Long Live the Soft Sell

In the classic cult comedy Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Sir Arthur and his knights must answer three questions each in order to pass over a bridge. It’s a study in inanity, something those Pythons do wonderfully.

Bridgekeeper: Stop. Who would cross the Bridge of Death must answer me these questions three, ere the other side he see.
Sir Lancelot: Ask me the questions, bridgekeeper. I am not afraid.
Bridgekeeper: What… is your name?
Sir Lancelot: My name is Sir Lancelot of Camelot.
Bridgekeeper: What… is your quest?
Sir Lancelot: To seek the Holy Grail.
Bridgekeeper: What… is your favourite colour?
Sir Lancelot: Blue.
Bridgekeeper: Go on. Off you go.
Sir Lancelot: Oh, thank you. Thank you very much.

Bridgekeeper: Stop. What… is your name?
Galahad: Sir Galahad of Camelot.
Bridgekeeper: What… is your quest?
Galahad: I seek the Grail.
Bridgekeeper: What… is your favourite colour?
Galahad: Blue. No, yel…
[Galahad is thrown over the edge]
Galahad: auuuuuuuugh.
Bridgekeeper: Hee hee heh.

Does that sound familiar? How about this:

What… is your name?
What… is your price range?
What… is your favorite reason to pass on a house?

Jeff Shore wants you to move from what to why. In his new book, The 4:2 Formula: Getting Buyers Off the Fence and Into a Home, Shore pleads with readers to stop trying to get to know prospects by asking them how many bedrooms they want.

Instead, Shore says to work on integrating “one of the most overlooked and underdeveloped traits of successful salespeople.” He wants you to become “insanely curious.” From inanity to insanity perhaps?

Shore’s titular formula makes mathematical sense and explains just how peoples’ dreams for the future interact with their present dissatisfaction to produce action. The 4:2 formula also functions as a solid underpinning for his insistence that salespeople to get to know their clients’ real emotional reasons for buying a house. After all, he says, that young couple is not buying a house because their apartment is too small. They’re buying a house because they want to entertain or they have terrible neighbors or they want to garden or they need a separate room for their new baby. Shore’s argument is that a simple square footage requirement isn’t going to tell you that, and not knowing it is a disservice to your clients.

Of course, there are right ways and wrong ways to go about getting that information. Thankfully, Shore is specific enough to explain them, but not so tied to scripts that the reader emerges from the text sounding like a Jeff Shore robot.

In addition to busting up preconceptions about how to determine what motivates buyers, Shore also contends that there’s no such thing as a client who “just started looking.” Ironically, the guy whose book’s title includes “getting buyers off the fence” doesn’t believe in looky-loos. If they are talking to a real estate professional, they have probably been looking for years, he says. Shore writes, “labeling a prospect a ‘tire-kicker’ gives me a convenient excuse for why I didn’t sell them a home.” Everyone who contacts you is a “legitimate prospect,” otherwise they wouldn’t be talking to you.

At the end of the book, Shore seals the deal with a 20-page guide to rereading the book in a more active way, over a specified 10 weeks. His appendices include success stories and sample scripts.

Although I didn’t take his rereading advice, I would recommend this book to those whom Shore identifies as his target audience: “those who see sales as a valuable service to their clients, and those who see salespeople as contributing to the societal good.” Or at least for those who’d rather be insanely curious than inanely quizzical.

Meg White

Meg White is the managing editor for REALTOR® Magazine and administrator of the magazine's Weekly Book Scan blog. Contact her at mwhite[at]realtors.org.

More Posts - Website - Twitter - Facebook

  1. Mags

    Sounds like a great non-selling approach that appeals to those of us who dn’t like to be called salespersons”!

  2. JJ

    The KISS Principle…is in everything.

  3. This is Hysterical! Thanks for sharing with all of us.