What’s the most common word real estate agents hear on a day-to-day basis? That would probably be “no.” In fact, it’s not at all unusual to hear a long string of “no’s” before getting to a “yes.” If you’re in real estate, you’re basically in sales with your career constantly relying on new business for continued growth. Unfortunately, society has become so indifferent to, or even suspicious of, “sales speak” that it’s almost a reflex to say “no” when potential clients are approached by an agent.

Asking the right questions will help elicit positive responses from clients.

Our most powerful sales tool is the spoken word. Choosing the right words can give you an incredible advantage, completely turning the ingrained negative response on its head!

You see, certain words or phrases trigger an automatic “no thanks” response. The key to eliciting a more positive, or at least a more honest response, is to reframe your questions. Here are a few phrases to staple into your brain before your next client call:

Instead of “Are you working with an agent?” try “Is anyone sending you personalized listings yet?”

The first question will almost surely get you a “yes” (a “yes” you don’t want!) even if it’s not the truth. People have generally heard this question enough to see it as an easy out for them, avoiding whatever pitch you had planned. The second question, however, will make them think before answering. Personalized listings? That sure sounds special! The idea of white glove service will often generate an interest in your business.

Instead of “I can provide this, that, and the other service,” ask “What would need to happen for…?”

Stating your rehearsed list of personal accomplishments and services will sound too much like a pitch to your potential clients and will immediately turn them off. But asking them what services they expect will make their brain do something entirely different. Suddenly, they are in charge, they set the standard, and they are laying out exactly what you need to do. This makes life easier for both parties.

Instead of “Call me when you get a chance,” try “I will be available at this number for the next hour.”

Guess when your prospects will “get a chance” to call you. Never. But if you give them a deadline, that chance will somehow appear in their schedule. This time-sensitive message activates The Law of Scarcity, which states that people will desire something more as soon as it becomes less available. When do you get a staggering craving for ice cream? As soon as you realize the pint in the freezer is empty. This basic psychological phenomenon will make your prospects work harder to call you back, even if they don’t know what to say yet — just because they have been given a deadline.

Instead of “Here are some comps for your home. Do you need an agent?” try “What a coincidence…”

The next time a seller contacts you to inquire about the value of their home, make it seem like you were meant to be their agent! People like the idea of the stars aligning to make a serendipitous situation out of a seemingly normal encounter. Try to find a way to work a coincidence into the conversation, whether you have a buyer who loves that neighborhood, whether you know someone who just sold there, or something similar. Keep it within the realm of truth, though. Lying is never a good marketing tactic.

For first-time sellers, instead of “You should take advantage of this seller’s market,” try “What would your dream home be like?”

No matter what the market looks like in your area, first-time sellers can often feel uneasy about leaving their home that has been a part of so many memories. Instead of pointing out the financial benefits of selling (which could be construed as you trying to earn a high commission), turn their focus to one of envisioning their future in a great new home that has features their current home doesn’t possess. Making new memories in an even nicer home and the lure of a fresh start could trump the nostalgia factor.

Psychology and society have a huge impact on the way people think about sales. By being mindful of your phrasing, you can use this truth to your advantage.

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