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The Curious Secret to Getting People to Believe You

Ever wonder how you could get more people to believe you?

It’s easy, actually. And quite odd the way it works.

What’s the secret? Never tell a man more than he’ll believe.

Sounds like a moron statement, right?

Let me explain why it’s not.

The Law of Diminishing Credibility

There’s a law of diminishing returns directly tied to the law of diminishing credibility.

Even if you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that a home will triple in price in the next 5 years, if you have any concern that the buyer might find what you say hard to believe, it’s best to leave that information out.

See, the moment your claim passes the point of believability, credibility drops off like a rock.

In the 60’s some brilliant ad men took advantage of this.

Selling the Ugliest Car in the World

Remember the old Volkswagen sedan with the rag top that hadn’t changed in 20 years, the round top one?

One of the ugliest cars ever made.

In addition, it didn’t have any extra features that any ad man could talk about. Only later years did it have a gas gauge.

You could get so many miles on a tank of gas that you simply drove it until you ran out of gas and then switched to a small reserve tank that held more than enough fuel to get you to the closest gas station.

When the Doyle, Dane + Bernbach agency was given this account, they must have groaned.

What could you say about the car?

It only had two features: it was cheap to run and it was reliable. But everyone already knew that.

What more could they say about it?

Then they hit on a brilliant flash of inspiration: they decided to tell the truth.

I can imagine every ad man in America coming off their chairs and saying, “You are going to do what?”

Doyle, Dane + Bernbach ran a whole series of ads that said, “This car is ugly. It looks like a bug. A beetle.”

“This car is slow. You’ll be lucky if you ever get a ticket.”

The results of the campaign?

Phenomenal. People loved the campaign and sales shot up.

The truth. Simple, pristine truth is an astounding force. And these ad men had touched on a very important key of persuasion: if you point out the disadvantages, it makes everything else you say more believable.

How This Works in Real Estate

In real estate this might mean being frank with others about a house with some real issues, like its small, only has two bedrooms or one bathroom. The roof hasn’t been shingled in 25 years. It’s so old there isn’t central air and heating.

But once you have the disadvantages out of the way, then you can share the advantages.

“Quaint cottage with a historical background. Nice for one, maybe one-and-a-half, with ambition and muscle and a tad bit of cash.”

Isn’t that curious how that works?

By positioning the disadvantages first, you view the advantages in a whole different light. And it is a whole lot easier to swallow.

Besides, when we see an ad for a home that says “great home, lots of potential” don’t we immediately think, “Money pit.”

This rule of persuasion says this: never tell a person more than you think they’ll believe.

In fact, tell them the truth, share with them the disadvantages first, then move onto the advantages and you’ll have a captive audience.

8 Ways to Get Clients to Trust You With the Biggest Purchase Decision of Their Life

Recently I worked on a project in which clients were trying to sell $50,000 beach-front lots in Latin America in what amounted to a barn-burning email series. We sent four emails over the period of two weeks. The last two emails came within 24 hours of each other.

While it seemed to generate some serious interest on the front end, at the end of the campaign zero sales were made. Two inquiries were made, but those fizzled out. And, in the end the campaign was thought to be a bust.

Buying and selling real estate requires more than a crafty and compelling sales message in an email series. It’s long-term. And it looks like this.
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How to Kill a Sale: 5 Stupid Tactics

Buying and selling real estate in a recession is no easy task. You have to work hard. And your margin for error is a whole heck of a lot thinner than when things are good. I’ve been in real estate long enough to see my fair share of booms and busts. And I’ve been in real estate long enough to know which sales tactics will lead to success–and which will lead to failure.

These latter tactics, the ones that kill deals, are all too common in our business. If you are not familiar with them, take a peek to see if you are making any of them. And see how you can avoid them.

1. Chase Dead Leads

Getting a warm body on the phone or in person in today’s economy can make some salespeople giddy. And it can blind them. Real estate agents are no exception. We get someone interested in us to help him buy a house. He’s got a few picked out. You immediately agree, jump in your SUV and pick them up. Three weeks and ten homes later you learn he’s got a poor credit score and is underemployed.

