By Ross Wilson
“Nothing gives one person so much advantage over another as to remain always cool and unruffled under all circumstances.” — Thomas Jefferson
In this continuing series on the subject of ethical closing techniques, I address two more techniques I employed during my career, with usually great success.
With the knowledge accumulated about your clients, combined with a solid, honest relationship, you sincerely feel the move would be really good for them. But the sound of their knees knocking under the table is clearly audible. What do you do? You’ve answered all their questions about listing or offering on a special home, as the case may be, and they seem keen to proceed. However, they’re having difficulty with the final decision.
You’ve attempted a trial close (see earlier column), but the clear signals weren’t yet there. You’ve asked a direct closing question such as, “Are you ready to list?” or “Shall I draft the offer?” and they’re still hesitant. Maybe the question is too big too soon. Sometimes, the anxiety of moving quashes the original inspiration. Now what? Well, you already know their why; now remind them by trying the popular technique known adorably as the “puppy dog” close.
If it’s for a listing, in a series of brief questions, seek verbal confirmation of their motivation. Now that the kids have moved out, maybe their home is too large. Or it’s too small for their growing family. Maybe they want to escape their nosy noisy neighbour or the heavy maintenance of the gardens. Or they’ve grown to dislike city life. If they’re downsizing, ask if they still like the idea of having a chunk of cash in the bank and owning a home mortgage-free. Would they enjoy spending more time on the golf course or travelling instead of maintaining a large property? Or would they appreciate each of their kids having their own room, with the associated absence of sibling rivalry?
Whatever their motivation, wait for their corroboration between questions. Ask the questions to which you already know the answers will be yes. Obviously, you’ll know what to ask since you’ve already established their prime reasons for moving.
After they’ve answered all these affirming smaller questions with yes, end the series with the big question; “Okay, shall we begin the paperwork?” Or don’t even ask; use the assumptive close (see next issue’s column) and start filling in the listing contract. If they don’t stop you, then you’ve helped them make the final decision without them having to expressly say so. Once they realize they’re over the hump, they’ll be grateful. It’s like a nervous automobile passenger who closes their eyes as they approach a big bend in the road. Before they know it, the driver has safely rounded the curve. Much less stressful.
The process is pretty much the same for a buyer, except the questions obviously differ. You’ve attempted to close using one of the previous methods (see earlier columns), but they prevaricate. It happens, not necessarily because it’s the wrong home, but because they’re afraid of change. It’s critical, though, for the property to be right, so don’t try it on the wrong home. Start gently with a series of questions such as, “It’s affordable for you, right? Do you understand that if your lender believes you can’t afford this home, they’ll not approve a loan? You like the neighbourhood, right? You do like the architectural style? Do you agree that it’s the ideal size? You like the hardwood floors? You appreciate the close proximity to schools, am I right? The garage is large enough for your purposes?”
Ask as many of these small questions as you feel is necessary, one right after another – and await their hopefully brief reply between questions. Once again, because you qualified them so well at the outset, ask questions that you’re already aware will be answered with a yes.
After they’ve answered affirmatively to this rapid-fire series, it would be extremely difficult for them to suddenly change direction from a repeatedly positive position to a negative one. They’re unlikely to answer no when you finally pop the question whether to draft the offer. It’s against basic human nature. At some level, be it conscious or subconscious, they’ll realize it is indeed the right home because all their answers were yes. They may even begin to smile with that dawning realization.
Then close with a small question such as, “How much do you have for a deposit?” or, “When do you want to move in?” or just use the assumptive close and start completing the form. Don’t send out negative energy by showing any frustration. Be patient, calm and methodical. Maintain a light, positive attitude throughout the attempt. If it fails, they weren’t ready or it’s the wrong property. Then take it away from them (see earlier column).
In the next column, I address the closing technique I refer to as the assumptive close. If you can’t wait, I invite you to check out my book, The Happy Agent.
“Excellence is not a skill. It is an attitude.” – Ralph Marston