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Everyone Loves to Hate a Salesman



real estate salesmanI’m no genius, but you know it, I know it, the whole world knows it – we don’t want to be sold. Shysters, con men, snake oil salesmen, used car dealers and real estate agents – all they want is a quick buck at the other’s expense. They should all be lawyers!

I walk into Nordstroms looking for a Tommy Bahama shirt (for my next listing presentation), every four feet some salesperson asks me if I need help. I’m not tripping over my shoelaces, I’m not using my walker – what kind of help would I need? Thank god for the Internet where I can surf anonymously, live virtually, shop in a pest free environment, and avoid the pitfalls of human interaction.

I often wonder, what’s so difficult with saying – sure, what can you tell me about…

What holds us back? Where’s the threat with engaging someone paid to make our life easier? Vehix, Zillow, Expedia, Priceline and a great many more are attempting to make our lives easier. What’s a riot to me is that removing all human interaction from the process is one of their biggest selling points.

real estate spamerI think it is basically about boundaries and confrontation. Many people have difficulties setting boundaries, they find it difficult to say no, so they want to avoid situations where they have to. Or they feel that they will have to explain their decision to some complete stranger. Who wants to do that? Or they may have to get confrontational to get some rabid salesperson out of their space. Of course, there’s always the fear of being on “THE MAILING LIST,” that infuriating source of endless spam and annoyance.

Okay, you get the feel of it, here’s my point – I don’t know of any professional real estate agent that wants to hassle or annoy people. It’s bad for business. It creates ill will. If a real estate agent is bugging you or spamming you, call their broker and ask the broker to please call off the dogs.

You’re the client (or potential client) YOU’VE GOT the POWER – use it! Use it effectively. Don’t be anonymous, be the driving force in the process.

Buying a house is a complex process. Look at it as a series of steps toward an end. Gathering information and choosing an agent are important steps. Before I got into real estate, I purchased and sold a half dozen houses as I moved the family around the country. Every Realtor I worked with was a treasure trove of good information, advice and assistance. Why, because that is what I wanted – I GOT TO CHOOSE. You do to.

You don’t have to be a genius to choose a good real estate agent, but it does involve human interaction.

Post by John Harper

Writer for national real estate opinion column, focusing on the improvement of the real estate industry by educating peers about technology, real estate legislation, ethics, practices and brokerage with the end result being that consumers have a better experience.

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  1. Lani Anglin

    October 11, 2007 at 1:14 am

    John, you make some great points (and an awesome debut by the way). The fear of being spammed or oversold is founded on the reality that so MANY people in any form of sales behave in a non-human spammy way.

    Real estate isn’t exempt from this but for those who embrace the Web 2.0 philosophy of “be yourself” (be it online or in person) will demystify the stigma of being used car salespeople. As my husband said in conversation about your article, he hasn’t PERSONALLY been treated like a used car salesperson, but we witness it primarily online. Stupid spammers- thanks a lot. 🙂

  2. Benn Rosales

    October 11, 2007 at 2:15 pm

    Just to clean up my comment to Lani- Never in my career has someone looked at me and said ‘ew, you’re a realtor?” the way they say “ew, you’re a used car saleman?” I do not believe that is the perception of the profession, but I do believe it is a perception that is being spewed by disrupters. The political style attacks waged by would-be revolutionaries have polarized the profession, and it’s unfortunate. I for one am proud of what I do, and anyone who knows me knows I am a salesman last. I’m a facilitator, I’m a friend, and I’m a trusted advisor. My clients respect me and refer me to their friends, that is the proof. No car dealership can tout what I just said. So, in closing, I will say this, I am a closer. That’s what I do.

  3. Mad Gringo

    October 12, 2007 at 7:52 pm

    Did you get the shirt?

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Business Marketing

Use the ‘Blemish Effect’ to skyrocket your sales

(MARKETING) The Blemish Effect dictates that small, adjacent flaws in a product can make it that much more interesting—is perfection out?



blemish effect

Presenting a product or service in its most immaculate, polished state has been the strategy for virtually all organizations, and overselling items with known flaws is a practice as old as time. According to marketing researchers, however, this approach may not be the only way to achieve optimal results due to something known as the “Blemish Effect.”

The Blemish Effect isn’t quite the inverse of the perfectionist product pitch; rather, it builds on the theory that small problems with a product or service can actually throw into relief its good qualities. For example, a small scratch on the back of an otherwise pristine iPhone might draw one’s eye to the glossy finish, while an objectively perfect housing might not be appreciated in the same way.

The same goes for mildly bad press or a customer’s pros and cons list. If someone has absolutely no complaints or desires for whatever you’re marketing, the end result can look flat and lacking in nuance. Having the slightest bit of longing associated with an aspect (or lack thereof) of your business means that you have room to grow, which can be tantalizing for the eager consumer.

A Stanford study indicates that small doses of mildly negative information may actually strengthen a consumer’s positive impression of a product or service. Interesting.

