Strategies for Servicing Listings

Happy couple real estateIn order to be successful in real estate in the long run, it’s important to learn strategies for servicing listings well. In an active market, and when your listings are priced right for that market, you won’t spend much time servicing listings because they’ll sell quickly. You’ll spend more time monitoring transactions through to completion.

But we aren’t always in an active market. And, in any market, there are properties that appeal to only a small percentage of the available buyers. So you’ll need to know how to service listings over a period of time until the right buyers are found.

The Champion sets the sellers up for a smooth running relationship at the time the listing is taken. He tells them what to expect, what the market is doing, and how prospective buyers and the agents working with those buyers will operate. Then the Champion stays in regular contact with those sellers until the listing sells. [Read more…]

When You’re New to Sales

When you’re new to sales, it will take some effort to get your career rolling. I compare this to the amount of thrust that’s required to get an airplane off the ground. It takes a lot, but once you reach  a certain level, staying aloft gets easier.

To make your career launch a little smoother, start by letting everyone you already know about your new position. They may or may not be qualified to own your product, but they are likely to know someone who is qualified. It never hurts to ask others to keep you in mind when the subject of whatever you’re selling comes up. Share with them the training you’ve taken and knowledge you’ve gained about your product so they’ll realize you’re working on becoming an expert on your product and industry.

Here’s a sample introductory letter I’ve taught past students to use. It’s just as effective when delivered via email or verbally.

Hello, Aunt Sally,

Something exciting has happened in my life. I have recently been hired as an associate (salesperson, consultant) with (name of company). This company is one of the largest (best, fastest-growing) in its field. I have learned a great deal about their products and services and feel very confident in representing them. I’d appreciate an opportunity to tell you more about my experience with them.

It’s my responsibility with this company to offer my relatives (friends, clients) the latest and most innovative ways to (state a benefit — not a feature). There’s so much to share with you I’d prefer to do it in person (on the phone). I’ll be contacting you for a time when we can visit. I’ve always appreciated your support and look forward to sharing with you the benefits of this new phase of my life soon.

Change the wording to suit your personality and product, but do invest the time and effort required to tell all of the people in your world about your new and excited career opportunity. You never know where qualified leads will come from. Don’t take a chance of missing them. Aunt Sally may be more well-connected than you think!

Learn more proven-effective prospecting strategies in my free eBook here.

Copyright Tom Hopkins International, Inc.

 

The Initial Greeting

The initial greeting is so important. As the saying goes, you don’t get a second chance to make a good first impression. Let me share some ideas for getting off on the right foot in a retail situation.

A couple walks into your store or display area. You don’t know their names. At this stage, it’s just plain pushy to ask. All chance of building the necessary relaxed feeling is often lost in the first moments by overanxious salespeople who stick out their hands, introduce themselves, and ask people for their names. The prospects are startled and embarrassed because they weren’t ready for that kind of attention.

Here’s how to avoid the possibility of this happening. A couple walks in. You don’t know their names and have no reason to believe they want to make your acquaintance. When you walk toward them, stop several feet away to avoid invading their space, and say something along these lines:

  • “Hello. Thanks for coming in. Please feel free to look around all you want. If I can give you any information, please don’t hesitate to ask.”
  • “Welcome to [name of your store]. What brought you in today?
  • “Good morning. Thank you for coming by. My name is Tom. If you have any questions or need assistance, I’ll be over here. Just ask.”

When you’ve spoken your version of one of those greetings, turn and prepare to walk away.

That’s right, walk away.

Don’t whirl and run, of course. Turn away slowly. If they stop you by asking a question, you’re there and ready to help. If they acknowledge you, then turn to move elsewhere in the store, you simply step aside but stay in the general vicinity so they’ll know where to find you. If you’re where you should be, they can easily ask you a question if they care to.

It’s curious how many people will head for the door when you crowd them, but will ask for the product or service they came in for when you speak courteously to them and then start turning away. By showing that you respect their privacy, you assure them that they’ll be safe in asking for what they want.

Let them settle. If you leave them alone after greeting them, and if they have any genuine interest in your product or service and the ability to buy it, they’ll home in on that item. All you have to do is let them settle.

