Door-to-door sales: why Ireland’s utility companies have the edge in the field

If you look at door-to-door selling in the utilities market, you’ll see a wide variation in success around the world. In the UK, for example, utilities companies are hesitant to put too much into field sales for fear of damaging their brand reputation. In Denmark, doorstep selling is seen as a privacy intrusion and prohibited by law.

But in Ireland, door-to-door is a thriving sales channel for telco and utilities companies. Major players like Vodafone and SSE Airtricity invest considerably in their field sales, and see such a clear return on that investment that door-to-door campaigns are a core pillar of their operations.

The reason why things are different in Ireland isn’t the Irish people are simply more receptive to door-to-door sales reps. It’s that the utilities companies here have seen the issues that have made doorstep selling so contentious in other countries and committed to doing it right – including using sales software designed for regulated industries to ensure their customers and their brand are always protected.


Ireland has protection against mistakes and mis-selling

When you’re embarking on a door-to-door campaign, it’s essential to have controls in place for effective territory management. Without those controls, it’s too easy for bad actors in the field to mislead customers or report sales that never happened – not only will your brand reputation take a hit if that happens, but you could also risk fines in the millions, and legislators might even step in to ban door-to-door selling altogether.

While sales rep behaviour plays a huge role in that – and we’ll talk about rep management shortly – there are features your sales software should have to ensure door-to-door selling doesn’t get your brand into trouble.

For example, Ireland’s energy companies are using PSI’s journeys to prevent the wrong products being sold to customers. The products in the journeys are drawn from a set product list and filtered by answers to previous questions, meaning fewer broken sales as customers can’t agree to a product they later find out they’re not eligible for. It’s a guard against both intentional and accidental mis-selling.

We always work with our clients’ assurance teams to make sure the scripting in their journeys is exactly what reps need to be saying to customers, which reduces the risk of reps misrepresenting a product because they don’t have the answers they need. The logic and journey of the system is designed to always take reps on the correct path with a customer, so that they never see questions that shouldn’t come up.


Ireland’s energy companies use sales software to manage rep behaviour

As we’ve said, sales rep behaviour is critical to making door-to-door field sales work. When you send reps out to knock on doors, you’re faced with the challenge of managing them while having no direct control over what they’re doing on their routes.

In Ireland that used to be a real problem in the days of commission-only sales reps, when reps were notorious for either misleading customers or filling out forms themselves in order to record sales. When those sales reps are only armed with a clipboard and paper, effective territory management is almost impossible – but with the right sales software, it’s a different story.

At PSI, we learned to make sure everything a rep does while they’re out on their route is geocoded and time-stamped. That means you can immediately see if a rep is logging a new sale at 10:30pm or far from a customer’s address, and the data keeps them honest.

That GPS location data also gives Ireland’s energy companies more assurance in case they do find themselves facing a customer complaint. The PSI system gives companies a clear trail of evidence so that they can know exactly what happened with any given sale, and the information can be retrieved in minutes rather than weeks should a brand need to protect itself.

At PSI, we also made it easier to ensure that reps have received the right field sales training. Ireland’s energy companies can upload training materials directly to a rep’s device so that they always have access to what they need, while the ability to capture and report on rep performance data gives a clear indication of where each member of the team needs to focus their training.


Ireland’s energy companies know that perfect onboarding builds customer trust

While ensuring customers are protected from mis-selling is a key part of making your door-to-door sales a success, it’s not the only aspect. Protecting your brand in the field is also a case of building trust with consumers, which includes delivering an efficient, reliable customer experience as much as it does managing rep behaviour.

When the process relies on paper, for example, it’s easy for mistakes to harm your brand reputation even if your sales rep did everything right on the doorstep. Ireland learned early how paper forms could get lost or damaged in the time between completing a sale and returning it to the back office team. And when it did reach the back office, it might have been sitting there for a week waiting for manual processing.

If customers are left waiting too long to hear back about the status of their order – or worse, if their details are lost altogether – it’s easy for them to form the perception that your company isn’t looking out for them.

Ireland’s energy companies eliminated that risk by doing away with the core problem. Once a sale is captured in PSI, it immediately comes off a rep’s device and is sent to be processed. Everything is automated, removing the delay that always comes with manually handling data. It’s also simple for sales teams to upload additional documentation like landlord’s consent, reducing the chance of broken sales.

We’re also continually evolving the PSI platform to give Ireland’s energy companies more tools for building trust with customers. During Covid we integrated remote signatures, allowing reps to send contracts and documentation to a customer’s own device, where they can review and sign at a safe distance. This functionality also gives customers another way to enter their bank details if they don’t want to hand them over at the door.

And in an age where the security of customer data is paramount, PSI makes it easy to comply with regulations like GDPR. Customer bank details are purged as soon as a sale is approved and the system automatically clears all sensitive customer data after three years as standard, and can be configured to purge more regularly if needed. PSI is also designed to take field sales agency partnerships into account, by making sure that agencies can’t see any company and customer data beyond what they need to fulfil their role.

If you’re ready to take your sales campaigns to the next level, speak to us to find out more about how PSI can help, or read our guide to PSI’s sales solutions.