Are You a Victim of Sales Seepage?

Picking up the phone to make a cold call is terrifying. You put yourself through that torture and, finally, after hearing “no!” numerous times, you get interest. This potential client is excited and, a week later, you follow up with a quick email and a call. A month or two goes by without a word from the potential client. You decide to call him back only to learn that you’ve become the victim of the relentless opportunity-killer: Mr. Sales Seepage.

Don’t be a Victim of Sales Seepage

Sales seepage happens when a qualified and interested prospect seeps out of your sales pipeline …. and is probably never to be seen again. Why? They forgot about you and you didn’t maintain the initial belief that you were the best person to do the job. The excuse for not contacting the qualified prospect is that you don’t want to spam him with useless emails and “salesly” voice-messages. While I agree with this concern, you’ve failed to safeguard yourself against the threat of Mr. Sales Seepage.The way to protect yourself from sales seepage is to nurture your network in a meaningful, consistent and thoughtful way. This means NO generic emails, NO sales emails or calls and NO typical content that is sent by people in your industry. For example, agents send out information about the market that you know was slapped together by an email program or someone other than the agent. This is boring, insincere and makes you look like an amateur.Don’t know how to stay in touch? Read below for some tips I found on Branding Universe. I’ve modified all of them but for numbers 12 to 23 as they were rich enough without my two cents.

Simple Tips to Keeping In Touch WITHOUT Being Obnoxious

  1. Create a monthly newsletter or blog that is interesting, short and not something everyone in your industry is sending. The critical part of an effective blog is to be consistent. If you tell everyone they’ll get the article the first of the month at 9 am. It better be sent to them  the first of the month at 9 am.
  2. Ask prime prospects or current clients if you can quote them or interview them for one of your newsletters.
  3. Set up Google alerts for bizarre information on your industry and send out monthly “Surprising Things Happening in [YOUR INDUSTRY HERE]?” Remember – consistency and unique is critical.
  4. Establish a community telephone call-in once a month. Speak on some relevant topic and open up the line for questions and answers.
  5. Keep a calendar of birthdays, anniversaries, and special occasions. Pre-schedule cards through one of the online services, like Paperless Post.
  6. Create a postcard mailing for your entire list using a service like Never include a pitch. This is a greeting card that you should send out for birthdays and during Thanksgiving. Yes, Thanksgiving and NOT the winter holidays.  Why? Because EVERYONE is sending holiday greetings and yours will get lost in the shuffle.
  7. Celebrate special events for prospects and customers like a promotion, new job, new assignment, or new website, and send out a postcard or email.
  8. Send out a lighthearted “tip” – kinda like the one I’m sending -customized for your network.
  9. Send a “thank you for your business” note and remembrance to clients at least once a year.
  10. Focus on your top 10 people in your network and drop by with a coffee, send a  “How are you?” or “Just thinking of you” note every two weeks. If your client runs a restaurant, clothing shoppe or otherwise, pay them a visit. Buy something or eat something.
  11. Set your Google alerts about your prospect’s company or about your prospect’s industry. When you learn of news that is relevant to these people, send an “I noticed …” or “thought you might find this interesting…” email.
  12. Comment on your clients’ and prospects’ blog.
  13. Ask them to comment on yours.
  14. Ask clients and prospects to speak or be a panel member at an event you think would be right for them.
  15. Invite them to a networking event where they might enjoy meeting the people.
  16. Send surveys and industry information, links to podcasts or videos, and links to websites that offer free information that would help your network with their businesses.
  17. Create your own industry survey using a service like Send it to your entire network and publish the results.
  18. Write a testimonial about them or their product or service and submit it to them without being asked. One cautionary note: you must be sincere and talk about an actual experience.
  19. Write a recommendation for them on a business social network such as LinkedIn or Twitter.
  20. Invite them to be a short-term advisor to a committee in a relevant business association (They will appreciate that you haven’t asked them to be on the committee.)
  21. Invite them to lunch or breakfast every six months.
  22. Learn what causes or charities they support and make a donation (even if a small one) instead of a Christmas gift.
  23. Follow targeted contacts on Twitter and re-tweet their tweets.

