors in the area are doing, and show what they can do.
However, this is not an exhaustive list. There are several other types of businesses that can do well by cold canvassing. If you have a product or service that would benefit from a conversation and product or service demo in your prospect’s home or business, consider incorporating this strategy into your sales plan.
Cold Canvassing & Cold Calling Costs
Both cold canvassing and cold calling costs vary depending on how you implement either sales tactic. For instance, some sales reps who either do cold calling or cold canvassing work on 100% commission, while others work for salary and commission. Also, some cold canvassing companies do advertising to improve results, and this adds to the costs involved.
Below are cost categories and specific costs where applicable within each:
- Commission-based: If paying 100% commission to your cold canvassing or cold calling sales reps, you will have to make commissions high enough for sales reps to think it’s worth it. Doing this will cut into your profitability. Specific costs depend on your industry.
- Salary and commission: Offering both salary and commission can decrease the percentage of commissions you pay, but increase your fixed salary costs. Specific costs depend on industry.
- Drive time: This is important especially if you’re reimbursing this expense. It’s also an opportunity cost of driving versus your sales rep being in their territory selling. Costs depend on how long the drive time is and whether or not you reimburse for driving expenses.
- Technology: The cost for technology used during cold canvassing can range from free to hundreds of dollars per month. For instance, if you’re using a CRM with a mobile app like Pipedrive, your costs will be $12.50 per user, per month.
- Phone: Costs for phones can range from free if you’re using a CRM with a built-in phone or around a hundred dollars per month for a smartphone. You could also use a voice-over-internet-protocol (VoIP) like RingCentral for cold calling, with costs starting at $19.99 per user, per month.
Costs can range from zero upfront costs to several hundred dollars per month depending on how you choose to pay your sales reps. Technology can be anywhere from free to a few hundred dollars per month depending on the technology you choose. And phone costs can vary depending on the type of phone, plan you choose, and number of people using it.
Cold Canvassing Tools
There are a variety of technology providers that could support both cold canvassing and cold calling. Categories include CRM software, phones, proposal software, and navigation technology. These technology providers make it easier for sales reps to be more productive in the field and help sales managers and business owners to plan more strategically.
Below are several tools you can use to make the most of your cold canvassing strategy:
1. CRM Software
CRM software great for cold canvassing offer an easy-to-use mobile app and contact management features. Pipedrive is a CRM with a mobile app that allows you to manage contacts and has “nearby” features that allow you to visit customers close to where you are.
2. Business Phone Service
Phones are key to making cold calls, which is similar to cold canvassing. RingCentral is a voice-over-internet-protocol (VoIP) phone provider offering unlimited calling and a toll-free or local phone number. This is great for making hundreds of cold calls.
3. Navigation Services
If you’re using this sales technique and need to drive to a variety of areas within your territory, having navigation technology is helpful and saves time from driving around lost. There are a variety of tools, like Google Maps, available on smartphones.
4. Project Management Software
Because companies like home remodelers and roofers have sales leading to projects, project management software is important. For more information on project management software options, see our project management article.
5. Business Card Scanners
Business card scanners come in handy while cold canvassing, especially when targeting small business owners. A business card scanner saves time from having to enter the business card information you get.
6. Proposal Software
Proposal software comes in handy for businesses with complex sales like home remodelers. It helps sales reps prepare a professional-looking branded proposal that explains what they’re offering to their prospect.
Pros & Cons of Cold Canvassing
This sales tactic certainly comes with its share of pros and cons. Pros include face-to-face interaction, which can have a more powerful impact and the ability to cover a wider area faster with cold calling. Cons include non-solicitation laws and wear and tear of using this technique.
Pros of Cold Canvassing
Here are a few benefits of cold canvassing:
- Face-to-face interaction: The nature of face-to-face interaction with this sales tactic makes it a little harder for people to be rude and “hang up” on you. You can also make observations about the environment and use them in your sales pitch.
- Cover more geography with cold calling: Cold calling, which is similar to cold canvassing, allows you to cover a wider geography in a much shorter time frame, potentially leading to increased sales.
- Easier to get referrals: If you’re working in a territory where communities are close and know each other, it’s easier to get referrals. If you exceed your customers’ expectations, word will travel and people will be calling you.
Cons of Cold Canvassing
Here are a few cons of cold canvassing:
- Non-solicitation laws: Many communities have non-solicitation laws that don’t allow you to do cold canvassing. Sometimes these laws are not apparent, especially in residential areas. This could limit your territory and sales opportunities.
- Physical wear and tear: Cold canvassing requires walking, driving, and sometimes both. This could be tiresome, which is not conducive to making sales.
- Braving the elements: You have to cold canvas in all types of weather. Braving the elements can range from uncomfortable to dangerous, depending on conditions.
- Personal safety: Cold canvassing efforts can send you to places you are unfamiliar with or you could get caught in bad weather with nowhere to go. Take personal safety into consideration and plan for the unexpected.
- Do not call laws (if cold calling): If you decide to use cold calling, be aware of do not call laws and do not call lists. If you break any of these laws, you could end up paying significant fines.
Alternatives to Cold Canvassing
Cold canvassing is not always the best way to make sales, even in industries where an in-home or in-business presentation is best. Sales prospecting tips and tactics you can implement other than cold canvassing or cold calling range from generating inbound leads or sales to selling or generating leads prospecting on social media.
Below are a few alternatives to cold canvassing:
Similar to cold canvassing, cold calling is where you pick a territory and make phone calls to businesses or consumers likely to buy your product or service. The advantage of cold calling is that you can cover a wider geography, making it easy to focus on customers using criteria other than geography, such as type of industry (which could cover a wide geography).
Inbound Lead Generation
Instead of cold canvassing, you can advertise or create content that will get your target customer to reach out to you instead of the other way around. For instance, you can do a seminar or webinar on how great solar panels are for the environment and how they can save you money—and at the end, ask for appointments.
Social Media Outreach
Instead of going door to door, you can find your ideal customer on social media and build relationships there. Once you’ve built rapport, you can move the relationship off the social media site and move to an initial call or meeting.
This alternative works great if there are a sufficient number of networking events with your target customers. Instead of going door to door, you can speak to a large number of your target customers in one event and follow up with them that day or a few days later to ask for a meeting.
Tradeshow & Event Sponsorships
This is a great way to get members of your target audience to come to your booth or table and give you their contact information. You can start conversations at a trade show or event and follow up afterwards by asking for a meeting.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What is cold canvassing?
Cold canvassing is a tactic used in sales to look for new business by approaching potential customers with a sales offer.
What’s the difference between cold canvassing & cold calling?
Cold canvassing is done in person and is when you go door to door to solicit sales or leads. Cold calling is where you do the same thing but over the phone.
Why should I do cold canvassing?
Cold canvassing may give you greater access to your target market in an environment such as their homes or businesses, where you’ll be delivering your product or service.
Cold canvassing is a great tactic for businesses that find it easier to connect with their target audiences in their homes or places of business. It’s great for those companies where the benefits outweigh any risks associated with cold canvassing or cold calling. Before deciding on what’s best for you, consider everything from potential effectiveness to potential risks using this article as a guide.
To make the most of cold canvassing, you should invest in a CRM with a robust mobile app that you can use while you’re in the field. Consider giving Pipedrive’s mobile app and contact management features a try by signing up for a free trial.