REALTORS: 3 secrets to winning more real estate listings

  • Market knowledge, rapport building and overall presentation will make or break listing conversions.

“I’ll take a buyer over a seller every day,” said the young, verbose agent who had been in the business about a year longer than I had.

This was back in 2006, and he had just won an award at the sales meeting for closing the most deals. I asked him later why he felt this way.

To him, seller clients were demanding, the conversations often stressful. Sellers were rarely satisfied, he quipped. Buyers, on the other hand were on a journey that had a great ending.

A year later, he was out of the business.

As a new agent, it’s easy to go after the low hanging fruit of buyer’s agency. First-time buyers are a lot of fun; they are dreaming of great things for themselves and, if you win their trust by connecting with them, they likely won’t know where your inexperience may be showing up.

Sellers, on the other hand, have been involved in at least one transaction before (by definition). They have a better sense of what they want out of an agent, and they have probably been debating about selling their home for a number of years by the time you meet them.

They come ready with their own list of questions for you as you walk through the front door.

On top of that, consider that it’s rare to meet a seller who believes his or her home is worth less than the market analysis reveals . Heap on the financial or personal strains that often force a home sale ,  and you can identify with the sentiment of the young agent who preferred buyers.

But the ability to list and sell homes is one of the greatest indicators of the future success of an individual agent.

On real estate teams, there is no growth without listing inventory. So if listings are the lifeblood of an agent’s healthy practice, how do you get really good at winning and servicing them?

Here are my three essential strategies to put you on the right path, especially if you are relatively new to the listing side of real estate.

1. Create your own presentation for sellers

“Here’s how I work” might be one of the most powerful lines I learned as a new agent.

It turns out that sellers want to believe that this is not your first rodeo.

When you have a way of working, it indicates that you have some experience. Your presentation needs to indicate this.

I’m not just referring to your PowerPoint, Prezi or binder, I’m talking about the entire presentation of yourself from the moment you set the appointment to your follow-up after the fact. Sellers will be judging your professionalism, your marketing plan and your understanding of how the market works.

Sellers are comparing you to every other agent they’ve ever met, so self-awareness in how you present professionally is paramount to leaving a good impression.

Think of it from the sellers’ point of view: They have invited you into their home, and they want to believe that you are the person who they can entrust with a potentially stressful sale.

Your demeanor should instill in them the confidence that you are honest, trustworthy and knowledgeable.

You can make sure that impression sticks by doing your homework ahead of time, showing up on time and listening to their concerns rather than just selling them a program.

Of course, one of the pillars of your presentation should be a physical demonstration of the way you work.

Over the years, mine has evolved from a binder with laminated pages to a slick online presentation.

No matter what medium you are comfortable with, understand that this is not about you.

In fact, the less you make the presentation about you, and the more it is about the client, their home and their specific market, the better your relationship will be. You are there to win the relationship, after all.

2. The 3 stories rule

Some folks are naturally better storytellers than others.

Stories are sticky  —  they create memories for the listener and allow someone to identify with you. Get good at telling them, and you will stand out from the competition.

I suggest that new agents develop three stories in three specific areas that allow them to naturally connect with sellers and show their competence.

Three stories about yourself.

I like to suggest one personal story, one about how you like to approach negotiations (sellers need you to be a bulldog negotiator) and one about the big picture of life. (Think: All human beings can sometimes lose sight of the fact that this is one transaction, and that it won’t radically alter the cosmos no matter what happens).

Three stories about past clients.

“I know just what you mean, I once had a great client who…”

Clients want to identify with you as a professional who has helped others before.

Have stories ready that allow you to connect with sellers.

When they tell you that they want to sell the house without doing any work to it, when they passionately explain how valuable that ’70s-style laminate bar in the basement really is, when they criticize the last 10 neighbors on undercutting the market — be ready to provide an anecdote.

Stories for these occasions allow you to avoid telling them what to do and instead allow them to see the problem from the outside.

You are speaking about someone else, not them, allowing them to make more objective decisions.

Three stories about the market.

Sellers should expect that you know the market cold.

When you study the market daily, you can speak to it with ease. You should know the average days on market, the current absorption rate and how their neighborhood is performing relative to the rest of the market.

You also need to be able to tell a story about where their hyperlocal market has been to frame out the supply-and-demand conversation that you’ll have with them about pricing.

The best part about stories is that they allow you to connect with people at a more human level. Sellers will often reciprocate with their own stories, as they trust you more as a fiduciary. The key is to converse, not unleash a series of canned personal tales.

Indeed, you should not go into a home hoping to unload these stories on unsuspecting strangers. I’ve seen the aftermath of this:

Me: “So, I know you said you were interviewing other agents, did they touch on anything I did not go over with you already?”

Seller: “I don’t think so. They came through here, spoke at a hundred miles an hour, told us how many homes they sold last year and shoved some paperwork in front of us. We are still in shock!”

3. Listen more than you speak

A school of thought has become prevalent in recent years with the growth of mega-teams: To do a lot of business, you need to get in and out of a listing appointment in under 30 minutes.

I’m all about doing a lot of business — my family depends on it — but there is a better way.

When was the last time you forged the beginning of a great relationship with someone in 30 minutes?

You can connect with someone in short order and create attraction, but this is not the same as creating trust.

Agents need to become trusted to be superb fiduciaries for their clients, and this can only be achieved by understanding the landscape of clients’ needs so as to defend their interests above all others.

This requires excellent, active listening. Fiduciaries listen, commodities talk.

It’s not uncommon for both my listing and buyer’s agents to spend over two hours with their clients at the first consultation. To create real trust, you have to spend time face-to-face with someone. And I can tell you from experience that a 30-minute hustle just doesn’t cut it.

So there you have it, three of my best strategies for winning more listings. You can see that all of these strategies hinge on trust.

If you can win sellers’ trust, you’ll win their business every time. It’s as simple as that.