Door-to-door sales offer a way for alarm installers to make cold calls in many different neighborhoods, introducing their services and finding owners who may be interested in a new system. While finding new leads is important for any business, this type of door-to-door tactic can be very risky for an installation firm.
Door-to-door calls are notorious in some industries as scams – the roofing industry is a common example. Alarm installation also has a growing problem with fraud and scam alerts related to cold calls at people’s home. Here’s why it’s such a problematic sales move.
The BBB Has Already Called Out Frequent Security Scams
In areas like Central Ohio, the BBB (Better Business Bureau) has issued warnings about alarm salespeople using deceptive tactics and creating an upsurge in customer complaints. This included tactics like promising free security equipment – in exchange for a small upfront fee, thanks to an invented local program. This is very similar to roofing scams, where scammers promise future roofing repair at a discount thanks to some obscure insurance loophole, while requiring an upfront fee. After the fee is paid, they disappear. If they manage to get bank account or credit card numbers – as in this alarm installation case – they may later charge homeowners thousands of dollars or steal their identity.
Fraud like this makes a bet on the ignorance of homeowners about how security installation works, as well as confrontational sales tactics. It also ruins the chances of any reputable security company trying to make the same kind of sales calls. Once homeowners are warned about fraud related to installation sales calls, they aren’t going to listen to any salespeople, even those advertising their services in good faith.
It Can Lead to Deceptive Sale Lawsuits
Door-to-door sales talk can also have lasting repercussions when major corporations get involved, especially if installers are careless about what they say. This happened when CPI Security sued Vivint Smart Home in 2020. Essentially, agents legally representing Vivint products were going home to home, trying to sell. But part of their sales tactics included making false statements about CPI security, a claim that was upheld in court and led to more than $189 million awarded in damages.
Badmouthing the competition may feel right in the moment, but installers can’t make false or deceptive statements, even if those statements are based on their own experience. This is another landmine that door-to-door sales have to navigate to avoid risk.
It Builds Bad Will Among Customers
Another highlight of the CPI/Vivint lawsuit was that Vivint, despite being an entirely legal company, was engaging in some dubious sales behavior in this particular situation. The lawsuit also pointed out that sellers were attempting to lock homeowners into high-priced, multi-year contracts to finance products and pay for ongoing monitoring services. That kind of pushy sales tactic is already annoying when it comes to phone and data plans – even more so when homeowners are pushed to sign a contract without being fully aware of their options.
Sales like this may not be specifically illegal, but they do lead to distrust and anger among potential customers. After being exposed to these tactics, homeowners are less likely to trust security installation firms in general, and less likely to be convinced of the value of a monitoring plan or an upgraded security system. That can hurt the industry as a whole.
Using Account Information Can Be Dangerous or Illegal
If you already have the account information of a security user, it may be tempting to try targeted in-person visits to discuss upgrading their system or switching to a different platform, etc. This can also lead to problems. This is a story of a seller confronting someone about an old account after their business split apart and he joined a competitor, an act that may well be illegal or at least a very bad idea. Customer information should not be misused, and previous customers may feel very uncomfortable when confronted with their account history.
Door-to-Door Sales Struggle to Identify Needs
Door-to-door sales are very limited in what they can offer homeowners. Few homeowners may have the time or inclination for an on-the-spot quote for a security system, especially if they aren’t sure what they need. Others may not be willing to provide any information until they research the company. It’s more helpful for homeowners to first understand their needs and then arrange for a visit to answer questions, create a quote, and more. This also helps save a lot of time, as cold calling on doors can lead to fruitless conversations, and waste time that could be better spent with other types of sales.
While going door-to-door may invite more trouble than it’s worth, that doesn’t mean that residential activity is useless. Leaving flyers or mailing mailers can help let homeowners know about your services and how they can help, without the intrusion and potential risks that knocking on doors can create. Letting customers arrange a time for a custom estimate also works with their schedule and avoid pushy tactics.