Are you still working with an old, outdated listing presentation from the 20th century? If so, there’s no better time than now to make the shift from doing listing presentations to doing "listening consultations."

Recently I was conducting a new agent training class. During the lunch break, the parent company did a webinar featuring four very successful new agents. Here’s what one of the new agents advised the listeners on the call:

Are you still working with an old, outdated listing presentation from the 20th century? If so, there’s no better time than now to make the shift from doing listing presentations to doing "listening consultations."

Recently I was conducting a new agent training class. During the lunch break, the parent company did a webinar featuring four very successful new agents. Here’s what one of the new agents advised the listeners on the call:

"When a seller asks me how long I’ve been in the business, I tell them that it’s only been a year, but I am the top producer in the office. They should hire me because I sell more houses than anyone else and I’m the best agent to get the job done."

Another agent said, "I tell them about all the designations that I have earned and how that means that I’m more competent than those agents who don’t have the same level of training."

Each of these approaches to "listing presentations" illustrates the old, 20th century approach of "hunt ’em, tell ’em, and sell ’em. You know the drill: You have to go out and prospect for clients, tell them how great you are, and then close them on using your services.

In today’s environment, consumers no longer want to hear about how wonderful the agent is. They don’t want to be manipulated and closed. Instead, today’s sellers expect a conversation about their wants and needs. They want an agent who can give them a thorough evaluation of the market conditions, who has a marketing plan that integrates the best of traditional marketing approaches with the best of Web 2.0, and who can navigate today’s challenging market conditions.

Furthermore, as Gen X and Gen Y have entered the market, they have an entirely different set of expectations. Traditionalists (born before 1946) and baby boomers (born 1946 to 1964) value expertise. In contrast, members of Gen X (born 1965 to 1976) do not value expertise and prefer to rely on their own research. If you act as if you’re the expert, you’ll lose them as clients. Gen Y (born 1977 to 1994) also rejects the "expert" approach. They prefer a collaborative approach where they make decisions with extensive input from their peers.

To meet the changing needs of today’s buyers and sellers, the 21st century approach is collaborative, not hunt ’em, tell ’em, and sell ’em. If you have ever experienced a great transaction where everyone worked together, you have experienced what it is like to work collaboratively. In the collaborative approach, the brand, the agents, the clients and the other service providers work together to create a win-win for everyone involved.

To apply this approach on your listing appointments, begin by eliminating "I" language and shift to using "you" language. Yes, you are the expert. However, with younger clients, you need to be a conduit of information. Questions are at the heart of this new approach. Some examples include:

  • "What have you enjoyed about living in this property?"
  • "What’s motivating you to sell?"
  • "Where would you like to position your property in the marketplace?"

The most important phrase in this new model is "It’s your choice, what would you like to do?" For example, when sellers are being unrealistic about their price, there’s no need to argue with them. The collaborative approach uses your knowledge of market statistics combined with "you" language and a question to allow the sellers to make a better decision. Assuming there are eight months of inventory on the market, here’s an example of what to say:

"Currently there are eight months of inventory on the market in your price range. Mr. and Mrs. Seller, you now have an important decision to make. Will you position your property in the marketplace where you will be in that top 12.5 percent that will sell next month or will you position your property where you will be part of the 87.5 percent that will still be listed next month? It’s your choice, what would you like to do?"

If the sellers are unrealistic, be willing to walk away from the listing. Stand up, extend your hand, and say:

"Mr. and Mrs. Seller, the comparable sales suggest that the market will not yield the price you want. If you elect to list your property at that price, I’m not the right agent to represent you. I wish you the best in getting your property sold for the price you want."

When you are willing to walk away from a listing, you send the strongest possible message that the sellers are overpriced.

To defend your commission, offer a premium marketing plan that provides listing syndication to 30 major listing portals (check out Point2Agent.com), syndication of your property video (www.TubeMogul.com) to 15 video sites, plus all the normal traditional marketing programs you would normally use.

If the seller wants you to cut your commission, respond with: "This is our premium marketing plan that will help you to achieve the highest possible price in the shortest amount of time. If you are not interested in receiving premium service, would you like a referral to an agent who provides less service?"

The new agents in the training class, almost all of whom where Gen X and Gen Y, had this to say about the two different approaches:

"I wouldn’t hire any of those agents — they’re not paying attention to what I want and need."

"That approach those agents on the panel were using — it’s way too stressful. Who cares about their achievements? This collaborative approach is easy to use and it takes the focus off me and puts it where it belongs — on the sellers. I’ll be using the collaborative approach in my business!"

Bernice Ross, CEO of RealEstateCoach.com, is a national speaker, trainer and author of "Real Estate Dough: Your Recipe for Real Estate Success" and other books. You can reach her at Bernice@RealEstateCoach.com.

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