LITTLE KNOWN TIPS
FOR ANYONE IN SALES
By Jim “Gymbeaux” Brown, November 10, 2020
Something occurred today and it triggered a tip that I once taught to real estate agents in my old office. I say old office, because I fully retired from real estate in 2012. The following are little known tips that you learn mostly from experience and because you either did them or you were taught not or how to do them correctly. Yes, they are from the real estate industry but they apply to anyone in a sales position. So here we go, my list of little known tips, Nuggets for the Sales Noggin; they are given in no particular order but rather as I think of them:
Your Watch. If you are like me you have come to rely on the watch on your wrist to do far more than just tell you the time. It can notify you of all sorts of activities and accomplishments and even incoming calls, text messages and emails. Your watch could cause your probable buyer or seller to immediately lose interest in you before they get the chance to decide to buy or sell. Why? You looked at your watch. The moment you do, you send a subconscious signal to the buyer/seller that you have more important things to do with your time and they are of no interest to you because you are too busy. My advice: take off your watch BEFORE you ever meet with a probable buyer and/or seller.
Your Phone. If I had a nickel… People simply do not appreciate how annoying a smart phone can be when you are talking with or in a group. People constantly look at their phones even in the midst of a conversation with someone and it is absolutely annoying when they do to some people, maybe even the people that surround you as you look at your phone. If you do it in front of a customer, you stand the chance of losing them. People tend to want to share whatever latest video or photo is on their phone. Don’t do that in a business setting, EVER! My advice to sales people is to leave your phone in your car when you are meeting someone that could buy or sell or refer business to you. YOU DO NOT WANT THEM DISTRACTED BY YOUR OWN BEHAVIOR! IT’S ANNOYING! Or did I already say that it was annoying. In the event that you have a real, not contrived, a real emergency that awaits your attention, tell your customer that you have an emergency that may result in a call and that you are placing your phone on the table in the even that call should occur. That call needs to be really important for you to do this. YOU DO NOT WANT YOUR MEETING INTERRUPTED BY A PHONE CALL OR A TEXT MESSAGE – EVER!!!!! People have made sales for hundreds of years without a phone and you can and should do that now.
Parking in the driveway: You might think that driveways are for parking cars and you would be correct. But every home/family has its priorities. Husband’s car on the same side of the driveway. Wife’s car on the same side of the driveway. Children’s cars in the same spots. When you park in a driveway you may, with the emphasis on the word may, you may be taking someone’s spot who may not be home when you arrive. Then when they arrive, they park elsewhere and when you leave, they move their car or cars back to where they originally belong. It is a very small point but a valid one when you upset someone because you took their “reserved” (in their mind) parking spot. Park on the street until you are told to do otherwise.
Park on the street. This may not always be possible but try the best you can to avoid the driveway until you have no alternative left. If you have a buyer or seller in your car and you are going to park on a street in a hilly area, believe it or not, it makes a difference where you park. Park your car with its nose pointing up the hill. Why? My advice: When your customer gets out of the car the car door will be easier to open when you are parked heading up the hill as compared to being more difficult opening the weight of a car door against the direction it would prefer to open. It’s just another subliminal message the customer may or may not pick up on. You do not want negative feelings to occur even before they get to the front door. Learn to remove ALL obstacles, even the ones you can’t see.
Cleanliness of car and personal work space. This should be common sense but I have seen the cars that some real estate agents have used and they were not pretty to look at. Look at your own car. Is there junk lying on the seats and floor? Does it look like it hasn’t been vacuumed out in quite a while? Look at your desk and surrounding areas. This may not be as important if you NEVER bring a customer to your work area but if you ever do, you do not want to start the conversation with an apology about the orderliness of your work area or in the case of your car, the lack of neatness in your car.
Greeting customers by their name at the front desk. Almost every business has a “front desk” where someone greets visitors to the office. Don’t let your customer become just another visitor to your business/office. Advise the person who greets the visitors that you have a customer that should arrive at a certain time and how much you would appreciate it if they greet them by their name. Hearing your name come from the lips of another person is the sweetest sound on the planet. We actually had a wooden Butler looking figurine at the front of our office holding out a tray. Agents could quickly make up signs welcoming Mr. & Mrs. Smith. It’s was personal and it was eye catching and the customer knew they were important. I actually had one ask if they could keep the sign. It also creates in the person who works at the receiving area that they are part of your team effort to satisfy the customers.
