Always be Questioning

One of my favourite movie scenes is the amazing Alec Baldwin in Glengarry Glenn Ross when he screams at the sales team, “It’s ABC – Always Be Closing – you close or you hit the bricks!”

Aggressive, powerful, successful; but unfortunately in 2015 redundant.

Don’t get me wrong; the ‘close’ is still an essential part of a real estate agent’s toolbox, but the rules have changed. We are now dealing with buyers and sellers who have more information than ever before. They not only have access to sales data, but are also aware of sales techniques. Furthermore, buyers and sellers are made aware that if they feel pressured or that the agent’s conduct is unconscionable then they should not proceed any further (and rightly so).

But how do you ‘close’ a sale or ‘close’ a listing? My take is that in 2015 the answer is ABQ – Always Be Questioning.

QQQ – Question, Question, Question

Tom Ferry, the great American real estate trainer, has produced some amazing game-changers in the last few years. When asked ‘How’s the market?’ the standard reply was normally bad, good or great. Tom Ferry challenged us to change our reply with the following question: ‘Why do you ask – are you looking to sell, buy or rent?’ That question would then allow you to gain further information and allow you to base your answer around the prospect’s needs. Let me tell you, that one question has opened up many opportunities.

At a listing presentation the rules around ‘closing’ have changed. As an office, we now refer to the listing presentation as a listing consultation. That is, we are not going to the client to present and close; we are going to consult and then prescribe.

An example of this is that in the past we would try and sell the features and benefits of an auction campaign and then try to ‘close’ the client into agreeing. This did work, sometimes.

We now ask a lot of questions. ‘How did you sell your last house? Are you aware of the different ways of selling a house? How do you feel about auctions?’ We seek to understand whether there have been any bad or negative experiences in the past with selling a property before we prescribe a suitable method of sale.

The amazing thing is that we constantly hear from sellers, ‘We just had XYZ Real Estate out here and all they could do was ram auctions down our throat!’ Our response is always question-based: ‘Really? How did that make you feel? Have you had a bad experience before? Has anyone actually fully explained how an auction works? What are your expectations of your agent?’

We dig to find what the blockage really is and, once uncovered, we prescribe a solution that fits their situation. This is on a case-by-case basis and, just like every patient at a doctor’s surgery has different needs, every seller has different needs. Furthermore, by seeking to understand the client, the relationship can only grow stronger as you show care and compassion.

So change up your approach and remember ABQ – Always Be Questioning.


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Tony Williamson

Tony Williamson is the Broker/Owner of RE/MAX Cairns. He is a passionate and driven individual who has enjoyed enormous success in the Australian real estate industry.