The Sharpest Tool™

Lenny Gray Part 2 | The Secrets of Selling Door-to-Door

Lenny Gray is the CEO of Rove Pest Control and D2D Millionaire. He shares the skills and traits that make a door-to-door salesman successful, and why communication is key.

Josh Smith (00:03):

Hello. And welcome back to the sharpest tool where we take this thing out of marketing. My name is Josh Smith. I am your host and joining me today for the second time is Lenny gray. Lenny is a very accomplished professional. We had the pleasure of learning a bit more about Lenny and his career on a prior episode. So if you haven't checked that out, definitely check it out. But Lenny is a CEO of door-to-door millionaire and Rove pest control, as well as the author of door to door millionaire, secrets of making the sale. Lenny's a master at sales consulting in Maura. We're going to talk about one of his favorite subjects today, but before we do that, Lenny, I want to welcome you back. It's good to have you, my friend.

Lenny Gray (00:39):

Awesome. Now it's great to be back and let's do this again, Josh, again,

Josh Smith (00:42):

Those who missed episode one, why don't you give, just kind of that 62nd elevator pitch about who you are, how you got into the business that you're in.

Lenny Gray (00:51):

Yeah, so I started knocking doors essentially for Orkin pest control just in between my semesters at college. The summer sales program got really good at it. Got convinced by a buddy of mine to go out and give it a shot. And did that for three summers got hired on as the, kind of the VP of sales, the firm that hired Orkin or worked with Orkin. And after that, after doing that for a couple years, I wrote a lot of content. I traveled a lot just with family obligations, starting to have kids. I just decided I got to do this on my own. So I picked a business partner who actually knew the pest control industry, which I really didn't. I just knew how to sell it. Not anything else really. And so we got together, we started, uh, Rove pest control back in 2003. And we've grown that, uh, you know, across the country, I think we've had, I don't know, 12, 13, 14 branches, something like that. Over the last several years, we've had several that have been acquired. We're growing others. Some have been a staple of, of where we're at for the, you know, the last 12 years actually our is our longest running branch today. So, wow. Yeah. You're in the business for a long time and knocked a lot of doors and got told no, a lot

Josh Smith (02:01):

Incredible Lenny, the we're going to talk about your favorite topic ever. I mean, sales door to door sales, and this is such, you know, there's so many myths out there. I would venture to say in so many just impressions and resistance that people have, especially when it comes to door to door sales, forget about, just pick up the phone and call on people. There's a certain reluctance there too, but having to go knock on a door to go potentially talk to people and sell your product and service can strike some people as just not the best thing, highest thing on their list of things they'd like to do. Um, is that been your experience when you started getting into, did you see a lot of that and how did you get around that?

Lenny Gray (02:39):

Yeah, so it is definitely not for everybody. I will say that right up. And we've had people come in my program that have no business knocking on anybody's door, but if you have the right training, you can actually be okay at it. But I will say there have been plenty that have come through and you know, we always tell people, just give it two weeks. You'll you'll know what you are or aren't in two weeks of knocking doors and you know, we'll have people go two weeks and say, you know, actually, uh, a brother-in-law do that, you know, one, one year he's like I got to go out and do this land. He's killing it. I'm going to give this a shot. So I said, all right now, go out. I think he lasted like two days. And he, he came back to me and he said, listen, he came back to actually my wife's sister. And he said, listen, he says, Lenny deserves every penny that he is earning in what he's doing, because this is horrible. And this was a guy who actually knocked doors as a missionary. And so he'd actually done door to door before, but door to door sales was very different. So

Josh Smith (03:32):

That's incredible. Do you remember a time when you realized, like you might be actually pretty exceptional at selling? And tell me about that?

