Marketing 101 : How to Blow a Sale Cleanly, Clearly and Quickly
Last updated: 7/18/2002; 6:52:07 AM
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Marketing 101 : How to Blow a Sale Cleanly, Clearly and Quickly

NOTE: I held off writing this until I had the postscript to the story, which happened last night at 6:20 pm approximately.  Details follow at the bottom.

I just put my house on the market and I did the obligatory task of getting bids from two agencies.  One was a little tiny agency, the town real estate company, no web site, no nothing.  The other was Hunneman, a Coldwell Banker company, one of the largest agencies in the nation.  Betty was the agent from the little company, Nahant Associates and Sheila was the agent from Hunneman.  Here were the constraints:

  • I called them on in early July (same day for both) and said "I want to sell my house.  I leave for Europe on Monday (this was the preceding Tuesday) and I'll be ready by then.  I want a price and a marketing plan as quickly as possible".
  • I want to sell it quickly (it's just time for a change)

Here were the differences between the two approaches:


  • Showed up the next day with everyone from her office for the full detailed tour (I had 4 agents looking in all the myriad nooks and crannies)
  • Got back to me with an extensive proposal within 24 hours
  • Recommended a price of $699,000 as the asking price
  • Very upfront and honest


  • Showed up with one other person
  • Got a proposal to me within 72 hours
  • Proposal was about 1/3 the size
  • Price of $599,000 (that's a big difference)

Made two fatal errors:

  • Tried to convince me that a key advantage of her agency was their "Premier Brochure" which only goes out to "high end clients".  She then hemmed and hawed about my getting into it.  That's very cool so I clearly wanted to be in it so I asked 2 key questions. 
    • Q: "How often does it come out?"
    • A: "Quarterly"
    • Q: "When did it last come out?"
    • A: "It just did"

So lets play with this a bit – She wanted me to think that a key advantage is something that I can't even get into for 3 months?  That either says to me that she is a) Trying to scam me or b) that she is, well, clue free and proud of it.  It just smells too much of the aroma of "bait and switch".  So while I wasn't very happy with her, I continued talking and didn't disclose my raging anger (nothing like someone trying to pull the wool over your eyes when the $$$ amounts are > 1/2 million.

And then it got worse.  As she was leaving my house, she turned around and made a comment to the effect of "You do have a lot of work to do, are you sure you'll be ready?".  Sigh.  First she basically lies to me and then she insults me?  Brilliant move there.  Talk about customer alienation at it's finest.

Marketing Rule to Learn from This

If I had so make some generalizations from this it would be these:

  1. People are smarter than you think they are – particularly when the $$$ amounts are large.  And, while "large" varies, it generally means > $1,000 for personal purchases and $5,000 for business purchases.
  2. In this current economic meltdown and utter collapse of any and all business ethics, ethics are more important than ever.  Betty was very honest with me when she said "You might be able to get more for the house but if you really want to sell it quickly (and I did) then this is the price I recommend but you make the decision".
  3. Small companies and person to person interaction really do matter.  When it came right down to it I chose Betty over Sheila based on trust, not price.


Betty was very honest with me.  Her office is literally walking distance to my house and I just plain trust her.  Sure her price was higher but the fact that I feel that Sheila basically either lied to me or tried to scam me or just was clue free herself.  I went with Betty because I trusted her.


Well exactly 7 days later I got a bid for $650,000 (that's only 7% under asking in a crappy economy) contingent on inspection and such as these always are (never, ever count your chickens in real estate until the proverbial rotund female sings an aria).  Sure it could all fall through but I clearly mad the right decision.

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