With anecdotal and statistical data coming daily at me from every angle reinforcing the presupposition that quality available sales and rental stock is hard to come by, it was interesting to spend a consultancy day recently with a successful independent agent whose listings were up by 29% year on year.
We had spent a considerable amount of time in 2011 bolstering their instruction operation and improving all the key stages. Unsurprisingly, one of the most significant areas of work had been focused on the performance of the valuers at the appointments they attended. Training and coaching was provided on a number of crucial techniques including rapport building, communication skills and closing techniques. However, the improved skill area that has had the biggest impact on their success was raising the standard of their use of the benefit cycle.
Clients make decisions based on their judgement of three key areas – the 3 Ps as some salespeople think of them – Person, Proposition, Price. In other words, in the context of a valuation appointment, their judgement will be based on the valuer, the service proposition and the commission quoted.
Weaker valuers who are unable to differentiate on the first two areas will be forced to quote a low commission as their only differentiator. This is obviously a dangerous game in the context of a diminishing market.
There is a raft of ways in which a valuer can stand out behaviourally. Many of these ideas can be implemented before the day of the appointment – pre-valuation email and phone call start to build trust and difference in the client’s mind, as does hand delivery of a pre-appointment pack of information.
The second vital element is to convince the client that your services will be the most likely to get them the result they are looking for, whether it be the best possible price, the quickest possible sale, the avoidance of hassle and inconvenience or perhaps all three!
This will mean having a detailed grasp on your range of services, and those of your competitors, in particular the “USPs” (Unique Selling Points) that your Company offers. People buy differences, and this is of particular relevance for estate agents as the starting point for most potential clients is that agents are all the same – thus understandably leading them to make a choice on the basis of valuation and fee alone.
There is a raft of behavioural differences that a valuer can display to stand out from the crowd and these are covered in detail on all our instructions training programmes. These techniques ensure that the client buys into you as an individual.
It is also important to remember that these potential clients will have an unspoken question in their mind – “W.I.I.F.M.?” – “What’s in it for me?” in other words, why should they consider your estate agency firm over and above all the other options.
To enable you to convince a client that he/she should sell through you, you must ensure you understand the difference between two key concepts – “Features” and “Benefits”.
A “Feature” is a fact about what you are selling (i.e. having a network of offices, advertising, website coverage, prominent office location, feedback etc etc)
A “Benefit” is what that feature will mean to the customer (i.e. how that feature will help them get the result they require – a quick sale, the best price, a quality buyer etc )
Too many sales presentations are feature led – typically leaving a potential client failing to see what those features will really mean to them.
The technique to remember is that whenever you discuss a feature of your service, you must go on to explain unambiguously the benefit of that feature.
People buy “Benefits” they do not buy “Features”! Your presentation is given maximum impact when those benefits are USPs and can only be received by a client who instructs your firm.
For example – “We are the only agent who is open all day on a Sunday (feature). That means that with so many potential buyers working full-time in the week, and using Saturday to get all the chores done, we register and sell to applicants on their one free day while our competitors are closed. This leads to more viewings and a dramatically increased opportunity to sell faster and at a higher price (benefit).”
For more information on a range of higher level sales and communication techniques for valuers included in our training/consultancy services, email firstname.lastname@example.org, call 01480 405583 or follow us on Twitter @agencytrainer