Most professionals in the real estate business are not very skilled salespeople – and frankly it is not their fault. Unfortunately, many real estate companies do not offer formal sales training to their agents, instead it often happens something like this:
“Sit and listen to Bill for a couple of hours, he is a really good salesperson. And here is a call sheet – start pounding the phones after lunch when you are done learning from Bill”.
Even worse, some real estate companies only hire “experienced Realtors®,” simply hoping that somehow, someway they have learned how to sell effectively – or it is hoped that perhaps sales training was offered by a previous brokerage.
Either way, unless someone is a “natural born salesperson” (I would estimate less than 1% of the population), then a Realtor® may struggle in gaining commitment from the prospect and/or selling the deal.
As a result of this lack of formal sales training, many Realtors® try to earn business by selling discount commissions to their prospects, or the monetary savings that result from selecting them as an agent. No matter, take solace in knowing that your competition’s first resort should be your last resort.
**Broker Bonus Tip:
“Sell discount commissions only as a last resort…if you find yourself cutting commissions a lot, then you likely have not done a good job creating excitement with the benefits of working with you; you have not adequately sold yourself with confidence and conviction; or they were not moved by the quality and reputation of your organization” – Jeremy Sposato, Fort Myers Broker
In Olympic Track & Field events the Top 3 finishers get rewarded – everyone is familiar with the Gold, Silver, and Bronze medals. The difference between 1st and 3rd in a race may only be 0.4 seconds. In Real Estate there is only GOLD, the SILVER and BRONZE medalists do not earn a living. You need not run laps around your competitors, but you must do something that will separate yourself.
There are many ways to sell real estate, however having a common methodology, affords you the greatest opportunity for success. Additionally, using a consistent methodology allows you to be coached so that you may improve more rapidly and consistently!
My Realtor® Sales Methodology consists of 10 steps:
- Immediate and Enthusiastic Meet & Greet
- Build Value for Yourself and your Company
- Needs Assessment and Qualify
- Setting Customer Expectations
- Land them on the Product
- Full 6 Position Presentation
- Customer Takes Mental Ownership
- Ask for the Sale
- Get a Commitment and Write the Offer!
- Ask for Referrals and Establish Follow up program
**Broker Bonus Tip:
“Using a proven sales methodology gives you an edge! Apply your knowledge – subtle skills give you a tenth of second advantage here and a tenth of a second there – this ensures that you will be successful in this fiercely competitive industry.” – Jeremy Sposato, Fort Myers Broker
Step 1 – Immediate and Enthusiastic Meet & Greet
Whether on the phone or in person the effect of an initial positive experience cannot be understated! When interacting with a prospective prospect, smile, laugh, and be energetic. It makes no difference to the prospect that you may have had a tough day and on the phone with appraisers, title representatives, or lender account executives for the past four hours. Keep in mind also, First Contact they could care less about you – they care only about their budgetary needs, their home search, and their family.
Understand that each and every interaction is a performance. Use gestures when you talk – the person on the other end can hear it in your voice…there is an old saying in sales that “Motion creates Emotion”.
In the first interactions with your prospect it is the only chance you have to make a good first impression. The secret key to establishing a good relationship is “COMMON GROUND!”
If in the course of the initial moments of steps one, two, and three make sure you endeavor a few sidebars (Customer is from NY = so are you a Yankee fan or a Mets fan? Regardless of whether you love or hate the Yankees. This will be an opportunity to learn something about each other).
**Broker Bonus Tip:
“Never feel weird about making immediate contact with a prospect who has registered on your website. Remember, they reached out to you. If I encounter someone who is taken back by my fast response time I always associate them registering on my website with them walking into my office lobby.
If you walked in my lobby I would make immediate contact with you and not leave you waiting, if I didn’t you would not be very happy with me, would you?
This usually gets a few laughs or chuckles and begins to establish some rapport.” – Jeremy Sposato, Fort Myers Broker
Use your prospect’s name early, often, and throughout the interaction. Simply put, it helps in rapport building and establishing trust. People love to be referred to by name – psychologically it is comforting and adds an air of familiarity. If your prospect has a difficult-to-pronounce name DO NOT slaughter it, instead say, “Wow, that is a very unique name – how would I properly say it?”
