Not Rocket Science: ‘How to Master the Art of Selling’

When I was a kid, I loved comic books. Reading about the exploits of the Uncanny X-Men, the Amazing Spider Man, and the Incredible Hulk filled many of the evenings and weekends of my childhood. (Oh, who am I kidding? It filled a lot of the time I spent in my elementary school classes too.)

The comic-book version of How to Master the Art of Selling (2011) put out by SmarterComics was not, admittedly, as exciting as my pre-adolescent journeys to the Marvel Universe. But what it does offer is a very user-friendly explanation of the basics of sales that can be digested in a single sitting.

In panel after panel, a caricature of author Tom Hopkins walks the reader through animated descriptions of selling concepts like motivation and presentation. If you consider yourself a master or if you’re looking for complex, arcane tips on how to sell, there may not be a lot here for you besides an entertaining, breezy read. But if you’re new to the business, or need a reaffirmation of the fundamentals, it’s worth checking out.


Learn to look at the bright side of rejection: Even the best salespeople will face a great deal of rejection throughout their careers. Bouncing back quickly from rejection requires taking certain views of those situations. Take lessons from these situations, or find the humor in them, in order to move on and up.

Emotion first, logic second: People’s first impressions upon being introduced to a new product or service are grounded in feelings. A more analytical evaluation comes later, sometimes as to justify a purchase after it’s happened. As Hopkins points out, “You prequalify people by finding out whether the emotion that’s necessary to carry the sale to completion exists or can be created.”

Don’t spend too much time face-to-face with clients and customers: This seems counter-intuitive, as so many real estate pros try as hard as they can to meet with consumers. And most salespeople spend about 80 to 90 percent of their time demonstrating and presenting. But Hopkins says the best salespeople — those who close more often and at a much higher rate — only put 40 percent of their time toward presentations and 10 percent of their time prospecting. The other half is spent qualifying and planning.

Don’t argue with client objections: If a consumer raises concerns at any point during the transaction process, no matter how trivial or absurd you think it might be, do not dismiss or attack them or their objections. They will likely take it personally, and besides, they don’t have your level of knowledge and experience. Part of your job is to help them understand what’s going on. So, patiently hear them out and then help lead them to answer their own doubts and worries.

Set goals you believe in: This is more than mere goal setting. This is about asking yourself what you really want, what you’re really passionate about. That desire will be the difference maker for you as you move through a career of any kind. Once you’ve determined what you aim to achieve, write it down and put it where you can see it often. Two other keys for getting the most out of your goals: Make sure your objective is as specific as possible and demands your best.


“Here is my basic philosophy—my creed of champions … I am not judged by the number of times I fail, but by the number of times I succeed, and the number of times I succeed is in direct proportion to the number of times I can fail and keep trying.”


Tom Hopkins failed miserably during the first six months of his career in real estate, before discovering and applying winning sales techniques that earned him more than a million dollars in just three years, leaving him wealthy by age 27. In his last year as an agent, he sold 365 homes—the equivalent of one per day. In a period of six years, he closed 1,553 real estate transactions. Today he spends his time teaching others how to become sales champions.

Brian Summerfield

Brian Summerfield is Manager of Business Development and Outreach for NAR Commercial and Global Services. He can be reached at

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