Patience During First Meetings

I talk a great deal about prospecting and closing deals, but there’s something in the middle of the process that’s also quite important: the time when you make your pitch. Whether you’re trying to get a new listing or convince someone to buy/lease a property, at some point, you make a pitch, right?

After contacting cold prospects, and sometimes getting treated poorly, it’s a nice feeling when you land an in-person meeting. This meeting is your chance to build a relationship with the prospect that hopefully leads to a closed deal. We commonly refer to these meetings as “sales presentations,” but that term is actually misleading.

Just because it’s a “sales presentation” doesn’t mean you do all the talking. Brokers tend to be gregarious, outgoing people. In some ways, that’s good, because extroverts are more apt to pick up the phone and call a stranger. They may deliver more entertaining, compelling sales presentations. They may be more aggressive pushing prospects to close at the end.

But the “talking” part of brokerage comprises only part of a good sales presentation. The other part of the process is quiet. Part of the sales presentation meeting should be devoted to building a relationship, listening and determining exactly what the prospect values without any assumption or ambiguity.

If you want to be successful in commercial real estate brokerage, there’s something far more important than an outgoing personality. It’s the ability to determine exactly what your prospect values. And you start focusing on the prospect’s value right from the very beginning. When you meet with a new prospect, you must listen and truly hear.

Too often we pretend like we’re listening or even think we’re doing a good job of listening, but in reality, we don’t retain what the other person is telling us. Brokers need to listen with the same intensity and attention to detail that a detective uses when interviewing a suspect.

Tell yourself that the person in front of you will say something at some point in the conversation that can directly lead to a closed deal. You can’t afford to miss it simply because you’re having a second conversation with yourself inside your mind when you need to be focused on the other person.

Our own biases often get in the way of our efforts to figure out what our prospects truly value.

Look, you know real estate brokerage better than prospects do. You know your listed properties better than prospects do. Talented, experienced and knowledgeable brokers can be vulnerable to assuming what clients value because they’ve seen so many other clients and know so much about the industry. Don’t succumb to temptation and start assuming you know everything you need to know about your prospect. I call it the “sin of assumption,” and it just might be the deadliest sin in real estate.

When we first sit down with a prospect, we engage in small talk or idle chit-chat. That’s a great way to warm up the conversation and make everyone comfortable. But don’t spend too much time on chit-chat. Start asking questions that help you uncover value. The best questions are probing in nature. Start questions with “Why?” “How?” “What if…?” “What would happen if you…?”

Don’t start talking (or pitching) until you are sure you know what your prospect values. If you’re not 100 percent convinced, keep asking probing questions and keep listening intently to the answers. When you do talk, your pitch should be customized based on what the prospective client told you during the value discovery process. Portray your property or your representation services in such a way that they satisfy exactly what the prospect wants and needs.

When it’s all said and done, the deal typically goes to the broker who most closely provides what each unique client really wants.

Jeff Beals helps you find better prospects, close more deals and capture greater market share. He is an international award-winning author, sought-after keynote speaker, and accomplished sales consultant. He delivers compelling speeches and sales-training workshops worldwide. He has spoken in 6 countries and 41 states. A frequent media guest, Jeff has been featured in Investor’s Business Daily, USA Today, Men’s Health, Chicago Tribune and The New York Times.