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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?

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.

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

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  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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Disputing a property’s value in a short sale: turn a no into a go

During a short sale, there may be various obstacles, with misaligned property values ranking near the top, but it doesn’t have to be a dealbreaker!



magic eight ball

magic eight ball

It’s about getting your way

Were you on the debate team in high school? Were you really effective at convincing your parent or guardian to let you do things that you shouldn’t have been doing? How are your objection-handling skills? Can you flip a no into a go?

When working on short sales, there is one aspect of the process that may require those excellent negotiation or debate skills: disputing the property value. In a short sale, the short sale lender sends an appraiser or broker to the property and this individual conducts a Broker Price Opinion or an appraisal, using special forms provided by the short sale lender.

After this individual completes the Broker Price Opinion or the appraisal, he or she will return it to the short sale lender. Shortly thereafter, the short sale lender will be ready to talk about the purchase price. Will the lender accept the offer on the table or is the lender looking for more? If the lender is seeking an offer for a lot more than the one on the table, mentally prepare for the fact that you will need to conduct a value dispute.

Value Dispute Process

While each of the different short sale lenders (including Fannie Mae) has their own policies and procedures for value dispute, all these procedures have some things in common. Follow the steps below in order to conduct an effective value dispute.

  1. Inquire about forms. Ask your short sale lender if there are specific forms that you need to complete in order to conduct a value dispute. Obtain those forms if necessary.
  2. Gather information. Your goal is to convince the lender to accept the buyer’s offer, so you need to demonstrate that your offer is in line with the value of the property. Collect data that proves this point, such as reports from the MLS, Trulia, Zillow, or your local title company.
  3. Take photos. If there are parts of the property that are substandard and possibly were not revealed to the lender by the individual conducting the BPO, take photos of those items. Perhaps the kitchen has no flooring, or there is a 40-year old roof. Take photos to demonstrate these defects.
  4. Obtain bids. For any defects on the property, obtain a minimum of two bids from licensed contractors. For example, obtain two bids from roofers or structural engineers if necessary
  5. Write a report. Think back to high school English class if necessary. Write a short essay that references your information, photos, and bids, and explains how these items support your buyer’s value. This is not something that you whip up in five minutes. Spend time preparing a compelling appeal.

It is entirely possible that some lenders will not be particularly open-minded when it comes to valuation dispute. However, more times than not, an effective value dispute leads to short sale approval.

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Short sale standoffs: how to avoid getting hit

The short sale process can feel a lot like a wild west standoff, but there are ways to come out victorious, so let’s talk about those methods:



short sales standoff

short sales standoff

What is a short sale standoff?

If you are a short sale listing agent, a short sale processor, or a short sale negotiator then you probably already know about the short sale standoff. That’s when you are processing a short sale with more than one lien holder and neither will agree to the terms offered by the other. Or… better yet, each one will not move any further in the short sale process until they see the short sale approval letter from the other lien holder.

Scenario #1 – You are processing a short sale with two different mortgage-servicing companies. Bank 1 employees tell you that they will proceed with the short sale, and they will offer Bank 2 a certain amount to release their lien. You call Bank 2 and tell them the good news. Unfortunately, the folks at Bank 2 want more money. If Bank 1 and Bank 2 do not agree, then you are in a standoff.

Scenario #2 – You are processing a short sale with two different mortgage-servicing companies. Bank 1 employees tell you that they cannot generate your approval letter until you present them with the approval letter from Bank 2. Bank 2 employees tell you the exact same thing. Clearly, in this situation, you are in a standoff.

How to Avoid the Standoff

If you are in the middle of a standoff, then you are likely very frustrated. You’ve gotten pretty far in the short sale process and you are likely receiving lots of pressure from all of the parties to the transaction. And, the lenders are not helping much by creating the standoff.

Here are some ideas for how to get out of the situation:

  • Go back to the first lien holder and ask them if they are willing to give the second lien holder more money.
  • Go to the second lien holder and tell them that the first lien holder has insisted on a maximum amount and see if they will budge.
  • If no one will budge, find out why. Is this a Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac loan? If so, they have a maximum that they allow the second. And, if you alert the second of that information, they may become more compliant.
  • Worst case: someone will have to pay the difference. Depending on the laws in your state, it could be the buyer, the seller, or the agents (yuck). No matter what, make sure that this contribution is disclosed to all parties and appears on the short sale settlement statement at closing.
  • In Scenario #2, someone’s got to give in. Try explaining to both sides where you are and see if one will agree to generate their approval letter. If not, follow the tips provided in this Agent Genius article and take your complaint to the streets.

One thing about short sales is that the problems that arise can be difficult to resolve merely because of the number of parties involved—and all from remote locations. Imagine how much easier this would be if all parties sat at the same table and broke bread? If we all sat at the same table, then we wouldn’t need armor in order to avoid the flying bullets from the short sale standoff.

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Short sale approval letters don’t arrive in the blink of an eye

Short sale approval letters may look like they’ve been obtained simply by experts, but it takes time and doesn’t just happen with luck.



short sales

short sale approval

Short sale approval: getting prepared, making it happen

People always ask me how it is that I obtain short sale approval letters with such ease. The truth is, that while I have more short sale processing and negotiating experience than most agents and brokers, I don’t just blink my eyes like Jeannie and make those short sale approval letters appear. I often sweat it, just like everyone else.

Despite the fact that I do not have magical powers, I do have something else on my side—education. One of the most important things than can lead to short sale success for any and all agents is education.

Experience dictates that agents that learn about the short sale process
have increased short sale closings.

Short sale education opportunities abound

There are many ways to become educated about the short sale process and make getting short sale approval letters look easy to obtain. These include:

  • Classes at your local board of Realtors®
  • Free short sale webinars and workshops
  • The short sale or foreclosure specialist designations

As the distressed property arena grows and changes, it is important to always stay abreast of policy changes that may impact how you do your job and how you process any short sale that lands on your plate.

The most important thing to do is to read, read, read. Follow short sale specialists and those who blog about short sales on AGBeat, Google+, facebook, and twitter. Set up a Google Alert for the term ‘short sale’ and you will receive Google’s top short sale picks daily in your email inbox. Visit mortgagor websites to read up on their specific policies and procedures.

Don’t take on too much

And, when you get a call from a prospective short sale seller, make sure that you don’t bit off more than you can chew. Agents in most of America right now are clamoring for listings since we are in the midst of a listing shortage. But, if you are going to take on a short sale, be sure that it is a deal that you can close. And, if you have your doubts, why not partner up with a local agent that can mentor your and assist you in getting the job done? After all, half a commission check is better than none!

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