by Joe Klock Sr., Special to Realty/Builder Connection
Before the curtain goes up on a difficult listing or contract presentation, take a tip from show biz and put yourself through a dry run.
Make a list of the obstacles you're likely to deal with, including the actual words the customers are likely to throw your way.
If possible, ask a friend or friendly colleague to play the customer role and test various responses until you come up with those that are most effective and comfortable.
If you have to go it alone, find a quiet place, preferably before a mirror, then read the customer's "lines" to yourself and respond to them out loud.
Either way, wind up the "stress rehearsal" by vividly imagining yourself sailing through the appointment with poise, confidence and a positive expectation of success.
Win or lose, when it's show time, you'll go on stage feeling that you've already lived through the experience before, and only the customers will suffer from opening night jitters.
Preparation is the sworn enemy of stress, whether before the footlights or on the firing line!
Playing the name game
If you ask for a prospect's name and phone number early in the phone conversation and they choose not to give it to you, don't make a big deal of it.
Instead wait until the very end of the conversation, when the ice has been broken a bit, and say something like this: "Oh, by the way, I want to check on one other house that I think you'd like. Where can I call you later today or tonight?"
Then, if you get a number, follow up with: "And who should I ask for?"
For some unknown reason, people otherwise unwilling to identify themselves feel less pressured by this approach.
Might be because they're being offered a benefit (information) in exchange for their identity.
Improve your flex life!
The aftermath of a hurricane shows a phenomenon of nature that is useful in sales.
Mighty oak trees that stood defiantly against the raging winds end up as fallen logs and shattered stumps, while slender palm trees remain standing.
The rigid oaks had no choice but to resist the awesome power of the gale, while the palm trees wisely bent to accommodate the storm.
Thus, they were able to survive and resume their former stature. (Even those flattened completely quickly took root again when pulled to an upright position.)
This comparison reminds us that when we encounter an irresistible force, it's better to go with the blow temporarily in order to avoid irreparable damage.
For example, when customers disagree or become angry — however wrong or unreasonable they may be — our best response is to back off, assure them that we understand how they feel and tell them we're sorry they feel that way.
In the calm which inevitably follows every storm, we can then get the relationship back on track.
The rigidity of the oak is a more instinctive human response than the palm's flexibility, but there's little future in standing one's ground against ominous odds.
Dealing with ‘think it over’
One of the more popular stalling tactics of potential buyers — almost always popping up when a decision appears to be imminent — is "We'd like to think it over."
Rather than meeting this objection head on, handle it with a response something like this:
"That's a good idea, folks; this is a big decision. Now, while everything's fresh in your mind, lets make a list of the things you should be thinking about."
Then, reach for a clean sheet of letter-size paper and draw a vertical line down the middle from top to bottom.
Head the left side "Pro" or "Why We Should" and the right side "Con" or "Why We Should Not."
Start by asking if they agree with the statement, "It's the best we've seen." If they, do, write it in the left column. Follow with "We can afford it," adding that to the list if you get their permission.
Then invite them to com up with their own pros and cons about making a decision.
Do not argue with their choices...just write them down. (Discussion can come later; meanwhile, you're picking up selling points and identifying future trouble spots in the closing process.)
Make your own suggestions, of course, but add them to the list ONLY with their consent.
This will reopen opportunities to deal with their fears, suspicions, hopes and - most importantly - their need for more information, more explanation, and/or more reassurance.
Sometimes, it smokes out a previously-undisclosed problem that can now be talked out.
It will also give you the opportunity to record the benefits that they should keep in mind, even if they still can't reach a decision then and there.
— Joe Klock Sr. is a sales
consultant and can be reached through his website,