How Often should You Nurture Your Network?

Various sales studies confirm that a contact will not remember, trust or buy from you until they’ve heard from you – in a meaningful way – at least five times. Great. But, this doesn’t tell us how often we should contact a prospect in a week, month or year. While some sales experts say that your frequency should be  7 times in an 18 month period, the most successful sales people I’ve interviewed do so at least once a month – or more.

The most effective sales people are successful not because they’re better looking or smarter. They’re successful because they put the effort in to make meaningful content. They provide true value every time they reach out, while keeping themselves top of mind of potential clients and while reinforcing the belief that they’re the expert in their field.

Why you’re not having success cold calling

Proof Sales People Are People Too

Sales people are people too (shock!). I help train them and – believe it or not – they are good people who are just like you. They don’t want to be sold and they don’t like people interrupting their day with calls about a product or service they neither need nor want.

Yet, as soon as the salesperson pick up that phone, he forgets these sentiments.  He forgets what it’s like to be the recipient of that call. And the salesperson goes into the stereotypical sales role: me, me, me, me and me. Oh, and me some more!

Why does this approach fail? Because besides your mom and maybe your dog (but, definitely not your cat): NO ONE CARES ABOUT YOU.

A Few Tips for a Successful Call

Before you pick up the phone, remember this golden “cold calling” rule: the call you’re going to make will interrupt someone who is thinking about themselves, their issues and their struggles. They’re not thinking about you and how they can help you. So, in order to avoid a disastrous call and waste of everyone’s time, make the call fun, interesting and about them. Here’s how:

  1. Be prepared. This goes beyond just understanding your product, the market or the CEO’s name. Know everything about your client. If they’re struggling to find a new a new location, have a notoriously horrid landlord or are in growth or loss mode, know it. Understand their problems. If you’re going to interrupt their thoughts about themselves, you better have a solution for them.
  2. Be funny or interesting. We all watch weird videos on YouTube to be entertained. If you make your call entertaining, you’re in. Funny and interesting openings are your hook.
  3. Be honest. Opening up to people will bring down their guard and they may be more open to reciprocating. Give and take is a social norm – especially if you’re being vulnerable. For example, tell them that you hate making these calls, just as much as they like getting them, so you promise to make this as painless as possible and worth their time. Or, that you were once in their position and that’s why you started your company – to help people achieve [insert outcome of using your product/service].
  4. Be sharp. No one wants to listen to someone who is, frankly … zzzzzzzzz …. or has no product knowledge. Talk quickly during the opening of the call and then slow down for the details of the offering.
  5. Be scarce. Have something they want or need and given reasons to act now, such as a hot market with signs of slowing or a one-time offer.
  6. Be enthusiastic and SMILE. The WORST is getting a call from someone who sounds distracted, bored or angry. When you’re talking in a monotone voice, it comes across as disinterested and rude. No one is going to put up with that. We like nice people and we’re much more open and forgiving with a nice person than a rude person. Especially if they’re interrupting our thoughts about us.
  7. Be other-oriented and curious. The call is not about what you want, your sales quota or your service. It’s about them. This means you should be doing very little talking. You should be doing a lot of listening and asking questions. Ask about pain points and follow up with “tell me more about that”. You should also, in most cases, a) NEVER “SELL”, b) NEVER PUSH YOUR PRODUCT and c) NEVER ASK THE TYPICAL SALES QUESTIONS, such as are you looking to sell your house? Are you looking to buy a car and spent thousands on this random person who just called? The answer will be – NO! They don’t trust you and you come off sooooo salesy  – ew!
  8. Be generous. Ask them if you could shoot over a quick email with some information that is RELEVANT to them. State what is and why they can’t just find it on the net (e.g. exclusive report). You’re sending this for free and when you do and DO NOT SELL ANYTHING in your email. If they need something, they will ask. The first interactions are not to sell. Rather, you’re there to prove you’re valuable.

The above tips are just ice breakers and there’s no guarantee that they’ll love you. Nonetheless, you’ll make a much better first impression which will ease your nerves during the call and lose the “sleazy salesperson” stigma.

