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  1. Wealth
April 10, 2013

The Art of the Sale

By Spear's

Working in sales depends on good judgement: knowing when to tread softly and when to compose an email starting ‘Dear Arsehole’

There’s always that fine balance that we tread carefully when in sales – when to push and when to stand back graciously and let the client dictate the tempo. It applies to life as well – does fortune always favour the brave or are those who play the long game the more savvy operators? Do we bombard the object of our attention with poetry and persistence or do we hold back and make ourselves more desirable by doing so?

It depends on the character of the recipient and client, be they buyer or seller. Some like the firm hand of guidance; others loathe the idea of a pushy estate agent trying to dictate the agenda.

Pushy isn’t my style but there are times when I feel clients positively want to be shaken. My school friend Fruity (he’s reminiscent of a P.G. Wodehouse character hence his nickname), now a successful antique dealer, advises me to always be pleasant to everyone in business; tyre kickers and serious players alike.

The latter would be obvious but must you spend hours with people who you know have no intention of ever buying or selling? He seems to think ‘yes’ as on some karmic level they will create an opportunity for you elsewhere. I put his charming and naturally laid-back (though never lazy) demeanor down to his fondness for marijuana in our teenage years.

My professional mentor, christened ‘Big Daddy’ for he embodies a touch of Tennessee William’s swagger combined with an aura of pater familias, takes a rather different view. He’s of the ‘treat ‘em mean and keep ‘em keen’ school of thought. One particular example of his modus operandi was the email he sent to a client (or rather dictated to his devoted PA), which began ‘Dear Arsehole’. I was horrified when he first told me but learnt that said ‘Arsehole’ became one of his best clients.

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‘Some people,’ he tells me, ‘respond well to the abuse technique.’

‘Isn’t there something a touch masochistic about that?’ I ask.

‘Very powerful men (and they’re usually men rather than women) are not used to being told no, so it’s a sort of kinky pleasure for them when someone does.’

I don’t think that I’ve the confidence (yet) to start using such methods, though I’m very tempted with one particular client. We have achieved an asking price offer on his property (this isn’t a mere bagatelle but something worth tens of millions) and he hasn’t deigned to respond yet. It’s been months now and my excuses to the buyer have become just a little threadbare.

I’m tempted to tell them it’s all off but can’t bring myself to — the text message to him is composed on my phone but not yet sent: ‘Dear A***’ it begins…with nothing left to lose, it may be worth a shot.
Read more by Sebastian Gibson
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