Most agents can relate to the frustration of losing a listing presentation. After investing both time and money in marketing (or other prospecting), diligently following up on prospect leads, and finally securing a face-to-face appointment, it is demoralizing at best to lose the listing after so much hard work – especially if you can’t pinpoint exactly why. Did you competitor take the listing from you because they offered a lower commission or priced the home at an unrealistically high list price? Were your credentials not impressive to the seller? Did you stumble over important parts of your presentation? Did the seller opt to list with a friend or relative? Did you not present enough compelling benefits?
Why didn’t they choose me?
Most agents can’t answer these important questions, resigning themselves to the philosophy that “you win some, you lose some”. The problem is that they don’t know how to diagnose what they did wrong and how to fix it. In your journey to convert a seller prospect into a paying client, you’ll have many important touch points. Getting a prospect to respond to your ads, and following up with them on the phone to book a face-to-face meeting, are key hurdles along the way, but your actual listing presentation is clearly the most important contact in the funnel. In most cases, you will be in competition with other agents who have also been asked to present their credentials. It is during this presentation that you get the opportunity to show your would be clients what makes you the best and most obvious choice.
Like a good book, a good presentation should have a beginning, middle and end, and like a book, your presentation should tell a story. Far more than a dry presentation of facts and figures, your listing presentation should be compelling in a way that draws your prospect in emotionally. Your goal is to engage your prospect so that they find the answers to their spoken and unspoken questions in what you present. Parts of your presentation should be customized for each prospect (e.g. by demonstrating your knowledge of their specific home and neighborhood; by explaining your benefits in a way that is best suited to their personality type, etc.). The bulk of your presentation, however, will have a common backbone, leading them through your benefits in a logical and compelling manner. Never wing it. Always guide your prospect through a visual presentation (either digital or hard copy) as visual reinforcement for each point you make.
10 Tips to a Successful Presentation
The term “salesperson” has a negative connotation these days, so stop thinking of yourself in this manner. Many industries have contributed to the perception that a salesperson is a fast-talking product-pusher out for his or her own advantage regardless of whether it truly benefits the customer or not. I do not advocate “selling” in this way. That school of “salesmanship” is the same one that tries to convince you that you have to learn to love rejection. Who really wants to live this way? Not me. Think of it this way – selling is what you have to do when you lack any real, meaningful customer benefits. I can honestly tell you that I did NO selling in my presentations to prospects because, quite frankly, I didn’t have to. And neither do you.
Of course your goal at the end of the day is to get your prospects to say “Yes” so you can get onto the business of helping them sell their home and earn your commission. While the specific language you use is an important part of obtaining that “yes”, also critical is the strategy underpinning your presentation, the elements you bring, how and when you present these elements, and so on. I have given literally thousands of seller presentations in my career. Following are 10 tips I found to be highly effective in my own listing presentations:
- Leverage Your Brains First – Before running out to meet with a prospect, you must aggressively qualify them first. You should only be presenting to highly motivated prospects whose timing is “now”, otherwise you’re wasting your time. Before you book a face-to-face appointment, you must always ask your prospects several qualifying questions over the phone to help you understand the two most important things you need to know: their motivation and timing. One of the most important questions you should be asking is, “Will you be speaking with other Realtors?”
- Always Position Yourself as Last In – In the likely event that your prospect tells you over the phone that they will be interviewing other agents, always ask to present last. Last-in is strategically the best position because it leaves you most top-of-mind as the prospect makes their decision, and allows you to deal with any criticisms other agents have raised about you head-on and after the fact. It gives you the opportunity to have the last word. Most importantly, it gives your prospect permission to make the decision to list with you that evening because they’ve already done all their other information gathering. As long as you’re as good as the other agents, it’s likely that you’ll get the listing. When requesting this positioning, I would say to the prospect “I’d like to present last so I can show you how much more I can do for you to get your home sold.”
- Make Sure You’re Presenting to All Decision Makers – There’s no point in presenting to “half of the decision makers”. When you book your appointment, make sure that all parties who will be involved in the decision making will be present. In most cases you will be presenting to more than one person (i.e. a husband and a wife). It is a big mistake to cause one or the other to feel alienated because you inadvertently focused your discussion on one and not the other. Remember – both of them will be part of the decision process of whether you get hired or not, so ensure going in that they sit beside each other enabling you to comfortably maintain eye contact with both of them.
- Set the Stage for Your Presentation – Remember that when you give your listing presentation you are an actor and, as an actor, you must set the stage for your performance. If there is a radio or TV blaring, politely ask your prospects if they would mind turning it down so that it doesn’t become a distraction. Lead them to the kitchen (or dining room) table. Don’t allow the meeting to take place in the living or family room on a couch because you’ll be too far apart in the room and won’t have an effective surface (such as a table top) to present from. You’ll need some room to spread your material out and set up your lap top; a surface to slide a page over for your prospect(s) to see more closely without having to get up and down to walk across the room.