The take home lesson is that it’s not about you. It’s about them, so focus all of your attention on who is on the other line and not your nerves.


Nibble to get the best deal

Aggressive is Not Good – Unless Used Strategically

A common mistake negotiators make is asking for everything they want at the beginning of the negotiations. This aggressive approach is tantamount to forcing your counterpart to eat an entire elephant in one bite.  They’ll be offended and suspicious and likely walk away from negotiations.  From their perspective, you’re too difficult and, since they haven’t spent a moment negotiating with you and they haven’t invested time and resources into you or your client, you’ve given up the other negotiation tactic – the sunk cost gambit. The better approach is to deliver the elephant in something smaller than a bite – nibbles.

What is Nibbling?

The Nibbling Tactic is used at the end of negotiations when the deal is almost finalized. Your counterpart is thrilled that the deal is about to close and they’ve made up their mind to buy, sell or lease. Since people like be consistent with their actions and hate “losing” time spent on negotiations, they’re likely to stay the course even if they have to give up earlier demands. At this point – right before you sign the agreement – start asking for a few concessions.

For example, you’re about to buy a car and sign the purchase agreement. As your pen hovers you say “this comes with a full tank of gas, right?”. The sales person will likely agree because: they feel like they’ve already made the sale and have a positive attitude, which makes people more likely to give things away. Not to mention the thought we’ve all had: “we’re so close, what’s a few bucks to close the deal?”. Had you asked for everything upfront, however, I can promise you that you would have to have given up the gas tank request in order to shave off a few dollars on the purchase price.

Warning: Use the tactic only after commitment is clear

This tactic works because people are less anxious and confrontational after they’ve made a decision to buy, sell, lease or gamble. A study at a Canadian racetrack showed that people who hadn’t yet placed a bet were anxious and unsure about what they were about to do (i.e. gamble). Once people had made the decision to bet, this anxiety dissipated and they felt good about their decision to gamble. In fact, once they continued on the course of their decision they reinforced their actions by gambling even more! The same behaviour applies in negotiations. You have to coax your counterpart into the negotiations and convince them to close the deal. Once it’s clear that the deal is going to be done, ask for a concession. Your counterpart will likely give in to reasonable-ish requests to keep the deal alive and to be consistent in behaviour (I’ve acted committed this far, I can’t turn back now!).

Prevent your counterpart from nibbling on you

The problem with the nibbling tactic is that it can happen to you too! These simple tips will help you avoid this outcome:

  • Write down a list of all of the concessions you’ve already made and show them that you’ve sacrificed a lot to get to this point
  • Counter with a causal nibble – “what about the return policy, let’s make it 90 days”.
  • With a big smile say, “Oh, come on! You’ve negotiated a great deal already, don’t make us give up everything and go red on this deal!” Make your opponent feel cheap, but in a joking way.
  • Negotiate all of the details important to your counterpart up front, but don’t make any demands until the end.

And, when in doubt as to timing or aggressiveness of your request, just say it with a smile.

The Only Tip Needed to Negotiate with a Liar

We all lie. And we’re all lied to. In fact, in any given day you’re lied to between 2 and 500 times. Think about it: has anyone told you “yes, you do look fat in the that dress” or, “yes, she is too good for you”. Probably not.

Men typically lie about themselves and their awesomeness more than women and women lie to protect others more than men. And both men and women are terrible at detecting lies.

One meta-analysis (a study of studies) found that people can correctly identify whether someone is telling a lie only 54% of the time—not much better odds than a coin flip. Even the polygraph—a technology specifically engineered to detect lies in a controlled setting—is riddled with problems and comes to the wrong conclusion about a third of the time.

Some argue that lying is a natural part of survival and that technology has made us less likely to lie than before. The problem with lying is that it confuses negotiations and makes it difficult to close a deal and get a win-win outcome. How could you possibly make the right concessions if your counterpart deceives you as to what they need? The answer is simple: ignore the possibility of lying and find ways to induce the opposing party to tell the truth. And the way to do this: offer options.

