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Prevent Answer Puke. Use This 5-Step-Answer-Plan To Create Trust, Lust and Loyalism.

I Blew Technicolor Chunks of Self-Importance, Sloth and MiscommunicationHot-Mess Chunks

We start normally.

We talk.

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.

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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

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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.

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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.”

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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.]

  1. What frequency of communication would work best for you?
  2. What forms of communication work best for you, phone calls, eMail or?
  3. Do you have any specific expectations or requests?
  4. 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?)

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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.

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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 If…

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.

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What do you think?  No, really.  I promise not to puke on you.  What do you think….I’m all ears.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Cheers friends.

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Written By

Ken Brand - Prudential Gary Greene, Realtors. I’ve proudly worn a Realtor tattoo for over 10,957+ days, practicing our craft in San Diego, Austin, Aspen and now, The Woodlands, TX. As a life long learner, I’ve studied, read, written, taught, observed and participated in spectacular face plant failures and giddy inducing triumphs. I invite you to read my blog posts here at Agent Genius and BrandCandid.com. On the lighter side, you can follow my folly on Twitter and Facebook. Of course, you’re always to welcome to take the shortcut and call: 832-797-1779.

23 Comments

23 Comments

  1. Atlanta Real Estate

    September 7, 2009 at 10:45 am

    Ken:

    I LOVE the post, well done. A little gross at times with all the puke references, but that’s ok.

    Not sure if you arrived at all this completely on your own experiences and thinking, if so that’s impressive.

    That said, what you have here is a basic description of what’s called Solution Selling. In this, you methodically get the prospect to cough up all their issues and you offer them solutions, which are really what you are selling. Here’s basically how it works:

    1. Ask open ended questions
    2. Lots of listening and more open ended Qs (basically the prospect does all the talking)
    3. Present solutions – “would if I could show you a way to…”
    4. Match those solutions to what you are sellin’
    5. Confirm everything (regurgitate) – “so you said if you could do xyz, then…”
    6. Soft close – “what would this be worth to you if…”

    In the full Solution Selling Method, there are of course, effective ways to deal with objections, competition, prospects that don’t want to take action (“what happens if you do nothing..”), and a myriad of other stuff.

    It’s a full week long role-playing corporate sales training. I have unfortunately been “subject” to it THREE times in the last 15 years by various software vendors (past jobs). The first time I took it the basic concepts stuck and those have helped me immensely in my career of sales. The second and third times, I already knew all the answers to everything and it was a complete waste of an entire week, stuck in ballrooms with no computers allowed, for 10 hours a day!

    I’ll see if I can fine a link to the original book on the topic and post it.

    Rob M

  2. Atlanta Real Estate

    September 7, 2009 at 11:17 am

    The book is Solution Selling by Michael Bosworth.

    Search it on Amazon.

    91 available used, from $2.09.

    LOL,

    RM

  3. Ken Brand

    September 7, 2009 at 11:36 am

    A.R.E. – Thanks for reading. Yeah, you’re spot, puking is nasty business, for the pukeer and viewer, that’s why my message is endorsed by the surgeon general.

    It’s not always apparent, but I’m smarter than I look.

    Solution selling it is….who wants to chase, capture, subdue, close, push, pull, shove and sell old school? Not me and you.

    Cheers.

  4. Missy Caulk

    September 7, 2009 at 12:10 pm

    Great answers and responses Ken. What we think is fantastic might not be to them. I’ll use these in the future instead of vomiting a mess in their home.

  5. Atlanta Real Estate

    September 7, 2009 at 12:37 pm

    “subdue”

    Good one!

    RM

  6. Jeffrey Douglass

    September 7, 2009 at 3:08 pm

    Ken, good stuff.

    I used to train new agents not to “verbal vomit”. You are going to have to say something, so make it relevant and communicate with the Clients, don’t just spew out stuff you think they want to hear.

  7. Mack Perry

    September 8, 2009 at 6:51 am

    Thanks for the post Ken. It’s amazing how often we need a little common sense advice to help us realize how important listening and understanding our client’s desires are.

  8. Joe Loomer

    September 8, 2009 at 9:10 am

    The picture made me have some flashbacks to my Navy days ;).

    Instructor duty in the Navy taught me much similar techniques in questioning to make sure you’re answering the right issues. Nice refresher here!

    Navy Chief, Navy Pride

  9. real estate

    September 9, 2009 at 2:00 am

    In my first post creative link building real estate 101 I spoke about how you could build links through relationships within your community. Another great relationship I didn’t mention is with your local news, or any type of press for that matter.

