Chapter OneTelephone Dialogues
People in the real estate industry have been far behind in the ability to answer the telephone and then convert those calls into money. This chapter is intended to overcome this deficit and move the industry forward in professionalism and service. Failure to use telephone dialogues effectively will greatly hinder a real estate company.
This chapter presents and discusses the following:
* Dialogues for answering the telephone correctly
* Dialogues for answering the telephone while taking opportunity time
* Generic dialogues for answering calls from buyers
* Specific dialogues for answering calls from buyers
This chapter is intended for practically anyone in the real estate business. It is specifically of benefit to salespeople, brokers, managers, attorneys, accountants, other real estate professionals, lending professionals, real estate investors, and title officers. All of the above will benefit from knowing about the telephone dialogues discussed in this chapter. Without this knowledge, these people in the real estate business are disadvantaged.
These are the objectives of this chapter:
* Understand the objective of the broker when advertising.
* Understand the objective of the agent when answering the telephone.
* Understand the objective of the caller when calling about a real estate advertisement.
* Understand the three things that buyers feel are of value.
* Understand the rules of handling calls from buyers.
* Understand and use the dialogues given for handling calls from buyers.
Answering the Telephone Correctly
Answering the telephone correctly in the real estate office is of utmost importance. A real estate company must make every effort to remain a professional organization. A key element of that image is answering the telephone professionally.
Most offices have an administrative assistant, receptionist, or call coordinator to answer the telephone. However, on certain occasions, youthe real estate professionalmay need to answer that telephone.
Whoever answers the telephone should say:
"Thank you for calling Acme Real Estate Company. May I help you?"
This allows the caller to give his or her reason for calling. If the call is for another person in the office, then the person answering should forward the call. If the other person is not currently in the office, the person answering the call should say:
"Bob is not answering his page, but I would be glad to transfer you to his voice mail."
Then the person answering the call should transfer the call to voice mail. If the caller does not want to be connected to voice mail, the person answering the call should take his or her name and number and place them in voice mail.
The person answering the call should never say any of the following to a caller:
"Bob hasn't made it into the office yet."
"Bob is off on Thursday."
"I haven't seen Bob in days."
Answering the Telephone During Opportunity Time
Opportunity time is the time when a real estate agent gets the opportunity to take incoming calls from potential buyers. Opportunity time is also misnamed "floor time" and "up time," but make no mistakeif this time is handled properly, then it's an opportunity.
You should prepare for opportunity time as you would prepare for any other important task. Prior to opportunity time, you should do the following:
* Block out that time without any interruptions or appointments.
* Know and preview all the in-house inventory.
* Know each current print (newspaper and magazine) advertisement for real estate and have copies of those ads.
* Have a list of alternative properties.
* Adjust your attitude for the prospect of doing business, not the belief that it's a waste of time.
While on opportunity time, you should always be prepared to receive calls. If the agent on opportunity time is allowed to do paperwork while receiving calls, then you should have that work at hand. You should never be running around the office gathering things to do while on opportunity time.
You should have dialogues posted above your telephone for quick access if an opportunity call comes in. You should always be prepared to discontinue any current activities if a call comes in. Failure to take an incoming opportunity call seriously is costly.
Answering the Telephone with the Correct Attitude
Before answering an opportunity call, you should smile and smile big. Callers can pick up on the mood of the person answering their call. Have you ever called a business and been answered by a person who snapped at you? How did you feel? Did you want to give the company your business? Have you ever called a business and been answered by a person who made you feel welcome and wanted? There's a big differenceand all because of the tone of voice and inflection of the person answering the call. For each call, imagine that the caller has a check for several thousand dollars and all you have to do is convince him or her to put your name on it. That should make a difference in your attitude.
Objective of the Broker When Advertising
The objective of a broker in running any type of advertising is simply to make the telephone ring. The broker cannot expect to get buyers without making the telephone ring in the real estate office. If buyers are calling, then the broker has done his or her job.
Objective of the Agent When Answering the Telephone
The objective of the agent when answering the telephone is simply to make an appointment. No other objective should ever enter the situation. Some real estate salespeople try and sell a property over the telephone. Newsflashit can't be done! The buyer always wants to see the property first. Anyway, the buyer cannot reach through the telephone lines and sign a contract. So don't try to sell a property over the telephone. Set an appointment to meet at the office!