Use Options to Detect Truth

Present to your counterpart two or more offers, each containing different options. All of the offers you present must be equally acceptable to you as the goal is for your counterpart to choose which option they prefer. Your counterpart’s decision as to which option they like best divulges information “about [their] priorities and giving you insight into [their] relative valuation of the issues up for negotiation.” In other words, by rejecting certain offers with distinct terms, you now know what issues aren’t important and others that are critical to getting the deal done.

Lies are unavoidable (if you don’t believe me or want to be entertained, watch these TED Talks). But, the truth is out there if you take the time to think creatively and maintain a “win-win” attitude.


How Successful People Say No

Why Aren’t You Protecting What’s Important to You?

The more you do, the more people ask you to do. And if you’re a people pleaser – which most people are – you’ll say yes. And as soon as the “y” word escapes your mouth, I bet you begin to cry on the inside because saying yes means saying no to: sleep, friends, loved ones, rest, hobbies that keep you sane, family and exercise. Or, at least I do.

Learning how to say no does more than help you keep your sanity. It’s also a useful discipline because knowing when to say no means that you have a clear understanding of what you want. This ensures that you pour your energy into the right places.

Clarity on what’s important to you also helps you fight the very Millennial issue of FOMO (“Fear of Missing Out”) and reduce the number of failures you experience. If you want real examples of why saying no can save you from financial and personal ruin, listen to this 30 minute podcast (tip: fast forward the first 5 minutes as it’s all ads).

How to Say No – Even if You Need to be Liked!

As a professed “yes” addict and someone who gets a lot of “nos”, I’ve accumulated some very effective strategies on how to say “no”:

  1. You’re typically caught off guard, which means that you’re likely to default to your typical response – “yes”. Prevent this knee-jerk reaction by ALWAYS delaying the response. Say something like, “that’s interesting. Let me see if I can fit it in. Can I get back to you in a few hours?”.
  2. Turn it back on them. No, don’t ask them for the favour, but make them feel like you’re doing them a service by saying no. For example, you may not be able to give the project the attention it deserves. You may also not have the skills needed to provide value. The goal of this “no” tactic is to show why you wouldn’t be doing the committee/group any favours.
  3. If they desperately need the work done immediately or are guilting you into the work due to lack of resources etc, offer the “requester” another colleague or enemy’s (depending on the request) name. If you’re able, you can also offer to help find someone else to take on the task.
  4. If you’re truly interested, but are swamped, ask them to check back with you in a few months. List everything you’re working and provide an exact date to reconnect on the opportunity offered. Do this only if your desire to participate in the future is genuine. It’s not fair to waste anyone’s time.
  5. You may have a conflict. In fact, this happened to me. An organization asked me to sit on its Board, but I had to decline. Not only was I busy, but the organization was a potential competitor to another group in which I was involved. This gave me a second and legitimate reason for not being able to commit.

Saying no, just like negotiation, take practise. Let me know if you try these yes-addiction-busting-tips and how it worked out!

The Unexpected Negotiating Trick that Anyone Can Master

This past Friday, I was negotiating the terms of a 50-page lease– which isn’t unusual, except that the landlord rejected EVERY single one of our edits and refused to budge on even its most ridiculous demands. My stomach began to knot.

My stress was further compounded by the fact that I was up against a sharp lawyer who’d been in the industry longer than I’d been born. Not to mention the fact that the landlord was in a better position due to financial, location and market reasons. As these realities sunk in, the knot grew tighter. How was I going to get any leverage over this lawyer and the landlord?

This is a common question we all ask whenever we have to negotiate with someone who may have more grey hairs, more authority (i.e. a boss, Rogers cable), a fancier education or someone with a disturbingly aggressive ego. And this question is easily answered by patience. As in, your leverage is patience.

How Patience Works

The landlord didn’t have time to “deal” with the negotiation, as he wanted to get through the negotiation before his vacation. It was also revealed – after a lot of digging and listening – that the landlord needed the lease to be signed due to a refinancing requirement. Both the lawyer and landlord weren’t much interested in patience and I had plenty of it. And using it worked. I took my time during the negotiation. I allowed for many awkward pauses. I hummed and hawed, dragged out the conversation, asked lots of questions and made them sweat under the time pressure until they simply conceded to one request after the other, for reasons described below.