Establishing your work hours for communications. I personally believe this is crucial to good business practices. I had agents complain that their customers call them at every hour of the day and night. Why? For one reason the agent tell customers, “I’m always available, you have my number.” What do customers do with the number? They call the agent, any time as instructed. At some point when you are developing a relationship with your customer, tell them how you work. Tell them when is a good time to call. More importantly, let them know UP FRONT that it is not only permissible, it is expected that you will be involved in other matters (like eating supper with your family, going to church, whatever) and that if they leave you a message, that you typically return calls immediately but certainly within say 3 or 4 hours (in case you are busy playing golf). People know how to follow rules but you get to set the rules. Just don’t make them sound like rules or a checklist type situation.
Pay attention to how you act and how you approach the front door. You may think it is not important what you do when you get out of your car and that no one is watching but trust me, if it is a homeowner, they are watching because they are expecting you to arrive and want to know when you do. If you are in real estate, make the exit from your car business like and with a purpose. I would teach my agents to have a clipboard with note paper. As they would get out of their car, they should look up the street and take a note, look down the street and take a note. Look at the home through the eyes of a buyer that would see the home for the very first time and take notes. If there is something that just stands out that needs repair, take an extra second to stare at it and take a note. All this time, the homeowner is probably watching you go through this routine. Then when it comes time to talk about the home, the owner, if they had watched you may comment on things that need repair instead of you bringing the subject up. Subjects like cracked windows, improperly fitting window shutters, areas that need painting, etc.
Wait to be seated. This is far more important than you could ever realize unless you have already thought about it. Almost every family has designated chairs where members of the family typically sit. YOU DO NOT WANT TO SIT IN ONE OF THOSE CHAIRS. Family members make decisions while people are sitting in “their” chair, “their space.” Ask the customer where it would be okay to put your stuff down and sit. Let them decide for you, do not assume you can just sit anywhere. This becomes even more problematic when you are seated in the Kings Chair or the Queens Chair and one of them is not present and then comes home and you are in their chair. Not good. Sounds childish but subconsciously it is very important.
Don’t lunch with friends or team members. Having lunch with friends and team members is always a good thing to do but not if you want to use the time to actually accomplish some excellent work. My advice would be to call and set up a lunch appointment with a member listed in your database of potential customers, people who you could do business with or people who could refer business to you. It is a much better use of your time PLUS you could write off all or a portion of your lunch bill as being a business expense. Check the IRS regulations for what is eligible.
Don’t eat your lunch. IF you are lunching with a potential buyer or seller or someone you are seeking business from or who may give you referrals, use the lunch as an excuse to get together but don’t use the time to eat a big lunch. Order something very light that you may or may not even eat. You want to focus on the reason you requested the lunch and you don’t want to be talking with food in your mouth or worse, all over your face and clothing. Small detail but could prove to be very important. Make your lunch dates an organized event without appearing to be organized to the customer. If you want to be different, invite a customer or person that could provide you with referrals to breakfast. Very few people ever get invited to breakfast. More importantly people are not typically set up to be super busy at breakfast time so you may find them more relaxed and receptive to what you want to achieve.
Don’t drink after you are dressed to meet a customer. Can’t tell you the number of agents who return from an appointment and talk about how they were embarrassed because they spilled a drink on themselves on the way to the appointment. They had to apologize to the customer for their appearance, never a good thing to have to do. Avoid eating or drinking just before meeting a customer. You may even want to have available to you a quick change of clothes if you are subject to being clumsy.
ALWAYS DO WHAT YOU SAY YOU WILL DO! ALWAYS!!! NO EXCEPTIONS!!! This should be obvious yet if there is one trait I am certain of, a great many people do not live by this code. It really does not need any further explanation.
