Be energetic. Be enthusiastic. Find a common interest. Those are the traditional ways salespeople were taught to gain rapport with potential clients.
But the old ways are dusty ways, says Scott Friedman, co-founder of “You’re the Difference,” a sales and life coaching firm in Linwood. He and Christy Couch will show real estate agents how to increase their sales in an interactive all-day event entitled, “Now What Do I Say — Live!” on Tuesday, July 22, at 9 a.m. at the Nassau Inn. Cost: $70. Register at www.yourethediffer- ence.com, or call 609-601-1296.
The title of the seminar refers to the TV show “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” in which actors are presented with a situation and have to make up the act on the fly. “We’ll teach you exactly what to say when a client, or potential client, gives you an objection,” says Friedman. For instance, the potential client might want the agent to cut the commission or use a discount broker. Friedman offers words and techniques to deal with those flammable situations. “You may feel like you have to wing it, but you won’t anymore,” he says.
Taking the “yes/but” approach, he starts out by agreeing: “Yes I charge a higher amount.” Then the counterpunch: “But my track record shows my houses sell. If you are committed to making more money, you must be committed to an agent who can do that for you. You can try your luck with a discount broker and end up with 5 percent less on your selling price.”
Friedman grew up in Medford Lakes, where his father is a commercial real estate broker. He graduated from Montclair University in 1993. He and his wife, a teacher in East Brunswick, have a baby daughter and school-aged sons from previous marriages. As a real estate agent he won the Prudential Fox Roach chairman’s award and the Circle of Excellence Gold for Ocean City.
But his success was preceded by a notable failure. “At 30, I was divorced and driving a car missing three hub caps that my grandmother gave me,” he says. “I was sharing part of a duplex with two other guys; I had just left a job as a morning show host in Atlantic City.”
He changed careers, and after eight boom-time years in the residential real estate business, doing coaching on the side, he and Couch, a successful Re/Max agent, founded their own firm in 2006. Their soon to-be-published book is entitled “What Do I Say.” They also offer coaching and telecourses on such subjects as building rapport and language patterns.
It’s not just the words, says Friedman, it’s how you say and act them.
Align with people. “People like people who are like themselves, who sound, walk, and talk like them,” he says. “We offer techniques for how to be like other people, not by mocking them, but by honoring them — that theirs is the right way to speak and talk. Body language can play a part as well.”
Adjust your tempo. Perhaps you speak slowly on the phone. The client who talks at a rat-a-tat-tat pace might quickly come to the conclusion that you aren’t very smart. But if it is the client who speaks slowly, and you are in a hurry, the client immediately concludes you are using high pressure tactics. “If you match their rate of speech they won’t make an automatic judgment,” says Friedman.
Pronounce words like your client. For instance, Boston folks refer to a soda drink as a tonic, and in the Midwest they call it pop. If you insist on calling it a Coke or a soda, you immediately make your client wrong. Say their words back to them, so they won’t think you are weird or mean.
One of Friedman’s clients was in the market for a $2 million property but kept mispronouncing the name of the street. “In my mind, to mimic him, I have to mispronounce the street name. Should I have corrected him? Of course not. I was the one making the $35,000 commission.”
Adopt the client’s speech patterns and intonations. “You don’t have to be Rich Little, but if the client has a regional accent, figure out where the voice is coming from (the head? The nose? The throat?) and you can concentrate on speaking like that,” says Friedman.
Tap some savvy neurolinguistic programming techniques. “Most people want to do the wrong things when it comes to real estate transactions,” says Friedman, “but a professional agent helps the client to do what they should do.” For instance, use an “adverb presupposition” such as “clearly” or “surely.” “Clearly, you want to get top dollar for your house by listing it with us.” Or an “awareness presupposition,” such as “you realize,” or “you understand,” as in “You understand, of course, that if you fix the broken step, your house will look better from the street.”
Says Friedman, “We want to change the public’s perception of salespeople by helping the salespeople we train be more confident and professional; to know what to say and how to say it.”