How Not to Sell a House

December 6, 2017 2:52 pm Published by


The psychology of sales is the subject of volumes of books, endless seminars, curiously absent from our educational system, and not necessarily something I profess to be an expert in. Few do it exceptionally well, but most of us would probably recognize how not to sell something. An acquaintance of mine recently relayed a fine example.

The pertinent background information on my friend the buyer is that he and his wife are, in the parlance of salespeople, qualified purchasers. They are unassuming folk, who earned their wealth the old fashioned way – by spending less than they had, and are now at that fortunate part in life most of us only dream of. Namely, large purchases no longer require the help of a bank. The product in this case was a house. Not just any house, but the subject property was one of those bigger than anyone needs seven figure homes in a local estate lot subdivision. The seller happened to be the builder, who also acted as the salesperson holding his own open house and touring the home with prospects, perhaps hoping to save a real estate commission, or perhaps convinced that no one understood the product better than he. A reasonable conclusion, but probably also irrelevant. Upon concluding the tour, obligatory small talk began in which the prospect complimented the beauty of the home, the builder accepting the praise, and concluding the meeting with: Well, perhaps if you win the lottery……

They didnt buy the house.

Insulting your prospect is rarely a successful tactic, nonetheless it’s a tactic that salespeople (and apparently builders too) sometimes clumsily befall – myself included. Early on in my earlier career as a salesperson, I made the judgement call that the fella in front of me with yesterday’s soup stained on today’s t-shirt was not a qualified purchaser, and therefore perhaps not worth my extra attention. Upon later learning his identity and realizing the loose change in his sofa probably exceeded the funds in my bank account, the relationship was sadly beyond redemption.

How then, is a salesperson to qualify prospects upon first meeting? Should they look to see what vehicle they step out of ? What shoes theyre wearing? The quality of their timepiece? Perhaps. But all three may be little more than an indicator of big hat no cattle syndrome. The simplified answer is that we dont have to. If salespeople made a habit of treating everyone they meet with the respect they deserve as a human being, both the prospect and the salesperson would be better served. The bonus for the salesperson is that they don’t need to be particularly gifted at the art of discerning.


Thanks for reading,

Jeff Neumann

P.S. I cannot conclude without adding that it is doubtful they would have bought the house in any case! Spending does not come easily to someone who became a qualified purchaser by living within their means. They are a good example of just because you can, doesnt mean you should.

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