Are you asking enough of the right questions?
When you have a buyer client you ask questions about what they’re looking for, their budget, etc. You may ask them to write three lists: Must have, would like to have, and “absolutely don’t want.”
Armed with that information, you do the research and find homes for those buyers to view. That’s all good, but don’t stop there.
First there are questions to get the appointment.
Whether you’re talking with a potential buyer who called about a house or talking with a homeowner whose home you’d like to list, the first step is to get the appointment.
Instead of asking when they’d like to meet with you, give them two choices:
“I’m free this afternoon at 3:30 or tomorrow morning at 10. Which is best for you?” Of course they may say neither is good and suggest a different time, but some kind of an answer signifies that they want to move forward.
That’s called an “Alternative of choice” question.
You can also use it when encouraging homeowners to get their houses show ready. For instance:
- “Will you do the repainting or hire a contractor?”
- “Will you hire a stager or would you like me to recommend someone for a consultation so you can do it yourself?”
- “Will you set up a kennel for the dogs or take them away with you during showings?”
By offering only 2 choices, you make it easy for the client. Of course that could lead to discussion, but that’s OK.
The questions you ask while you’re viewing homes will do two things:
- Help you understand their true preferences for future showings.
- Help you move those buyers toward writing an offer.
Involvement questions help prospects visualize living in the home.
- “Where would you place a Christmas Tree?” (Assuming you know they celebrate Christmas)
- “Where would you put your big screen TV?”
- “Would you hire a landscaper or do it yourself?”
- “Which room would your daughter love best?”
- “Where would you place the kid’s swing set?” (Or your vegetable garden, rose garden, etc.)
- “What do you like most about this home?
- “What do you not like about this home?”
The answers to both “What do you like” and “What do you not like” will help guide you in future showings – saving time and reducing frustration for both you and the buyers.
Any or all of these questions can lead to further discussion and consideration – so let those buyers talk! If you’re showing to a couple and you sense that they might want to have a private discussion, remove yourself for a few minutes. “I’ll let you talk that over while I go outside and check my messages.”
Of course, if the answers are lukewarm and you can see that this is NOT the house for this buyer, there is another important question to ask “Is there something about this house that makes it an absolute NO?”
Tie-down questions are used to begin building up a series of “minor yesses.”
Tom Hopkins teaches us that a series of minor yesses build a momentum that often leads to the final, most important yes. That’s the one that says “I’ll buy that.” They cause your prospects to undergo a series of emotional changes that gently move them from resistance to a decision to buy.
For the yesses to do their job, they need to be voiced, so your job is to ask the right questions.
Choose anything you believe the buyer can and will agree with. Then make a statement and end it with Isn’t it? Couldn’t it? Wouldn’t it? Don’t you agree? Didn’t they?
- “That flower border is gorgeous, isn’t it?”
- “This fence would really keep your dogs safe, wouldn’t it?”
- “This extra bedroom could make a good office, couldn’t it?”
- “The rock mason did a beautiful job on this fireplace, didn’t he?”
- “This house is sure handy to the freeway, isn’t it?”
- Remember that you can use the inverted form of tie-downs as well. For instance:
- “Isn’t the view of the sunset from this deck spectacular?”
Do be careful when choosing those questions. You wouldn’t want to say “Doesn’t that hot tub look inviting?” to someone who wouldn’t dream of using one.
Finally, there’s the porcupine question.
This questioning method is called the porcupine, because if someone threw one at you – even a baby like this one – you’d throw it right back.
It goes like this: The listing prospect says “Can you sell my house in 60 days?” and you ask “Would you want to move within 60 days?”
The prospective buyer says something like “Do the appliances stay with the house?” and you reply with “Would you want them to stay?”
If the buyer asks “How much will they come down off the listing price?” You ask “How much would they need to come down for you to purchase the house?” If they give you a number (one that doesn’t make you choke), say “Then isn’t it time for us to write an offer, before someone else gets the same idea?”
Before you start thinking that this is extremely manipulative, look at it from the other side. Those questions help the clients clarify their own thoughts and feelings. If they’re thinking “Yes, but…” they know they haven’t found the right house. It’s time to keep looking.
QUOTES OF THE WEEK
“The person who asks questions is more helpful than the person who offers advice.”
“Learning is not compulsory… neither is survival.”
W. Edwards Deming
I do recommend reading Tom Hopkins.
For a more in-depth study of how and when to ask the right questions, I do suggest reading Tom Hopkins “How to Master the Art of Listing & Selling Real Estate.” You can get a used copy for as little as $5, including postage. (In case you’re wondering, no, that is not an affiliate link.)
This book was written in 1991, so it doesn’t cover social media marketing, texting, etc. What it will teach you is how to appeal to human nature. The book covers things you might not do, such as door-knocking, and it suggests scripts, which you might choose not to use, but it can still be helpful to read those sections, just for the insight into human nature.
I read the reviews on Amazon, and while many agree with me, others say it’s too outdated. They’re missing the fact that while marketing methods change, human nature does not.
That’s why agents who take Tom’s advice and send Thank You Notes stand out from their competition.
One more thing: After you ask a question, be quiet and give your prospect time to answer.
You’ve heard of “Talking yourself out of a sale,” haven’t you? You do it by trying to fill all those empty spaces with your own chatter. Give your clients some space to talk themselves into listing or buying with you.
In case you missed my Tuesday email…
When Zippy Larson asked questions in last week’s comment section, I turned them into a Survey Monkey questionnaire. The plan is to use the answers to write a blog post on firing clients – why you do or don’t do it, what you say, how people react, etc. I’ve already gotten a few responses, including some good email messages, but I’d like to have many more. Survey Monkey says it should take 4 minutes to answer, so if you have an extra 4 minutes, please share your experiences. Just click here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/L25SN8B
Ask questions, no,yes, and choice courtesy of Stuart Miles @ freedigitalphotos.net
Porcupine courtesy of anankkml @ freedigitalphotos.net