That would be a dead lead. You didn’t just kill a sale. You never had one to begin with. It was DOA. Next time around find out if they both have the desire and ability to buy. Stick them in your marketing funnel if they don’t.

2. Sell Features Before Benefits

Fireplace. Low utility bills. Close to downtown. In-ground pool. All of these are great things. They are also features. And can mean a thousand things to a thousand different people.

An in-ground pool sounds like work. Come to think of it, so does a fireplace. And what does low-utility bills mean to me? And close to downtown–so what? Next time around sell them on the benefits. Save money. Be the most popular guy in the subdivision. Romance your wife with a fire in the fall. Save time commuting so you can spend it with your family. Those are the benefits of the features I mentioned above. That’s what will sell him. Not the features.

3. Raise Objections Too Soon

Answering objections that your prospect or client raise is essential. But don’t get ahead of yourself and answer those objections before they have even been raised. Sure, you can cover some obvious objections, but leave the other stuff for them to raise. Don’t hide anything illegal from them. Just don’t point out issues that they may not being looking for.

4. Wait for the Prospect to Move

There are a hundred ways to skin a cat. There are a hundred ways to kill a deal. Some quickly. Others slowly. Putting the ball into the client’s court–and leaving it there–will more than likely lead to a dead deal. Keep the ball in your court and you keep the sale alive. You keep the sale moving. Tell them you will call them at such-and-such date and time to follow up. Tell them what you need them to do next. Control the sale and you won’t kill the sale.

5. Fail to Listen

You can, however, control a sale to death. In your passion and excitement to keep the deal and live and moving forward you might find yourself talking over, around and through your client. You say you hear their concerns and desires, but you aren’t listening to them. You are too busy moving forward. Too busy to listen. This is a great way to shoot yourself in the foot. Don’t do it. Slow down. Listen to your client. Ask questions. Check his pulse every once in a while. What’s he thinking about? Anything he needs to share? Probe, and then listen carefully.

Leave a comment if this post was helpful or if you have anything you’d like to add. And if you like what you read, subscribe to the Real Estate Marketing Blog.

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How to Use a Major Life Events to Start a Cold-Call Conversation

How to Use a Major Life Events to Start a Cold-Call Conversation

The dreaded cold call. No real estate agent truly enjoys it. But it has to be done. And I’m not just talking about calling strangers out of the blue (although this will address that, too), I’m really talking about that call with just about anybody out of the blue.

It could be a past client. A prospect who changed their mind about working with you. Family members you haven’t talked to in decades. There is a really good reason that you would want to call these people and offer your real estate help. I’ll call this reason “trigger events.”

Life events are events that occur in someone’s life that get them thinking about buying or selling. And using these trigger events are a great way to get into a good conversation from a cold call.

For example, normally a cold call might look like this: “Hey, just wanted to say hi, and ask if you had any home buying or selling needs I could help you with.” This approach positions you as somebody who is clueless. Using a trigger event will position you as someone who knows what is going on: “Hey, I heard that you guys had twins. Congratulations! Are you going to have enough room in your two-bedroom?”

The second approach shows you know them and are interested in them. Of course I’ve compressed the conversation down for sake of space. The approach works much better if you work in your appeal naturally–not forced.

Let’s look at other trigger events, and how you could use them to start a great cold-call conversation.

1. Job Promotion: Are they relocating? Do they need help selling, renting or buying?

2. New Birth: Arrival of a new child will probably force them to think about space issues.

3. Death in the Family: You need to be sensitive with this one. Take it VERY slowly.

4. Lay Off: Another issue you need to be sensitive with. Best to remind them of their options for selling fast.

5.  Child Graduated from High School: Is the child going to college? Is the family thinking of downsizing?

6. Child Graduated from College: Is the child coming to live back at home for a time? Are they looking for a house? Where?

7. Paid Off Current Home: Are they looking for a second home? Downsizing?

8. Parent Coming to Live with Them: Are they going to upgrade? Rehab?

9. Retired: Are they going to stay in the area? Buy a second home?

10. Divorce: Do they need to sell? Can you help one of the partners buy a new home? Another sensitive issue you need to handle properly.

