I’m going to commit a bit of real estate heresy here, but hear me out before consigning me to the flames. I’m going to suggest that most of the listing presentations I’ve seen and heard, and I’ve seen and heard a lot of them, spend way too much time and energy trying to prove to the client that the agent has value; that they have something they believe makes them different (read better) than other agents.
In other words, I believe that listing presentations which focus on proving the value that we believe we bring to the table, leave us open to, and actually invite, the most talked about and feared objection, “Will you reduce your commission?”
So, what am I talking about? It’s my belief that, for far too long, REALTORS® have been using the listing presentation to try to impress a potential client, to try to convince the potential client to work with them by demonstrating just how wonderful they are, how much money they spend on advertising and just how marvelous their service is, to outdo other REALTORS® and justify their commissions. The argument has always been that they want to provide outstanding service and value to the client.
However, value has always been interpreted as which services and marketing the REALTOR® believes they can provide the client. But, this is where the biggest challenge is. It’s like a juggler trying to show just how many balls they can juggle at once to impress the audience. Sure, it’s exciting and impressive, but, many times, it misses the whole point of the presentation.
Now, I’m not saying that listing presentations shouldn’t be structured and include everything we do to help the client get the home sold. I’m suggesting we take an altogether different view of the definition of value.
It’s All About Them!
I would argue that, in order to secure more listings, more referrals, and ultimately reduce the likelihood of the commission challenge rearing its ugly head, it’s critical for us to find out which activities and services the client considers to be of the most value to them. Our true value, then, is in how well we can provide those services and exceed the clients’ expectations.
Before launching into everything that you do to get a home sold “for the most money, in the shortest time with the least amount of problems,” I believe it’s necessary to find out what the seller wants. Certainly, we want a saleable listing; one that’s priced right, for the right amount of time and at the right commission. But when I ask agents what they feel is important to a seller, I get a fairly standard group of answers; the most money, at the lowest commission.
My answer is that, while that may be true for the most part, we really don’t know. That we’re making assumptions without truly knowing what’s important to them, and that if we base our presentation on our assumptions, we have a very good chance at missing a huge part of demonstrating the value we bring to the relationship.
I break the listing presentation into four parts; the Inquiry phase, the Education phase, the Value Demonstration and the Objection Handling phase.
The first phase, the Inquiry, is, to me, undoubtedly the most important segment of the listing presentation, as it’s where you’ll spend time finding out as much information about the seller as possible and, at the same time building rapport. It’s during this phase, that you must discover what the sellers are looking for in their ideal REALTOR® and the services they expect him or her to provide. This can only be accomplished by asking open-ended questions and actively listening to the answers provided, clarifying their answers each time. A conversation with a seller might include questions like these:
“Mr. and Mrs. Seller, Let me ask you; what are you looking for in a REALTOR®?”
“What are the three most important things your real estate agent can do for you?”
Once they’ve answered those questions, you need to probe even deeper.
“You shared that communication is important. Can you tell me more about that? How often would you like to have communication and what type do you prefer? Do you prefer phone calls, emails, written reports or….? To give you a feeling of security and that you’re in-the-know, what form would you like our communication to take and how often would you like it?”
“You shared that internet marketing was important. Can you be more specific? What methods, sites and types of internet marketing do you feel are most effective and which have the biggest impact? Which ones do you feel are a waste of time?”
By spending as much time as you need in finding out what’s truly important to them, you can then tailor the balance of your presentation. In the Education phase you can educate them on the realities of the market, pricing their home, providing any information they may be missing or clear up any misconceptions they may have. The Value Demonstration phase allows you to show them how you can provide the activities and services which the client described as being of the most value to them and how you can provide the value they’re looking for. And throughout the entire presentation, based on the earlier conversation and issues raised by the sellers, you can predict the type of questions and concerns that may be raised and provide the answers before they are asked. The more frequently you can provide the answers, the less likely it will be that the objection will rear its ugly head. Asking for feedback, understanding and buy-in (also known as trial closes or tie-downs) throughout the presentation will also ensure the sellers have heard and understood the information and this will also assist in reducing the likelihood of an objection occurring.
So, what does all this mean? To paraphrase an old saying, value is in the eye of the beholder. What we consider to be of value in our services means nothing, what the seller is looking for means everything. Being able to find out what that is, demonstrating how we can provide it and actually following through on it; that, in my opinion is the true mark of value.
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