I bet you never thought you’d hear a trainer say that! We’re the ones who are always saying to practice your skills by role playing, right? Well, it’s true, I think that kind of role playing is still good. It’s the other ways in which you play your roles that are not serving you.Handling Prospect Calls
A classic example of where playing your role doesn’t work is in handling buyer ad calls. Let’s look at this from a generalized view for a moment.The Buyer’s Assumed Role:
The buyer is calling in. His goal is to get the address, price, and features of the property he is calling on. He also has the goal of not engaging you in more conversation than absolutely necessary and he certainly doesn’t want to give you his name and/or contact information. He wants to get the information and get off the phone so that he can make the next call or go and drive by the property.The Agent’s Assumed Role:
You’ve been told that your primary goal is to get name, contact information, and preferably an appointment to meet with the buyer on the other end of the phone. Depending on your office policy, you may even have the limitation of not being allowed to give out the address. Even if you can tell him the address, you know that the minute you give out this information, the buyer is off the phone in moment and you have lost your opportunity to convert the call.The Impasse
So here we sit at an impasse. No one wants to give out information and therefore we begin our tug-of-war game with no possibility for a win-win scenario.Now if you’re really good and you’re one of his first calls ever, you may be able to engage the buyer in conversation; and that conversation might result in him coming in for an appointment. But wouldn’t you like something that is a little more guaranteed to work than that?Get Out Of Your Role
There is no way for both sides to win as long as you remain in your role. The buyer is not going to jump out of his role because he doesn’t know that he needs you. He thinks he needs the address. It is up to you to change your role so that, rather than staring at each other across a brick wall of stubborn refusal to share information, you can instead stand on the same side of that wall and push through it together to reach a mutual goal.
This all sounds great, I’m sure, but you’re probably wondering how you are supposed to accomplish this task. It’s simple really. Find a way to jump out of your role. Usually the buyer will give you something you can work with. My favorite example is the buyer who is obviously on his 8th or 10th call of the day and is irritated that it is taking him so long to get the information he wants. You can hear the edge in his voice, the brusqueness in his tone, and feel his impatience as he waits for yet another fight for the information he wants. This is the point of golden opportunity. This is the time when you should jump out of your role. Instead, jump into a role I affectionately call “Captain Obvious”.Being Captain Obvious
When playing this role, your job is to state the obvious. It’s simple really, and yet profound in the way it works. The buyer is irritated. He’s frustrated. He’s upset. You’re in his way. You know this. He knows this. It is not news to anyone. So speak it out loud. I respond something like this: “Wow, you’ve talked to a lot of annoying realtors today, haven’t you?” Now, instead of being another of the “annoying realtors” in his head, you’re a friend commiserating with him about what he’s been through. Even if he was irritated for a totally different reason, you’ve jarred him out of his goal-oriented mindset and put him in a position of explaining to you why he’s frustrated. In explaining this, he lets you in a little and you have the opportunity to sympathize with his situation.Bonding
Now you’re in a position to bond with the buyer. Talk with him about what kind of a day he’s been having. Find out who he’s talked to. Ask him what his goals for the day are and how he’s been approaching his search. Talk to him about his timeline, whether he’s qualified for a mortgage, why he’s moving and anything else that may come to mind. As long as he’s feeling chatty, you chat with him. Just before you feel him shifting back into information acquisition mode, you do it first by saying something like “Ah, but you wanted some information from me. What can I help you with?”He will give you the property that he wants the address on. Give it to him. He’s already invested in the conversation, he’s not going to hang up – now it would be rude to do so. He knows you. Then tell him that you’ve got access to the MLS and you can find out the address for the other properties that he has listed. That way he won’t have to talk to anymore agents.He’ll be thrilled with this concept. While you’re pulling the information about the houses (both your own and the others), try to find at least one house that doesn’t meet his stated needs for a home. Point that out to him and tell him why it won’t work. He now knows you were listening.Solve His Problem Permanently
Tell him that you could solve his problem permanently by setting him up in your system. He would automatically get all the houses in his towns, in his price range that met his criteria emailed to him each day. No more waiting for the paper to come out. No more searching the internet and culling through dozens of houses that just won’t work. Now he can get only what he wants – along with the address – delivered straight to him!Check In
Does that sound like something he would like? Who wouldn’t like that? Especially if he’s serious about buying. He’s probably buried up to his eyeballs in properties he’s hoping with work for him. He’d love for someone else to weed those out for him and save him time. These days, time is one of our most precious commodities.
Set The Appointment
Tell him you’ll need him to come into the office to set the system up. You’ll need to have a more in-depth conversation about what he needs in a home so that you can set the parameters for the search. You’ll also want to talk to him about buyer agency because he needs to have his decision made about whether he wants a buyer’s agent before he finds the house – since if he waits until afterwards his options may be severely limited based on how he found the home. (If he sees it with the listing agent, the best he can do is dual agency since the listing agent is now procuring cause for the house.) And besides, you’re sure he has a lot of questions about the buying process, and this would be the perfect time for you to answer those questions for him.Now, the buyer is not only interested in coming in to see you – he’s excited about it! And NOW is when you ask for his name and contact information. NOT BEFORE. If you ask for this information before you’ve gotten the appointment, then you’re setting yourself back into the salesperson role. After all, why would you need it unless you were planning to call and bother him as a salesperson? Now that you’ve got the appointment, you need the information. In case you need to cancel the appointment, or in case an amazing deal hits the market before you meet. Whatever – you have a relationship and therefore are entitled to the contact info.Building The Relationship
Remember, the goal of this conversation is initially to break out of your role. Then to develop rapport. Then to begin a relationship with the buyer. Then and only then should it be your goal to get the appointment. Each step builds upon the last. Don’t try to skip one or the whole house of cards could come raining down on your head.