Death of a Salesman

Services for Real Estate Pros with Real Estate Pipeline, Inc.

I decided I needed to get a new pair of shoes.  The ones that I have are a couple years old and, quite frankly, a bit worn out.  So, I decided to head to the local ShoeEmporiumMart and get myself some shoes.  I knew exactly what I wanted...and in what section of the store to find it.  As I entered the store, I saw a couple customers browsing and 3 sales attendants by the cash register. 

As I stroll past them, one of them says, "Hi. I will be right with you."  Assuming she was discussing something important and required time to finish her discussion, I went on my own. 

Fine with me...I know what I want anyway.  I head over to the shoes I want and the specific shoe I am after is not on the shelf.  So, I hunt around for a couple minutes only to figure out that there is absolutely no rhyme or reason as to how these shoes are shelved...and decide I would "hunt down" that kind lady that said she would help me. 

After a minute or two of looking, I find her at the counter again chatting with the other two sales reps about her obviously too intense weekend of drunken debauchery.  I ask her if she knew where I could find my New Balance 820s in a 4E...and without even skipping a beat, she says to me and I quote...."I said I would be with you in a minute". 

I don't think I have to tell you what happened next.  Suffice it to say that I got my shoes from FootLocker instead. 

You this example, some aspects of your sales ability are painfully obvious to your customers.  But, some of them are much more subtle than this example...Subtle enough that you probably don't even know that you are doing them.  But, your clients know.  Believe me! 

So, here are some ‘subtle' and some not-so-subtle ways that you literally destroy your relationship with your clients.

Be inaccessible.  One the primary complaints I receive from the clients I refer to agents is that the agent is hard to reach.  Heck, one of the major complaints I hear from other agents is that some agents are hard to reach.  Don't answer your phone.  And, when someone takes the time to leave a message, don't worry about calling back.  After all, if they want to reach you so bad, they will just call back, right? 

Talk more/listen less.  Youre the important one here.  Youre the expert.  What they have to say is not important at all because you have all the answers.

Be dishonest.  Nothing will turn off a client more than being dishonest.  The phrase ‘a web of lies' implies that it takes a lie to cover up a lie.  And another one to cover up that one and so on. 

Ignore simple manners.  Whether you like it or not, your manners matter to your clients.  Go ahead...keep your clients on hold.  Talk on your cell phone about nothing that relates to your clients that are standing right in front of you.  Use profanity and disrespectful language around your clients.  Say something negative about another client in the presence of one of your clients.  Go's the truth, right?

Take "No" for an answer.  That's right...just give up.  Automatically assume that the client will never work out because you heard the word ‘No' the first time you contacted them.  After all, only the "serious" customers that are ready to go right now are worth your time.

Don't get to know your customers.  Ignore the important things in their lives.  Don't worry about birthdays or anniversaries.  Forget that they have 4 dogs they treat like children.  Ignore the fact that the ugly vase on the mantle is actually Great Grandpa George.  Don't get to know them on a personal level...its not required anyway.  After all, they are just walking dollar signs, right?

I would bet that 98% of the people that read this will already know why you shouldn't do these things and come up with the next logical step in this conversation: Well, what should I do instead?


BE ACCESSABLE!  Answer your phone whenever possible.  Reply to all messages and email within a maximum of 6 hours.  Make sure that your clients understand that you are there for them and that you appreciate the fact that they trusted you enough to want to contact you.

LISTEN!  You were given two ears and only one mouth.  That means you should listen twice as much as you talk.  Take the time to listen to your clients.  What they have to say is important to them.  Therefore, it MUST be important to you.  Ignore your rehearsed responses to standard objections and tailor them to fit the specific needs of your client's concerns.  Make them feel important...because they are!