Another beneficial aspect of the Blemish Effect is that it helps consumers focus their negativity. “Too good to be true” often means exactly that, and we’re eager to criticize where possible. If your product or service has a noticeable flaw which doesn’t harm the item’s use, your audience might settle for lamenting the minor flaw and favoring the rest of the product rather than looking for problems which don’t exist.

This concept also applies to expectation management. Absent an obvious blemish, it can be all to easy for consumers to envision your product or service on an unattainable level.

When they’re invariably disappointed that their unrealistic expectations weren’t fulfilled, your reputation might take a hit, or consumers might lose interest after the initial wave.

The takeaway is that consumers trust transparency, so in describing your offering, tossing in a negative boosts the perception that you’re being honest and transparent, so a graphic artist could note that while their skills are superior and their pricing reasonable, they take their time with intricate projects. The time expectation is a potentially negative aspect of their service, but expressing anything negative improves sales as it builds trust.

It should be noted that the Blemish Effect applies to minor impairments in cosmetic or adjacent qualities, not in the product or service itself. Delivering an item which is inherently flawed won’t make anyone happy.

In an age where less truly is more, the Blemish Effect stands to dictate a new wave of honesty in marketing.

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Business Marketing

Google Chrome will no longer allow premium extensions

(MARKETING) In banning extension payments through their own platform, Google addresses a compelling, if self-created, issue on Chrome.



Google Chrome open on a laptop on a organized desk.

Google has cracked down on various practices over the past couple of years, but their most recent target—the Google Chrome extensions store—has a few folks scratching their heads.
Over the span of the next few months, Google will phase out paid extensions completely, thus ending a bizarre and relatively negligible corner of internet economy.

This decision comes on the heels of a “temporary” ban on the publication of new premium extensions back in March. According to Engadget, all aspects of paid extension use—including free trials and in-app purchases—will be gone come February 2021.

To be clear, Google’s decision won’t prohibit extension developers from charging customers to use their products; instead, extension developers will be required to find alternative methods of requesting payment. We’ve seen this model work on a donation basis with extensions like AdBlock. But shifting to something similar on a comprehensive scale will be something else entirely.

Interestingly, Google’s angle appears to be in increasing user safety. The Verge reports that their initial suspension of paid extensions was put into place as a response to products that included “fraudulent transactions”, and Google’s subsequent responses since then have comprised more user-facing actions such as removing extensions published by different parties that accomplish replica tasks.

Review manipulation, use of hefty notifications as a part of an extension’s operation, and generally spammy techniques were also eyeballed by Google as problem points in their ongoing suspension leading up to the ban.

In banning extension payments through their own platform, Google addresses a compelling, if self-created, issue. The extension store was a relatively free market in a sense—something that, given the number of parameters being enforced as of now, is less true for the time being.

Similarly, one can only wonder about which avenues vendors will choose when seeking payment for their services in the future. It’s entirely possible that, after Google Chrome shuts down payments in February, the paid section of the extension market will crumble into oblivion, the side effects of which we can’t necessarily picture.

For now, it’s probably best to hold off on buying any premium extensions; after all, there’s at least a fighting chance that they’ll all be free come February—if we make it that far.

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Business Marketing

Bite-sized retail: Macy’s plans to move out of malls

(BUSINESS MARKETING) While Macy’s shares have recently climbed, the department store chain is making a change in regards to big retail shopping malls.



Macy's retail storefront, which may look different as they scale to smaller stores.

I was recently listening to a podcast on Barstool Sports, and was surprised to hear that their presenting sponsor was Macy’s. This struck me as odd considering the demographic for the show is women in their twenties to thirties, and Macy’s typically doesn’t cater to that crowd. Furthermore, department retail stores are becoming a bit antiquated as is.

The sponsorship made more sense once I learned that Macy’s is restructuring their operation, and now allowing their brand to go the way of the ghost. They feel that while malls will remain in operation, only the best (AKA the malls with the most foot traffic) will stand the test of changes in the shopping experience.

As we’ve seen a gigantic rise this year in online shopping, stores like Macy’s and JC Penney are working hard to keep themselves afloat. There is so much changing in brick and mortar retail that major shifts need to be made.

So, what is Macy’s proposing to do?

The upscale department store chain is going to be testing smaller stores in locations outside of major shopping malls. Bloomingdale’s stores will be doing the same. “We continue to believe that the best malls in the country will thrive,” CEO Jeff Gennette told CNBC analysts. “However, we also know that Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s have high potential [off]-mall and in smaller formats.”

While the pandemic assuredly plays a role in this, the need for change came even before the hit in March. Macy’s had announced in February their plans to close 125 stores in the next three years. This is in conjunction with Macy’s expansion of Macy’s Backstage, which offers more affordable options.

Gennette also stated that while those original plans are still in place, Macy’s has been closely monitoring the competition in the event that they need to adjust the store closure timeline. At the end of the second quarter, Macy’s had 771 stores, including Bloomingdale’s and Bluemercury.

Last week, Macy’s shares climbed 3 percent, after the retailer reported a more narrow loss than originally expected, along with stronger sales due to an uptick in their online business. So they’re already doing well in that regard. But will smaller stores be the change they need to survive?

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