- Determine the Prospect’s Personality Type – Understanding your prospect’s personality type will enable you to more effectively communicate your presentation to them. An important success secret is to help them in the way they want to be helped (vs. the way you want to help them.) When you first meet face-to-face with your prospect, take a minute to try to figure out their personality type so you can determine what presentation style will work most effectively with them. This doesn’t mean the information you deliver should be different -- you still have to share all the information in order to show them all the ways you will benefit them – but the way you deliver that information may be abbreviated for some and embellished for others. The best thing to do is to launch slowly into your presentation to determine which of these routes will be most effective in getting them engaged and compelling them to give you the “yes” you’re looking for. You’ll get some clues from the kinds of questions they ask and how they ask them; their body language; their vocations etc. If you find yourself presenting to an aggressive, type A prospect, speed up and get straight to the point. If you’re talking to Mr. or Mrs. Personality, again, maintain a fast pace, but also chat with them — warm things up. With other more methodical prospects, you’ll have to go much slower, making sure to get into all the details.
- Always Present Benefits Before Talking Price – If you present the price first, your prospect may stop listening. One of the most important things you need to realize when you are seated in front of the homeseller is that they are not really interviewing real estate agents — they are choosing a sales price. Rule Number One is don’t give them a sales price until they have agreed that you are the best agent with the most aggressive marketing plan and that you will be certain to find the highest bidder for their home. Get them to say that they want YOU to handle the sale for them. Then and ONLY then do you move forward with the presentation of your CMA. Otherwise, the homeowner will use your price to barter with other real estate agents they interviewed and will ultimately select a sales price, not an agent.
- Don’t Bring Too Many Comparables – A big mistake many agents make is bringing too much information which ends up confusing the seller. Remember, the confused mind does nothing. What I found works best is to bring fifteen: five that are inferior to their home, five that are superior to their home and five that you feel are most like their home. Present the inferior comparables first which they will quickly dismiss feeling that they should get a much higher price than these. Then present the five superior comparables, homes which they will clearly see are better than theirs on certain attributes and thus worth more. This will bring them back to the centre which is when you will present the homes in the price range you feel they should list their property at. When you do this properly, you won’t have to tell them what price to list at as they will have drawn this conclusion all on their own. A very effective strategy is to get your prospects to engage with you in answering questions as you progress through your presentation. For them to reflect, “it looks like my home should be priced similarly to these homes” is much more powerful coming out of their mouths than it would be coming from yours. Help them draw the conclusions you want them to draw as you go along and you will have a much greater chance of winning the listing at the right price.
- Show Them How Much More You’ll Do – Discuss the unique services that you provide that other agents don’t offer, and be specific. Explain to them what steps you’ll put in motion to get their home sold, both from a marketing perspective and in terms of who will do what. Remember this important point: price is only an issue in the absence of value. Make sure you set yourself apart from your competitors by making it abundantly and specifically clear exactly how you will do a better job.
- Always Use Powerful Testimonials to Back Up the Claims You Make – The number one trend in North American society today is skepticism. The false claims and empty promises that marketers made to consumers in the 70s and 80s have come back square in the face of anybody who has anything to do with marketing and advertising in the new millennium. Your prospects will naturally distrust what you have to tell them, so third party endorsement is extremely important. Your testimonials must be specific, and full of statistics, facts, figures and details, because these kinds of details don’t lie. Throw your prospect a wimpy positive comment and they’ll probably throw it in the garbage; throw them a specific statistic, fact or figure, and they’ll probably quote it to a friend. And the more testimonials you can give, the better. If you have only one or two raving fans, perhaps you got them by accident. If you have dozens, the prospect will have to believe that there might be something to all this talk.
- Give Them Statistical Proof of Your Performance – It’s very important to give your prospects support or proof for the claims you make. Where client testimonials provide credibility from a personal and qualitative standpoint, third party statistics can deliver some very powerful objective and quantitative confirmation. You may be tempted to skip over this step feeling that, for whatever reason, you don’t have any stats worth talking about, but don’t sell yourself short. Sure it was easy for me to use statistics given that I sold so many homes, but the truth is that even a brand new agent can find some stats to help his or her case with a little digging. Compare your personal stats to published MLS (or Real Estate Board) numbers and decide what platform you can make a case on. Perhaps your homes sell faster than the Real Estate Board average, or maybe your list to sales ratio is superior. Do your homes sell for a greater percentage of the asking price? There are several dimensions you can evaluate, and you’ll only use the one(s) that work in your favor. If none of these stats is compelling with respect to your personal performance, you can always use your company stats.
And here’s a BONUS tip:
11. Remove the Risk
– If, at the end of the presentation, the seller is not willing to sign a contract, offer them an unconditional Cancellation Guarantee. Here’s an example of what you might say: “Most agents lock you into a lengthy listing contract (or buyer contract) which they can get out of (by ceasing to actively represent you) but you can’t. I’m so confident in the level of my service that I give you the right to cancel your listing (or buyer) contract with me at any point if I fail to live up to the service I promised.”
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