Share this article!

The entire process is what I refer to as a best practices action system.

Some salespeople question why they are not getting the outstanding results expected in their sales career?  Some feel that the harder they try, they beat their heads against a wall or race down a dead-end street.  Maybe a minor tune-up or a major overhaul would be helpful. When I experience failure, I always go back to the basics, ground zero, and reconstruct the processes focusing on changing my actions from what did not work to those that will work.

A timely mantra that I am sure that most folks have heard; “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” This clever statement is attributed to Albert Einstein. The simple conclusion is to change up the strategy and action habits.

Let’s review the sales process:

Some folks learn that successful sales are concluded by what is verbalized in some pre-arranged word script or learned word sequence. Sales trainers will tell you that certain words are used to present, overcome objections, and close the transaction. Yes, sequences of preplanned words are used to convince prospects that your products, goods, or services have benefits to them worth purchasing. Some hard closers may use slick language, ask questions, handle objections, and use pressure tactics to close transactions.   Knowing your products, having a sound prospecting system, and a well-scripted sales presentation is a must.  No doubt! Many salespeople prefer a softer approach.

I subscribe to a different sales philosophy. “You locate a buyer rather than create a buyer.” If you have a large group of “active” prospects and you keep yourself in their thoughts, they will most likely think of you if they need related services. Also, the salesperson must focus on continuously developing both a like-and-trust relationship and a friendship.

The salesperson’s most crucial requirement is to develop a thorough understanding of the products, goods, or services. The salesperson must present detailed explanations of their desirability, technical aspects, and benefits.  The salesperson should be capable of handling questions and objections about the function, usability, quality, durability, and pricing. The sales person must develop a reasonable process to ask for the order and close the transaction.

Success in a sales career is a learned proposition.  I do not believe that there are naturally born, predestined, successful salespeople. Some salespeople may start earlier than others, even in childhood, by gaining confidence and developing the required characteristics to be successful.

Tenacity is an essential trait of a good salesperson. A person with tenacity has the determination to achieve goals, courage, spirit, resolution, resilience, and the mental strength to persist; or resist opposition, danger, or hardship. A good salesperson also has learned to “be ever-present.”  

80/20 Rule:

The 80/20 concept applies to almost all sales endeavors. The top 20% of the salespeople account for 80% of total sales volume. Correspondingly, the bottom 80% accounts for 20% of total sales volume. The top 20% earns 80% of the available income. The remaining 80% of the salespeople receive a meager portion of the remaining 20% of available compensation.

The 80/20 rule also applies to the quality of your “active” prospects. 20% of your “active” prospects will result in 80% of your new business transactions.  A salesperson’s job is to focus on the top 20% of “active” leads and convert the remaining 80% into the upper 20%.


Marketing Strategies:

Marketing strategies include direct face-to-face communication, direct calling, emailing, postal mailing, networking in groups, and industry-related trade organizations.  Direct calling may be for repeat follow-up calling to maintain an ongoing relationship with active leads. For calls that get non-answers, a follow-up email as a reminder or prompt is advised.

The above methods consist of strategies to convert prospects into an “active relationship,” including establishing business relationships and friendships. “Actives” consists of a group that has communicated with you and expressed an interest in your product, goods, or services. Of course, “actives” can develop into friends. Yes, friends do business with friends!

In general, business success, and personal success, function much better with many relationships and friendships. These relationships and friendships transcend personal happiness, good mental health, self-actualization, and potential monetary gain. Although caution, if financial gain is the only focus, the strategy will appear phony, superficial, and be ineffective.

Developing an extensive network of “actives” and personal relationships takes daily focused time and effort. Merely locating and purchasing a list does little. A list is only the beginning. Initial introductions and subsequent follow-ups are necessary and will develop into success over time.  Lists need to be appended, which means they are sent to an email marketing vendor who can verify whether the address and email address are still correct. The list should be imported into a customer relations software system (CRM). The list should be managed daily to convert people from “cold” or “warm” into “active.”

Here is a suggested action that you could take for someone who routinely or habitually does not respond to your request to communicate; send an email that states, “Fred, I have tried to contact you a few times, without success. Would you prefer that I do not bother you?” If Fred wants to continue the relationship, he will respond. Fred may respond politely and say “no,” or not respond.  If Fred does not respond, then you may demote him back to “cold” and keep him in your database email marketing system.   “Cold” leads get no personal follow-up other than marketing with a mass email distribution.   If Fred is disrespectful or belligerent, delete his record entirely. Subject him to the big “D” in the sky.

A daily action habit is to call or email “actives” every 60 to 90 days. However, I call my friends more frequently than 60 or 90 days. Excessive calls will be considered pestering if the content of the discussion is only about business.