NEVER BE LATE, EVER!!!!! Just like always doing what you say you will do, be where you are suppose to be with time to spare. If you are late, you automatically have one strike against you! Some people don’t care if you are late but you can’t take the chance the person you are about to meet is one of those people. NEVER BE LATE! GOT IT!!! EVER!!!
Where and How you stand at a front door. Who knew this could be important? An FBI agent conducted a class on dealing with people. The class was one of the most interesting I have ever taken. He emphasized that a person’s front door represents the gateway to their life. It is THEIR space and they will protect it at all costs. If you stand inches away from the front door, squarely facing the door, you have created a barrier to their escape through the front door. You are not arresting anyone; you just want to talk to them so don’t barricade their possible exit from the home. The agent suggested that you wear your name tag so people know that you are the person they expected to have come to their home or even office. Ring the bell or knock on the door or both, then take at least two steps back and turn your body about 45 degrees to either side. It is best that your side with your name badge be the closest side to the door so the owner can see that you are not a barrier and who you are by your name tag. By turning slightly to one side, you are giving the impression that the pathway out of their home is still open to them and not blocked by your body. Small detail but very important.
Don’t appear to be staying overnight. Agents tend to bring way to much luggage to meetings. Travel light. Take only what you must have. Don’t give the appearance that you are going to take up residence in the home or office. Leave all your luggage in the car or at home.
Avoid using handouts, initially. If you want customers to make eye contact (very important) and listen to what you are saying, do not give them anything to read. Use your time with them wisely by developing relationships that are eye-to-eye. You can give them whatever you want later in the meeting when eye-to-eye is not as important.
Pets. You had better learn to like all pets very quickly if you meet people in their homes. Their pets are just as important to them as their children, or almost as important. Yes, they can be a nuisance, mine is. Annie goes nuts whoever comes to our home. Once she sees them and they acknowledge her, she goes about being just Annie. Most pets are that way. Be prepared to meet all types of pets when you are in sales that involve going to a person’s home.
Assume nothing! EVER! Hate to dredge up an old line but here goes. When you “assume” something, you make an “ass” out of “U” and “me”. If that doesn’t say it all nothing ever will. Don’t ever assume the customer knows what you are talking about, what the abbreviations you use everyday mean, how to get to where you are to meet, when you are to meet, who will be at the meeting, who should be at the meeting. Then when you are happy that all bases are covered, double check that everyone has the identical understanding.
LOUD ANNOUNCEMENT! If you are in real estate, NEVER ASSUME A HOME IS GOING TO BE EMPTY WHEN YOU SHOW IT. When you first enter the home, loudly announce your presence. Even then you may surprise someone upstairs or in a back room. I know this because there were two people in an empty home that I showed, and …………… You can fill in the blank.
The Box in the Trunk. Decades ago, I learned the hard way that “stuff happens” and you rarely expect to have the stuff happen when it does. An “old timer” told me that I should always have a box in my trunk that contains items that are essential that you might otherwise never think of. Like what? Glad you asked. The following items were in my real estate agent sales car:
· Toilet paper, just in case. Never assume every home you show has toilet paper in the holder
- · Paper towels. Spill and other accidents tend to happen when you are least prepared. Be prepared!
- · Pens
- · Note paper
- · Contracts. In the age of technology, the use of actual paper is more rare. But if you still use paper contracts, never be caught without one or two.
- · Something for kids to do. If you have ever worked with customers who bring their small children, you know that they need something to do. Give it to them
- · Replacement batteries. Do I need to explain why?
- · First Aid Kit. Always a good item no matter what you use your car for.
· If you live in the “north country” you may also want to carry a blanket. I can assure you that I was caught in a blizzard just outside Birmingham, Alabama where the traffic did not move for hours. I would have given you anything for a blanket as the gasoline gauge in my car was closing in on EMPTY!
· Anything else you can think of that you might like to have at a moment’s notice.
Add tips as you think of them. Make them part of your everyday business practice. Even more importantly, become a mentor to newer agents/employees. Show them that you care about them and the reputation of the same company you all work for or for the industry in which you work. Many times people get so competitive that they keep such things to themselves as if they were gold. It is just as important to grow your industry as it is your own business. Become a mentor for others.