Why You Need to Start Listening
I’m sure that there are exceptions somewhere, but so far, in my real estate career, every agent that I know who becomes exceptionally skillful and everybody I’ve met and observed who doesn’t employ this skill usually fails. I’m not sure whether it is possible for one single skill to determine whether a sales professional succeeds or fails.
The skill that I am talking about is listening. It’s about being totally silent, opening your ears and listening to your sales prospect. Quit trying to use big words and long sales pitches to convince someone to buy. Instead, you need to “listen” someone into buying.
Have you ever heard a long drawn out sales pitch? I have, and it generally rubs me the wrong way. In fact, if someone is trying to oversell me, I sometimes walk right out of the store, and out of that salesperson’s life forever.
When a sales professional becomes a pitchman (or woman), he or she actually talks himself or herself out of the sale. Selling a home—or any large item—is not a process of convincing someone to buy. Instead, a sale is made when you have probed so well that you learn what the prospect wants—and then can recommend suitable options or solutions.
People generally believe that the role of a salesperson is to talk prospects into buying. When you are more experienced, you try to listen for openings and utilize what you’ve heard (or observed) to facilitate the buying process.
Top producing sales professionals have such finesse that they actually “listen” people into buying. This not only means that they probe for needs and wants. It also means that they pay attention to how the prospective buyer reacts—the nonverbal cues.
Look for Verbal and Nonverbal Cues
There’s a certain feeling in the air when someone is ready to buy, and there is often a distinct change in that individual’s body language or behavior when he or she has made that decision. Here are just a few to watch out for:
- When someone suddenly slows down. This generally means that they are making a final analysis or rationalizing a decision.
- When someone speeds up. This generally means that they are excited about what’s to come.
- When someone suddenly asks lots of questions. Questions about included personal property or about the operation of a specific appliance are a good sign of buyer motivation.
- When someone inquires about general terms of purchase or the specific details of a property (such as tax rate or school district). Many buyers start asking questions about initial investment, closing date, and so on, which is a good indicator of interest.
After you have observed some of these cues, you can ask a few light questions to make sure you are “listening” your prospect correctly. However, if you start talking before the prospect responds, you may lose control of the sale.
Let prospects be silent and or converse privately. Those “awkward” silences could work to your benefit. That’s why you should always wait for folks to speak, and why it is so important to keep quiet after you ask a question that involves closing the sale. If you have a big mouth, this would be the time to put your foot in it and to keep yourself quiet.
Listening usually starts with questions, but it also includes nonverbal cues. When you practice the single exceedingly important sales skill of listening, you will get all the information you need to close more sales—just remember to put your foot in your mouth.