What would it take for you to...

Services for Real Estate Pros with Marte Cliff Copywriting

How many times have you heard/read that sales trainers want you to ask a prospect "What would it take for you to..." (Say yes to my proposal, make this purchase, etc.)

I heard it and read it many times - again just today, in fact. pushy salesman

And every time I hear it I think "Yuck." There's no way I could ever say that to a would-be client or customer. 

To me it sounds tacky and pushy. Perhaps even aggressive. It also "Sounds like a salesman." By that I don't mean the kind of salesman you are, but the stereotypical clod who will do and say anything to make the sale. The kind no sane person trusts. 

If I want time to make up my mind about something, I don't want someone putting me on the spot that way. When they try, they don't get the answer they want. I simply quit being interested because I feel like that pushiness indicates a desire to make me do something I'll regret later. They want me to hurry up before I have time to consider it completely. That's a big red flag for me

BUT... That's not to say you shouldn't ask questions that might help your prospect make up his or her mind. 

How about "So you think this house is perfect for you except for ...What?" After you have the answer to that question you could go on with more questions, such as "How important is that to you?" Then let them think about the answer. They just might decide that it isn't important enough to pass up all the other things about the house that they love.

Or perhaps "That could be changed and we could probably get an estimate on the cost. Would you want this house if the seller would reduce the price enough to cover it?" If they say no and state that they wouldn't want to go through the hassle, then you'd know you need to move on to another house. 

The funny part is, you saying "Then we need to move on..." just might cause them to reconsider the importance of their initial objection. 

Psychology is a funny thing, and since we're all individuals, we react in different ways. That's why psychology is a subject we all need to explore and study throughout our lives. 


Image courtesy of Mister GC at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


Comments (86)

Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Debbie Reynolds Is there another sales person you can deal with? '

Elizabeth Weintraub Sacramento Real Estate Agent, Top 1% of Lyon Agents I like your spirit! 

Dec 17, 2015 03:11 PM
Joan Cox
House to Home, Inc. - Denver Real Estate - 720-231-6373 - Denver, CO
Denver Real Estate - Selling One Home at a Time

Marte, I know some classes I have attended encourage us to use that sentence, but never felt comfortable.   I would feel pushed too, and walk away.

Dec 18, 2015 12:31 AM
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Joan Cox Pushiness is no longer the accepted way to do business - but some don't believe it. 

Dec 18, 2015 01:11 AM
Ryan Huggins - Thousand Oaks, CA
https://HugginsHomes.com - Thousand Oaks, CA
Residential Real Estate and Investment Properties

Funny you should write this.  I had this exact call from a car salesman two days ago!  "What would it take for us to earn your business?"  I just LOVE knowing sales.  I threw this person a total curveball they weren't expecting... WITH THE TRUTH.  "If you had the car I want available, I'd be down there with the cash to buy it within the hour."


It's always fun when you know more about the product than the sales person.


To the content of the blog though, I went to a "passive interviewing techniques" class through the FBI's InfraGard program, which was taught by an ex CIA operative.  Great techniques and how to ask a question without asking a question.  Very hard concept to grasp.  Great ways to find out what people are looking for without sounding pushy or like you're interogating them.


You can probably google research the topic of "passive interviewing" and get the same info.

Dec 18, 2015 02:29 AM
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Ryan Huggins - Thousand Oaks, CA Passive Interviewing sounds interesting - and probably worth looking into for every sales person. 

Dec 18, 2015 03:09 AM
Dorie Dillard Austin TX
Coldwell Banker Realty ~ 512.750.6899 - Austin, TX
NW Austin ~ Canyon Creek and Spicewood/Balcones

Good morning Marte Cliff ,

What a well deserved featured post! I don't like the phrase" What would it take for you to...."and would never use it or respond well to it. Psychology is so interesting and is something we do need to always study as we are using it every day in our business..

Dec 18, 2015 09:00 PM
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Dorie Dillard Whether we think about it or not, psychology is always affecting how we react to life - and how our customers, friends, employees, associates, acquaintances, and family members react to us! 

Dec 19, 2015 03:11 AM
Patricia Kennedy
RLAH Real Estate - Washington, DC
Home in the Capital

Hey, Marte!

I included this post in today's "Last Week's Favorites".  Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Dec 19, 2015 09:36 PM
Sheri Sperry - MCNE®
Coldwell Banker Realty - Sedona, AZ
(928) 274-7355 ~ YOUR Solutions REALTOR®

I don't respond well to 3 areas:

  1. Canned Sales Presentations
  2. Someone who is not listening to my answer and keeps plowing forward
  3. What is it going to take for you to...