I wish I could claim that my patience solution came from a moment of clarity – the sea parting and a voice booming down. But, it didn’t. It was something less dramatic, but nonetheless useful: Dawson’s book, Secrets of Power Negotiating. For anyone buying, selling or negotiating anything, I urge you to read on and discover how to use the simple trick of patience and why patience works so well. 

Time Pressure

Time pressure plays a part in every negotiation […]. If you want to see how time can be used as a negotiating tool, just watch some children getting concessions from their parents. Children know all about time pressure. If they want something, they ask for it just at the last moment. They wait until you’re rushing out the door for an important meeting … that’s when they know they have the best chance of getting what they want. Why? Because they subconsciously know that under time pressure people become flexible.

Unless sellers are under time pressure, it’s hard to get good buys. However, when they are under a lot of time pressure, you can get terrific buys. And what time pressures might sellers be under? Of course, you won’t know until you have done some work gathering information and asking questions. But there are a lot of possibilities:

  1. Maybe they’re behind on their mortgage payments and don’t see how they can catch up.
  2. Perhaps they are actually in foreclosure and in danger of losing the property unless they can find a buyer.
  3. They might need money to pay off mounting debts.
  4. They might have contracted to buy another home and can’t close on it until they sell this one.
  5. Possibly they’re retiring soon and want to move as soon as possible.
  6. That’s just a partial list of the many things that put sellers under time pressure. Make your own checklist and expand it with each new situation you encounter. Keep your list in mind when you first meet with potential sellers and see if you can spot symptoms of the time pressure they may be under.

To extort time-pressure information from the seller you might ask, “Would you consider a lower offer for a fast sale?” Sellers don’t always respond truthfully, but you may get a feel from the eagerness of their response. If you are dealing with a real estate broker, have your agent call the listing agent and ask, “How long has it been listed? Have they turned down any offers? Why are they selling?” The listing agent will be more likely to share this information with another agent than with you directly.

Another aspect of time pressure that is especially germane to buying real estate is Acceptance Time. It often takes sellers time to understand that they are not going to get as much for their property as they hoped. A low offer that might horrify a seller just after they’ve put their property up for sale may look a whole lot better after the property has been on the market for three months without an offer. Never write off sellers as being hopelessly inflexible on their price. Some of the best buys are from sellers who call back weeks after they turned down the original “unacceptable” offer. They needed time to see that they weren’t going to get a better offer. Always leave the door open for sellers to reopen negotiations. Instead of pressuring them by saying, “This is my final offer,” leave the door open with a statement like, “I hope you get what you’re asking, but if you don’t, call me. I’m not saying I’ll be in a position to buy later, but we can always talk some more.”

Patience is a real virtue when negotiating. The longer you can keep sellers involved in negotiations, the better chance you have of getting what you want. Take your time inspecting the property. Ask as many questions as you can think of. Discuss things you may have in common with sellers. If you see golf clubs or a fishing rod and you golf or fish, have a conversation about it. Take a tape measure with you, measure some of the rooms, and note down the measurements. Pace off the back yard and write it down. Why do these things? For two reasons: The longer you spend with sellers, the more trust they will develop in you. And the more time they spend with you, the more flexible they will become when the negotiations start. Time spent with you will increase their flexibility on price, terms, and other considerations. Why? Because mentally, they want to recoup the time spent with you. Their mind starts to tell them, “I can’t walk away from this empty handed after all the time I have invested.”

There is a caveat here. If you aren’t careful, time can work against you in the negotiations as well. You may find yourself becoming more flexible for the same reasons sellers do. Your subconscious mind will be saying, “I don’t want to walk away from this with nothing after all the time I’ve spent on it.”

How taking a picture can get you sued

What every landlord, tenant and agent should know ….or they’ll get sued

You get a call from a landlord. They ask you to lease up their space quickly – the Tenant is moving out in two months. No problem. Off you go to the property, keys in hand and you start taking pictures. After all, pictures are critical to market the property and it’s industry standard to take them. Nothing unusual here, right? Wrong.

