Over the past few weeks I have received a number of questions from experienced agents, in particular those entering the industry, on how they can ‘close’ more successfully. It raised the question ‘What makes a good closer?’
I hate to say this but I am not sure there are ‘magic words’ that suddenly make you ‘close’ a deal. However, there may be some things that can contribute to a more successful close rate. My experience has taught me is it really boils down to your style and your strategic approach to the deal and like anything, with practice and improvement your success rate increases.
I have mentored and followed many agents over the years through my work in property and real estate education. However, there is one skill I have noticed from all my wonderful mentors that they have in common – they are magnificently perceptive like a detective, they quickly identify personalities, maintain eye contact, but in the peripherals they are staking out the place listening carefully, making note. They ask genuinely relevant questions that won’t leave surprises later in the transaction or appear to be intimidation or probing.
In this blog, I outline my personal Top 5 Tips to being what I regard as a ‘good closer’.
Let me elaborate, the ability to quickly adapt and to ask questions when on the spot is critical. I have been fortunate that one of my mentors was actually in the police force and he always said to me they are taught to ask and look for clues, you are always playing detective, watching mannerisms – the things lying around their home, the type of art, the books you see on the bookshelves, they tell you so much about the people you are talking to. I thought this made sense so I asked him how you use those things in uncovering the persons you are dealing with. He bestowed this advice ‘Your questions are tools, have some rudimentary questions written down but your best questions will be the spontaneous ones in the presentations or meetings you have.’ For instance, you’ve started talking with your client or visited their home – so you need to be able to think on your feet to keep engaged and then formulate your questions to show a deeper interest. So how do you create that? The best people I shadowed would walk into a home do the generic greetings, ‘How’s that storm the other day?’ blah blah, but you realise they are scanning the room looking for clues thinking about the next questions as they chat. It’s like two things going on simultaneously, you are effectively multi-tasking.
I am not the best at doing this so I go old school with my approach when talking. I keep a paper diary and I write down a heap of questions as I am walking through the home jotting down heaps of the clues about the property, clues about their lifestyle, for example, you may see a Broncos jersey on the wall, so you know they are possibly a fan or into the NRL – with myself being a Broncos fan I can use that for conversation as they are showing me through the rest of the house. My question would be ‘Did you see the game against the Titans on Friday?’ They may respond by looking impressed you picked up on the jersey on the wall. If they are showing it off on their wall they are proud of it, so why not talk about it? Also seeing other items in their home would prompt more questions from me. My clues determine my questions and that becomes my evolving script to building my rapport. So by the time we were ready to put pen to paper, my conversations have been around the concept that I have taken a keen interest in my client and that is what truly develops great rapport. My clients have sometimes become friends and part of my successes have come as a result of goodwill – they tell their friends about my services and that word of mouth is the best form of marketing on the planet. What’s even better is it is free marketing! However, more importantly, I invested the energy and time to know about them and thus service their needs and goals which justify my commission in many cases.
I quite often hear people tell me they think if you ask too many questions you are actually talking heaps – let me dispel that myth for you. If you allow the client to respond with ample time and ask probing questions to expand their answers you will actually be talking less, just think about it. I had to learn this one the hard way. I was personally always talking far too much. Now there is nothing wrong with being a talker but ONLY if you allow others to talk as well. To help overcome my bad habit I used to write on my left palm – ‘pause’, and on the right palm ‘now shut up’, no joke! I had to adamantly control being conscious about talking too long and cutting people off when they spoke. My wife may attest to the fact I haven’t perfected that just yet, but it’s all about practice and continuously working on watching, listening, and analysing your techniques and style.
Another activity that really assisted my closing technique was looking at my sales process – going back to basics. Did I have consistency and stay on my targets throughout the whole process? The answer was often ‘yes’ but not always. When this was the case, I would segment my sales process into phases and look for areas of improvement in each stage. I am a sucker for analytics and you have to be a little obsessive I believe to be a good closer, you need to be always thinking of improvement.
A great tip is to use your phone to record your sales pitches or client phone calls and play them back to yourself at a later time. Listening to how you conduct yourself is one of the best self-learning tools I can recommend. It was hilarious on some occasions, and sometimes even embarrassing. I couldn’t even understand myself so how was I supposed to get my client to the result I wanted if I was giving them verbal obstacles. I was actually hindering myself in closing the deal constantly and I didn’t even realise it.
You may have the luxury of sometimes asking peers for feedback, but criticism (even constructive) can be hard to take no matter who it is from – nothing beats hearing yourself first hand. Always ensure you ask for permission if you are taping a conversation, and let your client know it is for training purposes. Some clients object but most don’t mind at all, so give it a go.
This process was a personal major turning point in how I conducted myself in my sales process and a very big reality check let me tell you! Once I was able to hear myself in action I was able to implement changes to my closing technique and this grew my success rate.
Be aware that sometimes us extroverted ‘sales types’ such as myself can be a little too enthusiastic. Let’s be honest there is a stigma with agents being ‘dodgy’ and I think I addressed that in a previous blog post. However, beware not everyone is going to like your open nature and particularly with shy clients many questions may be intimidating to them. I found out the hard way not everyone likes a good chat like me! Some people just want what’s absolutely necessary. Introverted clients, for example, may not give too much away, therefore you need to carefully design questions to ensure the right response. Perhaps emailing additional questions following your meeting along with a summary of your discussions may be a better approach allowing them time to think of their responses when you aren’t in their face.
Too much eagerness can also sometimes kill a deal before it gets off the ground. So adjust your enthusiasm to suit your client and their personality.
Help your clients identify their needs and then articulate how your service offering addresses those needs. Getting the groundwork covered in your initial meeting or touch points is important to slip into your communication, I call it giving them ‘homework’ – it’s the old teacher in me. This approach ensures you are always closing, always meeting the want or the need that can solve the client’s issues quickly and responsively.
Make sure you do your research before meeting any client. Why not Google search them and find out anything about them, because I can assure you most clients will do a search on you so it’s only fair! Ensure you know your data and the area or types of properties they are looking at. I have spoken to so many agents who can’t even explain the vast array of statistics in their CMA. It may look impressive to some clients but many of our clients these days are much more informed and will do their own due diligence before you meet- so if you don’t know, find out. Make sure you’re abreast of the local amenities or other elements that may be of interest to the client. The more research you do, the more confidence your clients will have in you. The more confidence they have in you, the greater trust built, the better success rate. I have learnt the importance of exceptional and accurate research to ensure I never underestimate what’s important to my clients and how much they already may know.
A good tip is to relay your client’s understanding of conversations back to them enabling you to ensure you have not misunderstood their needs, wants or understanding of the discussion.
Effective communication isn’t just about what you say, it is also about the frequency. Too much contact may disengage someone whereas too little contact people may forget you. This can be a tricky balance but ask them what they prefer. A good approach is to judge the urgency of your client and work with adjusting your frequency based on where your client is in the sales funnel.
These top tips all take hard work but don’t be scared, put yourself to the test, and look at how you close and actively work on how to improve yourself. Constantly working at this will increase your closing success. I can attest to the fact that it works and I hope it adds value to what you do and brings your fantastic success.
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