Lenny Gray (03:39):

Yeah, so it was actually my almost one month in to knocking doors. I was in Homewood, Alabama, just this little town in Alabama, outside of Birmingham. And there was a town next door to Homewood that was kind of that upper scale. Like high end high-income is called mountain Brooks, Alabama. And I remember just, you know, one evening I kind of knocked out most of this Homewood area and I was like, you know what, I'm going to go to mountain Brooks. And that was kind of, nobody wanted mountain Brooks. They were too rich, like people first door I knock on in mountain Brook, Alabama. I sold a doctor, incredible house. I mean, his wife actually kept reminding me. You have to refer to my, my husband is doctor that does the kind of people that I was dealing with. And, and so I sold this doctor and his wife and, and then it was dark when I got done. So I was done for the day. And I remember walking back to my car at that point, I was like, I got this. Like, I can do this. No problem. Just throw at me whatever, wherever I'm I've got this. So

Josh Smith (04:33):

What was it about that experience? Just to draw it a little bit more pointed, what was it about selling that doctor experience that you found success in? Like, what was your tactic there?

Lenny Gray (04:44):

You know, I, I mean, I was scared to death. I'll be honest. Cause Homewood, Alabama is very, just normal people like me, you know, blue collar, just go out and get it done type people. And nobody in our office wanted to touch mountain Brook. Cause that was kind of the thing with these experienced guys. It was my first year, so I didn't know, but these experienced guys were like, nah, rich people, you know, they're hard to talk to. They're hard to this that, you know, and I was like, well, I got nothing to lose. Let's just see what I got. Cause I was, I was doing really good my first month, but I thought, am I really good? Or is it just the area I'm in or whatever. So to me it was just more proving to myself that I'm actually really good at this and I can probably sell anybody, anything anywhere. Yeah.

Josh Smith (05:21):

Yeah. How and now how did you continue to improve over time?

Lenny Gray (05:25):

Yeah, the interesting thing when I first got hired on this company had a training manual that was maybe five to 10 pages. It was nothing. And there wasn't a whole lot to learn. I probably hadn't memorized, you know, after my first month or two knocking doors. And so for me, I taught myself a ton. I've, I'd never read a sales book. And until I actually wrote my book, I had never read a sales book. I decided I'm going to figure it out, how to do it on my own, because I felt like I had a style that I didn't want to get messed up. If that makes sense, reading other people's things on how they sold different things. There really wasn't a out about door to door sales, you know, then, and, and there's really not many there now, but that to me, I just, I kind of wrote my own book and, and wrote my own thoughts down and really just battle-tested through trial and error to figure out what worked and what didn't.

Josh Smith (06:12):

If you had to say, we're probably going to get into more of this as we talk about the book too, if you had to say there was one thing that a good door to door salesman has to have, what would it be? What's the one thing that's like, if you don't have this, no matter what you do, you're never going to find.

Lenny Gray (06:28):

Yeah. And our company, we call it mental toughness. But at the end of the day, it's being able to go to one door and have that person at one door, be like incredibly rude condescending. You know, they call your mama name. I don't care, whatever it is. And then you bounce back to that very next door and you act like that never happened. You can just erase it from your memory. It's kind of like they say, I'll often tell my guys that are into football. You know, they say that the guys that are cornerbacks that guard the wide receivers, they say they've got the shortest memory in, in football because if they get beat on a deep pass, they got a completely blanket out of their memory and just play the next down. And I feel like door to door sales is the same way, regardless of what happened in the previous door, that next door I knocked, they got to think that I've sold everybody in their entire neighborhood.

Josh Smith (07:13):

Yeah. I love that. But before we dive into the book, do you have any, uh, personal favorites in terms of sales stories, good or bad experiences that you've had that just stick out in your memory that you want to share?

Lenny Gray (07:24):

I mean, everybody remembers their best and worst days. I think so. I mean, I literally, my third summer knocking, I had my best day ever. I sold 23 accounts on July 4th, 2000 in Jacksonville, Florida, that was just epic, totally missed. Uh, you know, my wife and I were going to this fireworks show at the beach and I just kept knocking. And it was a pretty incredible day to, to do that. We missed the fire. We actually watched the fireworks go off in our cars, were driving to the beach. Fortunately, my wife forgave me because she realized that I made a lot of money that day. And she's very supportive. She's not just about money. I don't want it. I don't want to go there, but she just was excited for me cause I was super excited about that. But that same summer, about two or three weeks later, I was on the doors and I sold nothing. Literally got blanked. And so the highs and lows of sales, I always tell my guys, Hey, listen, when you wake up in the morning, how many sales do you have? You have zero. So it doesn't matter what happened the previous day. So don't carry your negative momentum with you. What you do want to carry though, if you had a good day, carry that positive momentum with you and just realize every door is a new opportunity, it's a new stage. And again, just don't get too high in the higher, low on the lows.

