04 Feb 2012

Word Vomit. Stop Talking. Start Listening.

ARE YOU IN CONTROL OF THE CONVERSATION??

As realtors, we are privy to all of these wonderful classes, a wealth of information is at our fingertips and it’s all over the TV, Radio and Internet. “Hire a Realtor. Knowledge, Expertise and Know-how.” Let’s face it, we could talk anybody’s ear off about the current market situation, how we got into the housing crunch, what the latest and greatest neighborhood is and how I can make a difference in a buyer’s purchasing experience. All of that information definitely has its use and more importantly… it’s place.

The truth is; we think that the more we talk about how much we know, the more our customers think that our position in the sales process is valuable. While our knowledge is extremely important, you have to know when and where to plant it. If you plant it at the wrong time, it will not flower and bloom. Plant it at the right time, water it, add more knowledge and love to it at the right times, it will flourish! Let’s look at a typical conversation between a new client and a knowledgeable Realtor.

“I’m so excited to get started! We’ve been dreaming of finding a new home for years.” Says the client dreamily.

“I’m excited too. I’ve got some great ideas of homes that we can look at. I’ve been in this business for 15 years and there’s no one better equipped to help you through this process than me. I’ve seen this market go from booming to just barely moving and I know the sales game in and out. Here’s how it’s going to work. We will just need for you to get fully qualified with a local lender. Once you’ve done that, we’ll go out and look at several listings. Once you find the home that you like, I will guide you through the process and we’ll write a contract. I’ll help you negotiate it and when the seller signs it, then we’ll call an inspector to inspect it, ask for any repairs to be made and if you are comfortable, we’ll close on it. Of course, during this time, you’ll need to set a loan application appointment, where they’ll need to see W-2’s and bank statements. But don’t worry. I’ll take you through it all. You’re with the best! Now, let’s start looking up some 4 bedroom homes. I think you’re really going to like these homes in ABC neighborhood. There’s also a few of my own listings that I know you’re going to love!” Says the Realtor as she begins to sift through the over 1000 4 bedroom listings.

“Ok.” Says the client, completely lost, confused, overwhelmed and not excited anymore.

What just happened in the above scenario is what I like to call, “Word Vomit”. Once you start, you just can’t stop! You’ve just word vomited all over your client and they have no idea where to go next or what to do and they’ve completely lost interest because it doesn’t pertain to where they are in the sales process. I know what you’re thinking and, YES, your clients need to know this. But they need to know it at the right time.

Have you ever said this to one of your co-workers about a client? “I told them (client) not to do that! Doesn’t anyone remember anything I say?” In one hour people will retain approximately 10 percent of what you say. Guess what that 10% they remember represents? The part that interests them the most. So how do you know what interests them the most? How do you know what to talk about?

You have to ask. You have to ask in the right way. The right way is with Open Ended Questions and Light Commands. The open ended questions that will give you the most information and will allow your customers to expound on what is most important to them are questions that begin with, “What, Why and How?” For example:

“What are some of the ‘must-haves’ you would like to see in your new home?”
“How are you going to use your backyard? How do you envision your backyard?”
“How are you going to utilize your bedrooms? (i.e. study, man-cave, kids rooms, etc)
“What types of amenities would you like in your kitchen/master bedroom/bathroom?
“What are your thoughts on schools/neighborhood/area?
“Where do you spend your family time? What are your needs for family room space?”
“What would you like to know about the pre-qualification process?” (Instead of, “Are you prequalified yet? Have you spoken with a lender yet?”
“What do you feel is your comfort zone for monthly payments?” (Instead of, “What home price do you want? What monthly payment do you want?”)

The Light Commands that will give you the most information from your customers look like this:

“Describe what your new home would look like.”
“Tell me about the most important things you’d like to have in a new home.”
“Paint me a picture of what your new home will look like/backyard/kitchen/bathroom.”
“Tell me what your past experience has been with purchasing/mortgage?” (You can get them to open up about bad or good experiences and it builds trust for them to share that with you.)

“Tell me more.” (Always dig deeper off the answers they give you. The more you learn, the better.)

If you’re asking the right questions, the customer should be the one doing the majority of the talking! If the customer is doing the majority of the talking YOU are in control of the conversation. Go ahead and read that last sentence again. YOU guide the conversation by using great open ended questions and subtle light commands that allow the customer to paint you a picture of what they would like their new home to look like.

Be okay with silence. I tell my realtors all the time to just let the question sink in. Be comfortable with a little silence. More than likely, your customers have never been asked a really GOOD question! It’s going to take them a little while to process and think about an answer. But that’s a great thing! Get your customers thinking and get them interested.

I spoke with a realtor not too long ago who said that she always picks about 15 – 20 homes for buyers to look at and they have to make their choice after that. I know my jaw dropped. That’s two straight days of buyers being totally inundated with houses that they won’t remember because they do not represent any of their interests except they have 4 bedrooms and 2 baths. The more you know about what you’re client is looking for, the more you can narrow it down to 4-5 homes. If you sit your buyers down and take the time to find out what’s important to them and then search based on those parameters, your customers will know that you genuinely care about them finding the perfect home! Customers who know that you care, will refer their friends and family because of the outstanding experience they had with you.

You’re lesson for today. STOP TALKING. STOP WORD VOMITING! Engage your clients with amazing open ended questions that get them thinking. Use subtle light commands to get the information you need to find the perfect home. You’ll be asking questions that no one else is asking and they may have an uncomfortable silence while they’re thinking. Don’t fill the silence with WORD VOMIT. Be okay with it. Wait for their answer.

Your homework. In your next client meeting, if you find yourself dominating the conversation with your prolific knowledge of real estate; stop yourself. Think of a great question from above and ask it. Watch your customers turn from bored to completely interested and elated that you are allowing them to express to you what’s most important to them in a new home. Then do this over and over and watch the clients and referrals roll in.