When you study the success stories of as many top producer agents as John A. Palumbo, a marketing strategist and author of Highly Influential: 27 Days to Unleashing the True Power of Your Charisma and Close and Grow Rich: Fourteen Untapped Powers You Already Have To Close Your Next Deal, you learn a lot about what leads to their success. Sometimes, though, Palumbo says that even the most successful sales professionals don’t know exactly why they close so many more deals than other agents.
“I’ve studied the nuances and the characteristics of top producers around the globe and found that there are tiny, minute differences that make someone successful,” says Palumbo.
Sometimes these differences contradict other sales training, but Palumbo’s convinced that these little distinctions in words, attitude or behavior can lead any dedicated agent to close more deals.
The seven tiny reasons that could lead to more closings include:
1. Believing that everyone is a buyer.
“Lots of trainers and speakers try to convince people that everyone is a buyer, but it’s not true,” says Palumbo. “While of course you should always be cordial and friendly, don’t waste your time on someone who isn’t ready to buy.”
Interviewing potential buyers to find out how serious they are is more important than jumping into a sales presentation, he says, because it’s more important to have your available time spent with a real buyer.
2. Monthly specials are killing you.
When you represent a buyer, you may want to ask about special offers, but when you’re the listing agent for a builder, Palumbo suggests waiting until the end of a negotiation to say, “oh by the way” and mention any enticements for buyers.
“A lot of sales professionals use special deals as a crutch,” says Palumbo. “They need to understand that until the customer is sold on the location, the community, the builder, the floor plan and the lot, they haven’t sold anything. Any special offer should be the icing on the cake.”
3. Stop saying “I’m sorry.”
No one likes to hear “I’m sorry we don’t do that” or “I’m sorry I don’t know anything about that community,” says Palumbo.
“I’ve noticed that top producers say something like ‘I’ll take care of that for you’ or ‘let me get an answer for you,’” says Palumbo. “To keep the momentum going, top producers tell people ‘let me see what I can do’ and then work to achieve whatever they can for their buyers.”
4. “But what about my days off?”
While work-life balance is important, Palumbo says top producers understand the “8/25/366” rule: they are on-call and available eight days a week, 25 hours a day, 366 days a year.
“Top producers know that the best customers are high-end customers who are busy making money and are more likely to call at odd hours,” says Palumbo. “There’s no such thing as a top producer saying he can’t show a place on a Saturday morning because he had planned a golf outing that day. He’ll do it because that means earning a commission.”
You can still have a life and manage your time, says Palumbo, but you need to figure out how to be available to your customers when they want you.
5. You are not a tour guide.
Agents need to tailor their story and their presentation to individual buyers, says Palumbo.
“Don’t present your listings or show model homes the same way to everyone,” says Palumbo. “You’re wasting your time demonstrating every detail of a gourmet kitchen to someone who plans to eat out all the time.”
Organizing a targeted tour requires talking to buyers and digging into what they want in a conversational way, he says.
“Every question you ask a buyer has the ultimate goal of getting to know them better, so you can tell them a better story and show them the house they want,” says Palumbo.
6. Stop using the wrong word.
Small language shifts can make a big difference when you talk to buyers, says Palumbo.
“Using the word ‘when’ you buy this house instead of ‘if’ you buy this house is such a subtle thing, but psychologically it changes the way the buyer feels,” says Palumbo. “Using ‘when’ helps them maintain an ownership mentality.”
Another example of a small change making a big difference is using ‘we’ and ‘us’ when talking about a builder, such as ‘we can help you choose the lot for that floor plan,’ so that the buyers feel they are talking to the main source of information and support, he says.
7. No pressure, no diamonds.
Highly successful agents don’t always have to do a hard sell, but they do have to create a sense of urgency, says Palumbo.
“The key is that pressure has to come internally from buyers,” he says. “Let the pressure come organically, from the imagination of the buyers.”
For example, if buyers ask if someone else is looking at the home they want, Palumbo recommends not answering rather than telling them there are other buyers.
“Many people will assume you’re not telling the truth if you jump in and say there’s competition for that particular model or lot,” says Palumbo. “Silence is golden. It’s hard to do in a sales presentation, but it gives buyers the opportunity to really think about how much they want the place and to imagine losing it.”
Palumbo acknowledges that these are all small steps to take or little skills to acquire, but he says that over the past 30 years of talking with top producers and watching them work, these seven tiny changes have made a huge difference to agents who make them.