If your product line is appliances and your store handles several types, watch without staring. Using peripheral vision, you can be looking at something in the dishwasher section when they light on a particular TV set. If they stay there for a full minute, they’ve settled. Now it’s time for you to stroll over and casually move into the next step.

Ask an opening involvement question. An involvement question, of course, is any positive question they’d ask themselves about the benefits of the product after they own it. You don’t know their names yet, of course, and it’s too soon to ask.

Walk up and say, “Would the television replace your old one, or is it going to be an additional set for your home?”

With slight changes in wording, you can adapt this opening involvement question to almost any product or service. Once you get them talking about why they want what you’re selling, you know how to go into your qualification and minor closing sequences, how to eventually lead them into happy involvement with a purchase.

Copyright Tom Hopkins International. Inc.
Excerpted from How to Master the Art of Selling.

Never Wing It with Voicemail

Voicemail. It’s a wonderful way of capturing messages when we’re busy doing something where we just don’t want to have to jump to answer the phone, isn’t it? Before voicemail (and answering machines), we just missed out on information or opportunities.

For those of us in sales, the advent of voicemail is both a blessing and a curse, isn’t it? It allows us to leave important messages for our clients. It allows us to keep in touch without actually investing a lot of time chatting with the Chatty Cathy’s and Talkative Tom’s of the world. And, (the curse part) it allows the Evasive Ed’s and Indecisive Ida’s of the world to practice avoidance at the champion level.

Where we run into challenges–where voicemail just doesn’t seem to serve us all that well–is when we don’t properly prepare to use it well. You may think I’m a nit-picker, but I truly believe that any little nuance of selling that isn’t analyzed and used to its highest value could be costing you and me sales.

Understand this: Every client contact is a sales presentation. Read that line again.

You wouldn’t wing it when presenting your product or service, would you? Of course not. You’re a pro! You prepare like one.

Then, why would you not invest a couple of minutes in preparing what you will say in case you have to leave a message when calling a client or potential client? You may have a plan for what you’ll say and the goal of a conversation with that client. But what’s your goal when your “conversation” has to be one-sided because they don’t pick up? What will you say to get them interested enough in speaking with you that they’ll either return your call, meet you somewhere, or pick up the next time you call? And when will that be?

Do yourself a favor and set a goal for every client contact and then prepare accordingly. Develop the questions you need to ask in order to get the answers you want. Be prepared for that one-sided conversation with the client’s voicemail and you’ll start having more two-sided conversations because you provided value or piqued their curiosity and suggested what they should do next rather than winging it with something like, “This is Bob Smith. I was hoping to talk with you. I’ll call back another time.” That’s what winging it sounds like.

Copyright Tom Hopkins International, Inc.

Who are you helping? Them? Or yourself?

Before each client contact, ask yourself this: Who are you helping? Them? Or yourself? This means giving yourself a quick attitude check. Are you concerned about your production this month? Or, are you more concerned with whether or not you have the right solution for the client?

LS002546When you present an attitude of helpfulness at the beginning of every client contact, you’ll become a top closer in sales. By approaching selling situations with the goal of helping the client, you won’t come across aggressively—and by no means will you be average or typical. And, with a helpful attitude, you’ll knock the dollar signs out of your eyes, which will put the buyer at ease.

I teach my seminar attendees that a salesperson’s income is a scoreboard reflection of the amount of service he or she gives to others. If you’re not happy with your current score (aka income), it’s time to improve the level of service you’re currently providing.

Improving your service begins with taking on an attitude of servitude. It also means taking control of your personal environment. If something that’s going on in your personal life is distracting you from your job, it may show to potential clients. When they feel you’re distracted, they’ll want to extract themselves from working with you.

Don’t risk losing sales or long-term clients because non-career challenges you are facing distract you from providing the service you know you need to deliver. Do whatever it takes to give your clients all that they expect and deserve. They’ll reward you with their business…and referred leads.

Copyright Tom Hopkins International, Inc.

Get nine free selling skill strategies by subscribing to my blog HERE.

Vital Telephone Skills for Sales Pros

Telephone SkillsYou might think that everyone knows how to use a telephone and that the topic of Vital Telephone Skills for Sales Pros is antiquated. For some, possibly you, that may be true. However, based on the calls received by me, my wife, and members of my staff, there is a great lack of skill in the general selling populace. Because of our experiences, even recently, we all agreed this topic should be addressed.

