Picture in your mind for a moment the word “Sales”.  What do you see?  I see a used car salesman from the late 60’s.  Bald, overweight, drinking coffee and smoking a cigarette at his desk.  This doesn’t exactly conjure up the best image.  Is yours better?  How so?

When someone asks me what I do, I usually tell them I’m a real estate broker in St. Louis.  This seems to change the perspective of the person I’m talking to.  If I were to say I’m in sales, it’s too vague and I suspect bad images would pop into their heads.

I don’t have an issue with my career.  I find it completely fascinating.  A lot of real estate agents that I meet don’t think they are even in sales.  They are wrong.  If a real estate agent in St. Louis thinks that because they like houses people will automatically call them when they are ready to sell or buy a home, they will go broke.  Turns out, pretty much everyone likes houses.

Have you ever considered that there might be different types of sales positions, and what might work in one industry doesn’t work in another?  It’s something I have considered for quite some time.  As an example, I know a real estate agent who has done a fine job transitioning from the print industry into real estate.  Her only real complaint is that there’s way too many documents to get signed versus what she was used to in her previous job.

I’ve noticed that people that sell in retail positions don’t seem to make the transition very well as real estate agents.  I’m not sure why that is, but I think it has to do with how products are marketed.  For example, if you want an iPhone, I would suspect you know that BEFORE you go to the store. At that point, it just becomes an issue of someone at the counter getting you into a contract.  I don’t think real estate works the same way.  You definitely know that you want to buy a house, but you aren’t sure which one to buy.  On the listing side, you know you are selling your house, but you aren’t sure who will want to buy it.

Forbes has a neat little picture graph titled “How the Best Salespeople Make the Sale”  I want to go over the points because I think it’s highly relevant to what we do at Deerwood Realty.

Finding the appropriate prospect – I’ve written in the past about finding the right prospect.  It isn’t so much that there is a particular prospect, it’s that everyone is a potential prospect.  However, you have to find people who are interested in buying or selling their home.  This is your prospect, but that isn’t the only part.  Prospects  need to be able to buy the home they are wanting to go look at.  I don’t even want to know the number of real estate agents who spend all kinds of times with prospects who are never going to be able to buy a home.

Reaching out to the prospect  The Forbes article makes mention of something I’ve noticed during my time at Deerwood Realty.  People like to communicate in a certain way.  As an example, some younger people I’ve worked with don’t like to talk on the phone.  They like to do everything by text or email.  If you as a salesperson don’t pick up on this, the prospect will find a real estate agent who will.  Think you can’t possibly communicate by text?  You’d better learn.  The other thing is relative to timing.  Here’s a somewhat obvious no no.  If a family member dies, the first thing you say shouldn’t be, “So what are you gonna do with the house?”  You need to reach out to people on their terms, not yours.

Meeting the prospect  Some salespeople are trained to “abc” or always be closing.  I think that’s a mistake.  When I go on a listing call, I really have no idea what the seller wants.  In fact, just last week I had a seller tell me one thing when I was at the house, and then one day later tell me the exact opposite.  Use the time you have to meet with people to get to know them and if you think you will be a good fit to work together.  Listen to their concerns and respond.  Don’t overcome an objection…that automatically puts you in a fight to the bottom.

Making a plan.  If you’ve just met a client for the first time, there’s a good chance that you aren’t signing any paperwork that day.  Plan for a time you will.  So many people in sales look at each opportunity to close as what sales is all about.  I’m not even certain you should ever be focusing on closing.  Focus on finding out what the potential client wants, and then develop a plan for getting that client what they want.

Waiting for their decision I’ve noticed that we don’t typically have to wait very often for potential clients to make a decision.  As an example, if someone is going to buy a house, they will listen to the plans you create and they will act on them.  I recommend to my clients that they first meet with a lender so they can know what their budget will be.  When I talk to clients and they don’t follow through, there’s really no waiting on that decision as much as it is knowing they aren’t serious about purchasing a home any time soon.  We are pretty much no pressure sales at Deerwood Realty.   If you want to buy a home, we think you will work to buy a home.  If you want to sell your home, you will work to sell your home.  This idea of convincing someone to buy or sell just doesn’t make sense.

Dealing with rejection  Sometimes, I’ll meet with a seller and the next thing I see is the house on the MLS listed with someone else.  It’s a disappointment, but it isn’t the end of the world.  Sales experts will tell you to pour over your failures so that you can improve.  I agree with that to an extent, but there are times when I know it isn’t a good fit between myself and a potential seller and so it’s ok that they chose someone else.  I think it gets easier over time to deal with rejections.  If a friend or family member chooses to list their home with someone else and you put your best foot forward, that’s on them.

Closing the deal  I really think that closing the deal should be changed to “delivering on your promises”.  This is an issue I have with some real estate agents.  Oftentimes, you will meet with one agent, sign paperwork, and never see that person again.  They have “staff” take care of your account.  I’ve always wondered, “If I hired one real estate agent to do the job, shouldn’t I actually work with that agent?”  At Deerwood Realty, we work with our clients from first contact to closing.

If you are a real estate agent reading this post, don’t be ashamed of the word sales.  You sell people homes and help others sell theirs.  It’s not a bad thing.  The important thing is that you follow through, put your clients first, and give them the best home buying or home selling experience possible.