News & Research Archive

Don't Be A Good Salesperson. Be A Great One.

Nov 14, 2014

Be a Great Salesperson!Over the years I have seen some truly great salespeople. I've also met some pretty mediocre salespeople who might not have had prior experience in sales. What I have learned is that you can make a good living approaching sales from different ways. You can also have certain skillsets that allow you to excel, while not having certain attributes that you would expect to see in a salesperson.

Bill Fry is a prime example. Bill was able to survive in sales for over 25 years until his passing. Yes, survived. He was not a physically impressive person to look at and had a very short temper, but he was quirky in his approach. Bill consistently produced good numbers, even in the face of what you would think were insurmountable odds in order to succeed. So how did Bill do it?

Be disciplined: To be successful in sales you have to be disciplined. You have to create a personal game plan for yourself and stick to it. 

Bill's game plan included calling 100 potential clients everyday. He would start with three cans of Pepsi on his desk and got to work making calls daily, no matter how busy his day was scheduled to be. His cold calling skills were very poor. He would literally berate his potential clients into trying to work with him. A classic line from Bill to his potential client was, "You are paying how much for that lease of yours? You have to be kidding!" Yet he succeeded because of one primary understanding of sales. That is that sales is a numbers game. The more people you connect with and ask for their business, the more business you will get.

Give great first impressions: The rule of thumb is you have 30 seconds to make a good or bad first impression. Within that short amount of time, you must convince your potential customer to work with you. From there, you need them to feel confortable with you and trust that you know your business and the product or service you are selling. You should also be entertaining so that your customer feels good about spending time with you.

Bill failed in all of the above. When Bill met with clients, it did not take long before the majority of them wanted to run the other direction. Yet, there were clients that also appreciated his very unconventional style. Bill succeeded here because he knew his personal limitations. He would keep his contacts of brokers he worked with to a minimum, including me.

When I got a call from Bill that he had a client for one of my listings, I guided both Bill and his clients through the tour and deal process to make deals with Bill. Bill knew that he could count on certain brokers to work with him and to honor his relationship with his clients. While Bill was alive, I personally did two or three deals a year with Bill. He understood his weaknesses and created a game plan to address it.

Bill was not a great salesperson. In fact, he was not a salesperson at all. But he did well in the industry, regardless, by understanding some basic attributes in sales in order to survive. To be great in sales is another story. 

Great salespeople have the whole package. They are disciplined and create a game plan for themselves that they follow and change when necessary. They are people that enter a room and strangers want to get to know them. They smile, they laugh, and they ask a lot of questions. They have a real desire to want to learn more about their customers, both professionally and personally.

Listen more than you talk: In my very first presentation in real estate, my broker came with me to my first meeting. He allowed me to present without any input from him. During that meeting, I shared some background on who I was, what I had done, and what experience I brought to the table. As I left the meeting, I was royally chewed out by my broker. He made me aware that my presentation was all about me. He pointed out that I never once asked questions about the client to learn more about them and their needs.

Everyone loves to be asked about what he or she does and how he or she does it. No one is interested in what you do. This had turned out to be a very important lesson for me. He was right.

Understand your client is number one: People want to feel important and want to feel that people care about what they do. Great salespeople understand this and make their customers their number one priority, no matter what size the deal or status of client. The customer always comes first.

Related Article: The Key Traits Necessary to Succeed as a Salesperson

Photo Credit: inertia_tw via Compfight cc


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 29 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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