BE HONEST!  Be honest to a fault, if need be.  In this market, clients need an advocate that is out for THEM not THEMSELVES.  Say what you mean.  Don't beat around the bush about facts that need to be said.  Even if what is needed is a would be better for you to do it and be honest about it than to be deceitful and then get caught in the lie later on.  You have one shot to build trust...don't blow it.

USE YOUR MANNERS!  For sales people that want to reach the top rung of the ladder, there is no substitute for patience, civility, and good old fashioned manners.  Say ‘please'.  Say ‘thank you'.  Make eye contact with people when they are speaking to you.  Open doors for people.  It sounds silly, but these things are not just marketing gimmicks designed to make a client happy.  They are the tried and true marks of good character.

FOLLOW UP!  Whether you want to believe it or not, sometimes "no" means "not right now".  I see this every day with my company.  Agents simply give up after the initial contact with a potential customer because they were told "no".  It has been proven time and again that it takes seven points of contact for a consumer to remember who you are and why you are trying to contact them.  So, it is up to you to ensure that happens.  Call your prospects.  Email your prospects.  Work your leads.  Don't just give up initially because you didn't get the answer you wanted on the initial request.  Sales isn't a McDonald's drive-thru.  You might have to ask more than once...or twice...or eight times.  I work with an agent currently that just landed an exclusive agency agreement on 35 properties because she followed up on a referral from my company that screamed at her on her initial phone call.  (If you want to hear the whole story, contact happy to share.)

KNOW YOUR PEOPLE!  Notice I didn't use the word ‘client'.  I have said time and time again that this is a people business.  You deal with people.  And, they should be treated as such.  Get to know them on a personal level.  Use that to your advantage.  Remember their kids' names; their dog's name.  Ask about the things in their life that are important to them and make them important to you as well.  By the same token, allow them to get to know you.  Developing a rapport and trust is mutual.  It has always been true, you must be able to give before you are proven worthy to receive.  That rule holds true here also.

It is a hard and fast rule of business that it costs six times more money or time to cultivate a new client as it does to retain a current one.  And, in this market, I would bet it costs even more.  Extraordinary customer service skills will only lead to successful retention of your clientele.  And that will ensure that your sales career will never die.

If you would like more information on Real Estate Client Referrals, please contact Clint at 800-977-7058 or on Twitter at

Comments (132)

Paddy (Patricia) Pizappi
Better Homes and Gardens Rand Realty - Pine Bush, NY
Real Estate Associate Broker Hudson Valley NY

Happy 100000 Buddy.  I heard you needed this from a little Tweet, LOL

Feb 26, 2009 03:11 AM
Clint Miller
Real Estate Pipeline, Inc. - Missoula, MT



Feb 26, 2009 03:36 AM
Team Honeycutt
Allen Tate - Concord, NC

Amen,  What has happened to customer service.  I use to offer a job to people in any line of business that were a class above.  You would not believe how in freguent it happened


Feb 26, 2009 04:31 AM
Clint Miller
Real Estate Pipeline, Inc. - Missoula, MT

Shelton -- I KNOW! I was FLOORED!! I do the same thing when I come across people that actually do what they are supposed to do and do it well. :-)  And yes, it happens far less than I would wish.


Feb 26, 2009 04:41 AM
Robin Turner
Happy House Real Estate - Cocoa Beach, FL
Robin Turner

The selfishness and lack of manners in today's society is appalling. Unfortunately, People are just imitating what they see in our Popular Culture i.e TV and movies..

Feb 26, 2009 05:17 AM
Clint Miller
Real Estate Pipeline, Inc. - Missoula, MT

Robin -- Agreed! And agreed! Personally I think its sad that the moral majority has accepted this as the norm. :-(

Feb 26, 2009 05:26 AM

Thanks Clint for the great article.  I think even the most experienced agents need to be reminded we need people just as much as they need us.  Only way to keep them loyal is to show that you truly care about their needs.

