The do’s and don’t of door knocking for pest control sales

My first experience with selling door to door was in Spokane Washington and I was a window washer at the time. I had my bucket, squeegee and bottle of ammonia and I was going to tackle the world. After a whole morning of resounding no’s and doors shut in my face I did manage to get one lady to say yes. Boy I was excited and I cleaned her windows from top to bottom and they were squeaky clean. When I went to the door to finally get paid I got the ultimate rejection because the lady who at first was so kind now just peered through the window and told me to go away. That had to be 30 years ago and even though it was only $3.00 that lesson has stuck with me ever since.

Water on a ducks back

I’m a sensitive guy and I hate when someone tells me NO. To me I can only put up with so much before my demeanor is like a big bill board that reads “I lack confidence-Don’t buy from me”. If you’re going to knock doors you have got to be able to shrug off the no’s and realize you are playing a numbers game. I don’t know the averages anymore but let’s say it takes 25 no answers to get 1 yes. The math is simple then is it not? Knock on 25 doors and you should be able to get at least 1 sale. Even with this formula in your head you must have a strong bit of confidence because people can be rude and hurtful and with each comment chipping away at your ego you can soon lose all your zest for the task. I knew a sales guy once who had the front door slammed in his face so instead of walking away he simply went to the back door. The lady answered and said even more gruffly,”Weren’t you just at my front door?” He simply smiled and said “Yes but the lady there was having a bad day so I thought I’d see who else was home.” She got a kick out of that and 30 minutes later he had a sale. That’s like water on a ducks back!

Be different and creative

Now I don’t mean crazy here but different. We’ve all heard the line “we’re in the neighborhood doing termite work and…” That may work if you can point to your tech with a hammer drill across the street (which is the best time to door knock) but not if it’s just a line to get your foot in the door. FREE is a signal word that puts in motion the law of reversed efforts (at least initially) so I hardly ever used it. At times I might mention that a termite renewal with inspection was $80.00 or an inspection for the sale of the home might be $100.00. Of course they’ll gasp and say they’d never pay that so at that point you can tell them that since your in the neighborhood and this is just a courtesy check, you could forego any fees if you could do it right away.

Got visuals?

One lawn guy I knew carried a mole cricket or chinch bugs around in his hand and would ask them if they’ve seen anything like that in their yard and since most people can’t help but look at creepy bugs out of curiosity, it always got the ball rolling. Now there is a law against ‘peppering’ so don’t be stupid and drop them on the front porch and say “look what I found.” The same goes with swarmer termites or any such thing like that which should go without saying. Giving someone something to look at however can tweak emotions that they don’t want to get that bug in their castle so they may just hear you out. Brochures are Ok but unless it’s a real catchy front page you’re likely just wasting your time.

Doors aren’t just on houses

The hardest thing about door knocking is that you’re often looked at as an intruder of the homeowners space. You can have the best intro and the person may really need you but they’d never give you a chance regardless with this approach. The only form of belly to belly door knocking of sorts I do anymore is actually out on neutral ground. My favorite place is at a Lowes or Home Depot in the pest control isle. People there are usually pondering and reading the almost Greek labels and I simply say “got earwigs?” You’ll always get a reply and 9 times out of 10 a question which leads you right into a casual conversation, handing them a card and you can even set up a time where you’ll ‘happily stop by’ to just check out their situation. Now this time when you knock on the door they’ll be no defenses or awkward intros and the chances of you selling some work will go sky high. This approach for me is always the best and no I don’t hang around the big box stores like a stalker. I can bring bugs in almost any conversation and at the very least hand the people a business card and who knows. It could be while pumping gas and thousands of ants are roaming the ground or at a party or even an office where you might be doing some work. I realize this isn’t ‘door knocking’ in it’s purest form but like I said I’m a sensitive guy, I still can’t get over that first rejection from 30 years ago.

About The Bug Doctor

Jerry Schappert is a certified pest control operator and Associate Certified Entomologist with over two and a half decades of experience from birds to termites and everything in between. He started as a route technician and worked his way up to commercial/national accounts representative. Always learning in his craft he is familiar with rural pest services and big city control techniques. Jerry has owned and operated a successful pest control company since 1993 in Ocala,Florida. While his knowledge and practical application has benefitted his community Jerry wanted to impart his wisdom on a broader scale to help many more. was born from that idea in 2007 and has been well received. It is the goal of this site to inform you with his keen insights and safely guide you through your pest control treatment needs.

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  • Your discussion about the “door knockers” was very well put. These kids, and that’s what they are, don’t know anything about our industry. They typically are college students, from out of state, that are put up in housing and they make very good money when they sell accounts. 

  • In my town, they pick on the retiree’s who are generally easy prey. It’s sad to see it.

  • Mel

    Chris, I see you’re in The Spokane area. The guy who started your local door knocking pest control company sold 800 accounts in the tacoma area one summer. It was hell delivering what was promised to the customers because of the lack of knowledge on his and the managements part. However, in the end the company wound up with five routes in it’s first year. 

    Jerry, I hated when I witnessed forgery, preying, or bullying. Fortunately, consumers are becoming more wise researching before signing a contract or leaving a review on google, yelp, kudzu and other review sites warning others. 

  • Hey great web site Chris – Love the “Pest free paradise” tag. Spokane huh? Loved living there. Do kids still swim in King Kong’s pee hole in the river behind Riverfront Park. Those were the days. You might also enjoy this article- (Mels in it oddly enough)

  • rob

    Thats the best shit i’ve ever heard… Thats Great!!!!!!!!

  • Thx Rob, Hope it helps