11. Adoption: Do they have the space?

The trick to making these kind of conversation starters work is to draw a very clear line between the life event and how you can help. If there is not a clear link, then abandon ship. They will smell your duplicity from a mile away and hate you for it, especially if it is a tragic life event like a death or divorce. Always remember to be kind and considerate.

This also means that you need to keep tabs on family, friends, past clients and prospects. You need to keep your ear close to the grapevine to hear about these events. Otherwise you will miss out.

Leave a comment if this post was helpful or if you have anything you’d like to add. And if you like what you read, subscribe to the Real Estate Marketing Blog.

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8 Step Process to Selling More

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An 8-Step Painless Process to Selling More

You want to make more per year, but you are stuck in a rut. And you can’t figure out what is wrong. You’ve tried to work longer hours to sell more houses, but that just ends up killing you, your family and ultimately your business.

What you have to do is get smart about selling more. The following eight steps will help you do that without you having to sacrifice more time or family.

1. What you sell is a verb–not a noun.

Whether you are on the buying or selling side of the market (or both, for that matter), think of what you do as an action–instead of thinking of it as a noun. For example, your product isn’t a house. That’s a noun. Your product is selling that house–helping the owners get out of it so they can move on to their next phase of their life.

Why is this important? If you focus on the house, then you will only focus on the features of that house. You’ll try to sell the kitchen rather than the world-class cooking that could happen in their. You’ll try to sell the fireplace as a thing of beauty rather than the wonderful Christmas’ the family can have in front of a roaring fire.

2. Pre-qualify your leads.

Just because you have a dozen leads coming in a week doesn’t mean that you will get more sales. You have to ask yourself if those leads are qualified–or are they just tire kickers? More than likely they’ll just be tire kickers.

Naturally you’ll want to be able to spot poor leads quickly and kick them to the curb, but that can be time consuming. A hotline is a great way to vet leads before they even reach you.

3. Maximize your time with clients

Next to having the ability to quickly vet leads you also lead the ability to vet clients as well. Even after a qualified lead comes in you should still be on the alert for whether you can help them or not. They may have demands that are too high and unrealistic or want to look in a market that is unfamiliar to you.

Discover whether you can help these people quickly. If you can, great. If you can’t, kick them to the curb and move on to the next lead. Forcing someone to look at or even buy something they don’t way is not a good long-term strategy when it comes to getting more sales.

4. Learn how to listen.

Your time with a lead or client should be spent asking them carefully-crafted questions that will help you understand their needs. Don’t discuss everything you’ve accomplished in the past two years or how you’ve helped some clients find the best houses. Get to know your lead by finding out what it is they want and need.

5. Hire an assistant–delegate everything but selling.

When you are working with more qualified leads you are closing more sales. And when you are closing more sales you are naturally doing less of something else. This something else could be paperwork, marketing or cold calling. Hire someone else to handle these for you. What you pay them per hour will be small compared to the amount of money you can make selling more.

6. Shorten your sales cycle.

One of the things you should constantly strive to do is make your sales process more efficient. If a typical sale occurs in four months, shaving 15 days off will give you room for another sale in a 12 month period. Of course you’ll have multiple sales going on, but that time you shaved off will earn you more.

7. Go for the big sales.

If you focus on moving $150,000 homes, you’ll have to move over 7 houses in order to make a million dollar sale. That’s a lot of work–at least not as hard as moving just one million dollar home. Of course there are more $150,000 homes available than a million dollar home, but even if you moved up to the $300,000 to $500,000 market you’ll make more in less.

8. Keep the leads coming in.

Never lose site of where your leads come from–and never let that source go dry. Whether you are churning out leads from referrals, direct mail, internet or event marketing, constantly keep that pipeline full.

Leave a comment if this post was helpful or if you have anything you’d like to add. And if you like what you read, subscribe to the Real Estate Marketing Blog.