Feb 26, 2009 08:48 AM
Gerry Khatchikian
Red Lodge, MT


Great post!   Thank you for sharing this story.  There are the pushy sales people and then there are those inattentive sales people.   I never liked either one.   I like it when I am properly greeted when I enter a store and asked whether I need help to find something.   If I am looking for something specific, I am happy to let me know, otherwise, I will tell them that I am just looking, as simple as that.  Customer service is key for retail stores as well as in our industry.   Good customer service generates loyalty and additional future business.

Congrats on the feature as well as on reaching the 100,000 points milestone!

Gerry's AR signature 

Feb 26, 2009 10:44 AM
Linda DeRusha
Coldwell Banker Advantage - Garner, NC
Broker/Realtor, ABR,ASP,CDPE


Thank you for this very telling post.

As real estate agents, we are always in the public eye. that means always being courteous, especially treating others as we would like to be treated. It sounds so simple, you would think that everyone would act this way. Sorry to say that's not the case.

Have a great day,

Linda W DeRusha

Clayton NC

Feb 26, 2009 11:52 AM
Clint Miller
Real Estate Pipeline, Inc. - Missoula, MT

Anon -- And that is really the point here. Agents need people. So, they need to treat them as such!

Gerry -- Thank you so much for both the comment and the accolades. :-) Much apprecaited on both fronts.

Clayton -- Youre so welcome. Yes, and it is the public that agents service. So, why think that you are a the "sacred cow" when you are attempting to feed at the public trough! :-) Be human and treat your clients as such and you will be fine.


Feb 26, 2009 11:05 PM
Brian Schulman
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Lancaster PA - Lancaster, PA
Lancaster County PA RealEstate Expert 717-951-5552

I would not only not buy my shoes in that store, I would report her to the store manager...

Feb 27, 2009 03:17 PM
Clint Miller
Real Estate Pipeline, Inc. - Missoula, MT

Brian -- Done and Done. :-)

Mar 01, 2009 08:23 AM
John Palmisano
Keller Williams Properties Weston, FL - Weston, FL

Hi Clint, great post. What amazes me is the lack of basic manners agents have in my market. They do not know how to answer a phone, if they answer at all. I am a newer agent, in a career change and I can tell you from my previous business these people would not last a week.

Glad to see Realtors, who are parents teaching their kids manners. I grew up in a big Italian family, and god for Bid, if I did not say thank you or please. 

Mar 09, 2009 10:51 AM
Mike Jones
SUNSTREET MORTGAGE, LLC (BK-0907366, NMLS 145171) - Tucson, AZ
Mike Jones NMLS 223495


Congratulations on two things:  your featured post (great job) and passing the 100K mark in the Rain!  You rock!

Mike in Tucson

Mar 09, 2009 01:33 PM
Ken Kelly
Benchmark Mortgage - Chesterfield, VA

Great advice, short and simple. Back to the Basics is all thats really needed when you get down to it.

Mar 24, 2009 01:01 AM
Clint Miller
Real Estate Pipeline, Inc. - Missoula, MT

John -- I would have to agree that basic manners are incredibly important.

Mike -- Thanks....and, Thanks! :-)

Ken -- Thank you! Im in complete agreeance with you, actually.

Mar 25, 2009 12:01 AM
Alice & Jim -- Team Hayes Realtors
Loveless Realty - Libby, MT
Double the Service - Double the Care!

Thank you for the great reminder of how we should all take care of our people and our business.

Apr 01, 2009 02:55 AM
Clint Miller
Real Estate Pipeline, Inc. - Missoula, MT

Alice and Jim -- Good to see that you get it. :-)

Apr 02, 2009 04:14 AM
Mike Henderson
Your complete source for buying HUD homes - Littleton, CO
HUD Home Hub - 303-949-5848

Sales skills people forget that on a daily basis.

Apr 10, 2009 06:26 PM
Clint Miller
Real Estate Pipeline, Inc. - Missoula, MT

Mike -- Amen!

Apr 13, 2009 03:34 AM