Here are two things about getting the buyer to agree to an appointment:
The first thing is to ensure that the buyer likes you and trusts you. You can never set an appointment with a buyer or any client without those positive feelings. Give buyers a little TLC:
They have to TTrust you,
They have to LLike you,
Before you can ever CClose you,
Getting buyers to like you and trust you is relatively easyas long as you make them feel comfortable with you and you don't sound like a "pushy" salesperson.
The second thing is to give the buyer something of value. The three things that buyers feel are of value are:
* Savings of money
* Savings of time
* Convenience of working with you
If you demonstrate your professionalism and offer your services in the manner prescribed in the following paragraphs, you will find that buyers will like you, they will trust you, and you can get them into your office because you have shown them something of valuesomething that other real estate agents have failed to do.
Objective of the Caller When Calling on a Real Estate Advertisement
The objective of the caller when calling on a real estate advertisement is simply to eliminate that ad. Buyers will circle multiple ads and have no intention of seeing all the properties. So they will call the real estate office and determine if they want to eliminate that ad. There's a problem: when they eliminate that ad, they also eliminate you!
Rules for Handling a Buyer Call
To repeat, the objective of a buyer is to eliminate the ad. Since we know that, our job is to prevent elimination and get the appointment.
Rule 1: Never try to sell the house the buyer called about.
Rule 2: Whoever asks the questions has control of the conversation.
Rule 3: If the buyer asks a question, he or she deserves an answer.
Rule 4: If you answer a question, always follow up with a question of your own.
Rule 5: If you ask a question, you deserve an answer.
Rule 6: Do not manipulate the buyer into giving you his or her name and telephone number.
Rule 7: Buyers don't call you back.
Rule 8: Buyers don't know what they want to buy.
Rule 9: Buyers have circled other ads besides yours.
Rule 10: Buyers who call on ads with a price usually can afford more.
Corollary: Buyers who call on signs usually can afford less.
Bonus Rule 1: Close early and often.
Bonus Rule 2: Always ask if the buyer has a house to sell. If so and he or she is in the area, you no longer have a buyer, you have a seller. If the buyer has a house to sell outside the area, you can send an outbound referral and make some additional money.
With buyers on the telephone, it is never too early to close, and you should close at every opportunity.
Buyer: I am calling about a house I saw in the newspaper.
Salesperson: Great! Are you working with any other brokers to find you a house?
Buyer: Not at this time.
Salesperson: Are you looking for something kinda special?
Buyer: I'd like to think so.
Salesperson: I have a Preferred Clients group that sounds like it would be perfect for you. Let me tell you of its advantages.
This script will work with almost every buyer who calls. Later on in this chapter, we will address the specifics of this dialogue. But for now, learn the basics of this dialogue, and it will get you many more appointments than you are getting now. You may need to answer some more of the buyer's direct questions, but always work to get these dialogues into the conversation.
Additional Questions and Dialogue
If the buyer asks more questions, you as the salesperson can use the following questions to extend the conversation until you can work the generic dialogue into the conversation:
* Did you see our sign on that property?
* In which publication (or Web page) did you see the ad?
* Is that a neighborhood you are interested in?
* What is your time frame for moving?
* What amount of monthly payment will you be comfortable with?
* How much money do you have to invest in a home right now?
* Do you currently own your home, or do you rent?
* Do you have to sell before you buy?
* How much time is left on your lease, or are you month to month?
* When would be a good time for you and your spouse to meet with me?
* Are there any special features that you will require in your home?
* Have you purchased or sold property in this state in the last five years?
* Does your employer match in a 401(k) fund?
* How long do you plan on owning the home?
* Are you a veteran or married to one?
* Do you have an insurance policy that you can withdraw funds from for your down payment?
* Is your employer paying any of your closing costs?
* Tell me, what was it that caused you to call about that particular home?
* Was there anything else that particularly caught your eye?
* Wouldn't it be to your advantage to see more than one home in order to make the best possible selection for your future home?
* How long have you been looking for a home?
* It has three bedrooms. How many bedrooms do you need?
* What style of home do you prefer most?
* You know, Mr. Henderson, we have been told it is a bad real estate market, but in reality good properties sell very fast. Let me share with you how I work. I look at dozens of homes each week and have access to new properties the very moment they go on the market. What does this mean to you? It means that when I know what it is you like andmore important, what it is you don't likewhen a property becomes available that meets your criteria, you will know about it before everyone else. What you see in the newspaper, on the Internet, or while driving by is rarely current or the best buy. You're getting only the tip of the iceberg of available properties. If you limit yourself to looking as you are currently doing, you are missing out on the only reliable resource for accurate, up-to-date propertiesand that's me, your real estate professional. Then it's up to you whether you are interested in seeing the property or not. Does that make sense?
