Sales Tips From a Garbage Man

My family and friends used to jokingly refer to me as a “garbage man”.  They labeled me this because one of the first jobs I had after completing university was as a garbage can sales person. I sold those large, commercial, blue bins usually found in alley ways. We didn’t sell the actual bins, we sold short-term contracts that allowed customers to use the bins. These were the days before recycling, so everything was tossed directly into the bin. It was a time of economic uncertainty and many of my fellow graduates were struggling to find work so I was happy to have the opportunity.  It was one of my first real jobs and I learned an awful lot about basic human buying behavior. Like most sales jobs, 20% of the sales force made the majority of the sales.  After studying the habits of my more successful colleagues, I was able to determine that their success was due to a few simple shared qualities. They were, of course, all hard working, but the one quality that struck me most was that they were very pro-active in their approach; they didn’t wait for the business to come to them, they went to the business. Most sales people believe they are pro-active but, in reality, only the successful ones are.

So what does this have to do with selling real estate on the North Shore ? In the years I’ve been selling in West and North Vancouver I’ve noticed an increase in the amount of marketing dollars that real estate agents are spending. Many Realtors, including myself, will spend dollars on listing brochures, feature sheets, custom web-sites etc but is this really what sells a home ?  Are the brochures and web-sites enough ? I always find it amazing when agents are unwilling to “roll up their sleeves” and do some real sales work. Many agents don’t conduct follow-up calls after potential buyers have visited their listing. I don’t understand this. Most of these buyers are accompanied by their agent who has a business card with all his/her contact information printed right on the front of it. Open Houses are also an opportunity for Realtors to speak with a number of potential buyers. Is it not the agents job to contact these individuals in the days following the visit ? I understand that not all people are comfortable providing contact info and most of the follow up calls will likely result in a “not interested” response but once in a while it actually works. Sometimes it takes more than a slick brochure and a wait and see attitude to sell a home. Sometimes, it takes hard work – every decent “garbage man” knows that.