12 Ways to Fail at Sales

Do you have what it takes to stink at selling? It’s tougher than you think.

April 2, 2013

Being bad at prospecting and selling sometimes seems at least as difficult as being good at it. I would go so far as to argue that it takes more work to be a real estate professional who’s bad at sales. Think about it: You have to be bad at so many things consistently. Time management. Prospecting. Product knowledge. Business etiquette. Customer service. Follow up. Recruiting. Relationship building. Organization.

That’s a lot of bad habits to form, but some real estate pros just have a knack for being bad at sales. They make it look so easy. Here are a few of their secrets:

1. Leave your business cards at home: Or, if you must use business cards, make sure they are dog-eared and dirty. But really, why do you even need them? You might as well leave your cards in your office, home, or car. If anyone is really interested in contacting you, let them take the initiative. They can always Google you.

2. Don’t send thank-you notes: Come on, nobody does this anymore. Why be old-fashioned? Plus, buying stationery and writing notes with a pen is a drag. If you really must thank somebody, just send them a terse e-mail and be done with it. Quick and easy!

3. Talk to your clients only when you want something: Why else would you talk to them? Don’t keep tabs on their job changes, business, marital status, health, family, and lifestyle. Certainly, none of these scenarios will lead them to buy or sell a home. You can be sure they will find another agent who will relieve you of their business. Let someone else be the hero.

4. Avoid calling prospects and referral sources: Why call people who don’t want to be called to talk about stuff they don’t want to talk about? They’ll just try to get off the phone, right? If you have to do it, put it off for another day when at all possible. So what if some other practitioners find success by making calls to prospects and referral sources? You can go ahead and chalk it up to luck — there’s certainly nothing systematic about it.

5. Don’t develop a plan: As we all know, life’s more fun when you fly by the seat of your pants. Taking the time to make a to-do list or to follow a set routine gets boring. Writing business or marketing plans? What a waste of time! There many more fun things you can be doing. Enjoy the moment!

6. Get in the habit of not returning phone calls: All these callers can drive you nuts. And it’s not like having a client-service system or returning calls by the end of the day is going to double your commission, right? If it’s that important, they’ll call back eventually. What’s great about this technique is sooner or later people will stop calling and the problem will pretty much resolve itself.

7. Don’t ask for referrals: Referrals may well be one of the best ways to get more clients, but isn’t it kind of daunting to put yourself out there like that? It seems like you’re begging, and that’s so undignified. You don’t want to bother your clients or make yourself seem desperate. If they like you, just trust that they’ll refer others to you without you having asked them to do so.

8. Avoid professional development: Aren’t you done with school already? Besides, there’s always someone who knows more than you that you can call if you need to. Leave the self-help CDs and classic business books to the practitioners who have the time for them. The same goes for getting a good mentor or coach. I mean, you already know what to do, right?

9. Don’t follow up on sales opportunities: If prospects, clients, or referral sources were interested in working with you, they would get in touch with you. No reason to express interest in working with them or getting to know them better. And whatever you do, don’t look to build rapport or solve their problems.

10. Never give referrals to businesspeople you know and respect: After all, they might get the wrong idea and refer you business right back. Referring business to others is one of the best ways to build relationships, gain credibility, and create ongoing referral streams, but really, can’t your clients find qualified professional help in other areas on their own?

11. Don’t ask for the business: It’s almost always clear why you’re talking to potential clients anyway, so why state the obvious? And don’t listen to their requirements as they consider moving into their dream home. It’s much better to make your own guess about what the prospective client thinks, wants, or expects.

12. Sell hard: Everyone is a prospect — they just don’t know it yet. Introduce yourself as a real estate professional to everyone you come in contact with, regardless of social situations. Funerals, divorce court, hospital visits — doesn’t matter. Slap a card in the hand of everyone you meet, whenever you meet them. Let them know that you help people buy and sell homes and how much they need you. Tell them how well you know their part of town and how much you know. And practice your selling scripts on your family and friends first. They always appreciate it.

You can probably think of other ways to be a horrible in sales, but this list can help you get started. I guarantee that if you follow these tips, you’ll be a terrible salesperson in no time!

Michael Goldberg teaches agents how to generate more business through high impact, “knock-out” networking strategies. Author of the book Knock-Out Networking!, Goldberg delivers real world approaches to networking and referral marketing that can be applied immediately. He is also an adjunct instructor at Rutgers University and donates time to speak at networking groups focused on job searches. Learn more about Goldberg at www.buildingblocksconsulting.com.