You hate it, don’t you?
That cold lump in the middle of your stomach when you know it’s time to pick up the phone and dial those numbers on your prospect list. Maybe you could just send emails instead—so much less threatening. Maybe you desperately need to clean out your file drawer, sharpen your pencils, or Windex your monitor. Yes, we’ve all been there. Why does your hand suddenly become paralyzed when it’s time to punch in those numbers? One simple reason: fear of rejection—we all hate hearing the word “no.”
But if you want to be a Winning Agent (and we know you do), you need to overcome phone-o-phobia, or at least keep it quiet for an hour or two a week. Here’s how:
- Don’t play the numbers
- Shift your vision
- Do your homework
- Bypass barriers
- Enjoy the reward
Don’t play the numbers
Old-school sales people will tell you that making phone calls to prospective buyers and sellers, whether they are new leads or past clients, is essentially a numbers game. You’re going to hear “no,” probably ten or twenty times as often as you hear “yes,” they say, so just keep dialing and eventually you’ll land a live one. What if there was another way to look at it?
Shift your vision
You are, after all, an entrepreneur. You’re building your personal reputation, and therefore your business. Making phone calls is a great way to stay one step ahead of your competitors (who also hate to make phone calls, by the way). By developing a successful telephone strategy, you can establish relationships that will pay off in the future. You can make things happen instead of hoping something happens.
The secret ingredient in your new strategy is this: you’re not selling anything; you’re building relationships. With that in mind, let’s get down to basics.
Do your homework
Preparation is the first step. This means you not only need to know what you have to offer, you have to be tuned in to what your prospective clients want or need. Capitalize on your market environment—if today’s news says home prices just went up 10% nationwide, know how that translates into numbers in your neighborhood.
Develop key talking points—NOT a script. If you’re reading from a script, you’ll sound as cold as a frozen fish steak. You’re having a conversation, not delivering a lecture. Know generally what you are going to say, but don’t expect the conversation to go exactly as you might plan. If there are important points you want to make or questions you want to ask, write them down and keep them handy. But be prepared to improvise, to follow the conversation wherever it leads. Stage a little dress rehearsal with yourself. Visualize having a positive conversation and feeling good afterward.
When you’re speaking with someone, ask questions and listen to the answers. You’re a facilitator and an advisor. If your prospect moans about the terrible market or the buyer who backed out last year, empathize but don’t wallow in negativity. Focus on how to make a true connection with each person you call. This naturally helps develop a feeling of trust. Keep the focus on the other person and discuss their issues, not yours.
Smile while you’re talking—your client can’t see it but she’ll hear it in your voice and it will help you relax. End on a high note and lay the groundwork for keeping in touch.
In these days of electronic everything, you’re bound to feel some frustration about voice mail, caller ID, and even call-screening secretaries. How do you get around those barriers? First of all, see them as entry points rather than barriers. Learn to leave a bright, upbeat voice mail message, with maybe a bit of a tease in it. “Hi Marsha. Just got some interesting new sales figures for homes in your neighborhood. Give me a call and let’s talk.”
If you’re calling people at their place of business, develop strategies to get the secretary or receptionist on your side. Sometimes asking, “I wonder if you could help me?” will let you find out the best time to call back or get an alternate phone number. Learning the names of these gatekeepers and being friendly when you call helps too.
Enjoy the reward
We all know that making sales calls isn’t easy. So when you’re done, reward yourself by doing something you enjoy. Take a walk in the park, schedule lunch with a friend, get a massage.
Those are the short-term rewards and you deserve them. The long term reward is that you are building a solid base of contacts who trust you, who see you as an expert in your field, and who will reward you with their referrals and their business.
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