Whether you like it or not, if you’re a real estate investor, you’re also an entrepreneur. And as an entrepreneur, you’ll need to be a proficient salesperson. You’re selling products and services, whether it’s an actual property, a rental unit, a consulting service, etc. You’re negotiating on deals with sellers, buyers and other real estate professionals. You’re selling yourself to sellers, buyers, accredited investors, brokers, and property managers. Etc. Nearly everything you do requires some variation of sales. Therefore, we can all benefit from learning about the most up-to-date best practices in sales.
Stephanie Chung, an award-winning executive coach with 25 years of team management, business development and sales experience, is an expert at teaching others how to improve their sales skills. In our recent conversation, she provide her top five sales tips for selling high-ticket items, like real estate.
1 – Ask, don’t tell
First, ask a lot of questions. Stephanie said, “the fact of the matter is the best people in sales are the ones who do a lot of asking and very little telling… You want to focus on asking your questions, and not surface stuff but getting down into the core.”
You want to ask a lot of questions because the more questions you ask, the more information you’ll obtain. “If you ask people enough questions, they’ll tell you everything you ever wanted to know about them,” Stephanie said.
There are also scientific reasons for why asking questions is the ideal sales approach. Stephanie said, “you and I can probably talk at a speed of – if we’re lucky – 300 words per minute. That’s how fast we can speak. But the brain can process anywhere from 1,000 to 3,000 words per minute. So, the reason why you don’t want to be the one talking all the time and you want to be the one asking is because you have the unfair advantage based on you being the asker and the buyer having to speak.”
Your unfair advantage is that as they are speaking, not only can you process the words they’re speaking, but you can also analyze their body language and tone, which helps you guide the conversation in the right direction.
Also, Stephanie said “another reason why you do it is when you ask someone a question, especially if you’re asking them a question about themselves, the fact of the matter is the brain produces like a dopamine effect. That’s why we all like to talk about ourselves; we actually feel good about it.”
Essentially, the more questions you ask, the more information you’ll obtain and the better the other party will feel, which are the keys to identifying their needs, building rapport and making the sale.
2 – Control your financial beliefs
Secondly, you need to gain control over your own financial beliefs. “We all have them,” Stephanie said. “We were brought up, and it’s a matter of how we were brought up in our home. Were we brought up where money was based on scarcity? ‘Turn those lights off, money doesn’t grow on tree.’ Or were we brought up where money has spoken about in abundance?”
Limited financial beliefs are rooted in fear that was instilled in us in an early age. But like all fears, they can be overcome. Here is a blog post with strategies on crushing these types of fear barriers.
We all have our own financial beliefs and must ensure that we never let our beliefs leak into the conversation. “Unless you grow up around money, which most people did not, it can sabotage the results and sabotage the sales, and you end up actually not selling the high dollar, but you come in and you settle for something less, because that’s where you’re comfortable,” Stephanie said.
To keep your financial beliefs out of the conversation, you need to focus all of your attention on the buyer. Stephanie said, “you really want to be about the buyer in front of you. The more you can focus on what exactly do they need – not so much what I feel comfortable selling them, but what they need. When you can focus on that, then the conversations takes a whole different direction.”
The example she provided was about a company who sold memberships between $50,000 and $100,000. Stephanie discovered that the top sales person would often times sell the $50,000 membership when the $100,000 membership would have better suited the customer. Their reasoning was that they believed they could get in the door with the less expensive $50,000 membership and sell the higher end $100,000 membership at a later date. So, they were relying on their own beliefs rather than the actual needs of the customer. Instead, they should have left their beliefs at the door, focused on the customer’s need and sold the $100,000 membership from the start.
3 – Exude confidence
Third, exude confidence. And this is mostly accomplished by knowing your product or service inside and out. “Long gone are those days that you could wing it,” Stephanie said. “What’s going to separate us [from the competition] is our ability to get the job done for our results, and knowing our stuff, and having that swagger, if you will; you’re confident.”
She said, “you’ve got to know your stuff, you’ve got to stand firm on whatever your price is, and you have to have that air about you – not arrogance, because nobody likes that, right? But you definitely have to have that air about you where they feel comfortable that you’re competent in what it is that you do.”
Your ability to exude confidence is also based on your psychological health. Here’s a blog post with five ways to enhance your mindset to become an unstoppable real estate entrepreneur.
Since we’re supposed to be asking questions, you’ll show your confidence by asking high quality questions. “You want to be able to ask those questions that get your buyer to literally stop for a second and go ‘Huh? I’ve never thought of that before,’ or ‘That’s a good question.’ You want that awkward silence, and that’s when you know you’re really getting somewhere, because everyone else is asking the normal questions,” Stephanie said.
4 – Call out stall tactics
Next, do not crumble in the face of stall tactics. Stephanie said, “We always know it’s never about the money, but a lot of times people will use stall tactics – ‘Let me talk to my wife, let me talk to my investor, let me talk to my dog…’ That’s just stall tactics, they don’t need to talk to anybody, so always keep that in mind.”
When someone uses a stall tactic, she said your comeback should be “That’s great, it makes complete sense. Just for my own knowledge though, can you tell me specifically what is it that you need to think about specifically?” That way, you know what their true objection is and can work on addressing it.
“Don’t just let people off the hook when they say that. Always know there’s no such thing as next week,” Stephanie said. “So, narrow them down. ‘Great, would you like me to call you Tuesday? I’ve got Tuesday at 2 or 4.’ Narrow that next week stuff down.”
Regardless of what we are selling, most of the stall tactics we face as real estate entrepreneurs probably cannot be resolved by Tuesday. For example, as an apartment syndicator, one of the most common stall tactics I received from potential passive investors when I first started had to do with a lack of experience. When raising money, we are selling trust. And in order to gain that trust, the passive investor needs to know that their money is in good hands, which doesn’t necessarily happen overnight. Here is a blog post on how to overcome this type of objection or stall tactic when raising money for deals.
5 – Proactively address objections
Lastly, control the narrative by using what Stephanie calls the pre-emptive strike – proactively addressing your top objections. “We’ve all been in business, and that’s to know that we’re going to get the same one or two objections all the time. So what you want to do – this comes with your confidence and you being in control, and your swagger – is bring up the objection ahead of time.”
For example, Stephanie is one of the more expensive coaches in her area. When someone calls and asks about her coaching services, she always brings up her pricing. She’ll say, “Something you need to know is I’m actually one of the more expensive executive coaches in the area, but here’s why.” She brings up the objection to control the narrative. That way, she’s not on the defensive or stumbling over herself trying to answer it. “You bring it up, you’re in control, you’ve got the confidence, and it will usually go really well because they appreciate the fact that you brought up the objection.”
A good exercise is to create an exhaustive list of objections you could receive from a potential customer and write out a script for how you will answer them when they come up. It may seem tedious, but you will gain that trust factor more quickly than if you respond to multiple objections or stall tactics with, “I don’t know but I will get back to you.”
The five secrets of sales, especially for high-ticket items, are:
- Ask, don’t tell
- Control your financial beliefs
- Exude confidence
- Call out stall tactics
- Proactively address objections
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Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this blog post are provided for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as an offer to buy or sell any securities or to make or consider any investment or course of action.