Josh Smith (08:31):

Now eventually you wrote door to door millionaire and started the door to door millionaire consulting. What let's start here. What are some key traits or sales principles that you see? Good salespeople having

Lenny Gray (08:44):

Good salespeople are really good communicators. And that means they can look somebody in the eye. That means they can smile. That means they're creative on their toes. So to speak where, you know, they can relate to people in certain ways. They're kind of a, they know a lot about a little that's kind of what, or they know a little about a lot is what I always say that I am. So if somebody wants to talk soccer or they want to talk, you know, dancing, or they want it to, I can probably come up with something to relate to them. Even though I don't know a ton about one or two topics in particular, but enough to get by. I just think that's so important that especially in a day and age, when most people just communicate with texting and they don't really even have their voice, isn't heard.

Lenny Gray (09:29):

I mean, I always tell, tell my sales reps. I say, listen, nowadays, if you feel upset or angry, you don't even have to explain how you feel to people. You just send an emoji. He say that that's how I feel when people have to interpret that and go, oh, I guess he's sad or he's mad, but on the doors, man, you're kind of just there on your own. Just, you've really gotta be good with, with people and know how to communicate with them and, and know how to get a message across, even though people are gonna try to take the conversation in different directions. Yeah.

Josh Smith (10:00):

I love that. What C what do you find seems to come more naturally towards people

Lenny Gray (10:04):

As far as just interacting with people? Yeah.

Josh Smith (10:08):

In terms of door to door sales. Yeah. Are there certain traits that people typically exhibit a bit more naturally versus the ones that they got to learn?

Lenny Gray (10:15):

Yeah. I mean, I, I think, I mean, personalities are so different. And so I think one thing I always go by is I'd rather have a hardworking sales rep. Who's an okay communicator than a lazy sales rep. Who's a dynamic communicator because I can help the guy who just goes out and works hard and I can help that guy. What I can't do is help the guys who are really, really good, but just don't want to get out and knock doors.

Josh Smith (10:40):

Yeah, definitely. Now outside of the mental toughness, are there certain skills that are the hardest to master?

Lenny Gray (10:47):

I think questioning is a big one. People have an idea if you're just talking to somebody, you're probably going to ask a yes, no question. That's just like, like, Hey, do you want to go out to dinner tonight? Hey, are we going to watch this? What are we gonna watch a movie tonight or whatever it is that it's just, yes, no is kind of how we communicate, but that's a death nail in door to door sales. You don't ask yes or no questions. And so learning how to phrase things and reword things from yes, no to more find out or assumptive type of questioning. That's a, that's a tough trait because people are so ingrained on just, yes, no. Hey, do I have to do this? Yes or no? No. Okay, great. Hey, can I do that? Yes or no? Yes. Okay. I can do that now. Door to door sales works. Yeah.

Josh Smith (11:28):

You probably have, obviously the open-ended questions. You know, one of my favorite things is from Dale. Carnegie's how to win friends and influence people. The part that sticks out to me is it's something along the lines of how people are just by nature self-interested and how one of the easy, quickest ways to build rapport and build a connection with somebody is to get them to talk about themselves. Because if you're not talking about yourself and you're allowing them to talk about themselves, they feel pretty good about that. And so I find that probably to be at play here too. Do you find any common sales mistakes that novices make? Like somebody who's just getting in? What are some of the most common mistakes that they'll make?

Lenny Gray (12:03):

I think a lot of times sales reps forget to ask for the sale strangely. Like they just want to talk and they expect, you know, Hey, if I make a good impression on this person, they'll just say, Hey, sign me up. Yeah. That's not how sales work. You actually have to earn the sale. And then you have to ask for the sale. And so we call it closing, obviously just closing the sale. Closing, I think is the very difficult thing for a lot of sales reps to do, because it is out of your comfort zone. You actually have to set yourself up to where you might hear. No. And so sales reps, it's kind of like learning a new language. When you learn a new language, you kind of got to know where all the words and the adverbs and the parts go. Some go before they do in the English language. Some go after, you've kind of got to retrain yourself on how to learn this language of sales and closing, closing stop. It's not something people are typically used to doing.

