Canvasser Job Description
Canvassers knock door-to-door in residential neighborhoods and places of business in order to sell ideas, services, and products to the general public. This is a travel-based profession, and canvassers mainly work outside and in their vehicles in all weather conditions, during daytime and evening hours, both on weekdays and weekends. Many different industries hire canvassers, such as political associations and candidates, sales-based corporations, and service-oriented businesses. Canvassers find full- and part-time work opportunities, though they may also work on an independent contractor basis. Canvassers typically report to field directors and other assigned supervisors.
Canvasser Duties and Responsibilities
Many industries, individuals, and types of businesses hire canvassers to promote political candidates, products, and services. Employers who hire canvassers, no matter the industry they are linked to, require them to complete the following specific job tasks:
Recite Sales Scripts
Canvassers must memorize and recite prepared sales scripts and statements, which are provided to them by their employers.
Talk to People Knowledgeably
Canvassers talk to all sorts of people all day long and must display a breadth of knowledge about political policies, services offered, or products available for purchase, depending on the industry they work in.
Obtain Signatures and Information
Canvassers must obtain signatures or other information from potential voters and clients, such as their names and phone numbers.
Make Cold Calls
In addition to knocking door-to-door, canvassers also work in-office making cold calls using provided directories in order to make pitches over the phone.
Respond to Questions
Canvassers must be able to answer questions posed to them by potential customers and voters and learn how to rebuff excuses in order to get the desired result.
Attend Industry-Specific Events
Some employers also require canvassers to attend industry-specific events and gatherings, such as rallies, shows, and fairs.
Maintain Professional Appearance
Because canvassers primarily talk to people face-to-face, they are required to keep their appearance neat and professional at all times.
Recruit and Train
Canvassers also recruit and train new canvassers.
Canvassers are required to meet weekly or daily quotas for obtaining signatures and client information. If they consistently do not meet these quotas, they will not remain employed.
Canvasser Skills and Qualifications
Successful canvassers have good people skills and the ability to relay information in a persuasive way. Canvassers seeking employment are much more likely to find work if they also display the following abilities desired by employers:
- Conversation skills – canvassers must come across as friendly, trustworthy, and highly knowledgeable individuals, and they must know how to talk to anyone, so being a good conversationalist is an essential element of this job
- Salesmanship – canvassers are primarily attempting to promote a person, business, or product, which means strong salesmanship is required
- Physical stamina – canvassers stand and walk for hours at a time, so anyone seeking this job must have the physical ability to do this
- Time management – because canvassers must fulfill quotas, people in this profession must know how to manage their time well in order to talk to as many people as possible in a single day
- Adaptability – canvassers work both as part of a team and independently, so people seeking this job must be adaptable
Tools of the Trade
In addition to multiline telephones, standard writing tools, and their own vehicles, canvassers routinely work with the following tools:
- Navigational tools (GPS software, maps)
- Paper tools (clipboards, coupons, flyers, petitions)
Canvasser Education and Training
Some, but not all, employers seeking canvassers require candidates to have a high school diploma or equivalent. Canvassers must be at least 18 years of age, have a valid driver’s license, and pass a full background check. Most employers do not require canvassers to have any previous experience or work history, though political canvassers are often required to be registered voters.
Canvassers will receive an extensive on-the-job training program under the instruction of a veteran canvasser. This training period typically spans one to three weeks, during which new canvassers learn various sales pitches and methods for persuading people.
Canvasser Salary and Outlook
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not provide specific job data for canvassers. However, its information shows that door-to-door sales workers and related workers receive a median annual income of $24,330. According to data from PayScale, canvassers earn on average $11 per hour. Through 2026, the BLS predicts little to no change for this career, which has a 0 percent job growth rate.
Canvassers do not typically earn benefits such as health insurance and paid vacation days, but many employers offer monetary incentives and bonuses for those who exceed their quotas.
Find opportunities for canvassers and learn how to master the art of being a canvasser with these resources:
National Association of Sales Professionals – canvassers can find many useful resources through NASP, such as training courses on basic sales and effective communication techniques. This website also provides career opportunities for canvassers and sales professionals of all types
Hard Knocks Course: 7 Rules of the Master Canvasser – this instruction manual covers all the basics of being a successful canvasser, such as creating a sales script and using personality to persuade people
National Sales Network – visit this website to find information about events and gatherings for canvassers and other types of sales professionals. NSN also has a job board offering canvassing and other sales career opportunities
The Complete Canvassing Handbook: Master Your Pitch, Overcome Objections, and Watch Your Fundraising Program Take Off! – this book covers all the essential information canvassers need, such as learning how to pitch to people and how to get around their arguments and objections by providing sample conversations and instruction on communication techniques
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