New York Times best-selling author Don Hutson’s new book, “Selling Value: Key Principles of Value-Based Selling,” identifies what hampers salespeople from achieving stellar real estate sales success. If you’re ready to generate more leads, convert more clients and close more deals, “Selling Value” provides a road map on how to do it.

Although a large part of “Selling Value” is dedicated to salespeople involved in corporate product sales, the principles Hutson outlines in this book are not just theory — they’re supported by more than 40 years of research.

Mastering the attitude game

It probably comes as no surprise that mindset is at the heart of sales success. The first principle that Hutson asks you to address is your attitude.

“Attitude is a decision you make many times a day — it is entirely up to you how you handle it. It can be your biggest burden or your greatest opportunity!”

Hutson goes on to share the results of an exhaustive study he headed up for Sales and Marketing Executives International that arrived at the following conclusions as to why salespeople fail:

1. The No. 1 failure factor for salespeople “was that they failed to properly organize their time and/or their efforts.”

2. The No. 2 factor was “negatively and unjustifiably, prejudging the quality of a prospect or the outcome of a sales call.” A common place where this occurs in the real estate industry is with buyer and Internet leads. Many agents don’t want to bother because there is too little inventory to show buyers and because of the 12- to 18-month lead time it can take to convert Web leads. What many agents fail to realize is that about half of today’s buyers have a home to sell.

3. The No. 3 factor: pessimism.

Hutson argues that “the foundation of a successful sales career begins with an optimistic attitude. With it, you have a great shot at success; without it, you are trying to build a career on an unstable foundation. It’s rare to see whiners winning and winners whining.”

As Hutson further observes, “He who does not smile often does not sell often.” Putting it a little bit differently, optimists see opportunity in every challenge where pessimists see only the roadblocks.

A different way to play the numbers game

You have probably heard how important it is to track your numbers. Few real estate salespeople do this. Part of the reason is that it’s easy to become discouraged when you experience repeated rejections. Hutson explains that successful salespeople have learned to “fail successfully.” Here’s what to do:

First, determine the worth of each call you make. For example, assume that for every 100 expired listings you call on, you obtain 10 appointments to do a listing appointment. Of these, five of them convert for an average commission of $8,000 or $40,000 in total commissions. Now divide your total commissions by the number of expired listings on which you called — it turns out to be $400 per call. Each listing appointment, whether they say “yes” or “no,” is worth $400.

Using this approach will help you realize that maximizing your contact with people who can say “yes” is at the heart of sales success. Furthermore, “you will never feel that your success or failure as a professional salesperson is on the line with any one prospect.”

The loyalty ladder

You may be familiar with Murray Raphel and Ray Considine’s “loyalty ladder” concept that rates where prospective clients are in terms of their commitment to working with you. Your goal is to constantly move the people you work with to the next rung on the ladder. The reason — the higher a person is on the ladder, the shorter the sales cycle will be. Here are the various rungs on the ladder:

Rung 1: Suspects

In real estate, suspects include almost anyone who may or may not be able to purchase or sell a house.

Rung 2: Prospects

Prospects are people who will do business with you provided you are able to show them that your services are better suited to fulfilling their needs as compared to those provided by your competitors.

Rungs 3 and 4: Customers and Clients

Hutson distinguishes between “customers” and “clients.” Customers have or will do business with us. Clients, in contrast, value your judgment and accept your advice. They view you as a valuable resource.

Rung 5: Advocate

Advocates, (sometimes known as “angels”) will not only do business with you, but will refer others to you as well. When they strongly advocate on your behalf, advocates can become raving fans.

Rung 6: Confidant

Hutson has added a new rung to the Loyalty Ladder that he calls the “confidant.”

Confidant relationships require major amounts of time to cultivate and are “the ultimate in terms of in-depth, loyal, authentic communication.”

To move the people you work with up the ladder, examine your database and place each person in it into one of the six categories. Next, identify the 20 percent best prospects in terms of potential. Focus on this 20 percent. Third, constantly ask yourself, “How can I be more valuable to them?” Adding value strengthens the relationship while simultaneously raising them on the ladder.

Hutson sums up what it takes salespeople to break the cycle of failure and succeed: “To be a valued resource to your prospects and clients, be solution-oriented and think about possibilities for them, not just the old, tired answers people in your industry have been putting on the table for years. Be the architect of positive circumstance, not the victim of happenstance. Those who wish to sing always find a song.”

Bernice Ross, CEO of, is a national speaker, author and trainer with over 1,000 published articles and two best-selling real estate books. Discover why leading Realtor associations and companies have chosen Bernice’s new and experienced real estate sales training for their agents at and

Email Bernice Ross.

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