Josh Smith (12:48):

Yeah. So let's talk about, uh, the trade specifically for a minute. What do salespeople in the trays need to pay attention to the most? Is there anything unique about the trades versus other types of door to door sales

Lenny Gray (13:00):

Trades, meaning different industries, different industries,

Josh Smith (13:03):

Not just pest control, you'll have pest control, you'll have HVAC, plumbing, roofing, and not every business. This is an interesting thing too, that I've experienced, not every trades business does door knocking or does canvassing as they call it in roofing. You know, where they're going door to door. A lot of them do though. And those more sales centric organizations do, but, uh, it seems almost like it might be fading away just a little bit. So, but trades in general, what do you find is unique to the trades?

Lenny Gray (13:31):

You know, and I've worked with several, right. I've worked with, you know, people in the roofing company or, or people in the garage door, industry, people in solar, people in alarms. I mean, I'm convinced that you can sell anything door to door, any type of trade industry that you have in any type of home service industry, you can craft a way to have people go out and knock doors and generate interest because you're actually kind of at that place where those things are needed. So it's pretty easy. If you're a window washing company, shoot, I can probably get within 10 feet of a house and know if they're actually a qualified customer to get their windows claim. Cause I can see if their windows are cleaned or not pest control. It's a little harder. Sometimes you can't see bugs from the street. You know, you don't know plumbing.

Lenny Gray (14:11):

That that would be a little harder to, you know, until you get in there and see what's going on. You're you're not going to know from the street, but I'm just convinced that there's, there's a way, I mean I did years ago I did a consulting gig for a no credit check finance company and I implemented the same door to door sales tactics for this no credit check finance company that we were going to businesses. It was B2B. And so I think if you have the right processes and you utilize those processes, I don't think it matters what trade it is. Yeah.

Josh Smith (14:42):

I love that now real quickly, before we wrap up, you've got a new book coming out spring of 2021. What's it going to be about? Give us the insights.

Lenny Gray (14:50):

Yeah, the new book. And we're still working on a name. I gotta be honest. I haven't even named it yet. I'm I'm the kind of guy that, that's the last thing I'll do. It's like door to door millionaire to, I don't know who knows what it's going to be called, but I actually just finished the first draft. I'm super excited about it. It really takes door to door sales to the next level. And that's probably going to be a subtitle, just next level training. And

Josh Smith (15:11):

It takes, I mean, there's a lot of stories. There's a lot of information in the first book kind of more one-on-one level like how to knock doors. This book is like 3 0 1, 4 0 1 type stuff. I mean, it's like how you can be great on the doors with these small little subtle tactics that I've used and crafted over the years that you're just not going to get anywhere. Love it. Well, side note before, uh, before we close here, I just, I got to call it out cause I'm sure a lot of people watching are thinking it. Do you ever get Christian bale as your doppelganger? As like the person you look like?

Lenny Gray (15:44):

Never. I probably got a good Batman voice somewhere down there.

Josh Smith (15:47):

I don't know. I'm just, it just dawned on me. I was like, you want me to kind of awesome. Well, Lenny, it's been awesome talking with you, sharing all of your knowledge and expertise about door to door sales. Where can people find more about you buy your book? The whole thing. Yes.

Lenny Gray (16:02):

Lenny is a great place to go. The books on Amazon, or you can get it on my website. There's an audible version of well that a lot of sales reps love to have as they're going city to city and neighborhood to neighborhood. And then of course, LinkedIn, you know, kind of all the social media stuff, I'm probably out there somewhere.

Josh Smith (16:20):

Fantastic. Well, Lenny, this has been a pleasure having you on the podcast for these two episodes. I really appreciate your time, all the expertise and looking forward to potentially doing this again in the future. Awesome.

Lenny Gray (16:30):

Thank you, Josh. Appreciate being on you

Josh Smith (16:32):

Bet for everybody listening, wherever you might be listening at, definitely hit the like button. Give that subscribe button a little tap so you can continue to get more of this awesome content. If you're on iTunes, definitely drop a review in there. It really helps the algorithm. So we can continue to pump out more of this content to the people who need to hear it most. And from obviously the sharpest tool until next time we'll talk then. Thanks.

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