The pathway to riches is that opening in the front of your head called a mouth and one of your biggest assets is the telephone. Most appointments are set by telephone and there are certain steps to follow to do it well. [Read more…]

Questions for Building Common Ground

closed saleSince I teach the importance of establishing common ground with potential clients, I’m often asked for suggestions of topics. Because of that, I’ve generated a simple list of questions for building common ground to share. Use whatever is appropriate for your type of sales situation or simply use these questions as models for developing your own.

Here are a few subjects to give you an idea of how building common ground can begin.

Job Related:

  • Tell me a bit about your job.
  • Tell me what you do for a living.
  • What’s your occupation?
  • What do you like most/least about your work?
  • How long have you been doing this?
  • What’s the most interesting part of your job?
  • What gives you the greatest amount of satisfaction at work?

Child Related:

  • Do you have any kids?
  • Do you have any children?
  • What are their names?
  • How old are they?
  • I bet you’re proud of him/her/them.
  • What interests are they developing?
  • What do they do for fun?

Family Related:

  • Are you married? 
  • Been married long?
  • Where do you folks live?
  • Did you go on a honeymoon? Oh, where?
  • Where does he/she work?
  • What do you folks do for recreation?
  • Do you share any hobbies?

Location Related:

  • Are you from around here?
  • Where are you from?
  • What do you like most about living in your town?
  • Have you traveled much?
  • What is the most fun thing to do in your area?
  • What three things would you recommend a tourist to see first?

All of this information isn’t gathered just to be discarded. You’ll use much of it later in the sales process. I could go on and on with this, but you get the idea. You want to be friendly and to encourage the other person to be friendly. Don’t treat these questions as a checklist you have to march through like Sherman to the sea during the Civil War. Your goal is conversation not conquest.

Also, avoid the trap of droning on about any given subject. Getting overly involved in the topic of conversation will cut out valuable time you’ll need for getting down to business and making your presentation. Just find the commonality. Establish it. Make sure your customer is comfortable with it. And at the appropriate moment, move on.

Copyright Tom Hopkins International, Inc. and Pat Leiby

Sending Thank You Notes

I learned the value and power of sending thank you notes early in life.

A Lesson from Mom

When I was a young child, my parents occasionally went out with friends for dinner. Invariably, when my parents returned from an evening out, I saw my mother sit down at her little desk in the hallway as soon as she got home and begin to write.

One night I asked her what she was doing. Her answer came straight out of Emily Post: “We had such a wonderful time with our dear friends this evening that I want to jot them a note to thank them for their friendship and the wonderful dinner.”

My mother’s simple act of gratitude, expressed to people who already knew that she and my father appreciated and enjoyed their friendship, helped to keep my parents’ friendships strong for their entire lifetimes.

Having an Attitude of Gratitude

Because I understood that building relationships is what selling is all about, I began early in my career to send thank you notes to people. In fact, I set a goal to send ten thank you notes every day. That goal meant that I had to meet and get the contact information for at least ten people every day. I sent thank you notes to people I met briefly, people I showed properties to, people I talked with on the telephone, and people I actually helped to own new homes. I became a thank you note fool.

And guess what happened?

By the end of my third year in sales, my business was 98% by referral! The people I had expressed gratitude to were happy to send me new clients as a reward for making them feel appreciated and important.

How to Express Appreciation

I understand that you may not be comfortable at first with starting the Thank You note habit. The trick is to keep the notes short and simple. A thank you note is not a dissertation.

To help you get started (aka eliminate any excuses) I invested time writing out ten situations in which sending a Thank You note is appropriate. Then, to help you even more, I’ve drafted the notes for you. Use my words until writing thank you notes becomes so natural to you that you can dash one off in less than a minute.

1. Telephone contact Thank you for talking with me. In today’s business world, time is precious. You can rest assured that I will always be respectful of the time you invest as we discuss the possibility of serving your needs.

2. In Person Contact Thank you. It was a pleasure meeting you, and my thank you is for the time we shared. We have been fortunate to serve many happy clients, and it is my wish to some day be able to serve you. 

