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Scripts are the lifeblood of effective business relationships: we are so surrounded by scripts that we often do not recognize them even though we hear them constantly. When they are well-written, practiced and delivered, they can move mountains. If they are poorly conceived, unpracticed and even ignored, the effects can be quite the opposite.
Practice is a life-saver
A friend recently shared how his father taught him to swim at the tender age of 7. His dad strapped a life jacket on him and threw him into a creek. As you can imagine, the result was a significant amount of trauma that has impacted him to this day.
Although a dramatic example, the effect is the same if you attempt to work with a real estate client without being properly prepared. Unfortunately, some brokerages do this with their new agents: they throw them in the deep end and hope they will swim.
My first broker often recounted the story of his first day on the job as a new agent. He showed up on day one, was led to a desk in the corner, handed a phone book and told to start calling.
In the same way a lot of practice and exposure to swimming techniques keep a person safe in the water; having the right training, along with extensive practice, amplifies an agent’s potential success during encounters with prospective clients.
I was recently at an event where Michael Phelps was interviewed. Without a doubt, the most accomplished swimmer of all time, he shared the experience of diving into the pool for a race and having his goggles instantly fill with water, effectively blinding him. His extensive training kicked in, and because he knew exactly how many strokes he needed for each leg of the race, he was able to swim blind and win the event.
Agents who show up for client appointments without effective training are blindly diving in, hoping things will turn out OK and that they won’t drown in the process. Although they might occasionally succeed, the agents who win time after time are the ones who have rigorously prepared for every eventuality and, no matter which way the interview goes, have the training required to succeed.
For swimmers, the training includes strokes, body position, breathing, mindset and more. For real estate agents, those strokes are scripts. And, just like swimming, the better the execution, the higher the chances of success.
“An amateur rehearses until he gets it right, a professional rehearses until he can’t get it wrong,” originally attributed to music professor Harold Craxton but later quoted by Julie Andrews.
5 truths about scripting
There are a few important facts about scripts that need to be understood:
- There is no “one-size-fits-all” script: Scripts change depending on the circumstances, who you are talking to, market conditions and more.
- Everyone uses scripts: They are used by all telemarketers and every customer service organization on the planet. Computer support, your wireless provider, even your doctor’s office — they all use scripts. You can’t order a burger without encountering scripts. “Do you want to supersize that order for an additional 99 cents?”
- The better rehearsed a script is, the higher the chances of success: We can tell in just a few short seconds, based on delivery, how familiar and comfortable the voice on the other end of the phone is with their script.
- Scripts need to be tailored to fit the situation and demographic you are targeting: They must address the perceived needs and problems of your target audience, focus on the specific demographic you are talking to, point to a solution and desired outcome, and end with a request for engagement. The more finely you can dial in your scripts to your target audience, the more effective they will be.
5 key components in figuring out what to say
After monitoring their team’s countless hours on calls, Director of Inside Sales for The Davis Team Valencia Brown and team owner Jordan Davis concluded that there are five distinct components to an effective script.
Here are the five components as illustrated by their script for an expired listing.
Extensive marketing data reveals that you have approximately 7 seconds to engage a prospective client: Misuse those first vital moments, and your odds of success diminish dramatically.
Start with a single opening line that addresses the perceived need of the person you are talking to. It should be short, to the point and end with a hook, a question that addresses the client’s issue.
“Hey [prospect’s name] this is [agent’s name]. I’m a real estate agent here in the area, and I noticed that your home came off the market yesterday. I am calling because I am confident that I can sell your home, and I’m just wondering if you are still interested in selling it?”
(optional) “and I’d like to set up a time for us to meet so I can show you exactly how I can do that for you. I have an opening this afternoon at 3 p.m., or would 4 p.m. be better for you?”
Step 2 involves determining the current motivation of the person to whom you are talking. A few open-ended questions will help you discover the person’s goals, concerns and whether they are actually motivated enough to engage further.
“And if you had sold the home, where would you be moving to?”
(If appropriate) “What’s waiting for you in [location]? What is your ideal time frame for getting there?
And [prospect’s name], I’m confused. It sounds like you have a great home. Why do you think your home didn’t sell?”
Google the definition of rapport, and you’ll find that it’s “a close and harmonious relationship in which the people or groups concerned understand each other’s feelings or ideas and communicate well.”
In this step, you are attempting to quickly build a relationship with the prospective client by asking open-ended questions about their previous experiences.
“I’m curious, how did you choose the agent you were listed with?”
“What kind of weekly feedback did you get from your agent?”
In this step, you are asking probing questions to help uncover the issues the sellers had with their previous experience. Avoid making statements about yourself — this is all about the sellers you are talking to. You are digging deeper, looking for problems you could potentially solve.
“Tell me more about ____________.”
“Just curious, what marketing strategies did he/she use to sell your home?”
In this final step, you are going for a commitment that leads to a potential working relationship. Make a statement about how you can help them, and then ask for the commitment. Once you have asked them to commit, remain silent until they respond.
“[prospect’s name], it sounds like your home could have been more aggressively marketed. Let me stop by for 15-20 minutes and show you what I’m going to do differently to make sure that your home sells this time. We can come by Thursday at 2 p.m., or would 4 p.m. be better for you?”
“[prospect’s name], I actually specialize in selling homes just like yours that have been on the market and didn’t sell, and I’d like to meet with you for 15-20 minutes and show you exactly how I can do the same thing for you. What would be the best time?”
Although the example used was for an expired listing, it effectively illustrates the five key steps and provides an outline for any situation you encounter.
In reality, you could probably do most of your business with existing scripts readily available from your broker, coaching organizations and so on. However, as you become comfortable using scripts, you will quickly discover the need to write scripts that address your personal style and the specific situations you encounter.
Use these five steps, and you will be able to design dialogues upon which you can effectively build your business. Practice your scripts constantly so that, when situations arise, you will know the correct dialogue by heart and can respond effectively without missing a beat.
Carl Medford is CEO of The Medford Team.