Seven steps to new seller commitments
By Mary Ann Bush
RISMEDIA, March 8, 2007-Marketing a seller's property effectively provides a tremendous opportunity to deliver real value. In fact, we should refer to this entire process as "marketing" rather than "listing" because sellers do not really understand what value agents add to the process. Sellers need to understand that they are buying the multi-dimensional real estate community, resources, knowledge and expertise that brokers and agents bring to the home-buying and selling process.
The solution? Real estate professionals need to become passionate and confident about the value they provide.
So where does it start? The listing appointment is the most important element in determining if the assignment is a good fit for you and the sellers. While there are many books and articles written on the "successful listing appointment," they all eventually boil down to a methodical process involving seven key steps.
1. Establish Compatibility
This first critical step is all about building rapport with the sellers-selling yourself. It involves paying attention and showing genuine interest in the seller before anything else. If the sellers ask to see the home at the outset, you should delay the tour by visiting first. Seeing the home too soon often leads to a discussion of price and your goal should be to isolate price from the presentation.
Determine early on that the sellers have reviewed the pre-listing package you delivered earlier and explain that you will go through that during the meeting. If you have any weaknesses that you believe are relevant, divulge those early in the meeting. It's all about credibility and trust at this point. If it's perceived as a shortcoming, this will give you the opportunity to diffuse it early on.
2. Identify the Seller's Needs
The listing appointment has several purposes, including determining whether the seller is motivated, willing to list at a marketable price and pay a fair commission.
Here is where many agents fail. They are inadequately prepared to discover the seller's needs, which is the essential first step in ultimately satisfying those needs. Agents often fail because they use their time to monopolize the conversation by focusing on their presentation. Remember, the listing appointment should be a fact-finding mission.
Your job is to spend as much time as necessary in preparing the right questions to identify their needs. Through effectively questioning, listening and evaluating their responses you will be better positioned to deliver the appropriate solutions.
3. Present Personal/Company Credentials
After you have a good understanding of the seller's requirements and feel there is a good fit, demonstrate the right solution. This is a powerful portion of the interview because it enables you to show the sellers what you and your company can do versus the competition. This could include list-to-sale price ratio, number of total listings or listings in the seller's price range versus competitors, average days-on-market for office listings, low percentage of expired listings versus competition (particularly versus discounters), etc. Too often, agents "tell" but fail to "show" the sellers their marketing capabilities and skills.
It's here that you should share personal listing statistics, experience, real estate education, awards, credentials and testimonials. They need to see company market statistics/ rankings and begin to develop a comfort level for the company and your reputations.
Sellers are looking for highly proficient sales associates so this is the opportunity to demonstrate that expertise. One example is to relate where the buyers in their market are coming from and demonstrate how this knowledge impacts how your property advertising and promotion programs will be customized to reach that audience.
4. Discuss Pricing and Seller Proceeds
Make it clear that you are happy to compete for the listing-but not to bid for it. After learning about the seller's needs and objectives and sharing your credentials, take a break by saying something like this:
"Mr. and Mrs. Seller, you've given me a great deal of information, which I really appreciate, and I hope I've conveyed what we can do to help you sell your home in the fastest time possible at the highest price, with the least inconvenience. Could I take a look at your home now?"
Then, after they have given you the complete tour of the home, say: "Before we get into the sales price of your home, how do you feel about what we've discussed so far?"
Now you have effectively positioned the first decision as choosing the right associate, after which you can establish the price.
5. Overcoming Remaining Seller Objections-Negotiating
Throughout the course of the meeting, as objectives were raised, you should have had responses readily available to refute any concerns. Having sellers raise objections is a good thing because it indicates that they are looking to you to provide a solution for that problem, versus when they seem to be in agreement but may just be doing so to avoid saying no.
If you are unsure where the seller stands, a question like this might be in order: "If we can work through this concern, may I assume that you would be receptive to listing with me?" Asking the right questions here will allow you to drill down to and overcome any obstacles remaining between you and obtaining the listing.
6. Securing the Seller's Commitment-Closing
Assuming you can effectively represent the sellers in marketing their home, the goal now becomes obtaining their commitment. The close should happen naturally after effectively selling your services so that it is nothing more than asking them for a decision. The objective is to have the sellers come to the conclusion that listing with you is the logical and appropriate course of action.
If you have done your job correctly, the sellers will see value in what is being offered and will want to take the next step because they perceive it as win-win. All that remains is to ask for the decision.
7. Presenting the Contracts
This is the final step of the listing appointment and is where your feet need to be firmly planted. It's easy to get focused on the placement of yard signs, viewing the home, inclusion of personal property, etc. The fact remains that there are a number of other important issues that you need to ensure your sellers are fully aware of; this is also the time to go through all federal and state disclosures and agreements.
The listing appointment is one of the most important sales agent activities. The better qualified and prepared an agent is, the better he or she is going to represent the seller. Each of these seven steps is important and builds upon the previous one. Don't leave anything out or to chance; your client deserves the best professional service available. RE
Mary Ann Bush is the owner of Bush Training, a RealtyU® Affiliate in Michigan. Bush is a Certified Instructor for the Seller Agency Council and holds the ABR, ASR, CRS, C-CREC and GRI designations in addition to the NAR certification At Home With Diversity, the Senior Housing Specialist certification and several educational and production awards. For more information, please visit www.bushtraining.com.