By K.K. Snyder
Do you know how to drive your clients to finalizing the sophisticated sale? While you may be a fine salesperson, attending to every detail, you must have the ability to read and analyze your clients in order to refine your skills and make the sale. Of course, not all clients fit neatly into one specific category. They may fit into a combination of more than one. But at the end of the day, your ability to connect with that client will prove to be the difference between a deal maker and a deal-breaker.
What follows is the second in a two-part series about how to be the best possible salesperson. In the first installment, we examined the basic steps to selling a home. But just knowing the basics isn’t enough to drive the deal home quickly, yet efficiently, and pocket the final goal: the check. You have to become a behaviorist. Analytical, driver, amicable, social expressive — there are many tags for personality types of clients.
But knowing your client’s type isn’t enough; you also have to analyze your own personality type. Doing so will help you adjust your methods of communicating as you move through deals with various clients. Being prepared and understanding your buyer will make for a quick turnaround.
Learning to read clients is a fine art. Body language, appearance, mannerisms, language skills and preferred method of communication are all are clues to the makeup of the client. Once you’ve read your client, you can then understand and respond appropriately in language he will relate to easily.
In order to communicate freely with all these different types, you must become something of an actor, performing on stage and reading from whatever script the buyer sets before you. Through that performance, you can successfully make a hard close, pushing your buyer to the final sale, pressuring without letting him know he’s being pressured.
By using the subtle power of persuasion, your buyer can be led directly to the bargaining table with pen in hand, ready to sign a contract. The key is to be persuasive while allowing the buyer to believe he is calling all the shots. It goes without saying, however, that you should never force a sale that you know does not match the buyer. But, when everything lines up and you know you’ve met the client’s objective, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with strongly driving home a sale.
Always keep the process moving toward the ultimate goal: getting a signed contract. Of course, that’s when the hard work really begins, such as dealing with appraisers, negotiations, etc.
You’ve seen the analytical client before, the one who wants to read and study every document placed before him and thinks everything through before making a determination. His actions are just; he is making the investment after all. But you can sell him as quickly as you can the less-inquisitive clients, if you know how to operate in his world.
Nancy Taylor of RE/MAX North in Northbrook has been in the industry for 25 years and has a keen intuition when it comes to dealing with clients based on their purchasing personalities. She says pacing your tonality and making the analytical client comfortable when communicating with him is key to your success in making the sale.
“You sell to them like they want to buy,” she says. “They don’t want to be charged into [a sale] but, rather, see it from a logical perspective. It’s not so much about the information; everybody’s got online info. We’re selling to smart people these days. Don’t be a used car dealer.”
TIP: These clients will be quick to recognize when you’re off your game and not truly familiar with your product or the process. Don’t try to concoct answers to questions you can’t address. The analytical client would better appreciate your honesty in stating that you don’t have the information he is asking for, but you will be happy to get it for him. And then get it immediately.
In addition, Taylor advises agents to be prepared and have the necessary paperwork with them at all times: contract, W-9 and disclosures. But it’s not enough to have the contract with you, she adds, you have to know it thoroughly, so you can navigate that part of the process quickly.
“How much of a behaviorist you are is how easily somebody’s going to buy from you,” says Taylor. “Relish how they are and show it. Don’t think you’re running the whole show. Give them enough time, space and energy.”
The driving force in the life of an analytical buyer is his need to analyze and bring into logical order the outer world of events, people and things. He likes to organize anything that comes into his domain, and he will work energetically to complete tasks so he can quickly move on to the next step.
Ever work with a determined, no-nonsense client who demanded directness and steady movement toward a goal? That was your driver client. Like a bull, he’ll plow his way through, sometimes not even bothering to get out of the car when you pull into the driveway of a property you planned to show him. He knows what he wants and isn’t going to waste his time looking at something just to be nice.
“Sometimes you have to get them to articulate why they don’t want to live in a particular house,” says Taylor. Then you can eliminate other properties with like characteristics, keeping your driver client happy by following their lead — full speed ahead. In today’s busy world, this client type is growing quickly, as people struggle to use every available minute of their hectic days productively.
“In training [agents], we talk about how there’s a reason you have two ears and one mouth,” adds Andrew Warner of Equity Marketing Services Inc., who has spent the last 36 years in the business of real estate. “Sometimes agents don’t pick up on the clues. “If a guy comes in and the agent says he’s going to love the condo because it has great views and the kitchen is fantastic, but the guy asks about the price and assessment fees, the person is analytical, numbers oriented, wants just the facts.
“I’ve seen agents totally ignore that and try the emotion sell,” he adds. “Well, not everybody cares about that.”
TIP: Make sure you do your homework prior to meeting with the driver client. Be prepared and give him what he wants even before he asks for it. Remember, driver clients typically associate with other driver types, and a good referral from this set can lead to sales made in record time.
Everyone wants to be liked, right? So when you cross paths with an amicable client, you must befriend him and treat the transaction like you would if you were selling a home to your sister or brother. Take this client under your wing and impress him with little things, like treating him to lunch to discuss potential properties or bringing him some new home décor magazines to get him thinking about interior design for his new home. A little goes a long way with these easy-to-work-with clients.
TIP: Know how to recognize buying signals from your amicable client. When you sense him mentally arranging his furniture in a home you are showing him, push the mental process even further by asking questions. How would you decorate this room? Against which wall would you place your bed? Wouldn’t a hot soak in this huge bath be wonderful at the end of the day?
Keep in mind that the amicable client can also become the clingy client. Know where to draw the line so you don’t end up sacrificing time with other clients to meet the many requests coming in from this one. Use the friendliness of the relationship to your advantage by gently, but firmly, guiding the client to the sale. Again, never push someone into a sale that you know isn’t right for him.
The social expressive client is typically the mover and shaker and is a great source for referrals. He is the out-of-the-box type — the free thinker. He is going to want a certain kind of house, says Taylor. Somewhat similar to the amicable client, the social expressive is well connected and runs with large groups. One positive word from him following a great real estate experience can result in numerous new clients, many of whom will also be well connected and capable of sending even more business your way.
Like other types of sales, real estate is a mental chess game. As the agent, you have to be determined to win from the beginning, but not at the cost of a bad sale. When your buyer responds in one manner, your return response must be such that it keeps him moving toward the ultimate goal. Always keep the upper hand by being able to anticipate your client’s questions and requests before he makes them, and deliver more than he expects to receive.
With 30 years in the business, Garry Benson, a founding partner of Garrison Partners Consulting, says agents can use what he refers to as the “blink test” when trying to read clients. “For example, if you were selling a pair of glasses, and you put them on someone and they asked, ‘how much?’ you would say, ‘Five hundred.’ If they don’t blink, you say, ‘…per lens.’”
Benson says the most important thing about the psychology of sales is to create an environment that a buyer can see himself in. “We use sales centers and models to paint an environment and, once the buyer feels comfortable in that environment, they want more of it,” says Benson, adding that agents can use marketing tools and language to move the buyer toward the goal.
“Because we’re selling luxury items, these are items they don’t necessarily need, so we have to get them to want it,” he says.
You can serve to educate your client while, at the same time, serving as a guide to crossing the finish line. Watch your client’s body language, as it can speak volumes about attitude and intent. If possible, draw the spouse in to help keep the transaction moving forward, appealing to those aspects you know has kept him interested to this point. Make the buyer welcome your power of persuasion or suggestion. If you meet the client’s objectives while making a great sale and do it well, not only will he come back, he’ll feel comfortable referring you to family and friends.
“You shorten [the sales process] by being prepared and understanding the buyer,” says Taylor. “Let the buyer set the tone instead of your own ego.”