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How to sell to salesmen

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Only one thing counts in this life: "Get them to sign on the line which is dotted."

So says Blake, the ruthless leader of a team of desperate real estate salesmen in the film version of "Glengarry Glen Ross," the Pulitzer Prize-winning play by David Mamet.

"As you all know, first prize is a Cadillac El Dorado," Blake, played by Alec Baldwin, tells his sales team in announcing a contest aimed at getting them motivated. "Anybody want to see second prize? Second prize is a set of steak knives. Third prize is you’re fired." 

Companies that develop software and services for real estate brokers and agents face the same challenges in getting that dotted line signed. What strategies — other than promising sales reps Cadillacs, steak knives, or termination — do software companies use to get results?

Attendees of Real Estate Connect New York City, which takes place next week at the Grand Hyatt New York, will hear the inside scoop from three successful industry insiders during the panel "Mission impossible? How to market and sell real estate software."

The panel includes Dan Stewart, co-founder and CEO of email marketing service Happy Grasshopper; Mike Sparr, CEO and founder of mobile real estate tech company Goomzee; and Steve Allen, director of business development at UtahRealEstate.com, a multiple listing service serving Utah and southeastern Idaho.

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Greg Robertson

Greg Robertson, co-founder of real estate software developer W&R Studios, which makes the comparative market analysis tool CloudCMA, will moderate the discussion.

"Make your product easy to buy," Robertson said in an interview with Inman News in advance of Connect.  "Focus on a single, easy-to-understand offering."

For developers selling software-as-a-service (SaaS), focus energy on bringing in new clients, not keeping the current ones around, as agents will come and go, many times, Robertson said.

And, in general, make sure the tool is as self-service as possible, Robertson said, ready to use right away while not overlooking the benefit of having a "face-to-face" element in the sales strategy. "You should have a few sales people in the streets signing up agents directly," he said.

Stewart doesn’t necessarily agree with that last part.


Dan Stewart

"We don’t have a sales staff, so our website has to do the selling for us," he said. "This means removing all the barriers that might stop a person from deciding to give us a try."

And as far as selling is concerned, Stewart says Happy Grasshopper relies on its happy customers.

"You just can’t fake delighted testimonials," Stewart said. "The best way for a person to sign up for Happy Grasshopper is because they’ve heard about a friend or colleagues’ results."

"We curate (our customers’) testimonials and pay close attention to, and participate in, the ongoing conversations online," including Active Rain, Facebook and Twitter, Stewart said. And speaking at conferences across the country, Stewart said, helps him "build real relationships throughout the industry."


Mike Sparr

"Always ask for referrals," Sparr said, of Goomzee’s core selling practices.

Sparr teaches his sales team that it’s important to follow up and to have faith that what they plant today will feed them tomorrow. "I’ve noticed that you can spend months promoting or selling your product and all of a sudden a wave of demand and orders come, typically two to three months later," he said.

But at the end of the day, it’s about bending the ears that are ready to listen, Sparr said. "The most successful way to market our products has and continues to be getting in front of potential customers and demonstrating their value."

Allen was not immediately available to give his insights.

Real Estate Connect New York City takes place Jan. 16-18 at the Grand Hyatt New York.

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