Doctors don't immediately show you a computer slide show of what your surgery will be like, and attorneys don't immediately hand over samples of their court briefs the first time you sit down with them. More likely, you'll be asked to describe your situation or problem, then you're asked a lot of additional questions.
These professionals will let you know how they can help you only after understanding the extent of your problem. Real estate is no different.
Real estate agents market homes—they don't "sell" them. Rather, they sell themselves, and they should ask questions of prospective clients instead of the other way around so they can do that. The idea is a lot like the "consultative sales" strategy, but you're really getting the information you need to do your job properly.
Pin Down What You Need to Learn
You'll need certain information early on—the sooner, the better.
- Request permission to ask a few questions after a home tour.
- Ask about the clients' reasons and urgency for selling.
- Get an idea of value and the approximate debt on their home.
- How would the sellers describe their home's condition? You can ask them to rate the property on a scale, such as 5 being perfect whereas 1 translates to "needs a lot of help."
- Ask sellers to compare their homes with the neighborhood competition.
- Pin down their requirements for a listing broker/agent.
- Find out which marketing methods they think are most valuable and effective.
- Ask about previous good and bad experiences they might have had with agents or brokers.
- Ask what problems they might envision in selling their home.
How to Conduct the Interview
Considering creating and using a form. List your questions and leave space for the potential clients' answers. You're not asking them to fill out the form—you don't want to make them do the work, like an unpleasant assignment. You're doing it. An added advantage is that taking notes as they respond shows that their answers are important to you.
Now you've turned the interview around, and your approach sets you apart from the competition. You know these sellers' opinions of their homes and their experiences with agents and brokers. They’ve explained their situations, their concerns, and the urgency.
Perhaps most important, you know what they think their homes are worth before you show your CMA.
You've come in as a consultant and gathered information in order to determine how you can help, instead of taking the same “show and tell” angle that your competition is using.
Up to this point, you haven't given the listing prospect any materials or made a presentation, other than handing over your business card. But you know what you should show them and what you should talk about first. You know which of your services are likely to be of most interest to them.
Now show them how you can resolve each of their problems. Try to address the most important or most troublesome issues first. Defer pricing to last if it's involved. Explain how you'll do the marketing they value, and show them other marketing you do that they didn’t mention in the interview.
Get the Listing
Ask if they have any further questions or concerns before handing over your CMA and talking about pricing. Don't neglect to discuss a commission. Ask for the listing after you've addressed their last questions.
You'll probably find that people are quite forthcoming with information when they're asked. You'll probably also find that they appreciate it when you address their specific concerns and questions instead of pushing services on them.
The End Result
Your conduct throughout the entire listing meeting will be quite different from that of the competition. You might well get far more listings using this consulting expert approach.