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Chairman’s Message: Preparation Tips for the Client Interview

Quincy Virgilio: MLSListings Inc 2018 Chairman

Quincy Virgilio
2018 Chairman, MLSListings

What’s your pitch? When it comes to the listing presentation to a prospective seller, it can be all over the map. Some choose a more formal presentation using their laptop or tablet to walk through a PowerPoint deck of market statistics and projections, while others show up with a legal pad and pen and simply take notes from the conversation. Neither approach is right or wrong, it simply depends on your style. The best rule of thumb, however, is to tailor your meeting to the client. And to do that, you need to learn as much as you can about them before you get in the room.

There are a lot of ways to learn about a prospect, even if they came as the result of a cold call and not a referral from someone you know. You can learn quite a bit by using social media searches. Consider all that you can learn from their Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or LinkedIn accounts? A Google search can turn up news about them, articles they’ve authored or presentations they’ve given in their professional capacity, even their age and where they grew up. Understanding their personal demographic information can also tell you their preferred communications styles.

Consider the differences between these types of prospective clients:

  • The Millennial Couple seeking to sell their condo to move into their first single family home. They have probably done extensive research and may know as much as you do about available properties and the range in pricing. They may have strong beliefs on what they can get for their property and not be as flexible in negotiating an asking price. This client will require a lot of data, analysis and rationale for recommendations, so more information and a tight presentation is key.
  • The Retired Couple planning to downsize and sell the home they’ve been in for decades. They may have an inflated sense of what their home is worth because of their emotional attachment to it, or they may have no idea what the market value is because they haven’t sold a home in the current market. They will require more education about the market landscape and factors that go into pricing a home. It may be more appropriate in this case to hold a conversation, rather than a technology presentation.
  • The Luxury Property Owner who is selling to turn a big profit (the flipper). They will be savvy about the transaction process and have a firm price they expect to get. They are more direct and not as interested in gratuitous conversation and a traditional presentation; they will want to get right to the numbers; the property’s value and how you intend to market it to the right buyers for a quick sale. Targeted and concise communications are a better match with this client, and you can expect push-back as in a standard business negotiation.

Regardless of the type of prospect you are meeting with, there are general guidelines for preparing for these types of meetings:

  • Get smart about the market around their home – Research inventory, listing price, sales price and other trend information at the county level, the zip code level and the neighborhood level.
  • Know the numbers – Look up what consumer and professional websites are saying about the value of their home (e.g. Zillow’s “Zestimate”) because they will have searched these sites.
  • Bring backup data – Prepare a competitive market analysis and bring the back-up data with you to show them how you got to your listing price recommendation.
  • Have testimonials in your pocket – Satisfied client references go a long way with clients, but it’s important that their comments about you are specific to key attributes: your ability to get the asking price, your experience in the marketplace, your knowledge about the market, etc.
  • Prepare a listing agreement – it sounds intuitive, but it bears repeating: make sure you have a listing agreement in-hand, so you can close the deal on the spot.

Each listing interview should be considered on its own merits and conditions. By understanding the client and tailoring your pitch to them based on their personality and needs, you will have a much greater win ratio and a much better chance for a long-term relationship.

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