Are you taking your iPad to your listing presentations? Are you showing your sellers lots of cool slides, statistics and other data? If so, you may win the "cool tech" moniker but end up not taking the listing.

At the recent California Association of Realtors meeting in San Jose, I ran into Ira Serkes, the self-proclaimed "happiest agent in Berkeley." Ira is a former engineer who enjoys incorporating the latest technology into everything he does.

Serkes discussed his 30-slide iPad listing presentation. It was quite impressive. His strategy was to tell the sellers, "Here is what you need to know to sell and close your home. We can go through each one of these slides, or I can boil it down to about four minutes."

According to Serkes, most of his sellers choose the short version. Once they see the cool tech tools he uses coupled with simple-to-understand graphs that summarize his local market, sellers usually list with him. Unlike many agents who lack an organized presentation, Serkes focuses on building a strong connection with each client before getting down to the facts and figures.

When Serkes decided to become "the happiest agent in Berkeley," he let go of chasing the idea of being "No. 1" or trying to persuade people that he was the go-to-expert in his area. Instead, he focuses on building connection.

In fact, the sellers control whether they have a conversation about the market or view his formal presentation. This focus on the seller’s wants and needs is the key foundation upon which to build your real estate success in today’s digital environment.

The challenge with listing presentations

My husband and business partner, Byron Van Arsdale, whose niche is training leaders and speakers to be more effective in both face-to-face and virtual meetings, identified a key problem with most presentations.

"When you shift to focusing on your content, you break the connection with your audience," Van Arsdale said. "Regardless of the type of presentation, you will be most effective when you look away from your PowerPoint (presentations) and engage the audience by speaking to them directly."

Van Arsdale’s point applies specifically to your listing presentations. When you are focusing on presenting a slide show, you are not focused on the seller. You may be addressing some of his or her questions, but the technology doesn’t take the place of building connection.

Consequently, doing a "listing presentation," whether it’s with printed or online materials, is a poor idea because you are not focused on the seller’s wants and needs. Instead, you’re focused on you and your materials. A much better approach is to have a "listening conversation."

Elements of an effective "listening conversation"

What does it take to effectively integrate technology into an effective "listening conversation"? Here are three key elements.

1. Ask questions, take notes
Regardless of whether you are using an iPad, smartphone or a piece of notebook paper, write down what the seller says. Asking questions and writing down the seller’s responses sends a powerful nonverbal message that you really care about the seller and what he or she has to say. It’s one of the best ways to build connection.

2. Answer the most important question
Almost all sellers care about one thing — how will you get my house sold for the highest possible price in the shortest amount of time? Serkes answers this question in two different ways. His slide deck shows all the things he does to sell a home. The rule of thumb is, the greater your exposure of the property online and offline, the higher the probability will be that your property will sell quickly.

Serkes illustrated this approach beautifully using the iPad. First, he researched what the average agent actually sold their listings at as a percentage of the list price. He then did the same calculation for his listings. Listing with Serkes actually netted the sellers on average an additional $26,400 as opposed to the average agent in his area.

Serkes illustrated this financial difference with a graphic depicting the difference. The graphic had realistic scans of two $10,000 bills, six $1,000 bills, and four $100 dollar bills. This type of image hits home and is much more effective than talking at the seller about percentages.

Even more impressive were the video testimonials from his clients saying, "Wow, we got this much more over our asking price!"

3. Use price per square foot
Sellers come prepared to have a discussion about the price where they want to list their house. A powerful way to overcome this anchor is to show them the price-per-square-foot numbers that illustrate how much properties are "qualifying for" with their lenders.

In other words, because almost all buyers need a loan, the lenders determine who will qualify to receive a loan. These numbers are usually based upon square footage of closed sales.

When it comes to your listing appointments, if you’re still presenting, it’s time to shift to asking questions, listening to what the sellers say, writing their comments down, and having a conversation rather than focusing on yourself or your presentation.

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