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What is the secret talent of a fractional real estate sales superstar?

15th March 2012

The latest in a series of articles from David Disick

If you wanted to hire a top-producing fractional salesperson, which one of the following qualities would you judge to be most important? 
• Product knowledge
• Communication skills
• Enthusiasm for fractional real estate
• Knowing how and when to close
• Ability to listen

Of course, all the above items are essential.  But what I have in mind is something different, deeper and more far-reaching.  It is the indispensable basis for success in fractional real estate and most other types of sales.
I’d like to demonstrate this talent in action by relating a recent buying experience of mine.  After I fill in the details of what happened, see if you can identify the unique quality that I believe is most essential for top-producing fractional real estate sales agents.

A couple of weeks ago, I went to my men’s clothing store in Orlando to buy a few items.  I was glad to see that my sales person—let’s call her Cindy—was there that day.  She gave a friendly hello to my wife and myself and fetched drinks for us.

I told Cindy I needed some clothes for an upcoming business trip. She showed me various possibilities, and I selected some items to try on.   While doing this, I noticed Cindy was discussing clothes with my wife and was showing her the store’s catalog for women.

In short order, my “likes” were heaped onto a display table.  At this point, I focused on the price tags and roughly calculated the total amount in my head.  Then, as I recovered  from sticker shock, I questioned whether I really needed everything I had chosen.

Now, here’s where Cindy’s salesmanship rose head and shoulders above the crowd.  She didn’t act as an average sales person would.  For example:
• She didn’t insist that everything looked nice on me.
 
• She didn’t repeat what she had already said about the quality of the fabric, the excellence of the workmanship and the originality of the design and details.

• She didn’t retell the story of how the company delivers quality at prices much lower than competitors do.  (I had previously raised this question, and she had answered it.)

• She didn’t urge me to indulge myself, or argue that my business or I, myself was worth it, or that the better you dress the better you feel or the better job you do or the better impression you make.

• She didn’t claim that the items were selling fast and may not be there the next time I visited the store

• She didn’t urge me to decide that day because of the time it would take for alterations to be completed prior to my trip, even though I had shared my departure date with her and she knew I did need to decide that day.

Instead of high-pressure tactics, Cindy simply asked me how long my trip would last and how many days were for travel and how many for business.  She then expertly showed me how suit, jacket, shirts, ties and trousers could be matched and which outfit I could wear each day and each evening.  That way, I’d have maximum variety, but minimum clothes to pack.

There was one additional shirt in my “like” pile which wouldn’t be needed for my trip.  I included it anyway after Cindy reminded me that it matched something I had bought during a previous visit to the store.  I would never  have thought of this myself.

Stepping to the register, Cindy told us that unlike other stores, this company does not have a policy of frequent sales so that what I purchase today won’t be available next week at deeply discounted prices. Then, she asked, “Will you be using a credit card?”

As my wife and I were preparing to leave, Cindy told us that she was adding us to the company’s database. I was surprised when my wife agreed to disclose her email address, since she usually guards it as if it were the key to Fort Knox.  My wife admitted later that she had enjoyed chatting with Cindy so much, that even though she doesn’t like sharing her email address, she didn’t want to refuse.

Finally, Cindy shook hands with my wife and myself and thanked us for our business.

So, what did Cindy do that I found so persuasive?  What magic “close” did she use?  Why did I—and even my wife—want to say yes to her?

Though the example above is from retail sales, the format of my clothing appointment is similar to that of a fractional real estate sales appointment:
• Greeting/Warm Up
• Discovery
• Tour (showing available possibilities, explaining benefits)
• Responding to objections (Final objection: Price.)
• Close*
• Remarks to prevent buyers’ remorse/rescissions
• Request for opportunity for repeat business (via email address) (This is usually delayed in real estate until after the agreement is authorized.)
• Thank customers for their business. (In real estate, one congratulates customers on the good decision they have made to move forward.)

Okay. There’s been enough suspense about Cindy’s most persuasive talent.
Quite simply, what she did was she empathized with me.  She listened very closely to what I had to say and to what problem/s I needed to solve.  Then, she put herself in my shoes and saw the world through my eyes. Her concern for me was so genuine and her focus on my needs so complete and natural that this long-time sales pro never gave a thought to what persuasion techniques were in operation.

At no point did Cindy ever pressure me to buy.  I trusted her. I felt she was like my professional guide working solely for my benefit, not for her commission.  There was no customer vs. sales person tension between us.  Since Cindy had never pushed me to take any action, I had built up no defenses against her.  Her manner was disarming, and I was disarmed
Once she had discovered my needs—and helped me acknowledge and verify that they were indeed my needs, she advocated possible solutions and helped me make the best decisions for myself.  I have made larger acquisitions in the past, but cannot recall enjoying any purchasing experience more.
Good job, Cindy.  And thank you for your assistance.

So, that’s it, pure and simple.  I believe the most important quality for a fractional real estate sales superstar is empathy.
 
Now, I can imagine some readers objecting that my example only applies to smaller-ticket retail items, not to fractional real estate.  Since fraction vacation real estate is so much more expensive and not necessarily a basic need, it is much harder to sell than retail necessities. 

That’s a good point, and I can understand someone thinking like this. But, there are prospects who do ask for information from your sales staff or who stop in to visit your sales office.  At least a portion of these prospects need to have some reason or motive for inquiring.  Few people like to waste their precious time—especially during their vacation. 

Sales personnel need to discover the motives of prospects—their wants, their needs, their dreams, their desires.  They need to develop relationships over time, so that prospects come to trust them enough to share relevant information about their vacation lifestyle or investment needs.  In other words, don’t start a presentation, before knowing what it is that prospects are seeking.

In summary, I believe that empathy is the magic key that will start to open the door for fractional real estate sales success.

P.S. My wife learned from Cindy that she is finishing her last semester of college.  I wonder if she’d be interested in selling real estate…I bet she’d know how to handle, “But we don’t need four weeks of vacation here.”
Have you enjoyed a wonderful purchasing experience with an expert sales person?  Tell us about it.
*    *    *
David M. Disick, Esq. is author of Fractional Vacation Homes:  Marketing and Sales in Challenging Times.  This internationally acclaimed book offers down-to-earth how-to’s to help fractional real estate developers attract more buyers, close more sales and earn more profits.  Disick consults with clients in the United States and abroad. Contact him at:  http://www.TheFractionalConsultant.com.



   

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