Help the prospect feel as though staying on the phone with you is the best choice they could have made. Flattery of your prospect can accomplish both, “You did the right thing by speaking with me…” or “Staying on top of your finances and looking at your options is very intelligent Mr. Jones”
**Broker Bonus Tip:
“The two basic tenets of behavioral psychology are that (1) people seek to be liked by others, and (2) they seek to be correct in their decision-making processes. Seek opportunities to apply these principals throughout the course of the Sales Methodology.” – Jeremy Sposato Broker Fort Myers
Understanding those two basic tenets of behavioral psychology referenced above you can make statements such as, “You know what I like about you Mr. Jones? You’re always thinking ahead, and you’re right – this is a great real estate market to be buying in”
It is very important that your prospects feel overall positive about the opportunity to work with you. Our business of selling real estate and the immediate tasks needed for writing an offer in today’s market will require a high degree of disclosure and perceived vulnerability on the part of the prospect. Keep in mind that all offers must accompany Proof of funds (bank statement) or a prequalification letter. It is very important that your prospects are comfortable with you, your appearance (visually and otherwise), your demeanor, and your professionalism.
**Broker Bonus Tip:
This is the best opening you will ever use in all of your real estate career. It will start a conversation with your prospect and move you down the path to creating a relationship and establishing common ground.
“Hello,<Prospect First name>. Again, my name is <first and last name>. I’m a licensed Realtor® here at <Enter your Brokerage name> and I’ll be taking care of you today. Please tell me a little bit more about what you’d hope to accomplish with your home search today…
This script will work no matter if the prospect is buying an investment property, a second home, or seeking out their primary residence. It opens up the lines for a discussion and gets away from yes and no answers, starting conversations. – Jeremy Sposato, Fort Myers Broker
As you introduce yourself, always use your first and last name. It makes you sound important and professional. Additionally, you are to tell your prospects that you are a Licensed Realtor® to denote further importance and experience. Telling your potential prospect that you are going to take care of them is both assumptive and calming (they will initially be a bit uneasy talking to stranger about their needs and personal finances). Asking your prospect what he/she hopes to accomplish with their home search simply begins the process.
Step 2 – Build Value for Yourself and your Company
Your prospects must have a reason to give you their business. In case you weren’t aware, you are not the only Realtor® in the world. In order to truly earn the business and create an atmosphere of trust and loyalty (get them to stop shopping around for an agent) you have to make the Prospect TRULY BELIEVE that YOU are as good as it gets. In order to do that you must EDUCATE them. It is important to take the time to explain to them what is happening with the local real estate market. Make sure that you understand and can properly communicate at least the last 5-10 years history of what has happened in your market place. Be able to speak about things like median sales prices, and months of inventory. Understand the differences between those stats for single family vs condos.
Be able to speak intelligently about various counties, cities and specific subdivisions within your market. Know where the schools and the shopping is located. Take the time to educate yourself and be able to communicate what special assessments and condo fees are within your specific farming areas. Understand how far the beaches actually are from certain areas and how far it takes a boat to get to the gulf from various waterfront properties within your market. The whole reason your job actually exists is because you understand the local market. If you fail to understand this, you are not going to be able to sell yourself to your prospect.
Take the time to explain why you are asking the questions you ask. It is important for them to fully understand your ability to provide real property advice, counsel or logistical assistance. In addition, it is important to go over every aspect of the offer process, the papers associated and the importance of each. If you do not explain this there is no respect for the importance of these things in the mind of the prospect and you, your services, and all of the knowledge you have will be taken for granted.
Don’t forget to build value not only for yourself, but also the company you work for. So many Realtors® forget to do this.
Do you think that the average person would be impressed if they knew that your company has made sufficient investments to create a state of the art technology that will allow them their own private access to search MLS, save favorite properties and get immediate updates on as new properties come on the market or get reduced in price. Perhaps your brokerage has a department specific administrative staff to help process each and every sale? Or maybe your company offers in house lending or title services to make it more convenient to pre-qualify for a mortgage and to close with you?
“All of these things are advantages to you Mr. /Mrs. Prospect. Full time, in house lending relationships will speed up the loan process which will lead to a speedy and efficient offer process.”
“In house title services with face to face communications will make all the difference when moving towards closing, especially if they are dealing with an out of state buyer.”
“These services my company provides us with allow me to have more time to provide you with personal care and communication and I have straighter lines of communication with other professionals who help to get your offer closed.”
If you do a good job on this step you will have effectively given the prospect the perception that not only do they have one of the best Realtors in the business working on their potential purchase, but that Realtor® has a veritable arsenal of resources to bring to bear against any and all challenges that may present themselves as obstacles in the process of completing their purchase.
**Broker Bonus Tip:
“If you were hiring a security expert to protect yourself, your family, your home, and your assets would you prefer one man that says he’s good or one person that says he’s good and has an entire division of people and equipment with him??? Sell yourself and your company!” – Jeremy Sposato Fort Myers Broker
Step 3 – Needs Assessment and Qualify
This is the single most important step in the entire process of earning a sale. It is at this time that you will NEED to completely understand each and all of the following questions:
- NEEDS (what does the prospect absolutely need out of this transaction?)
