Realty Equity Marketor News for 11/7/09

"Mentally Lugging the Copier"

When I opened my first small brokerage I activated a business license. Within 2 days a sales representative from every office equipment and supply company in town walked in my front door without an appointment. Without exception, every one of them wanted to sell me a copier. First, it was their big ticket item. Second, buying the unit from them insured additional and continuing sales of service contracts and supplies. Third, "every business had to have one". As a new business owner I had different priorities. First, I wanted them out from under foot as I setting up shop. Second, I wanted them to make an appointment as I considered my time more valuable than theirs. Finally, I had just purchased a copier that had cost the lion's share of my opening budget, expected it to last for the next 20 years and did not want to defend my choice to strangers. I found it very easy to suggest that they hit the road and never darken my door without an appointment again!

I hired my staff and my first sales agents. After six months, my sales agents started lobbying for a fax machine. It was new technology and very expensive. Only the local Title companies and Banks could afford those marvelous machines. Like most new business owners I was very short on cash and unwilling to admit that it was out of reach financially. I thought about my experience opening the business and the type of salespeople I had met during the process. They were the kind of salespeople I never wanted associated with my firm. Finally inspiration struck. I found a way to drive the "service not sales" message home and defer the proposed expense by making a promise I knew I could keep. I told them that the next time a salesman came to the office and asked me what I needed, no matter what company they represented, I would buy a fax machine.

Four years later, at a vastly reduced price, I bought one from Costco.

The point is this: whenever you are face to face with a client or customer, if you are working on your agenda, talking about your product or pushing your idea, you are in sales, not service. Your customer is not fooled for a second. They may like you but they will not buy from you, especially in tough financial times. When every dollar counts, the difference between the "salesman" and the "serviceman" is more than a few letters, it is "cost" verses "value". People who deliver needed services in uncertain times are allies and friends, support and reinforcement. In the mind of the customer, they are trusted, valuable and significant. The salesman however, is there to "pick your pocket". If he wins, you lose. Everyone has felt the urge to walk away when the used car salesman approached on the car lot.

Whether customers walk in the front door, call on the phone, are referred to you, saw your ad or read your blog: don't ever mentally lug the copier! You will never earn a dime from a customer till you earn his trust. How much you know about your product or subject doesn't matter unless the product is something the customer already knows he needs. He called, walked in, or asked someone who he should call for a reason: he has a problem. He does not want to tell you because he might be "sold" and he cannot afford buyers' remorse. So, how do you change "salesmanship" to "serviceman ship"?

The key is in a single sentence: What about that (ad, house, car, boat, policy, product, program, etc.) caught your eye? The customer's answer to that question will hold the key to his need. If you will listen, you will hear the need that needs to be filled and filling it will get you paid. The follow up to the above question involves subjective questioning, a technique not taught in sales school. It will, however, if properly done, earn you a client for life. For more on "Subjective Questioning", see next weeks' edition of Realty Equity Marketor News or visit

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