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I Hate Most Every Sales Pitch And Most Salespeople But Make My Living Selling


It’s true.  I really don’t like salespeople, I don’t like to listen to a sales pitch and anytime someone says, “I just need twenty minutes in person to explain it to you”, I already know in advance that whatever it is I don’t want it.  And, for sure,  I don’t want to listen to them explain it to me.

It is also true that I have made my living on straight commission since I was 17.  I have not had a “job” or worked for wages, I’ve lived on commissions all these years.  Several times over the years people who wanted to get me to sit still for a sales pitch so they could give me a “briefing” or “enlighten me” have pointed out that my attitude on this subject would harm by business.  I don’t think so.  In fact, I believe my attitude has helped my business.

Once I am interested in buying something I do want information: whatever facts and data I might consider important.  But notice it is whatever facts and data I might consider important.  I don’t want to be “rushed”.  I want to take my time.  That amount of time might only be a few seconds, but still – I want to make my decision based on my time schedule not the schedule of someone else who needs to move things along.  I don’t want to allow someone else to fixate my attention and then evaluate the relative importance of all the various “facts” for me.  That’s my job.

The person who “only needs twenty minutes” wants to attempt to evaluate – for me – the relative importance of various data and then try to tell me what to think.  All for my own good, of course.  No thanks.  I just want the facts, all of the relevant facts and then it is my job to decide which facts are important and which ones are not so important.  To me.  Those last two words are the key.  To me.  Which facts are important to me?

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I believe it is the same, most of the time, with our buyers and sellers.  In most cases we wouldn’t even be talking to them for very long if they weren’t interested in buying or selling real estate (I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t, anyway).  My job is to make sure they have all of the relevant data.  It is up to them to decide which of those data are “important”.  Is it a two-story home?  Single level?  Does it have a swimming pool?  How close is the school?  How much is the house?  How much have other homes nearby sold for?  Will I evaluate those last two for them?  Absolutely.  But it is still up to them to decide if it is the home for them or – if a seller – the offer is acceptable.

There are lots of examples of this but really, I want to treat them the way I would like to be treated.  The way you would like to be treated.

Written By

Russell has been an Associate Broker with John Hall & Associates since 1978 and ranks in the top 1% of all agents in the U.S. Most recently The Wall Street Journal recognized the Top 200 Agents in America, awarding Russell # 25 for number of units sold. Russell has been featured in many books such as, "The Billion Dollar Agent" by Steve Kantor and "The Millionaire Real Estate Agent" by Gary Keller and has often been a featured speaker for national conventions and routinely speaks at various state and local association conventions. Visit him also at and



  1. Doug Lytle

    August 3, 2009 at 3:07 pm

    Love this article Russell! I’m the same way – I make my living in sales, but hate being ‘sold’. Generally, I don’t get called until a seller or buyer is ready to make a buying or selling decision, so while I make my income on a contingency basis, I don’t feel like a ‘salesperson’ trying to foist my wares on someone who wouldn’t have otherwise used services that are somewhat, at least on the surface, like mine.

  2. Chris

    August 3, 2009 at 3:31 pm

    Great points Russell. It is all about the personal relationship and really caring for your clients.

  3. Ruthmarie Hicks

    August 3, 2009 at 4:13 pm

    I think this is key. People don’t want sales people in their faces! There was a blog that got featured on AR about “moving outside your comfort zone to get business.” It entailed calling expireds on a Saturaday morning at 7:30 because “the early bird gets the worm.” You’ve GOT to be kidding me! They are pushing themselves on someone that early in the morning to “sell them” on their services? When I worked in a lab – 75-80 hours a week – Sat mornings were SACRED…they were to catch up on housework, laundry, yard work and yes….SLEEP IN if I needed it! I would have been a sitting duck too. Surely no one would call me that early unless someone had died or something terrible had happened. So I would have answered the phone only to find a sales hack pitching a script! So yes I am a salesperson – but I don’t like salespeople….

    Bottom line – do unto others as you would have done to you…

  4. Wendy Hughes-Jelen

    August 3, 2009 at 4:18 pm

    I consider myself a consultant in the real estate process. I don’t make as much money as a lot of the “real estate sales people”, but I sure like myself a lot better – and I know the people who chose to work with me appreciate my laid back yet professional style and expertise.

  5. Darin Persinger

    August 3, 2009 at 4:45 pm

    I am constantly amazed at how selfish and ego centric the real estate industry is. Because you don’t like something you feel everyone else is the same way?

    @ruthmarie sounds to me like you are projecting your insides onto others outsides. have you ever had a home expired as a seller? Have you ever needed to move because your family is in a different part of the country? You are making two mortgage payments and living off credit cards?

