“No Soliciting!” Those two words can send fear down the spine of a young or inexperienced canvasser; it can cause instant paralysis and long-term paranoia. A homeowner shuttering those words can carry the perceived underlying tones of impropriety, or worse yet, even “breaking the law.” The fear of this objection is easily overcome with knowledge and scripting. Once your canvasser understands that this is only an objection, actually more a stall than an objection, they can quickly handle it and move on.
Let’s start by defining what soliciting is. The literal definition of “soliciting”, according to Wikipedia, is, “Urgently asking. It is the action or instance of soliciting; petitioning; or a proposal. In the United States, the term “solicitation” implies some sort of commercial element, consideration, or payment.”
I’ve said it before, canvassing is not solicitation because you’re not selling anything. You’re simply setting appointments. All too often canvassers make the mistake of thinking they’re selling the products for which they’re canvassing, and that’s clearly not the case. According to Wikipedia’s definition “payment” would constitute the exchange of money for a product; and that doesn’t happen while canvassing.
There’s a lot of speculation as to the legalities of canvassing. Canvassers would naturally think that a homeowner, even law enforcement would surely know better the specifics regarding whether they can or cannot canvass. That’s not the case though. The perception is that canvassing (as interpreted by people in general) is the same as soliciting and that it must be illegal, when in reality it’s not. People think that because it’s “official” sounding it should scare the canvasser off the porch.
The reality is that on June 17, 2002 the Supreme Court ruled that it is illegal to prohibit canvassing (Complete details to this ruling and how it would apply to your canvassing is part of my canvass coaching program – you can find out more about these programs at http://www.canvassking.com/). This ruling is contrary to the belief of many homeowners and some law enforcement officials. Cities and municipalities, even police officers are quick to side with homeowners because they want to respond to their constituency, plus, they don’t like “solicitors” either.
That’s the technical approach. The reality is that homeowners simply want to find a way to get you, the stranger, off their front door.
The best approach, at least my approach, is not to sound like a salesperson when you canvass. The key to handling the “no soliciting” objection is in your scripting. In my system there’s a very subtle change in the approach. For example, instead of inviting a homeowner to see a job it their neighborhood, it becomes a notification that we’re doing work in the area. The main point is not to be confrontational about it and continue to knock on doors.
There are two potential “no soliciting” scenarios canvassers will face and should be prepared to handle. They are the anticipated and not anticipated objection. If a canvasser walks up to a home and sees a sign clearly posted “NO SOLICITING” that shouldn’t stop him or her from approaching the home. It simply notifies them of what approach they need to take with this particular homeowner. On the other hand, they could knock on a door where no sign is posted, or they don’t see the sign and the homeowner tells them “there’s no soliciting allowed in the neighborhood.” In either case, the canvasser can make a slight change in their introduction to the homeowner.
Here’s an excerpt from a customized training video I developed and produced for a home improvement company. In this video you’ll see how I handled the anticipated “no soliciting” objection. It’s subtle, though pay close attention to my introduction at the front door.