We start normally.
They share important concerns and ask questions.
Their words enter my ear holes, but I’m not listening. I’m self-absorbed in the majesty of my “I’m the man!” answers.
I answer reflexively, spewing jagged Technicolor chunks of misunderstanding, cockeyd-confidence and self-centered repugnance.
On the outside, they’re polite. Inside, they feel sullied and unsatisfied. Unanswered questions and unaddressed concerns have punched sour holes in their real estate buying, selling and referring souls. Holes begging to be filled by the sweet affection and attentiveness of another agent. Aren’t there always others weaving magical-efforts to seduce, attract and fulfill the unmet needs of our prospects, suspects, past clients, friends and acquaintances?
In reality, nobody got wet, embarrassed or grossed out. It was worse than that. I had self-sabotaged my short and long-term success.
Here’s how I do it…
I Over Estimate What I Know.
I Under Estimate What I Don’t Know.
In My Haste To Impress and Progress – I Fail Both.
In my haste to impress and progress, I don’t invest the care or time to pause and ask thoughtful follow-up questions. Therefore, I fail to understand their true questions or the core essence of their concerns. Before the last syllable leaves their lips, in Mr. Know-It-All fashion, I projectile puke my flaccid and cockeyed-confident answers.
There’s a ten-times better way. Here’s what I should be doing, Answering To Create Confidence, Trust, Lust and Loyalism, NOT Self Sabotage
Here’s A Self-Sabotage Scenario:
On a listing appointment the sellers share, “Our last agent never stayed in touch, we want regular communication.”
I puke, “I communicate with all my clients on a weekly basis, I snail-mail a monthly follow-up report, I eMail a bi-weekly showing report and I run a market update every three weeks. I’m available 24/7, you can call me anytime…yak, ralph, hurl.”
What’s my self-sabotage problem?
I’m blowing HOT chunks about what I think is a fantastic follow up and communication strategy. After all, my last client loved it and I think it’s super responsive, therefore it must be “fantastic”. What I don’t know is what my client’s definition of “regular communication” is, or what they think “Fantastic” looks and feels like. I don’t know their preferred frequency, the method or what types of information they want…I don’t know crap about their expectations, concerns or desires. All I know is they want “regular communication”.
Whatever my clients expectations, if I don’t truly understand their questions, concerns and desires, I’m not going to connect, solve, delight or earn their trust and confidence.
On this appointment, I TOLD them what my frequency included and I TOLD them how I deliver my reports and I left out what I report on. What if my time frames don’t match their expectations (too soon or too late) or my method of delivery is flawed or I report the wrong things?
In this love affair, my service goes from self-imagined “Fantastic” to perceived and received as “Flaccid” and “Failed”. Viagra won’t help here, but there is a simple 5-Step-Answer-Plan for mutually gratifying communication, connection, confidence and trust.
When answering questions and addressing concerns…
Here’s The Simpe 5- Step-Answer-Plan
1. Clarify By Asking Follow-Up Questions Before Answering
Ask conversational questions that reveal core needs and desires. Questions that uncover fears, frustrations, barriers and concerns. Questions that illuminate perspectives and perceptions.
Example Client Comment: ” My last agent never stayed in touch, I want regular communication.”
Example Follow Up Questions: [Umm, before someone gets their tighty-whities wedgied, I’m not suggesting you use this as a “script”, it’s an example of a principle.]
- What frequency of communication would work best for you?
- What forms of communication work best for you, phone calls, eMail or?
- Do you have any specific expectations or requests?
- Generally my reports include X, Y and Q, what specific information would you want included.
Seriously. Who wouldn’t appreciate follow-up questions that focus on expectations?
I ask follow-up questions.
2. Confirm I Understood By Summarizing What I Think I Heard
When I finish listening, to confirm I understood, I need to summarize what I think their concerns and questions are.
I ask if I understand?
3. Craft A Solution
This part is as simple. I decide what, when and how I’ll give them what they want. (You gotta be a giver in this business, right?)
Seriously. Who wouldn’t appreciate having their important concerns addressed and their previously unspoken needs and desires satisfied?
4. Sharing The Solutions
Yeah. This is simple too.
Once I know the “whats”, “whens”, “wheres”, “whys” and “hows” of my clients needs and desires, all I have to do is share it.
I share my solutions.
5. Confirm My Solutions Solve and Satisfy.
Ta-Da. This step is simple too, but most often overlooked. Overlooked because at this point I feel confident that I understand them and they understand me. I asked correct questions > I’ve shared a solution > They seem happy > It’s Miller Time or Vodka Gimlet Time or Mojito Time.
But not so fast. To insure I’ve hit the pleasure center, I must confirm that my solution solves and satisfies?
I ask if I’ve answered their questions and addressed their concerns.
If they respond I’m off target, I must come correct and start over: Clarify > Confirm > Craft > Share > Confirm.
What will happen if I remember to ask thoughtful followup questions before I puked my answers? I’d be more successful. My friends, family, colleagues and clients would feel understood, we’d all enjoy satisfying relationships and live happily ever after.
This 5 step answer plan works for questions of every ilk.
What do you think? No, really. I promise not to puke on you. What do you think….I’m all ears.