You both make emotional decisions, so here’s how to harness everyone’s feelings to foster a better connection. APRIL 2017 | BY SHARI LEVITIN
I once brought a bottle of Honest tea to a sales meeting. I may have subconsciously thought that it would make me appear more trustworthy. My prospect showed up with a bottle of Smart Water. Did she think it would make her appear more intelligent?
We’re more like our clients than we think. We make decisions for emotional and subconscious reasons, and so do the people we serve. Humans are more alike than different, and from a sales perspective, when you identify and focus on similarities rather than differences with your clients, the payoff is huge. You’ll connect more deeply, build greater trust, and ultimately win more sales. So here are seven ways you and your clients are alike and how you can respond to those similarities to foster a better connection.
You both suffer from information overload. This gets more intense as technology advances and infiltrates our lives more and more. As a society, we’re busy and burnt out. Time is the new currency—and we’re all broke.
Solution: Keep your sales presentation simple and to the point. This avoids decision fatigue. If you confuse them, you’ll lose them.
You both default to distrust. Nobody likes a sales pitch. Even as a salesperson, you don’t want to be “sold to” when you’re considering purchasing a product. According to Gallup’s annual Honesty/Ethics in Professions poll, consumers consistently say salespeople, such as real estate agents, auto dealers, and phone reps, are among the least ethical of all professionals. They don’t trust salespeople because they think their objective is to sell, not to service.
Solution: Honesty is important. Be upfront with your client about a property’s flaws so they’ll be more likely to believe its attributes. Point out that the floors may need refinishing, for example, and then highlight the home’s view from the windows and how it enhances its value. The product doesn’t have to be perfect; it just has to be better than the alternatives.
You both talk more than you listen.
The Greek philosopher Epictetus said it first: “We have two ears and one mouth, so we can listen twice as much as we speak.” Obviously, Epictetus never had access to Instagram. Research shows that when people talk about themselves, they experience increased activity in the area of the brain associated with motivation and reward. But this can be a problem if you’re more interested in stroking your own ego than your customer’s.
Solution: Lose the notion that your client wants to hear about your accolades and sales numbers to be convinced of your skills. They just want to know you understand their needs. So focus on igniting the reward center in their brain by letting them do the majority of the talking and asking questions that will prompt them to speak more deeply about who they are and what they want from you.
You both require more than surface-level information. When working with a new client, the “getting to know you” phase happens before you even meet in person. Prospects can learn about you and peruse your listings online, and you can find out about them on social media. So once you’re face-to-face, don’t focus on basic “who,” “what,” and “where” questions. They won’t get either of you any closer to understanding what you truly need from each other to make a transaction work.
Solution: Ask “why” questions to uncover the key motivating factors driving your client’s decision-making process. Their answers to these questions will uncover what kinds of properties will solve what problems for them and fulfill their emotional needs.
You both dislike rejection. Your clients don’t like hearing “no” when they submit an offer any more than you like hearing “no” after giving a listing presentation. But when it comes to selling, no never means no. Remember this when you find yourself saying things like, “I left a message, but my client didn’t call back,” or, “I sent an email but didn’t get an answer.”
Solution: Have tenacity. When you hear “no,” resolve to stay in touch with the client. Build the relationship. Contact them on social media, buy them coffee, or send an interesting article. Your goal is to stay top of their mind so the client turns to you when they’re ready to say “yes.”
You both want the best deal. You want to make a nice commission check, and your clients want to feel that they negotiated the best deal possible. But the tendency for many real estate professionals is to drop a home’s price until buyers stop resisting.
Solution: Instead, negotiate contract terms around repairs, furniture packages, or closing costs. This gives you the best chance of getting a buyer to pay the home’s fair value and preserve your commission. Always make your deals a win-win for both buyer and seller so you build a solid reputation and earn a client for life.
You’re both susceptible to emotional purchases. The desire to be loved, to create closeness, look good, feel good, be remembered, or belong has a powerful influence over our decisions. Once you understand what drives your clients, sales become much easier. Urgency is created by desire, not price breaks and manufactured pressure. But here’s the tricky part: These desires are often hidden.
Solution: Your job is to make the invisible visible. Ask questions and dig deeper to find out why a property will benefit your buyer emotionally. Do they crave status, a better education for their children, a feeling of community? Think for a moment about what’s at the core of the product you’re promoting: What emotional need will it satisfy?
Shari Levitin is the CEO of Shari Levitin Group, a global training and consulting firm with corporate and individual clients in over 48 countries, including Hilton, Hyatt, Adobe, RCI, Jaguar, and Wyndham Worldwide. Her new book, Heart and Sell, is available on Amazon.