With more than 1,000 Inman posts, Bernice Ross is a long-time contributor whose weekly column on real estate trends, luxury, marketing and other best practices publishes every Monday.
When it comes to overcoming objections, scripts can be your best friend provided you understand the best practices on how to use them. Do you know what it takes to make the scripts you use work like a charm?
I‘ve been collecting scripts for overcoming objections since I first started training agents back in 1989. When Inman asked readers how to overcome the objection, “I only want to work with the listing agent,” I was eager to see what they had to say.
Before diving into why some scripts will flop and others are pure gold, here are some basic guidelines to follow.
Practice, practice, practice
When you’re working to master a new script, it never feels natural. When you practice it repeatedly, however, using it becomes second nature.
Use ‘charge neutral’
If you are snarky, have an edge or make the clients feel that you are talking down to them, your script will flop. Charge neutral is the calm, quiet voice you would use when you’re trying to comfort a child or friend who is upset.
It’s not your decision
Your script is much more likely to flop if you are attempting to manipulate the client rather than respecting the fact that it is their house, it’s their mortgage, and it’s their decision — not yours!
Can you spot which script is the best?
Here are five scripts from the 35 in the original article. Can you can identify which script is best, and more importantly, why?
- Why would you work with the listing agent? He or she is working for the seller, not for you.
- The listing agent’s fiduciary responsibility is only to the seller. He or she is hired to get the seller the highest price in the shortest amount of time. The agency disclosure insures this. As a buyer’s agent, I am hired to provide undivided loyalty to you to get you the best price and terms.
- Let me ask you this, if you were getting a divorce, would you want the same divorce attorney representing both of you? Do you think it might be hard to represent you both impartially? That’s like if you use the listing agent to represent both the seller and the buyer — the listing agent can’t represent you both impartially and with fiduciary duty. Wouldn’t it be better to have someone on your team, fighting for your interests — and the listing agent pays them to do it? Would it be crazy to think you wouldn’t want free representation by an experienced agent like me? Great, let’s sign this representation agreement, so I can start working for you today.
- If you would work with the listing agent, he or she will be a dual agent, which means he or she will have “tape” over their mouth. The listing agent will not be able to advocate for you because he or she can’t get you the lowest price while trying to get the seller the highest price.
- You have that choice. Before you sign one single page, ask the listing agent who he or she will be representing in the transaction. How will you respond if the agent says, “both the seller and buyer” or “the seller” or “neither”? Ask for it in writing.
Out of the 35 scripts, my pick for first runner-up for best script is No. 4, but the winner is definitely No. 5. Below is a list of reasons that many scripts flop.
1. The longer the script is, the more likely it is to flop
Long scripts are difficult to remember, and the more you talk, the more likely you are to say something that will turn off the buyer. Script 3 above is way too long, as were many of the other scripts in the article.
2. You failed to ask a question
Rather than trying to explain or justify your position, ask a question instead. When the response comes out of the buyer’s mouth, it’s much more powerful. Scripts. Nos. 1, 3 and 5 ask a question, script Nos. 2 and 4 do not.
Please note that when you ask a question, always wait for the buyer to answer, no matter how uncomfortable it is. The reason is an old sales adage: “The first one who speaks, loses.”
3. You put the buyer on the defensive
The word “why” puts the buyer on the defensive. While script No. 1 asks a question, the way it’s worded makes the buyer sound stupid for not knowing the listing agent is working on the seller’s behalf. To avoid this issue, ask “how” and “what” questions instead.
4. You used ‘I’ language, rather than ‘you’ language
The buyer is all about the “WIFFM” or “what’s in it for me” principle. When you use “I,” the script is about you. Instead of using “I” and “me,” use “you” language to focus on your buyers and their needs. Script Nos. 4 and 5 are both great examples of this concept.
5. You used a metaphor that didn’t apply to the buyer
If you’re going to use a metaphor, make it specific to real estate and how it directly applies to the buyer’s situation. Avoid using attorney analogies or having the buyer imagine something that doesn’t apply to them.
For example: “If you were getting a divorce.” If the buyer is happily married, the first thing their brain screams is, “I’m not getting a divorce!”
Unlike the attorney and divorce scripts in the article, script No. 4 painted a beautiful image that immediately helped the buyer to understand the nature of dual agency. When the listing agent is a dual agent, the agent “has tape over their mouth,” and they’re unable to advocate for you.
To kick this script up a notch, ask a question as in the example below:
If you choose to work with the listing agent, he or she will be a dual agent. The dual agency laws prohibit the listing agent from advocating for you — it’s like having have tape over their mouth. How can the listing agent help you get the lowest possible price when they can’t say anything on your behalf?
Remember, the first one who speaks loses.
6. You did a hard or manipulative hard close
Script No. 3 has multiple problems, including “I,” language, it’s too long, and it spends too much time on an explanation. The worst issue is the hard close that suggests that the buyer is crazy not to work with the agent and then demands that the buyer take action now.
Would it be crazy to think you wouldn’t want free representation by an experienced agent like me? Great, let’s sign this representation agreement, so I can start working for you today.
7. The most important phrase in negotiation: It’s your choice, what would you like to do?
The agent’s role is to be a conduit of information that will help the buyers to make the best possible decision. Emphasizing that “It’s your choice,” makes the buyers feel as if they’re in charge and also avoids having them feel they’re being manipulated.
What makes script No. 5 the real keeper
This script follows a tried and true formula for overcoming objections, called “Agree, counter, close.”
You have that choice. (Agree — it’s their choice.)
Before you sign one single page, ask the listing agent who he or she will be representing in the transaction. (Counter)
How will you respond if the agent says, “both the seller and buyer” or “the seller” or “neither”? (Closing question)
Ask for it in writing.
The agent who wrote this script noted that “almost immediately, I’m asked to represent them.”
If you want to be better at overcoming objections and closing more deals, follow the tried-and-true principles above to avoid having your scripts flop.
Bernice Ross, President and CEO of BrokerageUP and RealEstateCoach.com, is a national speaker, author and trainer with over 1,000 published articles. Learn about her broker/manager training programs designed for women, by women, at BrokerageUp.com and her new agent sales training at RealEstateCoach.com/newagent.