According to a recent decision, Juhasz v. Hymas, 2016 ONSC 1650, you now just started a lawsuit and cost your landlord thousands in legal fees and lost rent. Not to mention the fact that you’ve jeopardized your reputation and your commission cheque.

If you want to remain the good books with both your client and the courtroom, read on.

Why taking pictures can cause a lawsuit

The Ontario Divisional Court recently made a ruling that prohibits landlords – and their real estate agents – from entering into a tenant’s unit to take pictures for marketing purposes. The only exceptions are:

(a) if you have consent (for your and your landlord’s health, please get in writing) from the tenant who’s occupying the unit; or

(b) there is a provision in the lease that clearly states that the landlord or the landlord’s agent is permitted to take photographs of the unit for publication purposes.

There are some exceptions, of course. For example, in the residential context, the landlord can enter into a tenant’s premises without consent in order to show the unit. Other examples of permitted entry without consent are:

(a) there is an agreement that the tenancy will be terminated;

(b) notice of termination has been given; and

(c) the landlord has made a reasonable effort to notify the tenant of the landlord’s intent to enter.

Section 27(2) of the Residential Tenancies Act also allows a landlord, or a qualified real estate salesperson authorized by the landlord, to enter a rental unit to view the premises upon giving 24 hours prior notice to the tenant before the time of entry.

The decision, in essence, only means that you cannot take picture of a unit and then publicize it for marketing purposes without this right being clearly stipulated in the lease or agreed to by the Tenant. And for all of those commercial agents wondering – yes, this can also apply to the commercial context.

What should you do to protect your client?

Agents can protect their clients both before and after a lease is signed. Here’s how:

During the Offer to Lease Stage

Agents negotiating both residential and commercial offers to lease can use this opportunity to truly impress their clients by ensuring that the offer specifically allows the landlord or its representative to take photographs, videos or digital recordings of the premises and that the tenant consents to the use of the images for marketing of the premises on any communication networks.

If you’re representing the tenant, ask them if they have any privacy concerns. For example, business owners may have confidential documents, drawings or information on whiteboards that contain sensitive material. Whether or not the tenant has privacy concerns, it may be prudent to include a clause in the offer that limits the landlord’s ability take photographs, videos or digital recordings and that the publication of these materials are subject to tenant approval.

After the Lease is Executed

In order to avoid a lawsuit, do not enter the premises to take pictures before doing the following:

  1. Ask the landlord if he or she has a provision in its lease to take pictures of the premises for marketing purposes.
  2. If the landlord says the right exists and that’s in the lease, ask to see the clause. There may be certain conditions such as getting the tenant’s consent, having the tenant present when you take the pictures and restrictions around when you can enter.
  3. If no such clause exists, ask the landlord to obtain written consent from the tenant. If your client-landlord refuses to get the consent, remind them of the Juhasz v. Hymas, 2016 ONSC 1650 case and the $3,000.00 the landlord had to pay to the tenant, the thousands he lost in rent and the legal fees. It’s better to act prudently than to risk litigation.

The moral of the story: get it in writing – either during the negotiations or before you walk into a tenanted premises. Privacy issues are a real issue and can cause a lawsuit.

What Trump Does Well….. and Why You Need to Do it Too

I’ve always been told to find the good in everyone. And, while I haven’t found much, there are two good things that Donald Trump does – he knows what he wants and he know when to cut his losses. Adopting his clarity in vision and decisiveness is a good lesson to learn, especially if you’re negotiating. You’ll save time and money, no matter how much you’ve already lost pursuing the by putting energy in the wrong deal or goal.

How Does Acting Like Trump Save You Money and Time?

Walking away allows you to avoid a crushing negotiation tactic known as the “time crunch phenomena”. Studies show that we tend to “give up” close to 80% of our “non-negotiable” demands at the 11th hour in order to get the deal done. We do this because we’re tired and because we have trouble admitting that the hours, dollars and brain cells spent were a waste of our time and that we failed despite our best efforts (if you want to know more on why we do this, wait for next week’s article on the Sunk Cost Fallacy).

