It seems like one of the simplest tasks – making a phone call. Yet it is one so many professionals, real estate agents included, fear and fail at. Here are my top 12 tips for getting traction on the telephone.
1. Familiarity breeds liking. Do your homework before the call and make it feel personal. Place the focus on your prospect, not you.
2. Google the prospect’s name and see what comes up. Explore their LinkedIn profile and get a sense of the type of person you’re about to call. Wherever you have commonality take note of it and use it. If you went to the same university or support the same charity, they are brilliant starting points. Business conversations don’t always need to start on a business note. Make the call more relaxed and conversational.
3. Ensure you are authentic and that your motives are in the right place, of helping the person you’re speaking to. In conversation, it’s the ‘why’, not the content, of the discussion that arouses attention. Your desire to help and service the need of your prospect without self-interest is of paramount importance.
4. If you care about being credible and intelligent, do not use complex language when simpler language gets the same message across
5. Facts, facts and more facts. Know your facts and be able to quote the sources.
6. Have an element of surprise in your opening line, as people are not interested in what they already know. In Daniel Kahneman’s international bestseller, Thinking Fast and Slow, he says: “We are able to communicate with each other because our knowledge of the world and our use of words are largely shared.” When someone has limited information about an event that affects them, they listen harder.
7. Keep the conversation professional and on track. All discussions have exit points. Pause at the appropriate time and suggest a meeting. If you don’t know what you want, you will never be able to ask for it.
8. Create mental bookmarks for future reference. Always close the conversation with a clear commitment of the next step.
9. Don’t sell past the next step; simply make the purpose of your conversation clear.
10. Prepare a script for your call – then toss it. Preparing a script lets you organise your thoughts before calling, but never read from it. It helps you avoid common mistakes and will give you more confidence. It’s normal to be a little nervous, but don’t let those butterflies in your stomach get the better of you. Athletes are nervous before a race, but they use that energy to win. It is during the first few seconds of a call that the customer forms crucial first impressions that will influence the rest of the call. I always start with: “Hi, it’s Odile Faludi from XYZ. I appreciate you taking my call.” Never start by saying, “Hi, How are you?” This is negative and will put people offside. Why would you care how a stranger is? This is a red flag you are cold calling.
11. Never use the words ‘follow up’ or ‘touch base’. These are negative phrases, which will cause mistrust as they are all about you and your self-interest in making a sale. Invite people to share their opinions with you and be curious about what they are thinking. If you say, ‘Is this a bad time to speak?’ Most people say no. If you say, ‘Is this a good time to speak?’ most people say no. Humans are programmed to say no to either question, so change what you say to get a different result. If you are given a few moments, quickly get to the point in a clear and concise manner.
12. We mirror what we see, hear and feel and anything insincere is quickly picked up on. Ensure you always empower and make people feel happier as a result of the conversation. Everyone should be a winner.
If you progress the call and need to ask some more detailed questions here are some examples:
- How important is it that you solve your current problem and what’s the time frame?
- What are the consequences if you do nothing – cost per month?
- What are the major challenges you are facing at the moment?
- What are your key areas of focus at the moment, and are these likely to change in the short/medium-term?
- Who else is involved in your decision-making process
Lastly, here are some good questions for real estate agents to ask:
- I was in your area the other day, and I couldn’t help but notice you have done a terrific renovation with a new second-floor addition. Are you curious to know how much you have added to the value of your property?
- Hi, I’m calling from XYZ, and we have a quarterly newsletter detailing several essential things to do to gain maximum dollars when you decide to sell your property. It provides a clever checklist of items to do around your home. Are you open to receiving it? It also keeps you up-to-date with things happening in your local area. Is it possible to add your email address to the circulation list? It is only sent quarterly so you won’t get bombarded.
- We recently sold a house in your street; are you aware of the price that home sold for?
- Have you heard about XYZ and how that affects you?
- Are you aware that there is a DA for a major development in your area and the feedback we are getting from many residents is not positive. What are your thoughts about this?
- If I was able to get you a premium price for your property, would you consider selling? We have a lot of disappointed buyers who recently missed out on a house in your street. Demand is exceeding supply. Would you like to take advantage of this situation and capitalise on your investment?
- Is your house still a good fit for you and your family? Does it miss anything?
- May we invite you to an upcoming VIP event? Guest speaker XYZ is talking about a particular topic and giving away free copies of their newly-released book filled with 40+ tips on their subject of expertise.