Information contained in your prospect list needs to be constantly updated and expanded. People move jobs, companies go out of business, show you disinterest or disrespect, habitually fail to return phone calls or emails, retire, change names, change email addresses, and change business locations, etc. The “active” prospects in your network are the only ones that you may reliably count in determining the size of your network or lead base. Also, even with a sizeable “active” lead base, you may lose 20% to 30% of them per year for all the reasons stated. “Warm” leads should be perused to become “active.”

After a reasonable time, such as 24 months of consistent follow-up and without response or success, you may elect to drop the prospect from your “active” list and discontinue active follow-up. Dropped leads should be replaced with “warm” leads that become “active.” The other option is to email them occasionally with your standard email blast.

The quality of a prospect list can disintegrate overnight. In 2006 my company was primarily using direct mail. We mailed about 1,000,000 letter-form solicitations each month. Then, by September 2007, the market crashed, and the lead-base list quality crashed with it. Hundreds of thousands of real estate agents, loan agents, investors, and builders/developers left the industry. My lead list immediately went up in smoke.

Prepare for this event! It will be necessary to reconstruct a new list and start from day one.  If a crash in the quality of your lead-base occurs, consolidate the list down to your “actives.” Email or call to verify that they are still there.

A poor strategy is to follow up with the same prospects repeatedly, even when they display disinterest or non-responsiveness.  Lists are fluid and are constantly changing to be effective.

As the process becomes well lubricated through practice and experience, you can expect increasing momentum in business until you have so much business that you are forced to slow personal contacts and marketing.  Assimilate the new incoming business, then get back on track.

Daily Action Habits:

Remember the funny phrase; “Size Matters.” What size is your “universe of active possibilities?” Are there 10s, 100s, or 1,000s, of prospects that you may be able to directly or indirectly follow up or market?  You have a current network size of “cold,” “warm,” or “hot or active” leads.   Each person you have in your marketing system has a separate group of clients/prospects. If you add the size of your network to the size of all the networks of each party that you market, you can establish a total or “universe of contacts.”

Do you and each person you follow up with have their own large enough network and a consistent daily action habit to develop a sustainable and financially successful career?

Here are three different examples of developing sizable networks:

  • You have 10 “active” leads in your universe. Another person you follow up with consistently has 10 “active” leads in their separate network. If you communicated with your 10 each month or each quarter; and they communicated with their leads, then the total universe of “active” possibilities would be 100.
  • You have medium-size networks such as 100 but fail to engage in a consistent follow-up daily action habit. Failure to engage may become your barrier. It will be necessary for you to change your action pattern. Daily, calling, emailing, and communicating consistently with at least 10-20 active prospects is a good start. 20 is not a magic number, but if you call and they enjoy talking with you, that may be all you can handle. Otherwise, you may be calling 20 to 30 “actives” per day, completed and non-answered calls, and follow up with a polite “thank you” email.
  • You have 200 or more “active” leads in your network that you follow up each month or quarter with a good action habit. The person you follow up with also has 200 or more potential leads that they follow up consistently with a good action habit. 200 X 200= a total of 40,000 universes of possibilities.

Let’s assume that your CPA has 2,000 clients.  During a CPA and the client, the client needs a service provider in your field.  Whose name pops up.  Yours, if you have been effective at your job of staying in touch with the CPA.

These examples serve as a reminder that if you want to become successful, then associate and follow up with other correspondingly successful people who also have an extensive network. Imagine having 1,000 or 10,000 different people who are receptive to taking a call from you, showing you respect, enjoying the conversation, and they each have their own an extensive network.

Leveraging your time and effectiveness:

There will be a natural point at which you will not be able to keep up the pace, close all the transactions, and provide quality service because you will be overloaded. You should hire an assistant to leverage your time and effectiveness. The assistant may be an employee or an independent contractor.

The salesperson should identify the task that only he can do, such as face-to-face communication with the client. Others may be writing up an offer and presenting it to a seller and seller’s agent.

The salesperson should identify tasks that can be effectively delegated to an assistant or junior partner.

A government license requirement may prohibit an assistant from certain functions and limit your decision to delegate.  However, in some states, such as California there are provisions in real estate licensing law for performing specific support tasks under what is referred to as unlicensed assistant law. Each state has its own.

The effective delegator will free up time to close more transactions, spend more with his family, and enjoy time in his mental hobby shop.  

Remember the concept “you locate a buyer; you do not create a buyer.”

This article is intended for educational purposes only and is not a solicitation.

© Dan Harkey. This material’s unauthorized use or duplication without express and written permission from this author or owner is strictly prohibited.  The article may be used in marketing efforts, provided that full and clear credit is given to Dan Harkey. The credit displayed when you forward any article must include Dan Harkey, Business & Finance consultant. You are not authorized to modify the articles title or the content.

This article is an overview for a general educational purpose only.  The information presented should not be relied upon without the advice of counsel.

Dan Harkey is a contributing author to Weekly Real Estate News and is a Business & Financial Consultant.  He can be contacted at 949-533-8315   or