In fact, today, I witnessed a Landlord’s representative doing exactly that. He pushed his client into an inferior deal because the irrevocable date was drawing to a close. “We spent too much time on the deal to throw it away”, he told me…and me being the Tenant’s lawyer negotiating against him. The lawyer who also knew that the agent was feeling the pressure to close the deal because he failed to find alternatives should the deal fall through – a big negotiating mistake that I leveraged by letting the negotiations drag close to the deadline.

The result: the Landlord getting a bad deal because the agent, under time pressure with no alternatives, worked himself into a confused state, focused only on the “time lost” negotiating and not on what he was giving up.

Trump would call the Landlord’s agent all sorts of names if he were watching – he might even deport him!

Yes, we spent hours negotiating, travelling up to the Premises and conducted several feasibility studies. And, yes, we’d have to go through the whole process, again, should either of us decide to chase a better deal that was more in line with our goals. However, I entered into the negotiations knowing what we needed to make the deal work and our alternatives. I was completely comfortable with cutting our losses and getting a deal that would give us much greater returns over the long run. While time was running out for this deal, it wasn’t for all deals!

This week, do as Trump does and learn the art of walking away if what’s proposed doesn’t align with what you want. And you have to do this despite time, effort and money “sunk” into pursuing that end. As far as doing anything else he does, that’s up to your discretion.


Read This if You Want to Give Up

Last week I was email interviewed about some awards I received from the Real Estate Institute of Canada. I thought this exercise would be fairly easy and non-controversial – until I was asked a question I believed was fundamentally flawed. A question that hits on a nerve because it’s premised on certain beliefs that are known to promote depression and hacks away at grit, self-esteem and motivation.

Before I’m misunderstood, REIC is a fantastic organization that promotes education and ethical behaviour among all real estate professionals. And an organization of which I’m proud to be a member and a Director (Toronto Chapter). I cannot sing my praises loud enough – being member has not only catapulted my professional life into a sphere I never expected (especially as a female in the commercial real estate space), but has also connected me with my incredible mentors and friends.

So, what was this difficult question? “Why Should Members Pursue Excellence?”. And what was my problem? I don’t think they should.

Don’t Pursue Excellence

I don’t believe in the pursuit of excellence. Pursuing excellence is like pursuing perfection and similar impossible goals that you’re likely never to achieve, leaving you feeling like a failure and depressed every day, hour and minute.

To be clear, I believe in REIC’s message. We should do better and demand higher professional standards and ethical behaviour in the real estate community. However, how I’d get there is not through pursuing excellence. Instead, I believe that you can get there by pursuing kindness, ethics and being comfortable with the messiness of life (and your own flaws). This alternative route will keep you motivated to achieve these noble standards. And here’s one example of just that.

At age 5 his father died.

At age 16 he dropped out of school.

At age 17 he had already lost four jobs…a pattern that would repeat the next 45 years of his life.

At age 18 he got married. He joined the army and washed out there.

At age 20 his wife left him and took their baby. He became a cook in a small cafe and attempted to kidnap his child. That failed and he eventually convinced his wife to return home.

He applied for law school and was rejected.

At age 65 he sold his first restaurant – for very little. A restaurant that he ran with his mistress. He felt like a failure & decided to commit suicide.

What would you do at this juncture? Claim your life is over? Continue to act in a way that hurt others? Fail to seek forgiveness from others and yourself?

He sat under a tree and began writing his will and reflecting on his life. As he wrote, he reflected upon the fact that he hurt others. He wished he accomplished more with his life and held himself to a higher standard both personally and professionally. So he borrowed $87 fried up some chicken using his recipe, went door to door to sell. Many doors were slammed in his face, but he persisted and never compromised on the quality of his recipes or his integrity, despite the fact that many business people claimed he’d make more money cutting corners.

Finally, at age 73, he sold KFC for $2 million ($15.3 million today) and he’s remembered as the Colonel Sanders, founder of the Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) Empire.

The Lesson

Sanders’ story is something we should turn to as a reminder that all of our lives are imperfect, messy and riddled with bad decisions. And that there is always time to do better. You never know what’s around the corner, so be kind, forgiving, comfortable with the imperfection and forge ahead.

For more strategies on how to get through the tough times, I suggest a Michael Hyatt Podcast, How to be a Storm-Proof Leader.


