By Vanessa Sibley, REALTOR® Magazine
Whether you’re new to real estate and hoping to sidestep the school of hard-knocks or you’re a veteran longing to polish your sales techniques, you’ll find some words of wisdom in Terry Weaver’s new Making Big Bucks Selling Real Estate (Oregon: BookPartners, 2000, $19.95).
The founder of the Master Sales Institute and a real estate practitioner himself, Weaver details the successful methods of improving relationships with prospects to increase your sales volume. Among his motivational sales tips:
- Educate yourself and your customer. “Winning is 90 percent knowledge,” he writes. By learning as much as you can about your buyers’ lifestyles, you’ll be able to find the ideal location to suit their needs.
- Set the standard for your professional relationship at the initial interview. During the first meeting, “entice buyers with an aura of activity. For example, show prospects a twelve-month list of owners. Include their names, states, the property purchased, and the prices. This creates a sense of your professional success. It’s a bandwagon that everyone wants to hop on and ride.”
- Practice the art of active listening. “Listen clients into a decision through strategically placed questions and thoughtful, undivided attentiveness to the answers.” Use “directional” questions to get at information, such as: ‘Let’s go back and review your feelings about the property location.’
- Use third-party testimonials and stories as a persuasive presentation. “I’d have to say the third-party testimonial is the most important part of the sales process that I do,” he says. “It’s a very subtle way of selling. People don’t feel like they’re being sold. They’re just listening to what everybody else likes about it.”
- Create the perception of value–not too hard in today’s economy. Show how scarce inventory is and talk up marketing incentives, such as low-interest rates or club memberships, with a limited-time offer.
Weaver turns a well-worn phrase on its head by reminding that “only applied knowledge is power.” Then he provides a step-by-step approach to applying what’s known about successful salesmanship.
For example, the chapter, “Calling in the Artillery to Obliterate Objections,” deals with effectively handling buyers’ procrastinations or objections to making a decision. “Keep them moving forward. The best thing to do is simplify the whole process: Help them take a glance into the future at all of the fun and enjoyment they’re going to have by owning.”
Weaver dubs this technique the Crystal Ball close, one of the twelve scenarios in helping a hesitant buyer reach a comfortable decision.
The value of this book is the simplicity of applying Weaver’s sales techniques to practice. “By using baby steps and taking on small challenges, you’ll develop a pattern of success and the ability to move on to larger challenges.”
Weaver emphasizes dedication to improving your rapport with clients and achieving self-assigned goals: Analyze, organize, and visualize your way to success in selling real estate.
By Christina Hoffmann Spira, REALTOR® Magazine
Wouldn’t you rather defeat interpersonal conflict than square off against a client, associate, or friend—and potentially damage the relationship irreparably? Of course you would.
But when it comes to personal and professional communications, our instinct is often to plow ahead with our point of view, steam rolling the other person. In the process, we don’t always get what we want.
In her book Resolving Conflict Sooner (Freedom, Calif.: The Crossing Press, 1999. $10.95) Kare Anderson, a Sausalito, Calif.-based communications speaker and columnist, shares a four-step process, called the roundtrip, which teaches you to give others their say while skillfully negotiating a mutually constructive solution.
The steps—identifying your need, determining the other person’s need, actively listening to the other person, and addressing the resolution—add up to common sense. The trick is to remember them in the heat of debate over contract contingencies, a listing price, or the best restaurant to go to for lunch.
Particularly valuable are the tips Anderson offers in step 3, which aim at listening skills. To help you build rapport with the other person:
- Speak slowly and in a low-pitched voice. Don’t talk a lot.
- Move slowly and make few movements. Avoid using your hands a lot.
- Find a comfortable way to sit or stand so you don’t appear tense.
- Use body language that shows openness. That is, don’t cross your legs and arms.
There are also ways to encourage the person to work with you:
- Involve them in the problem-solving process and find out what they really need by using specific questions, such as “What changes would make this contract work for you?” and “What do you think we should do before we leave here today?”
- Speculate out loud: “What if we did so and so?” Asking for advice also encourages the person to contribute to a mutual solution.
- The best sentence for building rapport: “Tell me more about that.”
- Let the person ask you three questions uninterrupted. By the third, the person “will be close to expressing his or her real concerns and reveal more than intended.”
