“Unlock the secrets to untold wealth. Sell more real estate by saying these words at the exact time my book tells you to. After all, I sold a few houses back in the day — until I realized that snake oil…uh, er sharing the secrets to sales success was more profitable. Sure, its been a few years and the MLS listings are no longer printed on stone tablets, but… signed, Ron Ripoff, Sales Guru Extraordinaire
Seems that every self-described sales wizard will sing the same ballad — learn my magic scripts and dialogues and you will go far. Many have published books with all of the different things to say in a gazillion situations. Whether it is to handle a commission objection, offset fears about the marketplace or even to reel them in to your “team” method of selling real estate — well, these classic scripts and dialogues work like a charm.
Let’s go to David Letterman and some of his past interviews. Many an actor/actress has been subject to his biting questions. Some have pulled it off, while others have not fared so great.
Take the recent case of Joaquin Phoenix. He is one of the finest actors in Hollywood, having expertly portrayed a number of complex characters. Yes, that man can sure memorize lines and, as they say, “Talk the talk.”
Well, as the wild-haired press reported, he doesn’t do so well without the crutch of the script. He came across as deadbeat, remote and really odd, to say the least. The highlight arrived as he stuck his gum under the table.
For the benefit of the doubt, maybe he planned the whole thing and wanted to get some type of “unique” exposure or perhaps he had just imbibed a bit of mind-altering candy. One thing is for sure—he came off terrible in real life.
I won’t discuss the Tom Cruise couch jumping incident or that adorable Lindsey Lohan with her ever-growing charm. I will say though, that each of these folks deliver well on the movie set, but take away the scripts….
So what’s my point?
Don’t get me wrong, those practiced scripts, objection comebacks and snippets of dialogue are invaluable to your sales toolbox. You are wise to practice those lines — if not in the shower, at least while you drive home or walk the dog. Should that not be an option, you could purchase an audio CD from Coach Whomever and broadcast it over and over in your car. Perhaps not so exciting as your old Pink Floyd CDs, but more certainly more productive.
However — do you really understand just what it is you are saying? What if there’s a follow up question to your prepared remark?
For example, you are discussing the commission rate with a potential seller. You want 6% and he says 5% or no deal. You respond with one of your well-rehearsed lines, “Mr. Seller, if I can’t even negotiate my own compensation, how do you feel about me negotiating the best price for your house?”
Good stuff, don’t you agree? At this point you are taught to remain silent, let him digest the profoundness of your words and he will totally get the point and perhaps even offer 7%.
Do you think?
Well, sometimes it works. On the other hand, what if he follows up with another question? Something like, “That’s all well and good Mike, but just as I will likely have to take less than I really want, can’t I expect you to do the same? Isn’t that all part of good negotiation? By the way, thanks for reminding me.”
“Um…uh, hang on a second. I need to step outside to make a call.”
Now that is akin to a seasoned boxer who is getting the tar pounded out of him, so he covers his face, backs into the ropes and waits for the bell to end this round. Soon he will be seated with his trainer, who will wipe off the blood, maybe apply a patch or two and tell him where he screwed up. “Get back out there and, blah, blah, blah…”
Sometimes a short break in the action will work well and then other times you get back out there and get knocked to the mat again.
Okay, I don’t recommend you abandon scripts and dialogues. Their proper execution is critical to your communication process. I also don’t suggest that your future client is an “opponent,” or a force to be reckoned with. This is a living, breathing human(s) who deserves the respect of a business discussion on the sale of his property. Yes, you must have a certain amount of control in the process — after all you are the one who will cause the successful closing of perhaps his largest ever financial transaction. On the other hand, you must have the ability to listen and discuss each and every issue, including price, marketing plan, staging and your compensation.
One of my favorite buzzwords is “Proactive,” which simply put, means to create or control a situation in order to cause something to happen (like sign up the listing at the correct market price with a fair commission rate), rather than responding to it after it has happened (or not). That includes an awareness of all the hot points your client faces in the sale of his home. Price, marketing plan, commission, competition with other Realtors® and so on. There are only so many objections they could have—why not address them upfront?
For example, your CMA has deduced the proper market price for Ms. Appleton’s house to be $200,000, but your prelisting research (proactive step # 1) has shown that she paid $289,000 just three years ago. She had put a hefty down payment on the property, due to the sale of her past home, so she has a note for $160,000. If you add the closing costs of the sale, she stands to lose well over $100,000, should she follow through. Do you think a few well-timed lines will cause her to see the light?
Good luck with that.
With your experience, or perhaps the experience of your mentors (who you have listened to intently, yes?), you have developed an understanding of the common traits of most sellers. They either really, really want to move or they really, really don’t, but are forced to do so. Maybe they are only dreaming about a move, but have no real plans, other than to consume your valuable day. Some may have this unrealistic vision of selling their house, pocketing a wad of cash and moving to Tahiti.
It’s all about motivation. Yes, that magic word that will tell you whether this is a viable project for you or a colossal waste of time. Or rather than a right-now client, you have the makings of a future client. Whatever it is that confronts you, it is most critical to figure it out fast and take the best action for these folks and for you.
So, what now?
Ask questions, my friend...then sit back and listen.
Why are you moving?
Where do you plan to move to next?
Why do you think your house is worth so much more than the comparable homes that have recently sold?
What are your expectations of my marketing plan?
How do you justify a discount on the brokerage fee and why do you expect the buyer’s agents and me to work for less than the standard rate?
Do you understand there are many others who will take a cut-rate commission or list the home for a higher price? Have you talked to any of those folks? Would you like a list of those discount agents?
Have you considered interviewing other Realtors® or even going FSBO?
Do you understand the average amount of time it takes to sell a house in this market, even those that are priced well?
Come on Mike, I’d like to avoid all that stuff if I can. Let’s see how the listing goes. If they bring it up, I’ll respond with one of those Mike Ferry zingers or maybe a Star Power script # 237—you know, the one that makes a clever analogy about porcelain Kewpie dolls and how I will bring tons of buyers to the table.
Oh, p-l-ease. Do you honestly think these folks are so ignorant, that none of this has crossed their mind? If it doesn’t come up now, it will after you leave. Even if you take the listing, these issues and more will dog you throughout the process.
If you have a well timed and thorough presentation on the hot points—namely price, commission, listing time frame and especially your own credibility, professionalism and ability, then all you need do is ask the right questions to uncover those concerns and fears. They win, you win. If nothing else, you will quickly discover the meeting is fruitless and you can exit quickly and gracefully.
Yes, there is a time and place for the practiced lines—just as a seasoned quarterback runs the plays over and over—just like in practice.
On the other hand, you also have to develop a keen instinct to read and understand your clients and to also change the play in the middle of the down, in order to score successfully. As long as you keep the long-range message of “It is what’s best for the client” out there and you truly understand and practice that, the sky will be the limit.
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