by Dirk Zeller
Tuesday, July 17, 2012
Make this pledge to yourself right now: Before you enter another listing presentation, qualify your prospects in advance.
Ask questions that allow you to obtain important information about the customer's desires, timeframe, and expectations. Without this information, you can't possibly serve the client well.
Many salespeople, especially in real estate sales, think they'll offend the customer if they ask questions. Here's an analogy that should put your mind at ease. Imagine you're sick and schedule a doctor's appointment. You arrive, the doctor enters the examining room, and you look up and say, "Guess what sickness I have today?" From across the room, the doctor is supposed to assess your symptoms, diagnose your ailment, and prescribe a cure without checking your ears or throat, listening to your lungs and heart, and, most importantly, asking you questions about what is wrong and how you feel. It sounds ridiculous; yet it's what Realtors do when they try to serve clients without first asking questions to qualify their wants, needs, and expectations.
Without good client information, a listing presentation becomes an explanation of your services and service delivery system. But what if the prospect sitting in front of you wants to be served differently? Then what?
The customer ultimately determines whether your service is good or poor. Since the customer rules on the quality of service received, the only way to start the service process is to learn what customers want, rather than trying to guess their desires and expectation.
You need to qualify prospects for two main reasons:
Before you enter a listing presentation, diagnose the situation you're entering and the opportunity it presents by learning the prospect's answers to qualifying questions. I recommend you acquire this base of knowledge over the phone when you're scheduling the presentation appointment. If you wait until you are face-to-face with the prospect, it's too late. By then you want to be offering a tailored presentation, not acquiring baseline information.
Focus your qualifying questions around the following four topics:
1. Motivation and Timeframe: Ask questions that allow you to learn how badly the prospect wants to buy or sell, and in what timeframe. Sample questions include:
- Where are you hoping to move?
- How soon do you need to be there?
- Tell me about your perfect timeframe. When do you want this move to happen?
- Is there anything that would cause you not to make this move?
2. Experience: A prospect's view of the real estate profession is filtered through personal previous experience and experiences related by friends and family members. The following questions help you learn your prospect's real estate background and preconceptions:
- How many properties have you sold in the past?
- When was your last sales experience?
- What was your experience with that sale?
- How did you select the agent you worked with?
- What did you like best and least about what that agent did?
3. Pricing: The following questions will help you to gauge the prospect's motivation. They'll also help you determine whether the prospect is realistic about current real estate values.
Let me share an old real estate sales truth: The higher the list price, the lower the motivation; the lower the list price, the higher the motivation.
Listen carefully to the answers to the following two questions. They'll reveal whether your prospect is ready to sell or just fishing for a price:
- How much do you want to list your home for tonight?
- If a buyer came in today, what would you consider to be an acceptable offer for your home?
4. Service expectation: Learning your prospect's service expectation is absolutely essential to a good working relationship, but I'll caution you that when you begin to ask the service-related questions, you will likely hear silence on the phone. Likely, your prospect has never met a service provider concerned enough to ask what the customer wants, values, and expects. As a result, you might have to probe and ask follow-up questions to help the prospect open up and enter a dialog.
- What do you expect from the real estate agent you choose to work with?
- What are the top three things you are looking for from an agent?
- What would it take for you to be confident that my service will meet your requirements?
By qualifying your prospects before the appointment, you will be prepared for your prospects needs, wants, desires, and expectations. Then you will be able to find clients that fit your business, and you will be able to serve them well.
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