How To Sell A Paper Clip

Services for Real Estate Pros

We are teachers, comunication is the key to sucess.  So the question becomes what are we comunicating?  Do we teach them what they want and need to know, or confuse them with knowledge and information that they never asked for?  How do you fill a need if that question is never asked?

Thank you for this amazing blog.


Original content by Clint Miller

If I were to hand you a paper clip and were to ask you to sell it to me, could you? How would you go about it? What features would you mention? What uses would you bring up? What "special" thing about this paper clip would be the key item in your head that would click in your mind as being "the hook" in your sales pitch?

Interesting questions, right??

Honestly, I've sold paper clips before. Well, office supplies in general. And, when I was hired as a sales rep for the company, I was handed a paper clip and asked to do this very thing. More on that in a minute...

First, let's take a look at how the majority of sales people would handle this issue...

Better than 80% of sales people start the exact same way -- they pitch!

Immediately, you are flooded with every possible fact and figure about the paper clip from its length to the type of wire it is made from and how it is bent into its convenient shape to the color to the protective plastic coating they overlay on top of the implant grade surgical steel wire to avoid accidental nicks to the skin, clothing, or worse -- damage to the documents you are securing....blah, blah, blah.

Some sales people can (and do!) talk about a paper clip for the better part of 6 or 7 minutes. As the diatribe continues, you could literally see the attention span of my sales manager waving goodbye and flying right out the window on melancholy wings.....which would cause them to talk even longer and with more animation and conviction. And all of this without ever asking for an order or even asking one simple question!

So, there I am, hoping with every fiber of my being that I get this job and some schmuck hands me a paperclip and tells me to sell him???

I paused for a minute closely examining the paperclip, then I started my pitch by asking several questions.

"How often do you use paperclips during your daily operations?"
"What other locations within your company are these paper clips used frequently?"
"How often do you order new paper clips?"
"When you do order, how many do you usually buy at one time?"
"Besides yourself, who else is involved in buying paper clips?"

Quite the difference in approach, isnt it.

Quite frankly, anyone can look at a paper clip and see what it is and what it is made of and how it works. And, quite frankly, no one cares. What is important, however, is HOW they are used, how OFTEN they are used, WHERE they are used, and how MANY are used. That information is important to both of us because it determines need and gives me information I require to propose a solution to my client's problem. When you start asking questions about WHY this paper clip is so important to the buyer, things change dramatically.

Take a close look at your "pitch". Do you focus on all of the things that you do? Is your elevator speech filled with all of the facts and figures of your previous sales experience and how you are the #2 blogger on ActiveRain in the county and "you've done this"'s and "you do that"'s? Are you merely brow-beating your potential clients into a mind-numbing submission with impressive facts and figures that do nothing but attempt to make you better than everyone else?

Or, is your focus more on questioning your potential clients and finding out what it is they need and then trying to find a solution that best fits their needs? Do you make a point in finding out what specifially your client wants of you and then explain how your experience can solve that problem for them?

See, once you do this, you have actively involved the prospective client in the pitch of your product and have related it to them by referencing their specific needs. Also, it shows that you really care about what the prospect wants and that you have the ability, knowledge, and want to make that problem go away for them and are willing to help achieve that goal WITH them.


If you would like more information on RECR and how we can help you get more clients to work with, please contact Clint directly at 800-977-7058. Or, fan us on Facebook! Or, follow Clint on Twitter!

Comments (6)

Lewis Beynon
CENTURY 21 Triangle Group - Raleigh, NC
Triangle Real Estate 411

What a great post Douglas.  I too, talk too much.  In my Buyer initial meetings I provide them TONS of info, guess I never thought they may not care about short sales or mold????????  Thanks again, Lewis

Jan 14, 2010 10:19 AM
Diane Osowiecki
Diane O and Friends - Benchmark Realty - Franklin, TN
Greater Nashville Real Estate

We all need to take the cotton out of our ears and put it in our mouth.

Jan 14, 2010 10:28 AM
David Tapper
Coldwell Banker - Burlingame, CA

Excellent blog post my friend. I couldn't agree with you more. We can all do a better job engaging our clients and finding out what is important to them. It helps to be a good listener.



Jan 14, 2010 10:33 AM
Rob D. Shepherd
Windermere/lane county - Florence, OR
Principal Broker GRI, SRES

This post reminds me of a sign I saw in a sale managers office years ago. It said " David slew Goliath with the jawbone of an ass, every day 10,000 sales are killed with the same weapon".

Jan 14, 2010 10:51 AM
Clint Miller
Real Estate Pipeline, Inc. - Missoula, MT

Thank you so much for the reblog of this post, my friend! Very much appreciated!

Jan 15, 2010 02:49 AM
Douglas Ching
Kenmore, WA

Clint you have many wonderful blogs and I could not pass up the opportunity to add this!

I have never heard of that David quote!  I just passed it around the office!

Jan 19, 2010 10:25 AM