Listen More than You Talk

Jim Hinshaw
Contributing Writer
Improvement Professional, President & Sales

Just put into motion a big event!  May has a good friend who happens to be one of the top realtors in the nation.  Actually #7 in the nation for Berkshire Hathaway a couple of years ago.  Out of about 45,000 nationwide.  She is based out of AZ, routinely lists and sells multi-million dollar homes.  Just to be clear, our home is not in that category, as I said she is a GOOD friend.  Some may ask, why are we selling?  We want to be more out in the country, with some land.  Wait, we did that in Colorado.  It was perfect except for the winter, which lasted almost 6 months.  But this is not about us.  It is about a professional salesperson, Dee Dee Nadler.

Dee Dee started real estate sales in 1987 with Coldwell Banker, staying there over 9 years.  By year three she had her own office, specializing in executive relocations.  She quickly became one of the top three agents in Arizona.  From there she moved to Realty Executives, where she worked for over 16 years.

She then looked at the market, decided to move to another company, interviewed 7 before deciding on Berkshire Hathaway.  I asked her why she settled on them, she said they were owned by Warren Buffett, one of the smartest and wealthiest men on the planet, seemed like it made sense.  She has now been at Berkshire Hathaway for 7 years, again as a relocation specialist.

Remember the savings and loan meltdown a couple of decades ago, which led to people sending their keys to their home back to the bank.  Then they did not trash the home  the way they do today, but the banks found themselves in a position of home ownership that they not only did not want, but did not expect.  Dee Dee worked with a lot of the major banks in Arizona as well as other financial institutions, helping them to clear out the unwanted inventory.  Another specialty she created when the market needed an expert in that area.

So I asked Dee Dee what it takes to be a great sales person, not limited to real estate.  She answered quickly, being a good listener!  Wow, I share that from the front of the room often, good to hear it from another source.  Secondly, know your inventory, what is available.  Get up to speed on the marketplace, where the good schools are, become an expert.  And finally, realize women are the decision makers.  She told me she had only sold a couple of homes in the last decade to men, almost always the woman was the decision maker.

How does this apply to us?  First, start with the listening concept.  I have said many times, one mouth, two ears, use them in that same relationship.  Listen more than you talk.  We used to say, we can talk them into a sale.  Not true today, today we listen them into a sale.  Listening will set you apart and builds trust, which is critical for the sale.  Until they like, believe and trust you, it ain’t happening.

Secondly, know your products, and the marketplace.  Know what systems make sense in your area, who has rebates available, what the utilities are offering (anything from a rebate to reduced costs for specific installs), and in addition know what the competition is offering.  There may a new box from a brand that you don’t sell that may be a game changer, be sure you know how it works and what to say in response to the customer who is asking about it.  You and I know the install makes all the difference in the system, the consumer doesn’t.

Dee Dee’s final point, women make the decisions, is accurate.  Even if we men are not comfortable with that concept, it is true.  So when you are in the home, make sure the woman is involved, and pay close attention to how she answers questions and shares her thoughts.  She probably spends more time in the home than the male, so she may in fact know what areas are not comfortable better than anyone else.  And having been married over 50 years (yep, most people on the planet are not that old!), I can tell you one thing for sure.  If my wife wants something, plan on it happening.

Final thoughts: make sure you know your marketplace, know what works and what doesn’t.  Know the rebates utility companies and manufacturers are offering.  And even know what the competition is selling.  Become an expert in what you do for a living.  One area that is important to our industry is IAQ.  Was in a meeting yesterday, listened as an employee of a company share with his boss how he had been in the ER the night before, has a young child with a viral infection in his lungs.  His boss said we need to get some IAQ into that home now!  To be clear, the child may still have gotten sick even if they had IAQ products, but the chances would have been less.

Most importantly, listen to the customer, talk less than them.  Take notes, may not happen today.  Be relationship focused, not transaction focused.  And do what is right for the customer, the company and you.

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