3. After Demonstration or Presentation Thank you for giving me the opportunity to discuss your upcoming needs with you. We would be honored to serve your needs now and into the future. We believe that quality, blended with excellent service, is the foundation for a successful business.

4. After Purchase Thank you for giving me the opportunity to offer you our finest service. We are confident that you will be happy with your new ______. My goal is now to offer excellent follow-up service so you will have no reservations about referring others to me who have similar needs as yours.

5. For a Referral Thank you for your kind referral of John and Mary Smith. You may rest assured that anyone you refer to me will receive the highest degree of professional service possible.

6. After Final Refusal Thank you for taking your time to consider letting me serve you. It is with sincere regret that I was currently unable to assist you. However, if you need further information or have any questions, please feel free to call. I will be happy to keep you posted on new developments and changes that may benefit you.

7. After They Buy From Someone Else Thank you for taking your time to  consider our product and service. I regret being unable, at this time, to prove to you the benefits we have to offer. I will keep in touch with the hope that in the years ahead we will be able to do business.

8. After They Buy From Someone Else, But Offer to Give You Referrals Thank you for your gracious offer of giving me referrals. As we discussed, I am enclosing three of my business cards. I thank you in advance for placing them in the hands of three of your friends, acquaintances, or relatives that I might serve. I will keep in touch and be willing to render my services as needed.

9. To Anyone Who Gives You Service Thank you. It is gratifying to meet someone dedicated to doing a good job. Your efforts are sincerely appreciated. If my company or I can serve you in any way, please don’t hesitate to call.

10. Anniversary Thank You Thank you. It is with warm regards that I send this note to say hello and again, thanks for your past patronage. Please call me with any questions you have about your ________ or the latest advancements in our newer models.

Personally, I believe the hand-written note, posted in the mail is the most powerful. But, if that truly doesn’t work for you,  it’s better to send the message via email than not at all. Ideally, you will get the note off within 24 hours of meeting with the people.

The power of expressed gratitude is immense. Put this tool to work for you today!

Copyright Tom Hopkins International, Inc.   800-528-0446   info@tomhopkins.com
For reprint permission, contact Judy Slack – judys@tomhopkins.com.

Four Social Media Tips

I don’t profess to  be an expert in social media. I do profess to be an expert on the subject of selling. That being said, let me give you four social media tips for sales pros.

Tom HopkinsTip #1 – Complete Your Profile
Complete your profile before trying to connect with people. I see this most often on LinkedIn. I receive literally hundreds of requests to connect with people on LinkedIn every month. I view LinkedIn as a tool…not a race to see how many connections I can make. I want to know who these people are.

  • If you haven’t yet uploaded a photo of yourself or your product, you’re not ready to use LinkedIn as the valuable tool it is. If you don’t like any of your photos, have a professional take one. It’s 100% worth it.
  • If you have not included at the very least your job title, your industry and your company name, you’re only toying with this incredible resource.

If I cannot determine from your profile whether or not we have something in common that’s related to business, I will not accept the connection. And you should treat LinkedIn the same way.

Tip #2 – Be prepared to work.
Somewhere along the line a lot of people got the idea that because postings appear instantaneously, that it’s a shortcut to success. There are no shortcuts to success. Selling always has been and always will be a process of building relationships.

Social media is an excellent tool for building relationships but the basic principles of selling still apply. You must prospect, connect, establish rapport, and qualify before you can earn the right to present any type of offer.

Tip #3 – Schedule social media time wisely.
In reading a comment in one of your groups on Facebook or LinkedIn, you read a great comment by Bob Smith. You let Bob know how much you appreciate what he said. Someone else comments on your comment. Another chimes in with a link that takes you away from the conversation and off onto another topic. Eventually, you come back to trying to connect with Bob outside of this conversation. When you view his profile, you note that he’s connected with someone else you might want to connect with…and it goes on and on. Next thing you know, it’s 11AM and you have not yet invested any part of your day in your real job–interacting directly with people who are in a position to own your product or service.

How much time is reasonable for you to commit to social media? What time of day is best for you to do it? Not your best selling time. Figure that out. Schedule it. Set a timer if you must, but STOP when it’s time to move on to another productive activity.

