Our business has an abundance of training on lead generation, social media marketing and content creation. But Andrew Undem, owner and managing partner with Sure Sales Group powered by Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Homesale Realty out of Baltimore, Maryland, says the biggest gap in our business is sales training.
Sure Sales Group is on track to close $170 million this year — and Undem credits much of that success to their sales process.
The process helps agents move buyers and sellers toward their end goal in a systematic manner. So, what does it take to create a successful sales experience for both clients and agents? Well, here are the key factors Undem shared with us.
1. Bonding and building rapport
The first step in the sales process is learning to build rapport and bonding with the potential client. Not only is this the first step, but it’s often the most important step. This is the process of making them feel comfortable and finding connection points that help build that rapport.
How you show up makes a difference. Do you greet everyone with a smile? Is your energy level and excitement for the process contagious? Do the clients perceive you as someone they can do business with when they first meet you?
Most people don’t realize this, but you choose your presence. Prospects are looking for someone who has an inviting personality and demonstrates competence. The ability to convince the prospect that you can help them achieve their goal of homeownership or selling their home is crucial.
2. Setting expectations
Properly setting expectations for every meeting and for any desired results ensures the process moves along as it should. Prospects want to know that you have a plan of action to help them get what they want.
Undem breaks down the steps for setting expectations into the acronym AATO:
- A: Their Agenda
- A: My Agenda
- T: Time
- O: Outcome
The first expectation to address is their agenda. This is where you identify what the prospect is trying to accomplish. Here are a few great questions to ask:
- What areas of the homebuying/homeselling process would you like to go over in this meeting for this to be a good use of your time?
- Is there a particular part of the homebuying/homeselling process that you have questions about?
This gives the buyer/seller the ability to share the things that are most important to them or that they are concerned about. Listen closely to the cues they give on how to best serve them. Repeat back to them what you heard to make sure it is clear:
“If I heard you correctly, understanding the loan process, what is involved in the buying process, and how long it takes from finding a house to moving in are the main things you want me to cover today. Is that correct?”
No matter what they say, once you have repeated it back to them, follow up with:
“Great, most people who ask about A, B and C, like you did, are also curious about D and E. Is this something you would like for me to cover also or are you good to go with those?”
This leads into your agenda.
The conversation then shifts to your agenda. A great way to start this is:
“Now that I have a better understanding of what you want to accomplish in this meeting, here are a few things I would like to accomplish in our time together. In order to serve you better, I may need to ask some personal questions about your motivation, budget and timing of purchase. Is it okay if I ask these questions now that you understand my goal is to serve you better?”
This then leads into the time.
Now is the time to set expectations for the length of the meeting and continue to build rapport. Setting the expectation on the length of each meeting helps you and the prospect to stay on task. This could be a statement like:
“Now that I’ve got a better feel for what we are going to accomplish during this meeting, I have another appointment in 45 minutes. So, if we get close to that time I will remind you a few minutes before we have to stop to make sure we cover everything you want to accomplish before setting up the next steps.”
Every time we meet with the prospects, we should have a desired outcome. The first meeting is to see if you are a good fit for them and if they are a good fit for you. This can be communicated by saying something like:
“At the end of this meeting, you can decide if I’m a good fit for you, and I will let you know if I can help you accomplish the goals we discuss. If at any time during this meeting you believe we aren’t a good fit, simply let me know and we can end the meeting immediately. I don’t want to waste your time and vice versa. But if we get to the end of this meeting, and we appear to be a good fit, I will let you know our next steps (seeing homes, putting together a full listing presentation, etc.).”
Whether it is a buyer or seller, this process works with every meeting you have with them throughout the sales process.
3. Compelling reasons
Now, we have arrived at the part of the process where we are finding out if there is a compelling reason for us to work together. Circling back to the outcome portion of setting the expectations, ask yourself: Can I help them achieve their goals?
Also, can they help me achieve my goals by helping them? If the answer to either of these questions is “no,” then it is better to disappoint the prospect now rather than later down the road.
4. Money and time
During the setting expectation step, we asked permission to ask them somewhat personal questions in an effort to serve them properly. “Earlier, I mentioned I would ask some personal questions to serve you better. So, here they come.”
- “Have you spoken to a lender yet, and if so, what is the price range of the home you qualify for or want to stay under?
- “Do you have a lease that is expiring where we have an ideal time frame to get you into your new home?”
- “Why are you all considering selling your home?”
- “Is there an ideal time when we would close on the sale of your home and why is that date so important?”
Understanding any factors affecting their budget or time frame to buy/sell helps you have targets to aim for in the process.
5. Establishing the decision-maker
One of the most frustrating factors for agents can be showing homes to a couple and finding them the ideal home, only to find out the buyer’s dad is the real decision-maker.
Understanding everyone involved in the decision to buy or sell from the beginning helps the agent and the buyer/seller achieve a smooth transaction. This can be established by asking a question like the following:
“Sometimes there are parents, children, or friends that will either be assisting in the financing of the home or that you will be asking about the process as we work toward your goals. It is not uncommon, so is there anyone else you will be consulting before making a final decision?”
By identifying the true decision-makers and building rapport with them upfront, the process will go smoother than it would have otherwise. Going through the sales process (as we have covered it) with every decision-maker helps identify the agenda of each decision-maker as soon as possible, leading to the desired outcome for everyone involved.
Fulfillment is where the rubber meets the road. This is doing the work. It involves meeting, and as often as possible exceeding, the client’s expectations. This is the consistent communication throughout the process of what is next. Fulfillment is the time when we deepen the relationship through doing what we say we will do.
Guiding them through the process and showing them your professionalism pays huge long-term dividends. Meeting their expectations is always easier when all the steps above are done in the correct order.
7. After the sale follow-up
Agents that have a systemized follow-up process for after the sale are destined for dramatic growth. Do you have a program in place that automatically keeps you top-of-mind with your past clients?
Here are a few ways to make sure your clients remember you when the time comes to buy another home, sell their home or refer a friend.
- Automated, monthly emails of recent sales of comparable homes to theirs.
- Homebot monthly emails with valuation updates and complete asset overview.
- Quarterly to-do’s for personalized phone calls or text check-ins.
- Receiving your monthly newsletter sent to your database.
- Unsolicited CMAs (preferably video) every six months.
The key to success in real estate starts with honing your sales skills. It gives you an easy-to-follow way to serve your clients at an extremely professional level. If you will use the detailed process Andrew outlines above then your business growth is inevitable.