Many home improvement companies, cut off from telemarketing, would like to develop a strong canvassing program to produce leads on a set basis. To have a productive ongoing canvass program, it's essential that you, the company owner, have a qualified full-time manager with a well-defined job description and an adequate compensation package. He will be as necessary as your sales manager is to the success of your business. In fact, he may be essential, because he's number one on the food chain, i.e., lead production. If he doesn't produce leads, then there's no one to sell to. So you need to select your canvassing manager with the same due diligence you would use to select your sales manager.

Just Get Started The perfect candidate may not immediately appear. That's OK; the most important thing is to get the canvass program established. Hire three or four canvassers and tell them you will select the best one to be the manager. Then select the best candidate from the group. Remember, you have to kiss a lot of frogs to find a prince.

The canvassing manager should understand that his job is primarily in the field, training and supervising crews. This will produce a cohesive, motivated canvass staff that will generate an abundant number of leads. The best manager is the person adept at teaching, scripting, and role-playing. This is someone willing to knock on doors with trainees. So be brutally honest about what's required. Explain that this is a year-round job and that canvassers are expected to canvass under less than ideal conditions. Compare it with the U.S. Postal Service, pointing out that neither rain, nor sleet, nor hail, nor snow keeps a good canvasser from generating leads. This will weed out candidates unwilling or unable to do the job.

A canvassing manager is an inside and an outside job, though primarily outside. The inside jobs include interviewing, hiring, training, motivating, and monitoring the canvassers. Also, selecting canvass areas, mapping the canvass routes, and preparing the payroll documentation. Keep in mind that his primary function is lead generation and his focus must be on that task.

Low-Cost Litmus Test Sometimes your best prospect for canvassing manager is someone within your organization. Perhaps you have a salesperson who knows the product and is enthusiastic and motivated but lacks the ability to close. He may very well turn out to be a terrific canvassing manager. Carefully think this over and do not take a salesperson who is producing at an acceptable level in the field. You may want to use this as an opportunity to turn a poor producer into a better closer by having him canvass and produce his own leads. It's a low-cost litmus test. As a matter of fact, there are several companies that start all of their new sales associates as canvassers, and it has proven to be quite effective.

Every great canvasser has the ability, with the proper training, to become a great canvassing manager. To that end, you should keep an open mind about the candidates you interview. Three prerequisites are essential: that they are neat, clean, and punctual; that they have the ability to learn the script and repeat it verbatim; and, most importantly, that they express an interest in being hired.

We've had very good results when placing ads for both canvass managers and canvassers on This free Web site is very popular with the type of candidate you're looking for. Finally, the bulk of your canvassing manager's compensation should be based on the production of his canvass crews, not on his individual leads. This will keep him focused on what's most important: a competent, productive canvass program. —Speaker, trainer, and marketing expert Chuck Anton is a consultant and sales trainer specializing in the home improvement industry. He can be reached at