Notice in the following example how the real estate agent uses the information the Seller gives in each answer to formulate the agent’s next question. These question chains let the agent stay in control of the conversation without educating, selling, or convincing the Seller of anything, but still provide tremendous value to the prospect.
In fact, the agent says very little of substance, but still moves the sale along to a close.
Agent: “Hi, I’m LS with The Way of Real Estate, and I’m wondering if you’re planning on moving in the next 12 months?”
Seller: “Why, as a matter of fact, we are.”
Agent: “OK. And where will you be moving to?”
Agent: “And when would that be?”
(Up to this point, the conversation is following a door-knocking script.) Seller: “Well, we’re not sure. I have a job starting there in four months, but my wife’s mother is very ill, so we may hang on to the house until she passes on.”
Agent: “I can see how it would make your wife more comfortable to stay in the house. Is there a problem with hanging onto the house and selling it later?”
(I want to know why the obvious solution doesn’t work for him. He may or may not have thought about it.) Seller: “Yes, I have to purchase again by the end of the year in Phoenix, and I’ll need to sell this one before I can do that.”
Agent: “So you need to sell before the end of the summer, but you don’t know how long your wife might have to stay in the house. What sorts of solutions have you and your wife talked about?”
(I don’t want to make suggestions, especially when I’d probably suggest things they’ve already thought about. This is the role of a sounding board.) Seller: “Well, my wife is talking about renting a condo overlooking the ocean while I get things set up in Phoenix.”
Agent: “Hmmm. So, between keeping the house and renting the condo, which one would you guess is the best solution to your situation?”
(The form of asking someone to “guess” between two things that they’re on the fence about often helps them choose the one they subconsciously are leaning towards already. People often feel relieved to “guess.” I’m also OK with the answer either way. I’d rather know now, before spending a lot more time with him, if he’s decided to keep the house.) Seller: “Well, I think the condo. Her mom could hang on for a long time yet, and I have to make a purchase in Phoenix before the end of the year. I’d prefer to see my wife not have to deal with the sale of a house when I’m not here.”
Agent: “Sounds like a reasonable choice. Is something stopping your wife from agreeing with you? (I sense this is the big issue-the one that’s making the decision hard for them. I’m asking him to raise ideas to the surface that he might not be thinking about overtly, but that need to be addressed in order for him to make a decision.) Seller: “Yeah, she thinks she’d like the familiar surroundings of her house at this time of her life.”
Agent: “That makes a lot of sense to me. so on the one hand, she has a strong emotional reason for staying in the house, and you don’t want to upset her. And on the other hand, you need to sell and reinvest in Phoenix. What happens if you keep the house and don’t reinvest in Phoenix?”
(I want to raise this issue, because it’s one option he has that he hasn’t mentioned, and it will come up at some point.) Seller: “It’s complicated. But I have a tax issue and if I can sell this one, I can roll the equity into another house without paying capital gains.”
Agent: “I see. How do you think you’re going to go about making this decision?”
(Now he’s got all the issues laid out in front of him, so I’m bringing him to a logical place of choice.) Seller: “I think we need to have a serious talk. The truth is I’ve been avoiding it.”
Agent: “Well, as you have this talk, how can I support you with the real estate facts you need?”
(I’m not telling him any facts, but volunteering that there are facts he could use.) Seller: “Oh, well, what do we need to know?”
Agent: “I could prepare some condo rentals for you and your wife to look at. Also show you the sale values in your neighborhood, provide you with moving quotes. That sort of thing.”
(I don’t want to start blabbering, just giving enough to allow him to decide if he’s interested) Seller: “I hadn’t thought about some of that. ”
Agent: “There are a lot of ways I can add support, but not all of them would be useful to you at this time. Perhaps you and your wife could brainstorm some ideas together about what you need and don’t need. How would you feel about doing that?” (Now I’ve asked him to do something, but not for me or with me. It’s a way of getting him to take action.) Seller: “I think that’s a great idea.”
Agent: “OK, good. I’d like to continue our conversation after you’ve had a chance to talk with your wife. Would that be helpful?”
Seller: “Sure, I’ve enjoyed this.”
Agent: “Wonderful. So what’s the best way for me to follow up with the support you and your wife are going to brainstorm about?” (I’m only closing on action he’s already agreed to do. I’m not offering him a CMA or to clean his garage)
And so on.
Your role as a consultative salesperson in a conversation like this is to be a sounding board, not to give answers or explanations. It’s to follow a protocol of asking a certain kind of question by using a question chain technique to help the prospect explore his situation. Your protocol gently deflects the prospect in a direction that helps him make decisions. This is a highly consultative approach that supports a prospect in making decisions that are right for him. It is also shrewdly effective for you as a real estate salesperson. You might call it the yin/yang of the sale.
Avoid the pitfalls and challenges that plague most Realtors!
I dispel the sales tactics most real estate agents are taught that actually create resistance, making it harder to grow your business! My name is Linda Schneider and I am the Personal Sales Trainer to hundreds of experienced real estate agents.