So, it’s time to present a solution. Test yourself: Is the following sentence welcoming or antagonistic?
“I’m serving on the committee and heard that you are, too. I look forward to working with you.”
Believe it or not, that comment will invite challenge. Here’s what Anderson recommends you should say:
“I’ve heard that you are an expert in this area, so you might be interested in an idea to help the committee gain support more quickly. I’d like to describe it to you. By serving on this committee with you, I know I’ll gain valuable experience to back up my group. Should I describe the idea briefly now or wait until another time?”
Sure, this approach takes a little longer. But isn’t it nice to get someone on your side from the get go?
By Stacey Moncrieff, REALTOR® Magazine
Those who’ve made a commitment to strengthening their community—and over the years I’ve met many real estate professionals in those ranks—should get a hold of The Community of the Future, the third book in The Drucker Foundation Future Series (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers; $25).
It doesn’t matter whether your focus is your own town or city, your company, the global community, or even the virtual world. The book examines all those communities through a compilation of essays from some of the world’s leading thinkers, including author Stephen Covey and Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel.
The essays range from the practical (“How Boomers, Churches, and Entrepreneurs Can Transform Society”) to the inspirational (“High-Tech Inner City Community Development,” about a for-profit venture that rose from the ashes of the 1967 Detroit riots).
The essayists offer no simple solutions. If there’s a single thread that runs throughout, it’s that we’re all in this together. In her essay “The Dream That Lies Before Us,” the book’s lead editor, Frances Hesselbein, president and CEO of the Peter F. Drucker Foundation for Nonprofit Management, says that “no one sector, no one government, no one industry, can mobilize citizens . . . to create the new community, the inclusive community that embraces all its people.”
By Stacey Moncrieff, REALTOR® Magazine
In Do Less, Achieve More (New York: HarperCollins Publishers Inc., 1998; $18), author Chin-Ning Chu has combined goal-setting rhetoric with a strong undercurrent of spirituality and Eastern philosophy to drive home that you can achieve your goals even in a life patterned by fate.
Chin-Ning compares life to a supermarket, one in which you can’t buy anything but only trade for what you have. She suggests that once a year, you make out a “shopping list” and decide what you’ll trade in for the things you want; many things you thought you wanted will seem less important.
To move forward, she says, stop thinking in a linear fashion. In the quantum theory of physics, “an electron inside an atom, under the proper stimulus, disappears from one orbit and then reappears in another orbit,” says Chin-Ning. “Effectively, it does not exist in between the two different orbits.” Humans, too, can make a quantum leap by altering the logical nature of their mind—thinking outside the box.
To make the leap, you need to get rid of the fear that holds you back from making change. “The more you fear not surviving, the tighter you cling to ill-calculated survival strategies until you squeeze the very life out of what you do,” she says. “Embrace the possibility of not surviving and be willing to face the worst of consequences. You will find there a sudden burst of blissful courage.”
The subtitle of Chin-Ning’s book is Discover the Hidden Power of Giving In. By giving in to your fate, she says, you open up the possibility of success.
By Robert Freedman, REALTOR® Magazine
If the person you saw in the mirror this morning wasn’t your usual motivated go-getter self, maybe you should leave the office early today and read Play to Win (Austin, Texas: Bard Press; $24.95).
The few hours it takes to read this energetic pep talk are worth the lost office time. Written by Larry Wilson, the motivational expert who brought you The One Minute Salesperson, and his son, Hersch, the book forces you to ask yourself whether you’re “playing to win” or “playing not to lose.” If you’re merely playing not to lose, you may make it to the office every day, and you may even be a top performer, but you’re missing out on what it takes to find your success a rich experience.
Wilson bases much of the book on his experience running Pecos River Change Management, a favorite retreat for executives and salespeople looking to recharge their batteries. Mixing anecdotes from Pecos River with research from cognitive psychology, he argues that you can have a rich, full life without sacrificing your success in business.
Although Play to Win is a motivational read, don’t look to it for concrete steps to improve your business performance; for that, you ought to read The One Minute Salesperson.
If you’ve ever used AT&T long-distance, you’ve probably heard Susan Berkley’s voice saying, “Thank you for using AT&T.”
Now this voice-over artist has come out with a book–Speak to Influence: How to Unlock the Hidden Power of Your Voice (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Campbell Hall Press, 1999; $19.95)–to teach others how to improve their voice to communicate more effectively.
