I Say Sales, You Say Marketing

This week I chatted with John Jantsch, author of Duct Tape Marketing and The Referral Engine about his brand-new book, Duct Tape Selling: Think Like a Marketer—Sell Like a Superstar (Portfolio Hardcover: 2014). We also talked about specific sales strategies for real estate pros, the melding of marketing and sales, and how the customer experience can be improved with a few simple changes in perspective. Here’s an edited version of our conversation.

From the trailer for Duct Tape Selling.

From the trailer for Duct Tape Selling.

Who is Duct Tape Selling meant for?

Originally this book was for the individual, independent salesperson. The whole subtitle of “think like a marketer—sell like a superstar,” does expand the audience, but I really started out writing for that person. I wanted to write a book that presents the more complete and personal way to market and sell. But now I’m also getting support from bigger companies and leaders in marketing and networking. I think that’s because this book really covers how to get sales and marketing departments on the same page.

How does it differ for those who have read Duct Tape Marketing?

I get this question a lot. In reality, they go together. Like sales and marketing today, there’s a lot of overlap, and that’s a good thing. These days, sales and marketing teams need to be able to work together. We really have to have that seamless, end-to-end experience between the marketing, sales, and even customer service groups.

It’s funny, because I think real estate has been a little ahead of the curve on combining sales and marketing. For example, the section of REALTOR® Magazine’s website that deals with these types of issues has been called simply “Sales & Marketing” for the longest time.

Yes. Real estate professionals are a little different because even if you are independent agent running your own brokerage, most of what you’re doing is sales, quite frankly. People talk about marketing, but it really is very sales-oriented marketing. That’s why I believe this book has a lot to offer to that individual agent. I’m talking about a very personalized way to go about the sales process.

You suggest a bunch of different ways that readers can become experts and stay up on the latest market news. Can you explain why that’s important?

One of the greatest benefits of social media is the ability it gives you to listen, to get much smarter about your industry and your customers. I talk about this a lot. In fact, chapter one is all about listening! But really, the best thing about this online-powered form of listening is not only how it can make you a real expert on the industry, but also it’s giving you access to the world’s greatest market research at your fingertips. A real estate professional could go type onto Twitter search a couple of simple terms and their location and easily find people who are talking about moving. They could even go outside their location and find people who are planning on moving to the area. And that may be somebody you might want to reach out to.

In fact, in the book I give an example of a real estate agent who relocated to a new community with his spouse’s company from another country. He started blogging and getting out there on social media, targeting people who were talking about moving into his new community. That kind of marketing meant he ended up being the number one salesperson in just three years. What he was doing was tuning in to people whom he could really help, and they were an audience nobody else was calling on.

What is a ‘talking logo’ and how can it help with branding?

People really need to think about personal branding in more than just a visual way. I came up with the term “talking logo” to illustrate a very concise and hopefully intriguing comment people can make about their work. So, let’s use the example I was just talking about, with the guy that relocated to this country. Instead of saying, “I’m a real estate agent,” he could say something like, “I take all the pain and mystery out of moving to a new community.” It becomes your go-to when people want to know about you. And much like a logo, it identifies what you stand for. It also sums up how what you do is different from others or it helps sum up the value you bring to the table.

Most people think of social media as free marketing, so I was wondering if you could explain why a person might want to invest actual money in it, as you suggest in the book.

On some of these networks, you get a lot better tools and access when you pay a little extra. So let’s say that you find that LinkedIn is a place where you’re able to connect with potential customers, and it’s already helping your business. With a paid account, you have the ability to reach out without having to be directly connected to a person. You can also conduct saved searches, so if you search for potential leads and you come back with 400-some hits, you can reach out to a few right away and then save that search to come back to later.

Most of these networks started out not even thinking about how they could make money. They’ve all gone back and said, “Now that we have 6 billion users, how can we add value and charge for it?” But that’s the key: You have to already be getting something from these networks to help your business. If you’re getting value out of engaging people via LinkedIn, it makes sense to make that extra step. Or if you are producing content that’s already doing fairly well at engaging people on Facebook, buying ads on Facebook that promotes that content makes sense for your marketing plan. Where these paid tools work is you first figure out how to get value out of the product for free. After you figure out that it works, it makes sense to invest in it.

Could you explain the “sales hourglass” that you talk about in this book?

It’s really just how you map out the customer journey. I’ve drawn out the three groups who tend to handle the customer experience [sales, marketing, and customer service], and broke the stages they go through into seven pieces. Know, Like, and Trust are traditionally marketing responsibilities, where Try and Buy are part of the sales experience. At the end, you have Repeat and Refer, which generally fall under the customer service category. For this book, I really blew up that middle piece of Try and Buy. But really, all seven of these are part of the experience, so smart salespeople are reaching out earlier in that customer journey.

Real estate agents know that house hunters don’t necessarily just drive down the street, see a sign and call up the person and say, “I want you to be my agent.” They go online, they do research and see who’s talking about the real estate professionals online. A lot of times we don’t get a chance to even make our pitch because the consumer has already created that short list of two or three people they think they want to work with before we ever get a chance. So the key is to start thinking about how you can inject yourself before they’re ready to buy. Get on their radar, build trust, share valuable information with them.

Another big part of this process is changing the way you see it. A lot of times, salespeople make the mistake of telling their clients, “The approach we’re going to take is…” when they should be letting the customer drive that. A much healthier approach is to think about it as collaborative experience, designing a solution together.

Finally, content is a huge part of what drives the stages of the hourglass. Think about content you can offer, whether that would be a free homeowner’s workshop or tips on how to winterize your house. By distributing that kind of thing, customers come to like you and trust you. The bottom line is that real estate agents have to get into producing content. I don’t think there’s any other way around it. But it’s also about being social and curating content people want access to. Instead of just thinking about getting the most followers, you need to have a very intentional strategy of creating content and engaging people around it. Those two elements —as well as building yourself as an industry expert—are the biggest things real estate professionals can do from a marketing standpoint.

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.

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