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3 Tactics for Closing a Sale

It’s pretty common in real estate…sales people are moving down the sales presentation beautifully, hitting all of their points, handling objections, making clients and prospects feel like their are the center of the universe.

And when they come to the close…they get stuck in the mud.

It’s like all of their real estate training goes out the window!

What gives?

Well, to be honest, this situation is most often seen at small businesses versus large brokerage houses. Why is that? Well, the large houses usually invest in significant amounts of real estate training, especially when it comes to closing a sale.

The smaller brokers tend to have the perception that agents should already know how to do this. Have you ever experienced this?

Let me show you how to revamp your sales strategy so you can boost your closing rates. Here’s my advice:

Sales Tactic #1: Boost your confidence

Really good sales people not only know how to talk to complete strangers, compliment people, show off their wonderful personality and demonstrate great skills in presenting…but often they struggle in the area of asking for the sale.

Sometimes this comes from a lack of trust in the company or the product. Other times it’s rooted in a fear of personal rejection.

To overcome this you need to start learning more about your customers and what you are selling…and then practice these skills. In addition, approach your broker and ask if he or she will invest in sales training. Tell them it will be a good return on investment.

Sales Tactic #2 – Induce scarcity into your presentations

Scarcity is a great tool to use to get people to close sales themselves. If you can put into the mind of a client that you only have one of something…one ranch in this neighborhood with four bedrooms and three baths…they will feel a need to hurry and place an offer on it.

If you don’t use the word “only” and make it seem like the supply is abundant, then your client will feel in no hurry to place an offer. That’s why you have to make things seem like a one-of-a-kind offer.

Some people feel like the word “only” is one of the most powerful words in a sales person’s vocabulary. If you are really creative you can make every home you represent a one-of-a-kind place.

There is “only” one condo on this block that has two bathrooms and is near the subway. Or, there is “only” one villa this a block away from the beach that has a garage.

See how that works?

Sales Tactic #3 – Never wait for “yes”

When  you are a real estate agent, you need to be impatient. What I mean by that is you can’t wait for a prospect to tell you that they want to buy or sell. You have to assume that they want to buy or sell.

You say, “Okay, any more questions before I sit down to write up the contract?”

When they say “no,” that is your cue to start filling out the contract. As you can see, the word “no” actually becomes a positive.

Leave a comment if this post was helpful or if you have anything you’d like to add. And if you like what you read, subscribe to the Real Estate Marketing Blog.

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7 Ways to Make People Feel Like the Center of the Universe [Real Estate Persuasion Training-Part 2]

Part of a series on real estate persuasion training.

Real estate agents invest in people, not houses. As a real estate agent, you need relationships to succeed.

But that means you need relationships with not just clients, but those in your office or across town. Heck, even across the nation. And the best way to build those relationships is to make them feel special.

Make them feel like they are the center of the world.

How should you do that? Here are seven ways that Brian Tracy outlines in his wonderful little book “No Excuses!: The Power of Self-Discipline.”

  • Accept people the way they are. Most people will be rude or mean, critics and judges…so you can offer people unconditional love for who they are. You can take the time to bolster their self-esteem and build up their self-image. This will give you an advantage among your competition, and persuade people to listen to you and even follow your lead.
  • Show your appreciation for others. People love it when you recognize what they’ve done because it makes them feel good about themselves. And do you know what’s cool? You don’t have to buy them expensive gifts. All you have to do is say Thank you. Thanks them for everything. Ideas, opinions, time, suggestions, leads and business.
  • Be agreeable. Ever work with someone who is high-maintenance, never happy and negative? It’s a real drain, isn’t it? Well, when you are positive and agreeable, people will love to work with you and for you. Real estate agents who are combative and pessimistic will have a hard time ever signing any contracts. Sure, they might bully a person or two into it, but in the long run they’ll lose.
  • Show your admiration. People love to show off their possessions and achievements, but they love it even more when you go out of the way to notice it and then compliment them on it. It’s like they are getting the recognition they feel they deserve, which in turn makes them trust you even more.
  • Pay attention to others. There are lots of ways to give attention to people, but one of the most powerful ways is to simply listen to what someone is saying, ask questions and then understand their point before you speak. You will appear like a very intelligent and interesting person before you even say a word.
  • Avoid the 3 Cs. Just like in every other area of life, condemning, criticizing and complaining will destroy people, lower their self esteem, turn them against you and ultimately lead to your failure. And please, don’t criticize someone who is absent from the room, because all that says to the person you are talking to is that you are not to be trusted.
  • Use these 3 Cs instead. People will feel loved when you are considerate, concerned and courteous…and when people feel loved, they will respect and value you. So get in a habit of thinking about other people, understanding and connecting with their emotions and say things that are important to them.

