This month, we continue the discussion of targeted marketing, with a focus on offering presentations to your real estate agent prospects and closing the sale.
Use Solid Presentation Techniques
Your presentation to real estate agents is a key part of an important meeting. Bringing props can help you get your point across. Some people like to have visuals to help them better internalize or learn new information, so preparing a small flipchart or a PowerPoint presentation on your laptop may be helpful.
If you prefer to simply engage in a more informal discussion with your audience, that’s okay, too. However, if you have built up the agent’s expectations by mentioning that you offer a system that will help sell houses faster and for more money, it’s best to have some kind of physical or electronic presentation prepared. You might also want to give the agent a flash drive (maybe one with your logo and website) that contains your presentation so they can review it any time they choose.
Another presentation technique is to take the agent out for lunch or breakfast. The format of this presentation depends on how well you know the agent and how well the agent knows you, or on the strength of the referral.
Remember, good presentations are more like conversations. During the presentation, you should remember to do the following:
- Consider everything from the customer’s perspective; it’s about them, not you.
- Describe the benefits, not just features.
- Select only a few of the best benefits of your business because the more you say, the less they hear.
- Keep it short.
- Ask for the Order (Close the Deal)
This is the part of the presentation that distinguishes a successful home inspector from an average home inspector. When you finish your presentation and have impressed the real estate agent, you have two choices:
- Thank them for their time and say, “If you are ever in need of an inspector, please give me a call.”
- Ask for the order, which is sales terminology for obtaining a commitment from the prospect.
If you use Method 1, you’ve wasted your opportunity. The purpose of your presentation is to earn the right to ask for the order, so do it!
Successful closing lines for home inspectors:
- Can I ask you to add my name to your referral list?
- Can I count on you to give me a try?
- Will you refer me on your next inspection?
These can be difficult things to say because you may get a “no.” Asking these questions might also feel aggressive; however, because people make decisions based on emotion, if you feel that you have left a good impression, this is the best time to ask for the order.
Three reasons you owe it to yourself to ask for the order:
- You are trying to get an agent to refer you, not someone else. You will not get the referral unless you ask for it. You have to be a little aggressive. One thing is certain: At the end of the presentation, the real estate agent will not make the close for you. If you imagine that an agent will say, “That’s a great system you have, would you mind if I refer you on my next inspection?”—you are likely asleep and dreaming.
- Most real estate agents will not say “no” to your face. If they reject you in person, you are more likely to get a soft rejection that leaves the door open for the future. For example, an agent is more likely to say, “We’ll see, maybe I will give you a try when my regular inspector is unavailable,” or “I need to digest what you’ve told me; I cannot commit to you right now.” If this happens, you should reply by saying, “I understand and realize this is an important decision.” This also gives you an opportunity to ask what it is they need to consider. You could say, “You must have a good reason for wanting to digest the information. May I ask what it is?” Either way you choose to respond, you can congratulate yourself because at least you had the nerve to meet the agent in person and ask for the close. If you had delivered your presentation over the phone, it would have been easier for the agent to reject you flat out.
- When a real estate agent says “no,” remember that rejection is part of the sales funnel. You can’t expect a “yes” from 100 percent of the agents you meet. So, relax and let them reject you. It’s just business. Remember one other thing: “No” in business means “not now”—it does not mean “never.” And besides, even if you suspect that the agent is not interested in what you have to say, this is a perfect opportunity to practice your sales pitch and closing techniques because you are already prepared for a rejection.
Manage Your Customer Information
A fundamental part of sales is your ability to keep good track of your contacts. If you don’t use some kind of customer management system to keep track of all the real estate agents with whom you have spoken and do business, you will not be able to effectively grow your business and evaluate your marketing campaigns.
If you have built a strong relationship with a real estate agent and have earned high levels of trust (for example, through favors and gestures of kindness), then you should not be afraid to ask for mutual trust or a favor in return. Typically, when you do something nice for someone or extend them a favor, they want to reciprocate by doing something nice in return.
For example, let’s say you are having a difficult time getting into a particular real estate office to do a presentation, but you happen to have a great working relationship with a particular agent in that office. Your best approach will be to have the agent you know refer you to the broker or the person who is responsible for scheduling meetings. If the agent has something nice to say about you, it will be much easier to get a “yes.”
Carson Dunlop - Consulting engineering firm devoted to home inspection since 1978. www.carsondunlop.com