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How to Use Assumptive Service to Sell More Houses

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By Craig Proctor

RISMEDIA, Dec. 3, 2008-Much has been written about the technique of “assumptive selling,” which is based on the principle that if you act as if something were true, I may well believe you. On its own, the word “assumptive” means “accepted as real or true without proof.”

In a sales profession (which is how most real estate agents would describe what they do), the ‘assumptive close’ assumes that your prospect already wants to buy what you have to sell, so you say something like ‘Do you want the blue one or the red one?’

There is an element of manipulation about this technique that puts the salesperson (versus the prospect) at the center of the transaction. Much of what I teach agents reverses this equation by placing the focus on the prospect, resulting in them begging to do business with you. If you have to be a closer, the benefits you’re offering your prospects simply aren’t strong enough. Within this context, the concept of “assumptive” has a potentially negative connotation.

This article isn’t about assumptive “selling,” but rather about assumptive “service,” and there is a world of difference between these two notions.

Let’s look at the concept of “service” in this way, and relate it to an area of sales we all have experience with: a retail store.

On a spectrum of more/better service vs. poor/non-existent service, we can describe these four levels of service:

Hide and Seek – You walk into a store and can’t find anyone to help you when you need service because they’re avoiding you.

Surrender – You’ve got them trapped in the open making it impossible for them to avoid you. With zero options at their disposal, they agree to wait on you.

Voluntary – They exercise a healthy approach to seeking you out to see if they can help you.

Assumptive – They anticipate your needs, and their assistance (i.e. genuine help – not manipulative, pushy selling disguised as help) is given before you have to ask for it.

As you’re well aware, in most markets across the country, real estate sales are slow and every party in the sales process is stressing about it. Sellers are stressed about the fact that the financial loss they may very well take, on what is probably their largest investment, may bury them.

Buyers are stressed because they need to make a buying decision that is laser sharp in focus so they don’t end up losing in the market fall out. And you, the agent, are stressed because you have too many stagnant listings and not enough serious buyers. Bottom line, every one of you is stressed about the same thing: lack of control over a very serious process. As an agent, you have the added responsibility of acting as the one who knows how to gain control over the situation by managing buyers’ and sellers’ expectations.

A related difficulty with a slow market such as the one we’re facing is that when the going gets tough, the tough get going. In other words, with profitable sales so tough to come by, all of us get out with a big stick to beat the bushes for business. With so much time spent trying to find business, less time is spent with the business you already have, especially sellers.

Clearly this is a problem for many agents in any kind of market – the difficulty of trying to juggle all the tasks required to both keep current clients happy, while sufficiently and consistently filling your pipeline of down the road business. I’m sure you’ve asked yourself more than once how on earth you’re going to effectively manage everyone’s particular stress point, better manage sellers’ expectations, and still put yourself in a position where you can grow your business by selling more houses at a fair profit.

Well, understanding the four types of service explained above should give you enough information to put together an effective system in your business that will automatically, and with little effort on your part, allow you to beat the bushes for new business while not allowing your current client service to suffer. What this entails is a proactive system of service that ensures you anticipate your clients’ needs (before any of them become crisis points) in such a way that you solve their problem before they’re even aware that they have a problem.

Let me give you an example. Whatever you may call it in your own business, you know that there are certain checkpoints during the listing period of each of your sellers when some action is required on your part. Let’s call these crisis points.

These might include the following:

• your seller’s home has been on the market for 30 days and had no showings
• your seller’s home has been on the market for two months with no offers
• your seller has had 12 or more showings with no offers

At any of these checkpoints, it should be clear to you that it is incumbent on you to do something to change the outcome with this seller. Failure to take control at this point will result in you losing your seller’s trust and, quite likely, the ultimate sale of their property.

Rather than take a “wait and see” stance, if you apply the concept of assumptive service to your sellers who have reached one of these crisis points, you are taking control of the situation, giving you the power to have it all end happily.

Assumptive service, in this scenario, anticipates that if these crisis points are reached for any of your sellers, you will have to do something about it. If you wait until the seller calls you to complain, it will likely be too late for you to recover.

Use something as simple as your contact management system to control this situation.

Your first step is to identify what you feel are the crisis points in your business for each buyer and seller, and then put an alarm in place that will go off when one of your clients has reached this point.

This alarm will let you know that it is time for you to step in to redirect marketing efforts on this property, and that failure to do so will likely result in an unfortunate outcome for both you and your client. In response to this alarm, you take the proactive step of contacting the client and letting them know that you have been monitoring the market, and the prospective buyers for their home, and have some concerns you want to discuss with them.

When you connect with them, your job is to review recent, concrete market activity with them (both with respect to their specific property and with the market at large) and then move toward the proper reduction in pricing and any other changes you feel are necessary to create more demand for your seller’s home.

With this alarm system in place, you are able to go about your daily routine of selling houses and lead generation with the focus and confidence that you will be notified at the right time when you must step in and act.

It is said that there are three types of companies: those who make things happen; those who watch things happen, and those who wonder what happened. It is the difference between pro-action, action and reaction. The example given is a good example of assumptive service in action.

The reality is that most real estate agents only react to problems after they’ve already occurred. Not only is a reactive approach more stressful for you, it’s actually more work for you as well. By overlaying a system of assumptive service on your business, you’ll not only be providing better service for your clients, you’ll also sell more homes.

todd-walters-01-bw-3.JPG“By understanding the concept of assumptive service, you can effectively put together a system that will allow you to “be there,” even before you ‘need’ to be.” – Todd Walters, Marietta, GA

To learn more about assumptive service, and other strategies that will help you build a more profitable and predictable real estate business, visit: http://www.hypertracker.com/go/cp/a40c081203/ where you can learn about free Craig Proctor workshops held year round in cities across the country. Billion Dollar AgentTM Craig Proctor has been in the top 10 for RE/MAX Worldwide for 15 years and is the only real estate trainer who actually does what he teaches. Craig consistently sells over 500 homes per year to earn almost $4 million in annual commission. Over 25,000 agents nationwide use Craig’s system to make more money in less time.

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