- WANTS (what does the prospect reasonably want out of this transaction?)
- DESIRES (what is on the prospects “wish list”?)
- ABILITY (what are the strengths and weaknesses of the prospect?)
- WHO (who is on the contract? Husband, wife, both, etc.)
- WHAT (what is the intent of the purchase?)
- WHY (why is the prospect wanting to do this?)
- WHERE (do we need to be close to schools? Major highways?)
- WHEN (what is the timing for this purchase and why?)
- HOW (how is the prospect going to provide what is necessary to get the loan and maintain the loan?)
This should be looked at as a fun game. The reason I say this is because the absolute best sales people will have gotten most of this information long before sitting down and actually showing property. If you do not start working on this information upon greeting them and establishing your relationship you will usually end up with a full blown “interview session.” This doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Meaning if prefaced correctly you can make the interview session a good thing.
Here are 5 questioning success strategies:
- Ask your prospect questions that make him consider new information
- Ask questions that qualify your prospects needs
- Ask questions about improving family or personal goals
- Ask questions that make your prospect think before giving a response
- Ask power questions to create a “BUYING” atmosphere – not a selling one
**Broker Bonus Tip:
“To enhance your listening skills, record your prospects answers in your CRM. This will preserve your data for future follow up, keeps the information straight, proves you care and makes the customer feel important when you reference it later” – Jeremy Sposato Fort Myers Broker
Some Powerful Questions/Statements:
“Please tell me a little bit more about what you are trying to accomplish with your home search today.”
“If you had your dream home, tell me some of the features it would have, where it would be and how it would look”
“Mr. /Mrs., Customer, just so you understand fully, I am very, very good at my job and in order for me to make sure that I can apply all that I know and all the resources available to me here at <Enter brokerage Name>, I will need to have a few pieces of information that only you can help me with. So, if it is alright with you, I would like to ask you a few simple questions to make absolutely sure that I understand exactly what it is you want to accomplish and ensure that I have the information to get you the best possible home to suit your needs. Is that ok with you?”
Step 4 – Setting Customer Expectations
Regardless of what needs assessment step yields for information you will undoubtedly find that there will be conflicting aspects of the prospect’s wants, needs, desires, and ability. In this case, it is ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY to properly set the expectations and the Prospect’s position and make them understand what conflicts are going to be a challenge. Without doing this you will have created a situation where you have, essentially, painted yourself into a corner. By spending so much time on how great you are and how awesome your company is you have made a relatively bold statement about your invincibility and real estate preeminence.
Regardless of the fact that there are currently 50 homes available today that meet their criteria, explain to them that there are 100 people who are looking to purchase those 50 homes. Feel free to further explain that many of them are cash buyers, with no financing contingencies. If your prospect happens to be a cash buyer explain to them the strength of a cash buyer is also taken into consideration when sellers consider offers. If your prospect is liquid 350,000 and are offering 320,000 on a home and another cash buyer offering the same price, but they happen to be liquid 500,000K the seller will most likely choose the other buyer to purchase the home.
Your prospect must get the distinct feeling that the challenges with his/her purchase requests may be difficult obstacles to overcome. Once that is established you have just paved the way to heroism! Make sure and keep in mind some of the most common obstacles that you see in today’s market so that you can quickly move into them for this step.
Step 5 – Land them on the product
This is the easiest part of your day. After efficiently handling the Needs Assessment of your Prospect(s), and effectively setting expectations you should already have a reasonable idea of what home they want and can afford. If you are a knowledgeable real estate professional in your marketplace then you had better be able to identify what product you should be showing this prospect. If not, that is an entirely different blog.
Make sure and be aware of the most common homes that you get inquires on in today’s market, be familiar with the price points of them as well as the features.
Step 6 – Full 6 Position Presentation:
This is where you must build in the mental ownership for your Prospects. If you do not present this in a manner that will directly relate to the Prospects you will not have them take mental ownership! Somewhere in the process of interviewing/needs assessment and the meet and greet, you will have learned something that will allow you to make this home purchase personal.
Charlie is looking to buy a bigger home. He and his wife have a 4 year old daughter and they just found out that they are pregnant again with a boy!! He and his wife have not ruled out additional children in the future. Charlie was recently relocated here for his job and has limited market knowledge. After a thorough needs assessment you realize that Charlie is going to require a minimal of a 4 bedroom home. You also had Charlie prequalify with one of your in-house lenders and found that he is prequalified for up to a 350K purchase. After understanding all of this an experienced Realtor® explains the following:
Charlie, you mentioned to me that you currently have a 4 year old daughter and you and your wife are now pregnant with another child that you will have within the next 4 months. You also mentioned that you are not eliminating the option of having another child in the near future. That is very exciting! It is quite an accomplishment to have a successful career and raise a beautiful family, you must be very proud of that! If there is one thing that is predictable about life, it is the fact that it is so darn “unpredictable”…WOULDN’T YOU AGREE?????
