Are personalised sales pitches the key to real estate success?
Pitching to vendors is the lifeblood of your success as a real estate agent. But it can be a minefield of unrealistic vendor expectations, miscommunication and demands to cut your commission.
David Palfreyman, real estate trainer at Auckland-based Barfoot & Thompson, and leading sales agent Carl Madsen from the Ponsonby branch, reveal how to ace the sales pitch and presentation process with their proven selling techniques.
1. Take a two-step approach
It takes time and effort to build strong vendor relationships, and real estate agents who skip the getting-to-know-you stage risk going into the pitch process cold. David recommends setting up the pitch meeting with an initial rapport-building session.
“Unless you have an existing relationship with the vendor, it’s a good idea to set two meetings,” he says. “The first meeting should be to build rapport with the vendor and uncover their pain points and pleasure centres. The second meeting is to actually pitch.”
Agent tip: “To build rapport with a vendor, try to find common ground,” Carl says. “For example, you might see a picture of a yacht hanging on their wall, which could lead to a connection if you have a similar interest. But the connection should come naturally and not feel forced.”
2. Start a dialogue
Agents should resist the urge to dazzle vendors with their skills and experience in the first instance in favour of a question-and-answer session designed to uncover their motivations, goals and challenges.
“Remember that the first meeting is a conversation, not a job interview. Ask a lot of open questions and learn how to listen. You want to find out what a good experience looks like to them. Once you understand that, you’ll be better able to demonstrate how you’ll add value to the process.”
Agent tip: “It’s important to remember that it’s not about the vendor choosing you, but about you becoming part of the process that will help them move on to the next stage of their lives,” Carl says. “Starting a dialogue will help you understand why the owner is going through the process of selling.”
David Palfreyman, Barfoot & Thompson’s agent trainer encourages a personalised approach.
3. Define the vendor
Identifying the vendor’s personality type following your first meeting will help guide how you communicate with them throughout the process. David says most people can be broadly separated into four categories: the dominant ‘driver’, the open ‘influencer’, the dependable ‘supporter’ and the conscientious ‘corrector’.
“A driver, for example, is going to want to see a lot of hard data, whereas an influencer is likely to be more open to a conversation,” David elaborates. “You need to understand the personality of people so you can speak their language. And remember, you’re not listing a property, you’re listing a person.”
Agent tip: “It’s part of gaining rapport with the vendor,” Carl explains. “If someone is very authoritative, they’ll likely respect someone who is reasonably authoritative back. Every vendor needs to be engaged in the process.”
4. Diagnose the problem
To give the vendor the selling experience they seek in a professional, you must reveal both their pain points and pleasure centres, according to David. This will not only make the vendor feel understood, but will ensure you can customise your pitch to address their specific needs, goals and challenges.
“Ask about the owners’ previous real estate experience and see which direction they take the conversation. It’s like peeling an onion – uncover what they liked and disliked about selling their last property one layer at a time to create a picture of their ideal experience and turn each obstacle into an opportunity.”
Agent tip: “Don’t try to fit vendors into a template – it’s not one size fits all,” says Carl. “Everyone’s needs are different and you need to access their personal situation in order to package a solution that’s individual to them.”
Carl Madsen, an agent with more than 25 years of experience and a top sales performer.
5. Be pitch prepared
Now it’s time to pitch, and this requires well-prepared marketing collateral that’s customised to address the needs of each vendor. David suggests complementing hard sales data and comparable sales figures with case studies that showcase your expertise and ability as a marketer and negotiator – and have a sales kit you can leave with them.
“We use Campaigntrack software with a drag-and-drop template that allows our agents to create custom sales presentations that are matched to each individual vendor.”
Agent tip: “I think of the proposal as a starting point,” Carl says. “I want the vendor to look at me as part of the process of how they’re going to move forward in their lives. It’s not me versus them. I want us to be sitting on the same side of the table and looking ahead together.”
6. Manage expectations
Most vendors will be eager to talk about setting a price for their home. Agents must resist making big promises in favour of realistic print points that are achievable, says David. That’s why it’s so important to build the vendor’s confidence that you’re best placed to achieve the top result.
“Remind the vendor that the agent doesn’t set the price – the market does. You must manage vendor expectations against what is actually possible in current market conditions and show them how you’ll achieve the best result.”
Agent tip: “When it comes to setting price, you need to be extremely careful because at some point they fell in love with the property,” Carl advises. “You’ve got to put in parameters. For example, I could say that I could definitely sell your house for $1 million right now, or we might be able to get $1.5 million if you’re prepared to wait for the right conditions. But that’s up to the vendor and where they are on that curve.”
Barfoot & Thompson’s sales material is presented beautifully and gives vendors the information they need.
7. Don’t discount
While many vendors will ask you to discount your commission, it’s important to instead help the vendor understand the difference between cost and value.
“It’s about establishing your value, not your cost. Most people will take the best value over the cheapest price. Turn conversations about your ‘success fee’ back to the process so you can build your value and demonstrate how you’ll ultimately put more money in their pockets.”
Agent tip: “The best agent for the job will ultimately get the vendor more money, so I encourage vendors to select agents on merit before cost,” Carl says. “And if an agent offers a discount straight off the bat, it signals they can only compete on cost because they don’t have the tools to provide value.”
Top performing real estate agents take the time to build rapport with their clients with an open dialogue that reveals what a positive selling experience looks like to them, then building their value across the sales process with customised marketing collateral and a personalised sales pitch matched to the vendor’s personality, needs and goals.