Look back in your past…you’ll notice that price was almost never an issue when you were dealing with someone you trusted, respected and liked. However, price became a real issue when you were dealing with people you felt were deceptive, unkind and rude. In fact, you probably didn’t even do business with them.

If being a leader in real estate is important to you, then you need to make your prospects and clients feel like they are the center of the universe. Use those seven tips to make people feel great about themselves and you won’t have any problem generating a following.

Leave a comment if this post was helpful or if you have anything you’d like to add. And if you like what you read, subscribe to the Real Estate Marketing Blog.

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Want the Sale? Then You Have to View Objections This Way

When it comes to closing sales, most real estate trainers will simply hand you a list of counters to the most popular objections. Or they may give you a framework that categorizes each objection in order to deal with the endless variations that objections can come in.

For example, they may categorize each objection as “objections on price” or “objections on lack of interest.”

The first approach is problematic in that, as I mentioned, you cannot possibly cover every objection. You will ultimately run into an objection that isn’t on your list, even though they are the most common, and you’ll be stumped.

The second approach seeks to fix that by widening the net. It’s designed to teach you to recognize objections on principle. But you still have to be somewhat fast on your feet to be able to respond if you aren’t familiar with high you are supposed to respond. The framework trainer will probably give you some counter-objection scripts to deal with each category of objection.

While these aren’t the only approaches in the real estate training world, they are the most common when it comes to real estate sales…and they are really incomplete unless you change your entire mindset about objections.

A bad real estate trainer will treat objections from prospects like they are walls that need to be brought down. Agents who practice this approach usually adopt an aggressive, even combative mindset…that’s because baked into this model is a view that real estate is about transactions and not relationships.

A good real estate trainer, on the other hand, will treat them as opportunities. He’ll see them as an interested prospect who wants to do a deal but has some concern he wants to take care of first.

Here’s how Charles Green describes objections:

An objection means the buyer cares enough about you and the sale to want to explore it with you. They’re telling you about a concern they have, in the hopes you’ll help them resolve it. Your enemy is not the customer; your enemy is disengagement. And an objection demonstrates that the customer is very much engaged.

When you get an objection, recognize it as an opportunity. If you and your customer can resolve it, great, you’ll get a sale. And if you can’t resolves it, well it’s almost certainly because it’s just not the right thing for your customer just now.

Amazingly, you get even more credit if you back out gracefully when your offer isn’t right. Your customer will be surprised, and appreciative. And you’ll increase the odds of getting the next sale, and the one after that.

Anyway, people vastly prefer to buy what they need from people they trust. So help them resolve their objections and be secure in knowing you’ve improved the long-term relationship–and your long-term sales.

Did you catch that in the first paragraph? Objections aren’t your enemy. Disengagement is.  In other words, objections are signals that you have an interested prospect or client. That means you have an opportunity in front of you.

So next time you find yourself talking to a prospect, you can easily measure the level of engagement by the number–if any at all–of objections they raise. And, in the end, if you don’t have an answer for an objection, take the high road: admit you don’t know but promise to return with an answer. Then be faithful to that promise.

Leave a comment if this post was helpful or if you have anything you’d like to add. And if you like what you read, subscribe to the Real Estate Marketing Blog.

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10 Must-Read Post on Great Real Estate Negotiating Ideas

10 Must-Read Posts on Great Real Estate Sales Ideas

How Social Scientists Taught You to Close More Deals

10 Must-Read Posts on Great Real Estate Sales Ideas

Happy New Year! Believe it or not, but 2012 is here. It’s a new year, a new day and a new month. Are you prepared to take 2012 by storm? I hope so.

