Door-to-door sales are still an effective form of pitching to and converting new and existing clients.
Often, business and private customers alike consider it more convenient to have sales representatives visit them. Not to mention that there are valuable opportunities to build rapport that can translate to long-term loyalty.
Nevertheless, it’s important to recognize that there are environmental challenges when operating this type of company. Sending reps out on the road tends to put additional pressure on local ecosystems. As part of a growing focus on strong corporate social responsibility (CSR) protocols, many businesses are looking at how they can adjust practices to minimize any negative impact.
So, how are businesses revamping their door-to-door sales positions for sustainability? Let’s take a look at a handful of key actions.
One of the most significant environmental issues for door-to-door sales professionals is transportation. Particularly in areas of the U.S. that don’t have walkable neighborhoods, the need to travel long distances between consumers and leads has an impact. This is largely a result of vehicle emissions. But it also contributes to the environmental pressure caused by the industrial extraction of fossil fuels and other forms of wastage. This is why businesses are revamping their door-to-door positions by prioritizing alternative and cleaner transportation options.
In many cases, particularly for smaller businesses, this involves using public transportation wherever possible. For long distances, trains are utilized instead of car journeys or flights. Using buses is also a more sustainable option than running a personal vehicle. Where salespeople need to head to bigger cities to connect with consumers, park-and-ride services reduce the distance and the amount of fuel used with private vehicles.
For medium-to-large sales businesses, investing in a fleet of electric vehicles is an increasingly practical option. Particularly as the market for used electric vehicles is growing, more sustainable forms of transport are affordable and accessible — not to mention that electric vehicles tend to require less maintenance than traditional vehicles, meaning less wastage from replacement brake components and other parts. Indeed, sales businesses investing in fleets can take advantage of federal and state tax breaks to reduce the financial burden.
Efficiency is key to success in any business. It cuts down unnecessary costs and minimizes lapses in productivity. Companies that have traveling salespeople are also starting to focus on how improvements in efficiency can enable a more sustainable approach to operations. After all, when there is less wastage in the process involved in transportation, operations, and administration, this results in a more meaningful reduction in fuel use, emissions, and other resource consumption.
This is often centered around encouraging more efficient daily routines for individual representatives. Maintaining a solid routine in traveling sales jobs is generally considered to be vital, as it helps reps to stay healthy and productive. But this can also incorporate efficiency. Doing admin on the road rather than waiting to get back to the office reduces excessive working hours and the resources used during this time. Packing smartly reduces the weight of vehicles, which also reduces gas consumption. When businesses educate their salespeople on efficient routines, there is an opportunity to minimize negative environmental impact.
It’s also important for businesses to focus on wider strategic efficiency when employing door-to-door salespeople. The failure to plan travel routes or allocate territories efficiently tends to result in excessive resource usage. This is why it has become important to utilize tools such as AI-driven route mapping and fleet management software. These can be used to identify the fastest routes to target customers. They can also inform salespeople of potential disruptions in real time so that fuel- and time-efficient solutions can be implemented.
The last several years have seen a rise in the adoption of remote operations for many businesses. This has become prevalent in the door-to-door sales industry, too. Not only does this approach tend to result in lower overheads and better employee satisfaction, but it also tends to be more sustainable.
Firstly, remote methods can be an effective way for salespeople to initiate contact with leads or long-time customers. They can arrange to perform outreach from their own homes by phone. They can also engage in more in-depth sales discussions via online video chat platforms, such as Skype and Zoom. This technique can be effective in cutting down vehicle emissions, even if a selection of consumers still wish to be visited in their homes or businesses following an initial outreach call. It can also help create a more positive sales experience with those customers who aren’t receptive to unexpected visits.
Remote working for door-to-door sales businesses is also being extended to wider operations. Managers and teams can operate from home using video calls and remote project management software. Meetings between salespeople and other colleagues can then happen more occasionally in local coffee shops or coworking spaces. When undertaken mindfully, this can reduce overall operational energy consumption and waste production compared to running a full-time commercial office space.
Knowledge is an effective tool in the battle against climate change. Therefore, businesses are revamping their door-to-door sales positions by encouraging a better understanding of how reps’ actions impact the environment. By putting policies in place to track each employee’s carbon footprint, there is a chance to boost both knowledge and accountability.
This involves requiring salespeople to keep records of the details of their activities. They must calculate travel mileage alongside gas use for non-electric vehicles. They should also track nonrenewable forms of electricity consumed during their administrative work and on the road. In some instances, keeping records of eating at restaurants rather than preparing their own food can contribute to a more holistic understanding of the carbon footprint used while visiting customers.
It’s important to remember that while tracking can be the responsibility of individual door-to-door salespeople, meaningfully using this information is a joint effort between businesses and employees. Managers and reps need to work together in analyzing the data gathered on a regular basis and identifying areas for improvement. Businesses also have a duty to provide resources to address issues wherever possible.
While door-to-door sales practices face some sustainability challenges, many companies are adopting methods to mitigate the potential for damage. This includes leveraging public transportation and electric vehicle fleets to minimize emissions. Improving efficiency and enabling remote operations are also practical ways to reduce any negative impact.
Mutual responsibility for tracking and improving carbon footprints is a key to sustainability and accountability, too. It can take a little additional planning, but prioritizing sustainability helps to ensure door-to-door sales positions remain both effective and ethical.