The most powerful asset we have as sales people is the ability to communicate. This is also an asset that most sales people have never developed. Sales people need to have the ability to communicate with people they have never spoken with before if they wish to become successful. Proper communication requires much practice before you can realign your comfort zone. When talking with total strangers, the fact that one can never know how the person you’re contacting will react to you, creates a bit of fear. Yes I said fear. If you were to survey 100 people in real estate sales, asking them if they have any fear when calling people they’ve never talked with, you would probably get a 100% reply, “I Have No Fear.” I find it amazing how many people have no fear of calling strangers yet they can find so many other things to do to occupy their time so there’s no time left for meeting new prospects.
This reminds me of the 80/20 rule which states that we spend 80% of our work time doing things that produces 20% of our income. Another way to look at the 80/20 rule is that 80% of our income is derived from only 20% of the activities we perform on a daily bases. Either way you want to cut it, salespeople waste a lot of time. They can greatly increase their level of production by focusing on doing things that generates new business and eliminate those non-productive, time consuming activities.
The most important daily activity for all real estate agents is lead generation. Let’s apply the 80/20 rule to an agent’s daily activity. We should spend 80% of our work day generating new business and 20% of the day with listing and showing appointments, and all other paper work involved in closing transactions. This means if we work a 10 hour day, we should spend 8 hours generating leads and 2 hours a day in all other activities. With so much time allotted for lead generation, let’s examine the meaning of the term.
Lead generation is commonly referred to as generating a new prospect’s contact information. My meaning is somewhat different in that I consider it as having a conversation with a prospective client. My theory is that you could have a million leads (contact information) but until you have a truthful, meaningful conversation to determine their needs and wants, they are totally worthless. I suppose we should define what a conversation is. Unfortunately, so many agents will call a stranger and say, “Hello, my name is James Anderson with Anderson Realty. I just wanted to call to see if you are interested in buying or selling real estate?” In most cases the consumer will say, “No we aren’t.” Then the agent will say, “I appreciate your time. If you ever change your mind I’d appreciate you giving me a call.” Even though the message varies from agent to agent, the perception of the consumer is the same; “Fat chance I will ever give them a call.” Can you relate to what I’m saying? Why didn’t you ask them what you really wanted to know? You might say, “I did,” but you did it in such a way that it impressed no one.
Let me give you a few pointers about having a conversation when calling total strangers. You must peak their interest in your opening statement! Telling a stranger who you are and what company you work with doesn’t impress them. It only tells them you are telemarketing, and most people hate telemarketer’s with a passion. My theory is that you never have to ask them if they are interested in buying or selling real estate. If you will engage them in an honest conversation they will tell you if they are interested or not. There are many successful techniques for engaging people in conversation but there is one remaining fact; there must be a conversation. Having a conversation means that two parties are sharing information with each other. Transactions seldom move to closing until a conversation takes place, so the sooner a conversation takes place, the better for both parties.
In my way of thinking, the best way to engage someone is to talk to them as if you know them. When I call a total stranger I seldom give them my last name, nor do I tell them the name of my company. Remember, I want to have a conversation with them. More times than not, I begin a conversation by saying, “Hey George, this James. How’s everything going with you today?” Then I hush and listen to what they have to say. Many times they will set the tone for a conversation. Of course I am waiting for them to ask who I am. When this happens I might say, “You do remember me don’t you?” James Anderson with Anderson Realty, in Orange Beach.” Once again I wait for their response and then carefully answer any questions they have without applying any pressure.
There are two keys to having a good conversation. One is to control the conversation by asking open ended question which cannot be answered with a simple yes or no. I want them to converse with me which requires thought. Secondly, listen very carefully to everything they say; every little detail. It is also very important to take very good notes of everything said. I am not a good note taker so I record many phone conversations and then make my notes from the recording. FYI, you can purchase an adapter from Radio Shack for less than $5 that will connect any standard phone to a mini recorder.
Having meaningful conversations is of utmost importance to any salesperson. Conversations should be specific, direct and to the point of accomplishing your goal. Your goal is to find out if they are interested in buying or selling real estate, and also if they know of anyone who is interested. One thing people lose sight of is referrals. Most people knows more than just one person who is interested in buying or selling, so I had rather have five people sending me referrals than closing one transaction from five people. That does make sense to you, doesn’t it?
You must develop your own technique but before you become good at it, you must spend lots of time practicing. Yes I said practicing. I suggest you sit in front of a mirror to practice. Watch yourself talk. Smile when talking to people in a phone conversation. The more you practice, the more confidence you will develop. To begin with, write your own personal script of what you plan to say and use that script until your script becomes second nature. You might want to write a script for every imaginable comment a consumer might make so you’ll have the right answer at the right time. After awhile, you will become comfortable with having meaningful conversations with total strangers. As a result from your efforts, you will notice an increase in new business that came directly from your ability to have those meaningful conversations.
Should you have specific questions concerning various issues, please let me know and I’ll research the answer for you. I also want to encourage you to subscribe to our “News & Updates” weekly report so you can stay abreast of issues that might affect you when buying or selling real estate. If you haven’t visited my website, please go to www.AlabamaRealEstateInstitute.com and view previous articles.