• Don't print out a CMA from the MLS and expect to differentiate yourself from other agents that way.
  • Don't just talk numbers -- and don't do all the talking.

“I don’t know why they went with another real estate agent,” complained an agent I had just started helping. (Let’s call him “Learner Larry.”)

Instinctively, I asked Learner Larry to go through his listing presentation with me.

I cringed as he proceeded. Learner Larry’s presentation was painfully generic. And, frankly, it was no mystery as to why he was not hired to list the home.

Perhaps his mistakes and our subsequent discussion can help you along the path to win over every listing prospect.

What it means to have a generic presentation (and how to fix it)

1. Simply print the CMA (comparative market analysis) report from your local MLS

In less than five minutes, we can all (typically) log into our local MLS site and print a market analysis for would-be homesellers.

What a time-saver, right?

Not quite, especially if the homeseller is interviewing multiple agents (and you should always assume that they are). You need something to set yourself apart.

Real estate sales pros, whether new or experienced, at times get caught in this generic trap because it seems to save time. But time saved in making a better presentation is not really beneficial if you do not win the client.

In truth, a run-of-the-mill, ordinary presentation can cost us more time, money and energy if we have to find more leads to make up for the ones we lost.

To win listings, not only do we have to stand apart from other sales agents, but we also have to prove our savviness trumps that of the Google-searching homeowner. Typically, a generic report does not do that.

The fix: Create a customizable S.W.O.T. (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) template to add to each of your listing presentations and market analysis.

Congratulate their home’s strengths, politely point out property weaknesses that may be deal-killers or price-reduction instigators, discuss the opportunities in the market (including the best time to sell or list based on seasonal trends) and warn of threats (such as rising rates, re-districting and anything else) that could compromise selling at the desired price.

The time-saver comes into play if you specialize in neighborhoods that have the same market opportunities and threats, meaning these sections can be re-used.

Also, make your presentation memorable. Usually, basic printouts are not.

If your presentation does not spark an “ooh,” “ahh,” “aha” or “wow” from the prospect, then you may not be primed to win. Make a show of:

  1. Deliverables from other listings you (your team or firm) have marketed
  2. Before and after staging pictures
  3. Cool examples of properties that used virtual reality technology
  4. Your online marketing (landing pages, Facebook Ad metrics and so on)
  5. And whatever else you do to get a home sold

If you are at a loss for a snazzy presentation design, Canva is a very user- and budget-friendly option. If you want to be able to track opens, shares and other metrics combined with a slick, online interface, issuu is an impressive alternative. And if the homeowners do not mind, connect to their Apple TV or Chromecast to enhance their visuals or travel with your own (suggestion courtesy of Nobu Hata).

2. Stick to the printout

Some sales agents not only print a non-customized CMA but then dispassionately read it verbatim, offering little or no expertise tailored to the homeowner’s needs. When this happens, you may find that the homeowner then preempts your presentation or downright takes over your talk.

The fix: Dig deeper. Look up and even visit the comparable properties. Plan to discuss their strengths and weaknesses compared to your prospect’s home.

This all seems intuitive — but when there is a time crunch, it is likely compromised.

3. Just talk numbers

Homeowners are concerned about price, and rightfully so. But the sales agent’s objective must always be to convey value, not just talk numbers.

If you allow the conversation to focus only on numbers, then you may compromise the listing price or your commission in desperation to get the listing. No bueno!

The fix: Demonstrate your value. This is one of the foundational purposes of the listing appointment.

Share client testimonies (if you are a new agent, share the testimonies of your team or firm). Outline your specific duties and processes to help make the transaction smooth.

Do not be modest or time-conscious here. List everything you do in detail, especially tasks that differentiate you or your firm — because not all homesellers understand or appreciate your role.

I find that many agents who lose out on listings do not do this well. This is your time to shine unapologetically.

4. Do all the talking

It is vital to stay in control of the presentation, but not at the expense of not hearing a peep from the homeowner.

With today’s technology, many homeowners can find general selling reports, but those documents cannot do what you do — add a personal yet professional perspective and sales strategy. But that first takes listening to the homeowner’s needs.

The fix: Prior to the in-person appointment, take a needs assessment. Find out:

  1. Why they want to sell
  2. What financial obligations (for example, multiple mortgages, tax lien, divorce, estate sale and so on) and time constraints (for example, school starts, job/military relocation, etc.) may restrict the sale
  3. What made this home special, which tells a story that can attract buyers in your marketing

“Learner Larry” did indeed learn the lessons to avoid generic presentations, so I hope this helps you, too.

Learn more about Plan To Win (the book from which this story was excerpted) and get your own downloadable S.W.O.T. template.

Lee Davenport is a licensed real estate broker, business doctoral student, trainer and coach. Follow her on Google+ and Facebook.

Email Lee Davenport.

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