Coughing and Laughing: Keys to Closing a Sale

While Dave Cook, founder of Sales Training On- the-Go and author of How To Be A GREAT Salesperson…by Monday Morning!, shares some traditional sales techniques in his book and training program, he’s got a few quirky ones, too. Did you ever think coughing could be a good way to generate business?

“When buyers call up a real estate agent they’re often nervous about taking such a big step,” says Cook. “Whether you’re talking on the phone or meeting someone in person for the first time, cough and then say, ‘excuse me, I am so sorry, I must have picked up a bug while walking the dog’. The cough makes you seem real, like a human being, not a robot. The ‘excuse me’ shows you’re humble and your comment about a dog or whatever it is you say gives you an opportunity to talk about something else, so you don’t seem like you’re making a hard sell.”

Sales people, including real estate agents, are known for their warm personalities. Cook suggests capitalizing on this warmth by injecting humor into a conversation or meeting as soon as possible.

“Laughter relaxes people and releases endorphins that make them happy,” says Cook. “Someone who is laughing is immediately on your side.”

While Cook doesn’t suggest you become a stand-up comic, he says some silly comments or gentle jokes can warm up a relationship fast.

“When I get on a ‘Go-to-Meeting’ conference call, it always announces when someone joins the call with the name of the person, Sandy for example, and says ‘Sandy has arrived,” says Cook. “That’s a good time to make an ‘Elvis is the building’ kind of joke.

EBU method to close more deals

Real estate agents are familiar with the need to create a sense of urgency in their clients to get them to take the big step of signing a contract for what’s likely to be the biggest purchase of their lives. But have you heard of “EBU”? EBU, says Cook, stands for the three key ingredients to closing a deal: enthusiasm, benefits and urgency.

After more than 30 years of sales experience in a variety of fields, Cook says it doesn’t matter whether you are selling shoes, bicycles or houses: you always need the same selling skills.

“You have to be excited, because if you’re not excited, your customers won’t be, either,” says Cook. “Your attitude is your customer’s attitude.”

If you’re feeling less than enthusiastic, Cook recommends the following mental exercise: Sit alone, preferably in the dark, and think about the happiest time of your life. It can be your first kiss or the birth of a child, anything you can recall that was exciting. Then, set a trigger to recall that feeling such as the sound your car door makes when you close it.

“When you get to a house with your client, you’ll feel that excitement and be able to translate it to them,” says Cook.

The “benefits” piece requires you to understand your customer’s desires and to figure out how the house you’re showing them fills in the gaps in their happiness.

“Generating a sense of urgency separates the stars from the superstars,” says Cook. “You have to give a customer a reason to act now because the hottest they will ever be is when you’re showing them their house.”

Cook suggests one way to create urgency is to connect the house and the prospective buyer by repeating the customer’s name often and assuming the sale will happen.

“Say, ‘here’s your foyer, Bill’ and ‘here’s your kitchen, Sue’ and the psychological factor will kick in so they think it’s theirs,” says Cook. “After you go through the whole house, you delicately invoke the ‘takeaway close’ and mention that other people are also looking at it. Then they’ll feel that sense of urgency.”

Using the right words to close the deal

When you’ve established a relationship with someone and it’s time to close the deal, Cook has a few suggestions that can help move the transaction forward.

“If you’ve called someone a few times and the deal is still alive but you think your customers may be tired of hearing from you, start by saying, ‘forgive me for my persistence, please’,” says Cook. “People almost always respond by saying not to worry about bothering them. You can tell them you’re holding off other potential buyers for that lot or model because you want to make sure you give them a chance to buy the home.”
Asking open-ended questions such as “When do you want to get together again?” or “How do you want to get started on this?” keeps buyers on the hook, says Cook, and more likely to respond positively.

Substituting the phrase “Can you help me?” for “Can you do me a favor?” works wonders, says Cook, when you’d like to nudge someone to make a decision.

“If you ask someone to do you a favor, it feels like a burden, but people instinctively like to help others and to be thought of as someone who will be helpful,” says Cook.
When you’re ready to ask your customer to sign paperwork, the simple substitution of the word “agreement” for the word “contract” can ease their tension.

“Signing an agreement is far less intimidating than signing a contract, even though it’s essentially the same thing,” says Cook.

A cough, a laugh, a smile and the right words can move more of your customers from prospective buyers to proud homeowners.

About the author 

Michele Lerner

Michele Lerner is an award-winning freelance writer, editor and author who has been writing about real estate, personal finance and business topics for more than two decades.

She writes for regional, national and international publications in print and online for a variety of audiences including consumers, real estate investors, business owners and real estate professionals.

Her work has appeared in The Washington Post, The Washington Times, Urban Land magazine, NAREIT’s REIT magazine, National Real Estate Investor Magazine and online at,, The Motley Fool,,, Fox Business, MSN, Yahoo,,, and in numerous state and local realtor association publications.

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