The book also has valuable tips for getting your message across, whether your listeners are prospective clients or an audience of colleagues. For example:
- Read the situation by checking whether prospects are listening. If prospects express partial approval–agreeing with some of your points, disagreeing with others–you’ll know they’re listening, and you can keep trying to win them over. If they ask for more details, you’re close: Uninterested prospects don’t ask questions.
- Handle objections effectively. Repeat prospects’ objections and pause while they ponder their words. It forces them to evaluate what they said: If their objection sounds unreasonable, it’s easier for them to say you’ve misinterpreted the idea, rather than having to admit to a bad idea.
- Don’t match objections with equal force. If you argue longer or louder to overpower prospects, you may cause them to give up, but you won’t change their point of view.
By Robert Sharoff, REALTOR® Magazine
David Rathgeber’s Agent’s Guide to Real Estate (John McLean, Va.: Realty Research Group; $16.95) is mainly a primer for beginning real estate salespeople, but also includes a great deal of basic information that more established salespeople need to keep at their fingertips.
Rathgeber, a popular speaker on real estate topics as well as a salesperson with Century 21 Laughlin in McLean, Va., starts off by listing the skills and equipment needed to be a successful real estate salesperson. “Listening, understanding, and being able to analyze, simplify, and translate” a client’s wishes are the most important things, he says.
Getting started is never easy, he says. “Most sellers dutifully interview three salespeople. If you’re a new salesperson, you’ll find that most sellers are looking for precisely the experience you lack.” The answer, he says, is to sign on as an assistant to an experienced salesperson or “if you’re masochistic, you can keep slugging it out on your own, citing your enthusiasm and willingness to spend time” until you finally snag a listing.
From there, Rathgeber describes the ABCs of working with sellers. These include everything from doing a comparative market analysis to establish the right price to advertising and open house strategies. He also includes a comprehensive checklist of simple repairs and presentation tips that improve the salability of a house.
Rathgeber divides buyers into four categories—incoming transferees, move-up buyers, move-down buyers and first time buyers—and includes strategies for working with each group. When working with transferees, for example, he recommends a five-day house-hunting trip and includes a sample itinerary that–if followed–should result in a sale at the end of the week.
Rathgeber also provides an overview of financing methods along with questionnaires salespeople can use to establish how large a loan buyers are eligible for.
When showing houses, Rathgeber is a proponent of the “more is more” theory. “It’s best to show your buyer all homes that might meet his needs, the bad ones along with the good ones,” he says. “Without this knowledge, he can’t comprehend his segment of the market.”
A concluding chapter on the art of negotiation is one of the best things in the book. The secret of negotiating, he says, is control. “To control the negotiation, control yourself. Never let the tone reach a state of emotional strain. To do so will always cost time and money.”
About concessions, he says, “Give little and give slowly. Rationale will be required to explain the basis of each offer or counteroffer. Be prepared.”
Finally, “In general, a seller should never accept a price lower than 90 percent of the asking price unless he is in dire straits. By settling for too low a price you bypass an entire segment of the homebuying market who never saw the home because they never dreamed you would give it away.”
By Vanessa Sibley, REALTOR® Magazine
How many times have you discovered the perfect solution to a problem after the meeting or the deadline? Floyd Hurt knows the difficulty of initiating creative thinking. For more than 30 years, he earned his creative wings as a frontline producer in sales, marketing, and advertising at his own agency. Hurt has written a book–more of an instructional guide–to help you close the creativity gap and stimulate new ideas when you need them, not weeks later.
Rousing Creativity: Think New Now! (Menlo Park, Calif.: Crisp Publications; $17.95) involves you in the creative process with work sheets and exercises to expand your thinking. Here are a few of Hurt’s ideas:
- Break the ice. You can change the entire attitude of a meeting with a mind-teasing task to encourage teamwork. For example, solve a problem by role-playing from the perspective of a well-known person. Tap into the mentality of the Greek god Eros, baseball great Yogi Berra, or comedienne Lucille Ball to approach the obstacle from a new and entertaining direction.
- Have the willingness, if not the passion, to change. It’s essential to the creative effort to pull yourself out of old habits and take risks.
- Any action you take causes a reaction from others. Hold a brainstorming session with colleagues and clients for idea gathering—a roomful of minds is more productive than one.