Tip #4 – Offer assistance before attempting to sell.
You wouldn’t walk up to a stranger and say, “Read my book!” “Subscribe to my blog!” or “Buy my product!” (Well, some people might act that way, but not sales pros, right Champions?) So don’t do it in social media. Engage people first. Offer to be of assistance. Ask questions about their challenges, their needs. Then, only after a comfortable dialog has been established have you earned the right to even mention the possibility of providing service.

Social media is today’s hot tool  for communication. And, it can be quite fun and productive–when you use it like a tool. The frenzy around it is not very different from new innovations in selling in the past–the f ax machine, overnight delivery, computers, mobile phones, laptops, e-mail, tablets and so on. Those are all tools of the trade that have moved business communications forward. They have accelerated the speed with which we can gain new knowledge and communicate with others. They have not replaced the communication process that is essential to the sales process.

As with any new tool, there are best practices for maximizing the effectiveness of social media. Invest the time to understand it. Use it wisely. And, you’ll gain the incredible benefits it can bring to your career.

Copyright Tom Hopkins International, Inc.

When an Objection isn’t an Objection – Guest Post

mikebrooks_speaker2When an Objection isn’t an Objection – Guest Post by Mike Brooks, aka Mr. Inside Sales

When is an objection NOT an objection? When it comes at the beginning of your presentation.

The blow offs you get at this stage are merely initial resistance, and the last thing you want to do is try to overcome them. Instead, you must acknowledge you heard them and direct your prospect to get your proposal, quote or other material so you can engage with them and deliver your presentation.

This is easy to do if you have the right scripts and techniques to accomplish this.

Here are some sample scripts to deal with the initial resistance you get when closing:

Initial resistance #1:
“I looked it over and I’m/we’re not interested.”

Response #2:
“I didn’t expect you to be interested; our marketing department hasn’t yet figured out a way to get our prospects to call us back – and that’s why they hired me! But seriously, this (product/service) has some great features that aren’t readily available in the (demo/material/information) I sent you, and it’ll only take a couple of minutes to find out if they would be a fit and benefit you. Tell you what, do yourself a favor and spend a few minutes with me to find out how and if this would be right for you. Grab the information/quote/brochure and let me cover a few things – do you have it handy?

Initial resistance #2:
“I don’t have the time right now.”

Response #1:
“That’s fine ________, we’ll schedule a better time to go over this. Quick question, though: when we do get back together on this, what are some of the areas I should be prepared to go over with you?”

Initial resistance #3:
“It’s not for us/me.”

Response #2:
“It may appear that way now ________, and you may not have enough information nor understand it well enough to be interested. In fact, most people I call back feel the same way you do – they think this is (Quickly list one or two perceived negative points), so I don’t blame you for not being interested. I wouldn’t be either if that was true. But ________, that isn’t how this (product/service) works. To begin with (list two or three benefits that contradict the first couple of negatives you just gave). These are just some of the things you need to be aware of before you make any decision. Do yourself a favor and get that (quote/demo/email/brochure) and I’ll show you how this might work for you, too. I’ll be happy to hold on while you grab it.”

Initial resistance #4:
“We looked at your material and this just isn’t for us right now.”

Response #2:
“No problem ________. Tell you what let’s do – because things change, and while this is fresh in your mind, let’s take a few minutes now to match up how this can help you when the timing is better for you. Is that (brochure, quote, demo) handy, or do I need to hold on while you grab it?”

Initial resistance #5:
“We already have a supplier or dealer or service person.”

Response #1:
“I know and we spoke about that earlier. Remember, I’m not calling to have you replace your current supplier/company, rather, you were looking at this to see how you might improve the results of what you’re currently getting. Tell you what, do me a favor and grab the (demo, information) and let me show you how, if you decide to branch out in the future, this might help you (fill their expressed need from your first call). I’ll be happy to hold on while you grab it.”

Do you see how this works? Again, do not try to overcome the initial resistance you get when closing, instead, be prepared for it and earn the right to present your product or service!

Would you like 16 more word for word scripts targeted to overcome initial resistance when closing? And, would you like over 200 other scripts and techniques to help you overcome resistance, build rapport with decision makers and close more sales over the phone? Then Click Here and get a copy of Mike’s completely Updated and Revised for 2014 ebook, “The Complete Book of Phone Scripts!” You’ll be glad you did!