And to help you prepare for success, I’m going to start a 4-part series on 10 must read posts from the 4 critical areas of real estate: sales, prospecting, listing and negotiating.

Posts in this series:

Today I’ll start with sales and deliver the rest in the following week.

When you get this post in your inbox or rss reader, pop it open, grab a cup of coffee and devote about a half hour to reading all the articles inside. That’s about how long it will take you to read all ten.

Make sure to take notes on action items…and then make plans to hold your feet to the fire because goals are nothing but dreams if you don’t try to achieve them.

Anyway, take care and have a great day, month and year!

10 Must-Read Posts on Great Real Estate Sales Ideas

Are You Using These 4 “Second Glass” Tactics to Make More Money?

Most real estate agents tend to think about making money in the business as simply closing more transaction. They think about it in a very linear fashion, where you find a home owner who wants to sell, you convince them to let you list the home and then you advertise the home in the hopes that it will sell. That’s the way an average listing agent thinks. Here’s how an above average agent does it. Read more.

How to Be a Killer Salesperson the Lazy Way

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. Read more.

How Social Scientists Taught Y0u to Close More Deals

People. You just never know what they’ll do next. But if you really believe real estate is a people business, then any effort you make to better understand yourself and how others tick will make your business flow and your bank account grow. Fortunately, a couple of social scientists have developed tools that can help you shed light on the mystery of human behavior and get a better handle on personalities…yours and others’. Read more.

When You Should Depend on a Team–and When You Shouldn’t

So, you’ve been thinking about starting a team, have you? In spite of a dismal economy, your market seems to be rockin’…you’re doing pretty well…and, well, you want to grow. The natural thing to do is build a team, right? Maybe. Here’s why. Read more.

Quick Tip: 5 Reasons Why Sellers Should Work with You on Both Sides of the Deal

Did you know that one of the simplest strategies to closing more transactions is simply helping your seller’s buy their new home? If sellers ARE staying in the area, ask if you can help find their next house. It benefits both you and the seller. Here are five reasons why. Read more.

How to Make Any House Irresistable

When Longinotti-Buitoni took over Ferrari North America as CEO in the late 90s, the U.S. and Canada were in a recession. He couldn’t imagine people would spend their money on such an expensive, impractical car. Since then, Longinotti-Buitoni has changed his mind. Read more.

Eliminate This Behavior and Become More Effective in Sales

Has this happened to you recently: you tend to become desperate in tight times by trying to aggressively pin down real estate buyers? But did you know that removing pressure from the sales process will actually cause you to win more listings and prospects and sell more homes? That’s right. A sales approach where you create pressure-free conversations with buyers is more effective. Read more.

Five Words That Will Injure Any Sales Call

The key to being successful is sweating the small stuff. That comes down to the very words that you use. That’s why I’ll always encourage you to paint persuasive word pictures for your clients. But don’t stop there. Avoid those words that raise flags for buyers and sellers. Words that paint ugly, bad pictures–albeit, stereotypes–of salespeople. Read more.

Real Estate Agents: You Don’t Work for Walmart

The numbers game will wear you out. It will leave you dissatisfied, frustrated, and rejected. The whole idea of the numbers game is that if you spend enough time dialing, churning through prospects, you’re bound to make the occasional sale. Burn and churn, baby. Problem is, when you do make a sale, you believe even more that the number of prospects you burned through was the secret to success. Read more.

Why It’s Okay to Lie to Salespeople

The reason most prospects lie to you is that they have multiple layers of sales resistance. Traditionally the sale model has always been about advancing the sale. Well, the people in your market place are fed up with the traditional sales model. People are tired of being manipulated. Here’s what you have to do about it. Read more.

Leave a comment if this post was helpful or if you have anything you’d like to add. And if you like what you read, subscribe to the Real Estate Marketing Blog.

How to Be a Killer Salesperson the Lazy Way

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.

Your Turn

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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