THE ART OF THE CLOSE
There's no word in real estate that is more misunderstood than the word "closing". It conjures up images of a toothy salesman in a checkered sport coat hawking used cars. It reminds us of all of those times we were asked, "So, are you ready to buy today?"
Gives you the creeps, doesn't it?
Well, I have good news for you: That's not effective closing. Closing is not just asking for the business, like so many sales trainers tell you. Closing is not about badgering someone to buy a product. Closing is not about getting "the sale".
Closing is about asking questions and getting people the information they need so that they are armed with the right knowledge to make the best decisions. In essence, a good closer offers something, rather than asking for something. When your client realizes they are in good hands and have all the information and support they need, they become the closers by saying, "Get out the paperwork. Let's sign this now."
An agent asked me recently, "Denise, how do I close at an open house?"
"What are you trying to close for?", I asked. "Are you trying to sell the house you're in today? That's going to be incredibly difficult because most people don't just buy the property they walk into at an open house."
Instead, I suggested closing for permission to give the clients the information they need. It's actually quite simple. It only requires three little words:
"Would you like..."
There you have it. Those are my magic closing words. No pressure. No pushiness. No presumptions. Just a request for permission to give a client what they want.
How do you use these three words? In questions like these:
- "Would you like me to get you some more information on appreciation rates in the neighborhood you like?"
- "Would you like me to do a complete summary of the upgrades that have been completed on this house?"
- "Would you like me to search for and find properties that are similar to this one?"
And so on. You could phrase almost anything as a "Would you like..." question.
Now that's what I call closing. When you ask people if you can get them more information or perform a specific task for them, you're beginning the process. Closing isn't just that question at the end that gets them to sign the contract -- it's a process of educating and providing information.
Think of it as a dance. Most sales training "gurus" would have you think that closing is a one-step dance. It is really an intricate serious of moves, full of twists and turns along the way. And remember, most dances are effective with a partner! Don't lose sight of the fact that there's something involved in this process with you - a buyer or seller who needs your help.
One very important factor to remember when asking "Would you like..." questions is the way you phrase the questions. For example, you could say, "Would you like to be on my mailing list?"
That sounds sales-y. That's not offering information. That's asking for something, rather than giving something. Always make sure that you're giving something to them.
Instead, you might want to say, "Would you like me to get you some more information? I send out a great weekly email that talks about just the things you want to know-with all the numbers you need to make a good decision. Would you like me to send it to you?"
See how much less intimidating and more helpful that is?
Another of my favorite phrases is "Can I take a moment...?" This is another non-threatening way of beginning to give information to your clients.
Here are some examples:
- "Can I take a moment to show you what the numbers would look like if you purchased a home like this?"
- "Can I take a moment to go over what the next step would be if you were interested in buying?"
- "Can I take a moment to show you how others who have invested in this neighborhood have realized significant returns?"
These are soft closing questions. They move the conversation forward. They offer information and service. They do not ask for the sale.
When you develop a friendly give-and-take of questions and answers with your clients, you soon realize that the old ways of pushing for the sale just don't work anymore. People want service. They want to know that you're looking out for their interests, not just the interests of your bank account.
Always remember that you are an educator, first and foremost. You are so much more than a "salesperson". As an educator, you have an important mission. You exist to educate your clients on exactly what they need to make the best decision for their future. They are your partners. They are your teammates.
The best way to help out your partners and teammates is with five-star service-which doesn't include cheesy old-fashioned "ask-for-the-sale" closing questions.
Denise Lones CSP, MIRM The founding partner of The Lones Group, Denise Lones, brings over two decades of experience in the real estate industry. With expertise in strategic marketing, business analysis, branding, new home project planning, product development, and agent/broker training, Denise is nationally recognized as the source for all things “real estate”.
Denise’s background in residential real estate sales and management includes an impressive list of awards. Using custom marketing campaigns and business development systems she personally created, she was consistently among the highest producing Realtors® in a marketplace of 3,000+ agents. Denise was the only agent in the State of Washington to be awarded the esteemed MIRM designation – the top national achievement for new home marketing. In 2004, Denise was awarded the prestigious Hugh Hawkins Instructor of the Year Award by the Washington Association of Realtors.
As a columnist for isucceed.com, Realty Times, the National Association of Home Builders, and the Washington Association of Realtors, Denise has a strong “voice” in the real estate community.
Denise is a certified instructor for many prominent trade groups and educational institutions, including the Washington Association of Realtors, Master Builders Association, iSucceed.com, Washington State Department of Licensing, Windermere Real Estate, and the Washington State Housing and Finance Committee
With a passion for improvement, Denise has helped thousands of real estate agents, brokers, and managers build their business to unprecedented levels of success, while helping them maintain balance and quality of life.