Friday, March 24, 2017

By Jim “Gymbeaux” Brown, February 22, 2017

DISCLAIMER:  This Nugget is based on my over 33 years in the real estate business and 20 years in various stages of Personnel Management in the U. S. Coast Guard plus I have read well over 1000 books on the subject.

Zig Ziglar said, “You have two ears and only one mouth, therefore you should LISTEN TWICE as much as you TALK!”  Others have said, “You have two ears and only one mouth, you do the math.”  Either one works for me. 

My advice to people in any sales profession is to make this statement your internal guide that will lead you to more success than you might even imagine.  The problem I have seen over and over again is that at least in real estate sales, agents tend to talk far too much.  I have seen buyers and homeowners desiring to list their homes or buy a home showing buying signs yet the agent continued to talk through an obvious signal that they were ready to buy.

How do you learn to become an effective listener?  It is really simple.  Again, if you are in sales, there is nothing new in most sales situations; you should come to the meeting by first having properly prepared for the meeting knowing what you are going to say.  You want your customers to talk to you.  If they do not talk about what is important to them, how can you possibly sell them something.  The home or your product may not match their expectations.  The product or service you are attempting to sell may not be what the customers wants or needs.  How do you know what the customer wants?  The answer is simple it goes unnoticed by so many sales people EVEN WHEN YOU TELL THEM.  The answer is: ASK QUESTIONS!

Just asking questions is not enough because when most people ask another person a question, they are using the time the other person or customer is talking (telling you what they want), to formulate in their minds what they plan to say next as compared to ask next.  THAT IS NOT LISTENING!!!   When you ask a question, learn to clear your mind of the clutter YOU put there and learn to listen, really listen to what the customer is saying to you.  Then, and this is crucial, use what the customer says to you to ask related questions.  Learn to go three deep in every answer a customer gives to one of your questions.

Example:  “Does this home meet the needs you indicated that were important to you?”  First you should have had a thorough interview with the buyer to ascertain what the buyer feels is both NEEDED and DESIRED in their new home and you only showed them homes that match those specific NEEDS and DESIRES“No, we think the bedroom closets are too small.”  (This is a legitimate objection but is it a real objection or are they saying it to put you off?)  Zig Ziglar says there are two ways to address this type of question, first, simply repeat the question back to the customer and slightly raise your voice towards the end of the question. “The closets are toooo small?”  (As if you are saying, “really?” without saying it.)  The customer typically provides you with more information and it is your duty to find out if the objection is real or not.  The second way to address this apparent objection by asking a question relating to the answer to your question.  “The bedrooms are too small…tell me about the bedroom closets in your current home.”  Then let them talk.  Again, they will provide you with enough information to ascertain if this is a real objection or the customer is simply putting you off.  One way to ascertain if their objection is real is to continue asking questions like, “If it were not for the size of the closets, would this home otherwise meet what you need and desire in your next home?”  If they say yes, you know you have the right house but with the wrong amenities – the closets.   If they say no, it is not about the closets, it IS about the home.  A third alternative might be to see if there is a way to remedy the closet situation without spending a great deal of money to remodel the home.  NONE OF THIS WOULD HAPPEN IF 

YOU DID NOT LEARN TO BOTH ASK QUESTIONS AND MORE IMPORTANTLY LISTEN TO THEIR ANSWERS.  Notice in the situation described, the agent did not take the answer to the question and then move on to other things – the agent asked related questions.

Do you go into a meeting with a potential customer with a predetermined list of questions in your head or do you go in planning on “winging it” with what you are going to say.  When you meet with a customer, especially for the first time, you are like an actor or performer that is going on stage.  “Ready – ACTION!”  Would an actor or performer go on stage not knowing what they are going to say or do?  Absolutely not.  But there is one more thing every performer or actor has done BEFORE they go on stage – THEY PRACTICE WHAT THEY ARE GOING TO DO.

If you want to be a success in sales, I’ll ask again, are you going to go on stage PREPARED or are you going to “wing it” as so many sales people do?   I have found that when a salesperson “wings it” they talk twice as much as they listen clearly the opposite of what Zig Ziglar would suggest you do.  Why?  It is very simple to understand.  You don’t know what you are doing and therefore you rely upon your personality to make the sale.  SURPRISE, the customer is NOT buying your personality; they are buying what you hope to sell!

Therefore, my advice to sales people would be:

  • Know what you are going to ask, not say, but ask!
  • Ask your important questions and then clear your mind and LISTEN!
  • Follow up with the customer to either have them expand upon their answer or to learn more about what they said.  Go three deep in your questioning.
  • Ask more questions relating to the answers the customer provided to you; this is going three deep!
  • Based on the experience you gain over time, maintain a list of questions that you know need to be answered by the customers.  This list will change over time, learn to be fluid instead of ridged as if nothing ever changes.
  • PRACTICE YOUR PRESENTATION, work with someone preferably NOT in your business who will give you fair and impartial feedback on your presentation.  Would they buy from you based on your performance?