Well, with that in mind I was wondering…in the process of looking at home options for you and your family, I am considering a minimal of 4 bedroom home for you. I know you will not have full use of all the bedrooms initially but it is important to plan for the future RIGHT??? I also want to position you in an area that is close to elementary, middle, and high schools. Considering the age differences in your children it is very possible that you may find that you have one child in each school at the same time.
You tell me!!!!
It is important to make him feel the situation…not just think about it.
Step 7 – Customer Takes Mental Ownership
If you have done the previous step correctly then this will already be happening. Couples will already be going back and forth with additional scenarios that will make this purchase/sale useful.
Charlie’s wife might say something like:
“It will be good to have a 4 bedroom home in case we do decide to have another child, if we don’t I will have that scrap book room I have always wanted anyway!”
If you didn’t do the previous step effectively then you had better find some common ground quickly and redirect the discussion into a scenario that reiterates the benefits of this purchase to Charlie and his wife.
Step 8 – Ask For the Sale
This step is usually the hardest for most Realtors® I have worked with. For whatever reason they have a hard time closing the deal, even after they have done such a good job in all prior steps. Your closing request should be genuine and it will go a lot smoother.
“Well it looks as if we have found the perfect home for you. Obviously, this will allow you to: fill in the blanks with all of the benefits discussed in “taking mental ownership” (no less than two and no more than 3-4). Oh, and as you pointed out, it will also enable you to …. (Their suggestions).
I’m glad we were able to get all of your major goals accomplished (review needs assessment goals met with this purchase/sale).
Finally, assume the close….
I’m going to get you all the paperwork to finalize your purchase (do not mention terms like “contract”) and we will have this all wrapped up in………(always give an overestimate of time regardless of the stage, issue, or what you are accustomed to!)
Step 9 – Get a commitment and write the offer!
This step is really simple, it is the part where you actually write up the contract. You should make sure and be organized enough that your prospects do not have to wait long periods while you prepare the contract. Make sure that you are confident and knowledgeable enough to be able to breeze through the contract writing process. Be sure to have read and understand all aspects of the contract so that you can properly present it to your prospects for signature.
***They will have questions, be sure you can answer them!
Step 10 – Ask for Referrals and Establish Follow up Program
This step is overlooked by most all of the professionals in our industry. Make sure and stand out and follow through with this on every deal that you close.
“Well it looks like we were able to fulfill just about all the things you were looking to get done with this purchase. I hope you understand that your goals are what are most important to me. I am only as good as my Customers allow me to be and I realize that if it weren’t for my customers providing me with the opportunity to perform and achieve their goals I would never have had the chance to become the real estate professional I am today.
Just so you know, I will be staying in touch with you. I will be in touch in the next 45-60 days to make sure that everything goes well with your move in, etc. Then I will be following up again with you during the first year to make sure that you are really happy.
Is it fair to assume that you are happy with my service? Do you feel good about recommending me to a friend or family that you know is interested in purchasing a home now or will need one in the near future?
Who do you know that could benefit from my services and the resources that we offer here at <Enter your Brokerage Name> – (Make sure and get at least 3 names.)
Would it be ok if when I call these people I mention your name? Would you be willing to let them know how good your experience was with me and what you liked about working with me?
That is fantastic!!! I really appreciate that! And I cannot say how pleased I am that you realize how hard I work to ensure a truly outstanding level of service.”
As sales professionals, we must create urgency, generate excitement, and put our clients in tune with their wants. A sales presentation without emotion, without urgency and without want will not move someone to action. The Real Estate purchase must always make sense, never use your sales skills to put a client into a bad product. It must fulfill a need next week and next year, it is up to you to find a client’s “hot buttons” that will get them emotionally engaged.
There are situations in which prospects need to buy. However, why will your prospects want to buy with you today? A good sales person helps them by providing them with the clarity required to make a sound real estate decision.
The most important difference between the average sales person and the great sales person is CONFIDENCE. A confident individual can sell him or herself, having the ability to engender trust and faith in his/her prospective client. Act as if you have been advising individuals on real estate for years – remember you are a Realtor®. Act as if your time is very valuable (it is) – the prospect will feel grateful that you are here to help them. Make sure and take the time to become a local market expert and always act as if…
“Understanding is the key. It’s only difficult until you learn how to do it. Once you learn how to do it and understand it… its easy forever!”– Jeremy Sposato; Fort Myers Broker