So I will not subject others to that 


  1. Tailor questions and answers to their needs
  2. Listen for understanding
  3. Guide customer to make a decision they feel comfortable with no pressure... A non-decision IS a decision


Dec 19, 2015 11:33 PM
Becca Rasmussen

#3 brings to mind some song lyrics (Rush / Freewill) ... "If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice" :0)

Dec 21, 2015 07:11 AM
Thomas McGiveron

Okay - I see what you're saying but - how about - 
tailor questions so that you already know the answers to. 

How about - creating a presentation that creates and accents the objections and complaints they already have. 

YES - a non-decision is a decision. Big time. Awesome. 

Sep 17, 2016 08:58 AM
Kristin Johnston - REALTOR®
RE/MAX Platinum - Waukesha, WI
Giving Back With Each Home Sold!

I just love all the comments and your replies, so now I cant even recall my original one :-)  Great stuff!

Dec 19, 2015 11:39 PM
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Thank you Patricia Kennedy - I do feel honored. Thank you also for my morning's reading list! 

Sheri Sperry I like your way best! Your point #2 made me think of my neighbor and the "conversations" out in our shop. He'll say something and someone else will comment. Then he'll go ahead as if no one else had spoken. I think he only hears his own thoughts - not what anyone else says. Sometimes I sit there and listen in amazement.  Some sales people do the same thing - just presenting their script as if no one had spoken.


Dec 20, 2015 12:02 AM
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Kristin Johnston, Waukesha Realtor 414-254-6647 This post HAS gotten some very fine replies. 

Dec 20, 2015 12:02 AM
Valerie Crowell
Keller Williams - Walnut Creek, CA
Broker Associate

Could you see yourself living in this house?  Or my other favorite: What is the number that you would say "at this  price I'm ok not getting this house?"

Dec 20, 2015 12:24 AM
Erin Newman
My Home Group - Scottsdale, AZ
Highest Level of Real Estate Service in the Valley

Hi Marte,

Yes, your approach is more detailed and caring.  As we  know, people are more inclined to avoid pain, than seek pleasure.  I have experienced that clients will lose a home that they somewhat wanted.  They learn the lesson and often will be more timely on the next home that they like.


Dec 20, 2015 01:35 AM
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Valerie Crowell Good questions! 

Erin Newman Yes, I expect there are many who learn that lesson now that competition is fierce in many markets. 

Dec 20, 2015 01:42 AM
Jason Silverstein
Keller Williams Classic Group - Sarasota, FL
Sarasota,FL Realtor since 1998, Broker-Associate

I think what salespeople and sales trainers need to consider is that everyone is different.  In my opinion, a salespeople should get to know their potential customer before using any closing techniques.  This way the salesperson can adjust their questions to the personality of the customer.  And probably make more sales.

Dec 21, 2015 12:12 AM
Thomas McGiveron


Sep 17, 2016 08:59 AM
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Jason Silverstein Yes, everyone is different, and sales people who adjust their presentations to the personality of their customers are bound to sell more. I actually felt sorry for that cancer insurance salesman who gave me the canned presentation - because I knew he was headed for failure. 

Dec 21, 2015 01:18 AM
Nancy Robinson Ranked #6 in MI
Century 21 Town and Country - Royal Oak, MI
#11 Century21 Realtor in the US, #16 in the World

How about just watching your clients body language?  When someone finds a home they want to live in they will let you know...how? They act excited and happy or nervous as they are about to make a change in their lives.   You don't have to ask  a Ready buyer if they want to buy a house.  Body language is everything!!!

Dec 23, 2015 07:34 AM
Nancy Robinson Ranked #6 in MI

Yikes  that would be difficult one to work through, But if my client has me standing in the cold  for 20 minutes talking about house,,,THEY WANT IT,,, they are just trying to figure out how to get it.

Dec 23, 2015 08:04 AM
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Nancy Robinson I agree that body language can teach you a lot. I've always admired those who have memorized all the signs and can, for instance, tell if someone is lying by the way they move their eyes.

Meanwhile, I don't trust it entirely because I cross my arms when I'm cold - not for the reasons the body language experts cite.

When I was an agent I couldn't believe how many customers (usually men) wanted to stand outside and talk when it was 20 degrees.

Dec 23, 2015 07:59 AM
Donna Foerster
HomeSmart Realty Group - Parker, CO
Metro Denver Real Estate Assistant

Psychology is a funny thing, and working with people is interesting. I often wish I had focused more on psychology in school!

Sep 04, 2016 03:07 PM