If you’re like me and don’t want to work really hard at something you don’t particularly enjoy…and sales is something you don’t particularly enjoy…then this post is for you.
However, don’t get me wrong here: I’m not giving you an excuse not to work hard. What I’m actually going to do is show you an approach to selling that will allow you to train better and actually enjoy it.
See, the main reason most people don’t like to sell is they feel uncomfortable “pressuring” people. And most people don’t like salespeople, whether they are selling used cars or real estate, because they can be “pushy.”
Well, with the following approach I’m about to share with you, you will never pressure another person again. In fact, people will enjoy talking to you and you’ll enjoy engaging them and you’ll walk away with more clients, homes and money.
It will be a game you can master with appropriate amounts of training, and it will be a game you’ll come to love. Sound hard to believe? Well, once you see how it works, you won’t think so any more.
See, the bottom line is this: you have to take the responsibility of driving the “sales” off of you and put it on the other person. You do this by asking questions. But not just any questions. These questions have to be engineered to do several things: spark curiosity, build credibility, build relationships, uncover needs and create commitments.
Let’s get started.
What makes asking questions so important
The best conversationalists are those who ask questions. Legend has it that Dale Carnegie spent the evening talking to a young, famous woman who at the end of the night told the hostess of the party, who was equally famous, that Carnegie was the best conversationalists she’d ever met.
Funny thing is, Carnegie admits in his book How to Win Friends and Influence People, that she dominated the conversation. He simply asked questions about her life the whole night.
Part of the magic of asking questions is that the focus is off of you and on them…and people love to talk about themselves. But it’s never enough just to get them talking. You don’t want to get stuck with someone who blabbers for hours on end. Asking questions will allow you to control the conversation. Of course, you have to be bold enough to interrupt occasionally.
Ask questions that spark curiosity
When it comes to getting somebody interested in what you have to say…namely, buying and selling real estate through you…you have to make it look like it was their idea to talk about the topic in the first place. So you have to get them curious.
How do you do that? Talk about something interesting. How do you know what’s interesting to that person? Ask them. “So, what it is it you like to do? Got any hobbies? What’s your idea of a perfect vacation?”
Let’s say you learn they like to run on trails. Then you could say this: “Ever been out to Simi Valley? They’ve got this really great trail system in the hills that runs for miles behind all of the subdivisions. I have two houses out there for sale that back up to the trails.”
Naturally all you are doing at this point is introducing them to the fact that you are a real estate agent. If you’re lucky, they’ll say, “So, you are a real estate agent, eh?” Be prepared, however, for them not to bite. You’ve got to take it to the next level.
Ask questions that build credibility
Your next step is to demonstrate that you know what you are talking about, and the way to do that is to ask questions that show you understand your business or their needs. For example, you could ask prospects:
- Do you know that there is not a light rail stop near that area?
- Are you aware of the maintenance and ongoing cost of owning a pool? Costs like chemicals and winterizing it? [The more specific you can be, the better.]
- Did you know those homes are built over a mine shaft?
By asking questions that demonstrate you understand your market, buyer’s needs, etc., you are slowly persuading people you talk to that you are a knowledgable, trustworthy guy or gal.
But not all questions need to be about real estate to build credibility and likeability. If you land on a topic that you both love, drill down into that topic. It could be on sail boats, fiction books or cage fighting. Ask them questions about that topic and they’ll begin to like you.
Ask questions that build relationships
Your next step is to get a little personal. You must be further along in the discussion, possibly two or more contacts before you ask questions that build relationships, but in reality, it’s really more about common sense. I’m not sure I’d do it, for example, on inbound lead calls from a classified ad, but if you feel like the first time you talk to someone you could ask these questions, go for it. Sizing up the person you are talking to is critical to successful question asking.
So what exactly are relationship-building questions? These can be questions about family or work or just about anything personal. However, the way it works in the real estate world is these questions are more about “feelings.” For example, “How do you feel about this?” “Are you as concerned about this as I am?” “Do you really want to wait that long for an offer?”
In a subtle way these questions are establishing you as someone who cares about their friend, prospect or client. It also helps to ask these questions when you are not certain about a particular decision to make.
Ask questions to uncover needs
One of the best uses of questions is to uncover needs. These are probing questions. Questions like this:
- What’s more important to you…being close to your family or your job?
- Can you afford to drop your price ten percent if the need arises?
- How many children in your family? Your wife home schools? Does she need dedicated space to do that?
If you have a hard time coming up with questions on the fly, then try using the 5 Ws method: Who, What, When, Where, Why. For example, “Why would you and your family decide to live there if you work an hour away?” “When did you install the sump pump?” “Who is responsible for designing the house?”
Ask questions that secure a commitment
Finally, all your nice work with questions should lead to a commitment of some kind. It doesn’t have to be a monumental commitment. It could be a small gesture like, “Would you like a business card?” Or “Do you mind if I look that information up for you and call you on Monday?”
The beauty of getting a commitment this way is that you are lowering your chances of getting rejected. Small commitments allow you to take baby steps through the sales process. You will have to be patient, so start the training now. You won’t regret it.
Do you use questions like the above approach? What other methods do you use when it comes to asking questions? Please share.
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