We’re half way through 2004…are you half way to your sales goals for the year? If not, it’s not too late to improve by focusing on your selling techniques. To follow is a list of seven common real estate sales mistakes. Read through them quickly and see if you can identify one or two you struggle with. Own up and resolve to improve rather than defending the same old bad habits. Try out one of the techniques we explain on your very next appointment. It takes repetition to make your new method stick, though, so keep at in the months to come.
Mistake #1: Talking too much
The best salespeople are great listeners, not necessarily great talkers. Remember the 80/20 rule: 80 percent of the time you should be listening to what your clients have to say, and 20 percent of the time you should be asking questions, answering questions or elaborating on a point. Another way to think of it is this: the person who does the most talking dominates the conversation. The person who asks the most questions controls the conversation. Stay curious, ask questions and let customers talk themselves into the decision.
Mistake #1: Talking over a buying decision
When customers are close to a decision, they need peace and quiet to hear themselves think. You may dread that moment of silence, fearing a “no,” so you talk right over it. Unfortunately, you’ve missed your chance for the “yes!” Silence is a powerful tool. At the end of a listing presentation, ask the client to list the house with you, and then wait quietly for his/her answer. If you are a buying agent, ask at the end of every showing, “Would you like to buy this house?” Then shut up!
Mistake #2: Talking too much about yourself
Clients don’t want to be bombarded with every accomplishment you’ve ever made in real estate sales. They want to know “what’s in it for me?” In other words, they want to understand the benefits of working with you. For instance, rather than saying, “I’m number one in sales for my office,” you can say, “I sell a lot of homes in your neighborhood, and that means I have the experience to get your homes sold quickly and for the best price possible.”
Mistake #3: Misunderstanding needs
Have you ever lost clients who wanted a two-story home with four bedrooms, but later bought a one-story, three-bedroom ranch from a builder without you? You failed to explore needs adequately. Practice the “three-deep questioning process” by asking follow-up questions to each stated need: “How important is it for you to have a two-story home?” “What if we found you a one-story home in your favorite neighborhood in your price range – would you consider it?” “What if we found a smaller home with a finished basement you could use for an extra bedroom?” This method often reveals hidden desires. Check in from time to time to see if the client’s needs have changed in response to the homes he/she has seen. For instance, ask, “Now you’ve seen some four-bedroom homes, are you still sure that’s what you want? Is there anything about the homes you have not liked? “Should we open our search to smaller homes to get closer to the price you want to pay?”
Mistake #4: Under-cutting your own fee
Self-assurance is important when it comes to fees. If you assume the client wants you to drop your commission, you will cave in at the least sign of resistance. Make a list of 20 reasons why you are worth what you charge, focusing on service, value and cost in relation to client benefits, such as high list-to-closing ratio or short market time. State these reasons with confidence when you explain your fees, and your clients will be more accepting of your rates.
Mistake #5: Weak presentations
Developing strong presentation skills is an on-going process. There is always something to tweak. Perhaps you rush over important material, miss buying cues, fumble objections, or speak in a monotone. Have a colleague go on your next appointment to observe your presentation. Ask them afterwards for suggestions on how to improve. You can even swap roles – have a co-worker watch one of your presentations, then trade off and watch his or hers. You’ll probably pick up some new ideas as well as tips for improving your delivery.
Mistake #6: Fumbling the follow-through
There are a hundred opportunities to drop the ball in a real estate transaction and the best way to avoid it is to handle all details systematically. For instance, if you commit to taking on a specific appointment on a certain day or at a certain time, write it on your calendar immediately. Better yet, log it in your computer’s scheduler and set a reminder to pop up prior to the time. Block out time to follow-up with sellers on a weekly basis to give feedback, answer questions or just say hello if the transaction is moving along well.
Mistake #7: Assuming it’s a “done deal.”
Have you ever mentally spent a commission before the deal is done? Watch out! Your clients can sense it, and you’ll lose focus and tend to make mistakes. No matter how well a transaction is going, until all the paperwork is signed and your paycheck clears, you have not earned your pay. Stay focused totally on your client and how best you can serve his or her needs. That’s the best way to make sure the deal gets done and to earn the paycheck that keeps on paying – repeat and referral business.
Howard Brinton is a real estate sales motivational speaker and the founder and CEO of Star Power Systems, a sales training organization that offers tapes, books, videos, conferences and a club that distributes selling techniques from the nation’s top producers.
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