Author Chat: Donna Fleetwood and Christy Crouch

By Erica Christoffer

The Weekly Book Scan catches up with writers Donna Fleetwood and Christy Crouch to talk about their new book Now What Do I Say? Never Be at a Loss for Words Again (BookSurge Publishing, 2008). In case you missed it, be sure to check out a mini review of the book posted last week on the blog.

Donna Fleetwood

Donna Fleetwood

How did you develop the dialogues for this book?

FLEETWOOD: We intended this to be a reference manual for real estate agents who are wanting to study different ways to handle objections. Christy and I have studied neuro-linguistic programming objection handling for quite a number of years in an intense way. We would write 10 sentences a day for different objections, and we did this for years. With our other partner, Scott Friedman, we decided there was no other book on the market like this. It can be a reference manual for agents to use, carry around with them in their car or in their office, that they could practice or actually reference when they are talking to somebody.

Christy Crouch

Christy Crouch

CROUCH: It seems like when we get those questions and objections, it can sometimes freeze us and it’s kind of scary. But we found from studying it, that there aren’t all that many new objections. The clients are having the same objections over and over. If we just learn how to powerfully handle them, in a way that benefits the client and sets the agent apart, it would be a great tool for them to have and be able to refer back to.

FLEETWOOD: One of the things Christy and I truly believe is to align with the client and not to fight with them. Not to try to prove how much we know, but rather use language in a way that brings the two parties together.

I noticed in the book that asking questions of the client was a common way of handling objections in your scenarios. Could you explain a little bit about the importance of asking questions?

CROUCH: I think the more questions we can ask our clients, the better position we’ll be able to be in to actually help them with exactly what they’re looking to accomplish. We’ve learned that the client ultimately cares about getting what they need and having us help them. The more questions you ask, the more you can find out exactly how you can help them.

FLEETWOOD: I think there are two things: When you’re asking questions, the client feels heard. And, it is also a way for agents to gather their own thoughts. If you’re like a deer caught in headlights, all you have to do is ask a question.

You say objections only come from those who are truly considering doing business. Could you explain why that is?

CROUCH: When we get those questions and objections, it’s scary. Especially if you’re not prepared with an answer and to be able to powerfully present it. We found that if you go into a tire store, if you’re just browsing you’re not going to ask questions or give them objections about the quality of the tire or the price unless you’re really considering purchasing tires. We’ve found that it’s exactly the same in real estate. If they’re not interested in doing business with you, they’re not going to give you those questions. Instead, they’ll just tell you, “Thank you for your time and we’ll call you.”

Have you needed to change your technique at all in this market?

CROUCH: The objections definitely haven’t changed no matter what the market conditions are; there are just more of them now.

FLEETWOOD: People are generally more fearful that somebody is going to take advantage of them, or they’re going to spend too much on commission, or whether their house is going to sell.

CROUCH: The consumer is also more educated nowadays about what questions to ask, about what the media is telling them and about what they’re reading. So you tend to get more objections.

Could you explain more about neuro-linguistic programming objection handling and how you got into this field?

FLEETWOOD: As it applies to real estate and objection handling, we’re looking to shift or point the client’s attention to where we want to go. We’re shifting them out of fear with our language.

CROUCH: The language that we use helps us to help the client have a much better experience, I think. It’s very overwhelming to the consumer. In most cases it’s their biggest investment. How you communicate to them makes a big difference.

FLEETWOOD: One of the things I learned from neuro-linguistic programming is that my job in real estate is to bring meaning into people’s lives. It’s not actually about the house sale. We’re finding them the perfect house where they’re going to raise their family; where they’re going to sit around the dining table for their holiday meals; or even someone who just needs to move on. The core essence of what we do is bring meaning to people’s lives, and we do that through language many times. When I first started in the business, I used to vomit my objection handlers. Before I had this context of bringing meaning to people’s lives, I would just blah, blah, blah – there’s a disconnect when you do that. When you can start practicing and handling objections in ways that are meaningful to people, that’s when everything shifts.

What was the audience you envisioned when you wrote this book?

FLEETWOOD: We envisioned this book could be for all agents, whether they’re just starting out in the field, or whether they’re seasoned agents. Even Christy and I, we have been in the business a long time, and we still practice these objection handlers and still try to keep are skills really sharp.

With three authors, what was your working pattern like writing the book?

CROUCH: A lot of role play.

FLEETWOOD: As a matter of fact we have the book on tape, as well. (Available through their Web site

CROUCH: It’s beneficial to hear someone say it, especially with the NLP language. How to say it is critical in how your clients will receive it. You want to pause and put emphasis on different words.

What would you say is the one part of your book readers would get the most out of?

FLEETWOOD: What I think is so unique about the book is that readers can see how there are so many ways to handle an objection. We give at least three objection handlers for each objection. I think that’s one of the great things about our book, there’s not just one way to do it.

CROUCH: Scott, Donna, and myself all have different personalities and different ways of doing it. Having that really allows many types of agents to benefit from the book, and their clients. A lot of times the objection handler that you use would depend on the type of client.

FLEETWOOD: Honestly, handling objections is one of my favorite parts of my job. I love being in that space where the objection comes up and we can word toward a common solution.

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This post was contributed exclusively for REALTOR® Magazine.

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