  10. Matt Stigliano

    September 9, 2009 at 8:55 am

    @KenBrand – Interesting concept, this “listening” you speak of. I might have to try it. On a serious note though, you’re example of communication being an issue to the client…it’s so easy to tell someone what you would do. You open your mouth and the words pour out. You know what you expect from yourself. Suddenly, you say “once a week” and they’re squirming in their seats – they had hoped for once every two weeks, just so they knew you were alive. Now they’re not sure if you’re a bit too touchy-feely and they don’t love you like they did five minutes earlier. Never looked at it so clear.

    Listing appointments are a great way to blow it. You get so excited showing the prospective client what amazing things you do, that you can easily forget the golden rule – do what they want, not what you want. Sure, you should throw in some of your über cool magic tricks, but you always want to be their agent, not the agent that sells a pre-packaged solution in a box.

  11. Atlanta Real Estate

    September 9, 2009 at 9:06 am

    @Matt – you nailed that like a split hog! “I’m not gonna lie to you, it felt good.”

    Movie? (clue: shake-n-bake)

    Also, love this one “Now they’re not sure if you’re a bit too touchy-feely and they don’t love you like they did five minutes earlier. ”

    Don’t you get sick of that? Such a fickle unbusinesslike touchy feely environment. Hanging on their every word and reaction, like some little twitt!

    My best clients are the know-it-all high dollar ones that are too omnipotent to listen to anything a agent has to offer. With those guys I just keep quiet and answer when asked. At least you know where you stand with them!

    One recently told me, “I’m running out of time, just find me a damn home.” So I went home, pretended I personally had $1.6M to buy a home with and he bought the second one we went into the next day. He shoulda told me that on day ONE, instead of sending me all the dumb listings in places I knew he wouldn’t like.

    RM

  12. Atlanta Real Estate

    September 9, 2009 at 9:09 am

    @Matt – you nailed that like a split hog! “I’m not gonna lie to you, it felt good.”

    Movie? (clue: shake-n-bake)

    Also, love this one “Now they’re not sure if you’re a bit too touchy-feely and they don’t love you like they did five minutes earlier. ”

    Don’t you get sick of that? Such a fickle unbusinesslike touchy feely environment. Hanging on their every word and reaction, like some little twitt!

    My best clients are the know-it-all high dollar ones that are too omnipotent to listen to anything a agent has to offer. With those guys I just keep quiet and answer when asked. At least you know where you stand with them!

    One recently told me, “I’m running out of time, just find me a d-a-m-n home.” So I went home, pretended I personally had $1.6M to buy a home with and he bought the second one we went into the next day. He shoulda told me that on day ONE, instead of sending me all the dumb listings in places I knew he wouldn’t like.

    RM

  13. Atlanta Real Estate

    September 9, 2009 at 11:34 am

    @Matt – you nailed that like a split hog! “I’m not gonna lie to you, it felt good.”

    Movie? (clue: shake-n-bake)

    Also, love this one “Now they’re not sure if you’re a bit too touchy-feely and they don’t love you like they did five minutes earlier. ”

    Don’t you get sick of that? Such a fickle unbusinesslike touchy feely environment. Hanging on their every word and reaction, like some little twitt!

    My best clients are the know-it-all high dollar ones that are too omnipotent to listen to anything a agent has to offer. With those guys I just keep quiet and answer when asked. At least you know where you stand with them!

    One recently told me, “I’m running out of time, just find me a beepin home.” So I went home, pretended I personally had $1.6M to buy a home with and he bought the second one we went into the next day. He shoulda told me that on day ONE, instead of sending me all the dumb listings in places I knew he wouldn’t like.

    RM

  14. Linsey

    September 11, 2009 at 12:33 am

    Whoa – rough visual, albeit a necessary one, for your excellent post.

    I find that a good deal of the work to prevent the verbal vomit is done in the #1 portion of your solution – ask more questions. I am amazed at how much I learn the further I go in the layers of questions and all that I can discover with someone that I might have otherwise entirely missed. I think too often we assume we know the answers to basic things. Sadly, I’ve learned that lesson the hard way – and more than once.

    I’ve noticed that if most of my conversation with my clients include more questions than statements, I’m on the right track to understanding them and helping them.

    Actually, come to think of it – not just clients – my kids, my husband, ….. you name it. 🙂

  15. Atlanta Real Estate

    September 11, 2009 at 7:16 am

    @Linsey

    Amen to that!

    Just ask open ended questions and listen. Works in all sales…for anything.

    So tell me about your ideal home…

    What is it you like about this kitchen?

    Tell me what makes you “love” this place…

    etc,

    RM

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