Proof that Nice Guys Finish First

Could you sell your mother for a penny? If not, you’ll fail in business.

This was the advice I received from an incredibly successful businessman at a tender age of 13. I believed that starting my own business would be the only way I could merge creativity with effective problem solving. But, when I heard this advice, I thought:

  1. Business people are not nice.
  2. I am nice.
  3. Therefore, I will absolutely fail as a business person….

So, I went to law school instead. As it turns out, lawyers aren’t so nice either. And that’s true in any profession.

For years I decided to ignore what I really wanted to do because I’m a nice person and I thought that I wouldn’t be able to “cut it” as an entrepreneur. Even after I decided to launch my company, grew my clientele and got some great feedback, this nagging thought persisted: will I ultimately fail, along with my nice entrepreneurial friends, because I cannot take advantage of people, sell people garbage or “screw” partners, employees, suppliers etc. etc.?

This thought can now be put to rest because, as it turns out, being nice has actually worked to my advantage. I base my answer not on my own anecdotal experience, but on some interesting studies. Read on to find out how you can use your niceness to succeed.

Reduce Your Stress, Close More Deals

Taking the nicer “I’m putting your interests first” sales approach, rather than the “I’m going to beat you with my product until you buy”  approach, does two things for you:

  • First, it reduces your stress; and
  • Second, it increases your deal-closing rate


Supporting the needs of others (i.e. others = your prospect) has interesting positive effects on parts of your brain, particularly the stress and reward part. Those who put other people’s interests first and seek to solve other people’s problems before their own have less activation in regions of the brain related to stress.

What this means is that by focusing on your prospect’s problems, understanding their perspective and getting to know how they feel, you’ll reduce your own stress levels when your prospect starts peppering you with difficult objections.

Reducing your stress levels when facing stressful situations is really beneficial not only for your health, but also for the success of the sale. This is because we’re very poor at hiding our true feelings of stress and anxiousness. It takes only a slightly sweaty palm or a 0.5 second twitch to turn off your prospect because your stress makes you seem desperate for a sale. Your desperation then raises the deal-killing question: do you need this sale because your product sucks and no one is buying?

Another added bonus: those who seek to put others first also experience higher activation in parts of the brain related to rewards. So, when you close the sale, you won’t just feel good – you’ll feel REALLY good. It gets better; focusing on how you can support someone also makes good business sense. And here’s why…

The Strategic Sale

The art of closing a deal is fundamentally preceded by the art of qualifying your prospect. If you have something that doesn’t support or help the prospect – i.e. something they don’t need or doesn’t satisfy one of their problems – you shouldn’t be trying to sell them. The first reason is because it’s unethical. The second is that it’s a waste of your time.

Empathy is Essential to Closing a Deal

Psychologist Adam Galinsky from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University asked the question: “What approach should one take to achieve such an understanding of one’s opponent in everyday negotiations?”

As any researcher should, he followed up on question with studies some academic probing and studies that uncovered something interesting: those who understood the prospect’s perspective scored the highest success rates in closing a deal. In fact, they scored much higher than those who only cared about their own feelings and perspective and still higher than those who made the effort to understand how the prospect feels.

The difference is not significant:

It’s clear: figuring out what someone else wants first = closing more deals = making more money = good business sense. Irrespective of this “business outcome”, I much rather be a nice because this means I get to talk to the right people, create the right products and services and sleep better at night. And I like to sleep.

In a nutshell…

If you want to be a little less stressed, have the capacity to truly enjoy the fruits of your labour and make more money, then don’t be a jerk. Be nice, be caring and look to help others before you help yourself.

Plus…karma does suck…

Remember that successful businessman who gave me that sage advice? He got caught doing some very bad things, was arrested and had to close his business. Putting his own interests first made him many enemies, all of which helped bring him down. If the above doesn’t compel you to be nice, then his outcome should.

Our lawyers believe in the Groundworks philosophy of working with you, understanding your perspective and supporting you through the legal process. We’ve helped numerous tenants, landlords and real estate agents protect their interests because of our genuine desire to support you first. For more information about the author or leases visit