Can you tell people what you do, in one or two sentences? This is commonly known as an elevator speech. In a time where self-promotion has become tarnished as a business strategy, how can you create "promotional moments" for your business?

Alexandra Seigel of coined the phrase "promotional moments" to describe that moment of opportunity when someone has a problem for which you have a solution. When someone indicates he or she is thinking about buying or selling a home, many agents would pounce on the opportunity to explain why he or she is the right person to get the job done.

To convince the person that this is true, they may say, "I’m the No. 1 agent in this area," or "I work for the No. 1 real estate company in our area." Today, these strategies actually push potential clients away rather than motivating them to do business with you.

What’s the best way to handle a promotional moment? First, dump the hard sell. Instead, focus on how you can provide great service rather than bragging about how great you are. The following examples illustrate the difference between the old hard-sell approach and today’s more service-based approach.

1. Bob: "My sister is facing foreclosure. I wish there was something I could do to help her."

Old approach: "If you will give me her name and number, I’ll be happy to call her and see if we can get her property sold on a short sale before the foreclosure happens."

Better approach: "There are several ways your sister may be able to avoid foreclosure. Would you like me to send you some information about the options? I would also be happy to contact her directly if you believe she would be interested."

The agent using the first approach concludes that doing a short sale is the best solution without even having the facts. There is no attempt to determine if the homeowner may be able to keep her home through a loan modification, the "ask for the note strategy," or by checking out assistance programs at or, as examples.

In contrast, the second response directly addresses Bob’s desire to help his sister while suggesting there are multiple solutions for the issue. It also uses an alternative-choice close.

This allows Bob to review the information on his sister’s behalf or for the agent to go directly to the sister. The net result is that Bob feels completely in charge rather than being hard-closed by a pushy agent.

2. Susan: "I can’t believe how high my property taxes are!"

Old approach: "You should file an appeal. Give me your e-mail address and I will send you a comparative market analysis (CMA)." …CONTINUED

Better approach: "Most of the homes in our area have declined in price. Consequently, there’s a pretty good chance that you will qualify for a property tax reduction.

"If you would like to know if your property is eligible for a property tax reduction, I would be happy to e-mail you a package that includes the guidelines for filing an appeal, what happens at the appeal hearing, as well as a copy of the most recent sales for your area. Would you like to review our appeal package to see if this is a good option for you?"

The old approach tells Susan what she "should do." Most people resent this because "should" is normally used to manipulate others and/or make them feel guilty. The first agent also assumes that Susan will understand what a CMA is and how it applies to the appeal process.

The second response takes the pressure off of Susan to commit to filing an appeal. Rather, she can review the process and then make the best decision after she has reviewed the data. It’s much easier for Susan to commit to looking at the package first.

3. John: "Oh, you’re in real estate — how’s the market?"

Old approach: "Unbelievable! Are you thinking about buying or selling a home? I would be happy to help you."

Better approach: "In the under-$200,000 price range, we have only about three months of inventory, which means it’s a great market for sellers and tougher for buyers. From the $200,000-$350,000 price range there is about six months of inventory. That’s a pretty balanced market for both buyers and sellers.

"Above $350,000, there’s still too much inventory, so it’s great for buyers and much tougher for sellers. Those are the general trends, but it still varies from neighborhood to neighborhood. Would you like more information about a specific neighborhood?"

When someone asks you about the market, avoid giving a one-word answer or jumping to the conclusion that John is ready to buy or sell now. Instead, answer their question by doing a brief overview of the market statistics. This allows you to demonstrate your expertise prior to your offer to provide more detailed statistics about the area where John may be either selling or buying.

To take full advantage of a promotional moment, avoid jumping to conclusions about what the person wants or needs. Instead, answer their questions, focus on being of service, and do your best to be a solution for any challenges they may be facing.

Bernice Ross, CEO of, is a national speaker, trainer and author of "Real Estate Dough: Your Recipe for Real Estate Success" and other books. You can reach her at and find her on Twitter: @bross.


What’s your opinion? Leave your comments below or send a letter to the editor. To contact the writer, click the byline at the top of the story.

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