Converting a prospect into a client can sometimes be as easy as using key words or phrases during the first conversation that elicit a positive emotional response. Here, speech coaches and seasoned real estate professionals give their tips on what to say in order to make prospects more likely to choose you as their agent.
“I hear…” After listening closely to the prospect’s needs, follow up with questions that repeat back what you heard them say, starting with the words “I hear.” Eva Doyle, a national speaker on leadership issues and author of The Reluctant Leader, offers this as an example: “‘I hear that you like Washington Park, but your budget may not be enough for that area. Would you consider a neighborhood a little more north? Or would you rather stretch your budget?’” This demonstrates that you’re listening well and interested in what the prospect is saying to you.
“Fear, anxiety, reluctance, love, hope, home…” “You’re not selling a structure; you’re selling dreams, memories, Thanksgiving, Valentine’s Day,” says Los Angeles–based branding consultant Farrah Parker. “People are buying a place [where they will witness] their baby’s first steps, their teenager’s Sweet 16 party, their parents’ milestone anniversary party.” Use keywords to tap into prospects’ innermost thoughts, which often include a few challenging words, such as “fear,” “anxiety,” and “reluctance.” But you must balance such words with opposite, positive keywords, such as “love,” “hope,” “home,” and “future,” Parker says. While real estate professionals are often taught to omit emotion from the transaction and stick to providing expertise, emotional cues can help your client relationships flourish, she says.
“P” and “T” sounds are powerful and tantalizing. Words with several “p” and “t” sounds have a staccato effect, which inspires excitement and communicates energy, says Amanda Plecas, vice president and chief creative officer at Waterhouse Public Relations. On the other hand, words with long vowel sounds tend to have a calming effect. “Linguists call this ‘sound symbolism,’” Plecas says. “It’s when the sound of a word has meaning. In speechwriting, I select words with sounds that enhance the meaning of what my speaker will be saying.” Plecas says the cadence, rhythm, and musicality of what you’re saying can affect a listener’s perception of your words. For example, saying “I have a tried and tested marketing plan” sounds more upbeat than “I have developed an exclusive marketing plan,” Plecas says. Or, “I’ll be your personal real estate textbook” is more enthusiastic than “I am a resource to help you make a well-informed decision.” And finally, “I’m going to activate an expert marketing strategy for you” has more energy than “I’ll share your home on hundreds of websites,” Plecas says.
“Call at 9…” Many prospects will put you on the spot by asking why they should choose you over other agents. So it’s a good idea to have a strong, quick answer, says Jeff Miller, cofounder of AE Home Group in Baltimore. His response is: “Call my office line at 9 p.m., and I’ll happily give you the answer.” It’s a clever way to let them know that you work around the clock to make their experience a success, Miller explains. If you’re an early bird, you can use the same response but suggest they call at 6 a.m. Or simply respond that all clients have access to you via your cell phone because you know that home buying is a big decision for everyone involved.
“Your kids are well-behaved…” It’s important to genuinely engage prospects, says Greg Jaroszewski, a broker with Gagliardo Realty Associates in River Forest, Ill. Instead of immediately launching into a sales pitch during open houses, he tries to break the ice by complimenting visitors on their children or anything else that may apply, helping them to lower their guard. “Last year, I got a listing from an open house simply because I talked to them,” Jaroszewski says. “They said that no one from any other open house talked to them. I try to listen to their story: What’s interesting to them? Find out what makes them who they are versus someone who just needs to buy a house.”
“I specialize…” You always want to show specific expertise related to a prospect’s house (“I specialize in this style of architecture, and I know clients who will be interested”) or their neighborhood (“I recently sold in this area, and I know all about the draw of your school district”), says Sarah Feezor, a broker with Dream Town Realty in Chicago. Prospects will want someone who is comfortable and familiar with the specific type of home they’re selling or who can guide them through the neighborhood and specific streets where they want to buy. So simply saying that you specialize in it is key, Feezor says. But, she adds, “I’m an honest agent.” She does her research ahead of time so she can comfortably say she’s a specialist. And if she didn’t recently sell in a certain neighborhood, she’ll say that “my team member and I sold in the area” if a colleague sold there. There are many ways to specialize.