    @russell I don’t like being sold either AND 99% of the time I have me head down doing my thing. If there is something out there that will help my business, life, relationships or money someone has to pitch me at some point and time or else I will never now about it. and by the way russell, data is easy to collect, its everywhere. I want someone to interrupt it for me, walk me through it, help me figure out what is important because there is so much noise out there! Don’t sell me, but help me buy for god’s sake. I’m overwhelmed!!!

    Twitter updates are mini pitches, recommendations for movies, books, restaurants are mini pitches.

  6. Ian Greenleigh

    August 3, 2009 at 7:01 pm

    You nailed it, Russell. I think salespeople that dislike sales pitches are more common than one might suspect.

  7. Joe Loomer

    August 4, 2009 at 7:15 am

    Reminds me of when I first got my real estate license and started attending CE courses.

    To get three hours of credit, you’d sit through twenty minutes of “the best way to market to expireds” or whatever the concept was – followed by two and a half hours of “buy my book, CD, database, widget, etc….”

    This is no longer really the case – at least in the state of Georgia – but it was still somewhat ironic to me.

    We sell ourselves every day in this business. We develop relationships with prospects and referral advocates that we nurture and protect. Doing so in a tactful, gentle way is what usually results in the best trade-off, at least in my opinion.

    Then you get that appointment and you go into full-on sell mode. Gone is the “hey, please keep me in mind if you know of anyone needing to buy or sell.” It’s make-or-break, you have the Buyer on the phone or you’re sitting at the Seller’s kitchen table. It’s time for YOUR 20 minutes, and you become that salesman Russell doesn’t want to talk to. Ironic.

    Navy Chief, Navy Pride

  8. BawldGuy

    August 4, 2009 at 12:33 pm

    What I’ve learned through experience and some incredible teachers, both live and through the written word here and there, is it’s not about me. It’s about the prospect/client rightly perceiving my drive to understand their #1 concept of what’s wrong.

    Once you’ve asked enough questions and listened to the answers — really listened — then you’ve moved yourself to their side of the table, successfully having morphed into one of their team members. You’ve become part of their solution, not someone bangin’ ’em on the head with your particular ‘template’ solution to all that ails them.

    That’s what I hear Russell saying. He wants to talk to the person who has the info he needs, and will apply that info, along with superior experience and expertise to Russell’s concept of what’s needed.

    Shift your emphasis to drilling for what the person’s actual concept of their situation is — THEN you can show them something they may have missed. But until they believe you understand their concept, all you’re doin’ is mowing your own lawn over and over.

  9. Joe Loomer

    August 4, 2009 at 1:37 pm

    Right on Bawldguy – two ears, one mouth – listen twice as much as you talk…

    Navy Chief, Navy Pride

  10. Matthew Hardy

    August 4, 2009 at 1:52 pm

    From an early background working for a sales trainer, most of my work since then has been as a consultant. I found that the the most basic “technique” of the salesperson, that is, asking questions, was also the most fundamental tool for getting to the bottom of what my consulting clients wanted to achieve. As for scripts, I chuckle when they’re considered “salesy” just because they *are* scripts. I’d want my surgeon to have a plan for where he’s going – scripts are that for salespeople. The same mental planning that goes into asking someone out or bringing up a delicate subject can (and should) be just as genuine and sincere in the sales context. I guess an extreme alternative would be starting a sales call with: “so what would you like to talk about?” If they don’t respond with: “Hey! You called me!” you could end up talking for a long time before discovering that they don’t have the money to buy what you offer. A funny thing? When some develop carefully crafted methods to gain new customers but won’t ever call it sales. A rose by any other name…

    I can say emphatically that the warm, very human focus one feels when conversing with Russell Shaw encompasses the best of both empathy and leadership; he wants to draw from you your most important thoughts and feelings on the topic at hand while expertly guiding the conversation to a mutually beneficial outcome. Russell may know this instinctually, but I know he studies human behavior to have the most fruitful human interactions possible.

  11. Jim Gatos

    August 5, 2009 at 11:09 am

    Well, they say the easiest person to SELL to is a salesperson. That kinda explains why my phone rings with some of the absolute MORONIC real estate vendors I’ve ever had the displeasure to hear from…

    I especially hate the one from “Network Marketers” that promise to “save” me from the clutches of a bad real estate market by slowly easing me into another type of “business opportunity”, the calls from the “referral companies” that I have to pay them SO much money to buy referrals, and the ones from coaching companies that are not established or well known, that have every pie in the sky promise.

    Sometimes I even tell these clowns to blow off and they turn around and try to tell me I’m rude!
    There was a mickey mouse referral company from Florida; I demanded to know WHO they were, and the guy started yelling at me and called me a loser and all sorts of things. I then called back and told him to to shut up and never call again, he started telling me I was harassing him. What a loser!

    I agree 100% with you Russell..

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