News & Research Archive

Is a Sales Career Insane?

Jun 19, 2006

My college son is interning this summer in my commercial real estate office. Craig is doing a little bit of everything this summer: attending sales meetings, researching, making sales calls, and going out on tours. He is highly motivated and enjoying the experience. He is very outgoing, and his personality and service orientation make him an excellent candidate for a sales job.


On one of Craig’s first tours, I introduced him to a broker friend and mentioned that Craig was considering getting into this business some day. The friend responded that Craig would have to be “crazy” to get into such a business as this: “There must be something else you could think about getting involved in.”


This broker is has been in the business for at least ten years, and although he is not one of the top brokers in our market, he has been successful. Yet, he voiced what we have heard too many times over the years: that the real estate business is “insane.”


In more than 20 years of selling commercial real estate and more than 30 years in sales and management, I have never viewed my career as insane. I have viewed every day as a challenge—as a “game.” In this game, I can be competitive each and every day. This is what motivates me to be successful.


Jon Miller, the voice of the San Francisco Giants and ESPN baseball, told a story about how, as a kid, he would go into the basement and pretend to broadcast baseball games, from singing the national anthem to the last pitch of the game. When I was a kid, I was always keeping score, no matter what I was doing—from fishing with my Dad, where I would keep score for the summer on who caught the most fish, to using the baseball portion of the dart board to pretend I was pitching for both sides and competing with myself to see who would win.


Competition motivates any successful salesperson. It is what keeps us going year after year. The most successful salespeople learn to compete against themselves. I still keep score, comparing my sales results with those of past years and forcing myself to do better this year than last. It never has been about making money for me; it’s the excitement of the competition.


Brokers and salespeople need to embrace our business with a positive attitude, not label our career choices as insane. This industry is insane only to those who are not naturally inclined to compete and lack the passion to rise to the challenge.


Written by: Hans Hansson


Hans Hansson is President of Starboard TCN Worldwide Real Estate Services as well as a member of the Board of Directors for TCN Worldwide Real Estate. Hans has been an active broker for over 21 years in the San Francisco Bay Area and specializes in office leasing and investments. If you have any questions or comments please email or call him at (415) 765-6897. You may also check out his website,

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