* Mr. Henderson, I know that sometimes it's difficult to commit to a single person or company, especially when you believe that you could find a home without that commitment. So if you would, allow me to tell you a little about how I work and how my services will benefit you. My first and only responsibility is to those people who allow me the right of representing them in the purchase of a home. You can trust that my experience and knowledge will preserve your rights and that I will put you into the capable hands of experts in related services, such as loan origination, house inspections, title insuranceeverything else you will need. If you ever have any questions, you will feel comfortable that the answers I give you are correct and true. If you are ready to begin the process, working with one professional is of great value to you. Can you see the benefits in that?
"Place on Hold" Dialogue
Salesperson: Hello. This is Dan Hamilton with Acme Realty. How can I help you?
Buyer: I'm calling about the home on Colleen Court.
Salesperson: That is a very interesting home. Did you happen to drive by the property?
Salesperson: Let me make sure it's still available and get the file. Would you hold for just a moment, please?
The Place on Hold Dialogue is designed to give you a minute to not only get the property file but also gather your thoughts and adjust your attitude correctly.
The second statement by the salesperson is a generic response to make the buyer feel that he or she has chosen an interesting home. However, is it interesting in a good way or a bad way? The salesperson really does not need to take a position on that question, because it is all up to the buyer.
The salesperson then follows up that statement with a clarifying question: "Did you happen to drive by the property?" This question gives the salesperson a great deal of information. If the buyer has driven by the property, the salesperson will now know three things:
* The buyer probably likes the area. If not, he or she would not be interested in the property enough to call.
* The buyer is more likely to buy this house than if he or she were calling on an advertisement. Again, this is because he or she must like the neighborhood. (Still, do not try to sell this property! Yes, the chances of selling are better, 8 percent, than they would be with an advertisement, 2 percentbut that percentage means that 92 percent of the time the buyer will buy something else.)
* The buyer probably cannot afford the house. Studies have shown that a typical buyer calling after driving by a property can afford less, maybe significantly less, than that property. (The buyer thinks, "If I could have this wonderful house in this wonderful neighborhood for $80,000, life would be wonderful!" Full of excitement, he or she calls the real estate companyand learns that the property is on the market for $280,000. This is why the professional real estate salesperson avoids revealing the price of the property before exploring other options with this potential buyer.)
The buyer may answer the salesperson's questions with "No, I am calling about an advertisement" (print, Web, or other). Studies have shown that a typical buyer can afford more, maybe significantly more, than the house he or she is calling about if he or she has seen the property in an advertisement with the price indicated. The buyer thinks, "If I could get everything I want in a home for $80,000, I would buy it in a second." Of course the $80,000 house is located in an area that this buyer will not like, or the property lacks the amenities that this buyer requires. Don't forget, though: this buyer has the means to pay much more to get what he or she wants.
The salesperson grabs the information on the property in question and any properties that are similar to it and gets back to the buyer quickly.
"Get the Name" Dialogue
Salesperson: Thank you for waiting. My name is Dan Hamilton. With whom am I speaking, please?
Buyer: Bob Henderson.
Salesperson: Thank you, Mr. Henderson.
You can probably get away with asking for the caller's name at this time, but do not push it. The buyer may not feel that you have earned the right to have his or her name this early, so if you feel resistance, do not press the issue. Also, don't ask for a telephone number, because that is overwhelming to a buyer who does not like you or trust you yet.
I have heard other trainers teach that if a buyer does not give you his or her name, the agent should say, "Well, then I will just call you Jack. Is that OK?" I hope those trainers are kidding, because in real life that would get you slammed.
Our objective for this call is to get an appointment. Then, if we get an appointment, we have earned the right to get the caller's name and telephone number.
"Provide Information" Dialogues
Salesperson: I have the property file in front of me. Would you like for me to give you some information about this home?
Salesperson: That home has four bedrooms and two bathrooms with a custom kitchen and a wood fence around the backyard. The price of that home is $265,000. Is that more, less, or about the price range you were interested in?
Buyer: It is in our price range.
Salesperson: Fine. I could show that home to you at four o'clock or six o'clock. Which is better for you?