Is Your Listing Presentation Strong Enough to Prevent Sellers from Forcing You to Take a Pay Cut?
There's nothing worse than investing your time and money in advertising (or whatever prospecting method you use), following up on your leads, scoring an appointment … only to strike out once you get your foot in the door. What went wrong? Were your credentials not impressive enough? Did your competitors offer a lower commission or convince the seller they should list their home at a higher (and unrealistic) price? Did you fumble your presentation? Lose the listing to a friend or relative of the sellers? Not present enough benefits?
The truth is that most agents can't really put their finger on why they lost the listing - they have no way of diagnosing what went wrong and thus what they should be doing differently next time.
Your listing presentation is the most important contact you will have with a seller prospect. In most cases, it's the first face-to-face contact you will have with this prospect, and the only chance you'll have to help them understand how you can benefit them in a way that other agents can't. In many cases, you will be in competition with other agents who will also be trying to sell their services. How well you do in this presentation will determine whether this prospect becomes your client, or someone else's.
Every good presentation should have a beginning, a middle and an end. One should follow the other, and each should be compelling enough that your prospect is emotionally linked to points you are explaining each step along the way.
While every listing presentation you do should be tailored specifically to the individual prospect you are trying to convert (i.e. you should have a good understanding of his/her home and neighborhood via comparables, and you should try to identify their personality type in order to know how best to explain your benefits), the nuts and bolts of each presentation will be the same. You should create a physical presentation (on PowerPoint or in a binder) to use as a visual aid with your prospects. This will serve to keep both you and your prospect on track. While you are speaking with them, your words will be reinforced visually to ensure they understand each point you are making. Even when you are completely comfortable with the information you are communicating, you should still use your presentation visuals for your prospect's benefit.
10 Tips to a Successful Presentation
I tend to avoid the word "selling" because it has come to have such a negative connotation over the last couple of decades. Whether you like it or not, a "sales person" is perceived by the public to be dishonest and fast-talking; a pusher of products and services on unsuspecting customers, doing anything and everything to "get the sale". Selling is hard work and it's distasteful to both you and the prospect(s) you are presenting to. I believe that selling is what you do when your "words" have to take the place of any real and meaningful customer benefits. I did NO selling when I presented to a prospect because I didn't have to sell. And neither should you.
The objective of all your communication with your prospects is to get them to say "Yes, I would like you to help me and represent me." What you say to them is a large part of obtaining this "yes", but your phrasing, the elements you bring, and the strategy underlying your presentation are also critically important. What follows are 10 tips that I found to be highly effective in my presentations to prospects:
1) 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?"
2) 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, or better, 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."
3) Make Sure You're Presenting to All Decision Makers - There's no point in presenting to "half of a boss". When you book your appointment, make sure that all parties who will be involved in the decision making will be present. Most of the time you will find yourself presenting to at least two people - a husband and wife. Make sure that they sit beside each other so you can comfortably maintain eye contact with, and ensure you divide your attention between both of them by alternating eye contact. It is a major mistake to let one of the two feel alienated because you focused your discussion on the other. Remember that you need both parties to be involved in the decision process of whether they say "yes" to you.
4) 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 sitting room on a couch because you'll be too scattered 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 computer; 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.
5) Determine the Prospect's Personality Type - The secret to successfully helping your prospect to make the decision you want is to help them the way they want to be helped -- not the way you want to help them. Give yourself a minute or two when you first meet with a prospect to gauge their personality type and thus which presentation style will work best with him or her. This doesn't mean that the information you deliver should be different - you still have to share all the information with them to show them all the ways you will benefit them, but the manner in which you deliver the information may be embellished for some and abbreviated for others. Start slowly to determine which of these roads (or which others in between) will most effectively convert this particular customer. Find out what they do for a living, listen to the questions they ask you and how they ask them. All of these are clues to their personality type. If you find yourself presenting to an aggressive, type A prospect, speed up and get straight to the point. If you're talking 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.
6) Always Present Benefits Before Talking Price - If you present the price first, your prospect will 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.
7) Don't Bring Too Many Comparables - A big mistake many agents make is bringing too much information which ends up confusing the seller. Remember, a 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 very 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. Getting your prospects involved in the delivery of key points is a highly effective way to get them, and keep them, on board with the presentation you are giving. If part of it is told in their own words and out of their own mouths, if you get them to draw the right conclusions as you go along, you'll have a much better chance of securing the final and most important "yes" at the end of your presentation.
8) 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.
9) 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 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 kind 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.
10) Give Them Statistical Proof of Your Performance - One of the easiest ways to set yourself apart from your competition is to research and use statistics. You can significantly increase your income by motivating seller and buyer prospects to use your services on the basis of third party statistical evidence that you can use to set yourself apart. Now before I go any further, I know there may be some of you reading this right now that are saying to yourself, "Well, sure Craig was able to use statistics because he sold a lot of houses, but what about me?" Well, that's the great thing about statistics: anyone can use them. The first step you need to take is to research which areas you stand out in. It's not likely that you'll shine in all areas. Your job is to find the stats that make you look good. (You won't use the others.) What you're researching and comparing are your personal numbers vs. the MLS (or Real Estate Board) statistics. If your personal statistic on a certain dimension is not impressive, you may want to use your company statistics, and if this still doesn't look good, eliminate this particular comparison, and move on to another criteria.
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."