One thing virtually all top producers have in common is mastery of their scripts and dialogues. In the hands of a top producer, a great script sounds completely natural, easily overcomes client objections and moves the client forward to closing.
If you’re ready to convert more leads into appointments and closed transactions, mastering the right scripts is the place to begin. Did you know that most successful cold-callers have their scripts in front of them even if they have been making cold calls for years?
Although there are hundreds of real estate scripts to choose from, the real issue is identifying which scripts will work best for you and your business. The best scripts are short, ask a question, are easy to remember and strengthen the connection between you and the client. They must also sound unscripted.
Why so few agents use scripts effectively
Agents struggle with scripts for a wide variety of reasons. Here are some of the most common ones:
1. They don’t listen
When agents first start using a script, they’re so focused on what to say they often fail to hear what the client actually says. Here’s one of my favorite examples from the Mike Ferry Organization.
Agent: When do you plan on moving?
Prospect replies: When I die.
Agent: And when will that be?
This script has worked for decades. It also meets two criteria of a successful script: it’s short, and it asks a question. The challenge occurred when the agent failed to hear what the client was saying.
2. The script is too long
The longer a script is the more difficult it will be to remember. Shorter is better.
3. The script is focused on ‘telling’ rather than questioning
The person asking the questions controls the conversation. Rather than focusing on why the prospect should hire them, the most effective scripts ask a series of questions instead.
4. It sounds like you’re using a script
For a script to work for you, it must mirror how you normally speak. If it doesn’t fit your speech patterns, it comes off as sounding artificial and breaks the connection with the prospect.
Consequently, begin by reading the script out loud and recording it on your mobile device. If it doesn’t sound right, rewrite the script. Repeat the recording and replay process until it sounds natural. Continue to replay the recording until you can repeat the script from memory, and it sounds natural.
The ‘backbone and ribs’ approach for creating scripts that work
Greg McDaniel has made over 600,000 cold calls as well as knocking on tens of thousands of doors during his 22 years in the business.
He describes his approach to scripts in terms of the “backbone,” the core parts of the script that stay the same, and the “ribs,” that are usually questions generated based upon how the prospect replies.
- A greeting: “Good morning,” “Good afternoon,” or “Good evening.” (Avoid using “Hello” because it ends with an upstroke that makes you sound weak.)
- Your name and your company.
- The reason you’re calling or an offer of service. McDaniel advises never to open a conversation asking the prospect, “How are you doing today?” McDaniel says this turns people off because it comes off as being salesy.
- Closing question.
- The goal is to set a face-to-face appointment. Close by asking the prospect which of two different times they would like to meet.
Here’s an example using this basic format for prospecting for first-time buyers:
Agent: Good morning. I’m Sally Agent with ABC Realty and I specialize in helping renters become homeowners. Is help with becoming a homeowner a service you want?
Prospect: I’d like to become a homeowner now but don’t have the down payment.
Agent: Let’s set a time to meet where I can go over the different down payment assistance programs in our area that can help you to buy now. Does tomorrow morning at 10:00 a.m. work for you or would 4:00 p.m. be better?
The “ribs” are a series of questions that allow you to dig deeper into how the prospect is responding to you. You can insert them almost anywhere in the conversation, but the first one generally follows when you explain the purpose of your call. Here are the key elements:
- Always ask questions that begin with the words “how” and “what” that result in the most in-depth answers. Questions that begin with the words “when,” “where” and “who” usually generate one-to-five word answers. Avoid asking “why” because it puts the prospect on the defensive.
- McDaniel likes to frame his questions using the “FORD” model which stands for “Family,” “Occupation,” “Recreation” and “Dreams.”
Here’s how it works:
Example No. 1: prospecting expired listings
Agent: Good morning. I’m Sally Agent with ABC Realty and I specialize in selling homes not listing homes. Are you still interviewing agents for the job of marketing your home?
Seller: How come all these agents are calling me about listing my home — where were you when it was on the market?
Agent: When I list a property, I focus on getting my seller’s property sold — not on selling someone else’s listing. That’s what you would want from an agent, to be focused on selling your home, right? But tell me, in your opinion, what was the main reason your home failed to sell?
Seller: Our agent only took a few pictures with his phone and didn’t even shoot a video or have a professional photographer. He only held a couple of open houses. I’m in the TV business. I could have had a friend come out to shoot some decent photos and a video.
Agent: I’m sorry to hear your agent didn’t provide professional photos and a video for your property, especially since you’re in the business. What type of work do you do in the TV industry?
Seller: I’m a sound editor for Amazon original productions.
(You could continue to “dig deeper” by asking more “how” and “what” questions to build rapport. Look for commonalities where you can build connection. Then go on to the final closing question.)
Agent: Would you be available tomorrow morning at 10:00 a.m. or Saturday at 1:00 p.m. to meet at your house to discuss how to get your property sold using professional photographs, a drone video, and 3-D virtual tour?
Set the appointment. Points to note about this script that the agent did include:
- Was prepared with a script to meet the seller’s objection about not seeing the property while it was listed previously.
- Used FORD (occupation) with a “what” question to dig deeper.
- Made an offer of service based on what the client felt was the cause the house hadn’t sold.
- Used an alternative choice close to set the appointment.
McDaniel also uses the following appointment setting close that has proven to be quite effective:
Agent: Would you be available tomorrow morning at 10 a.m. or Saturday at 1 p.m. so I can view the property, and we can determine if I’m the right agent for you and you’re the right client for me?
McDaniel says the sellers often get angry when you indicate you want to see if they’re the right client for you. Nevertheless, this script makes them want to list with you — as McDaniel says, “It works like a charm.”
Example No. 2: at the door or telephone prospecting script
Going back to the Mike Ferry Script above, here’s how McDaniel says he would have responded:
Agent: When do you plan on moving?
Prospect replies: When I die.
Agent: I hope it doesn’t happen any time soon. Is there one of your neighbors you would like to see move?
Prospect: Yes, the neighbors next door fight constantly and the police have been out twice in the last two months. I think they’re getting a divorce.
Here’s an alternative question that McDaniel has also found to be very effective. It’s called the “carousel effect.”
Agent: Would you tell me a little bit more about your neighbors — what about the person next door? What about the people across the street?
McDaniel recommends that you keep pointing to various houses and asking about the people who live there. Most people are willing to talk about the neighbors and often share quite a bit of information. Take copious notes about who is renting, who may need a larger home because they’re expecting a baby, who may be relocating to be with their kids, etc.
To illustrate this point, if the prospect tells you the next-door neighbors are renters, research the address. You can then search the title records to identify the owner. McDaniel likes to take a picture of the front yard, especially if the tenants aren’t keeping it up and send it to the owner.
The following script works well in person, in print, as well as on the social media.
Thinking about selling?
I can help you find additional properties so you can restart you depreciation schedule, do a 1031 exchange or cash out.
The simple format above provides a proven roadmap to creating scripts that work for your business. Like anything else, it can be hard when you first start, but keep practicing. The work you do to master your scripts now will earn you additional commissions for many years to come.
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.