How to handle phone calls
Keep a fact sheet beside each phone. It should list all the details, from lot size to real estate taxes. All adult family members should be familiar with this list. Buyers are skittish. They may not call back if they don’t get basic information with their first call.
Focus on objective:
You want an appointment. Extend an invitation at the end of your conversation with a natural "forced choice" question. “Would the morning be a good time for you to stop by and see our house or is the afternoon better?” If they say they want to talk to their spouse about it, realize you will probably never hear from them again. But go ahead and invite them to your next open house.
Keep a log:
Maintain a record of calls with dates and information provided by the buyers. Use a copy of your fact sheet to track each caller. Check off items they asked about and jot down key comments so you'll esaily recall their "hot buttons" should they eventually make an appointment.
Give generalities to the caller:
Providing lots of unsolicited info runs the risk of promoting things of little interest. Volunteering that you have lots of trees may hit some buyers like a leaf raking stick. On the other hand, an appointment could create love at first sight when the prospect sees the privacy and beauty the trees offer.
Begin with the style of the home, number of bedrooms and baths and a few details–you just need to start somewhere. The prospect probably knows this stuff anyway from your advertising. Now politely ask, "What would you like to know about the home?" Their questions will tell you what they think is important.
Try to add some intangible benefits–security, privacy, convenience, low maintenance, excellent condition, etc. Remember your objective - an appointment.
Ask the key question:
If callers don't know the price, they usually ask this first. It's very irritating when, five minutes into a call, buyers reveal that the home is above their range. Therefore, near the beginning of the conversation, after providing the price, ask the key question, " Is that in the price range you're considering?"
If they give a negative response, suggest they call a lender about flexible rates and loan plans for increasing their buying power. This could get the buyer to act, especially if you're ready with the names and numbers of a lender or two.
If they sound positive about the price, ask what they'd like to know about the home. Be prepared to tell them how to get to your home and, needless to say, from different directions.
Why ask for their phone number?
If an appointment is made, get the prospect’s phone number. Use it to confirm the time. If the prospect shows real interest and lives close, a drive-by could reveal a lot of information about them. Are they on the market or possibly have a contract pending/accepted sign? Or you may recognize it as the home that’s been on the market since the Beatles were in town.
Their current housing tells you a lot about them and possible moving motivations (lot size, busy street, small garage, declining neighborhood, etc). The more you know about your buyers the more it will help in the negotiating phase.
Recorded message - a sound strategy
Don't use your cell phone to receive inquiries. You just know that the best calls will come at a most inopportune time. Besides, it's unsafe when driving.
Instead, use a recorded message. This way you won’t forget anything important.
If you use your home phone to record a message, keep your pitch to a minimum. For someone who is not calling about the property, a message over 30 seconds can sound like an eternity.
Add a temporary cell phone. Dedicate it to recording a sales pitch. This eliminates interfering with your normal calls. The number can be used on your sign and in all advertising. There are cheap phones and plans - as low as $15.00 a month.
Create a one to two minute pitch. Go over the script, reading it out load until it sounds natural, friendly and sincere. Record it and listen. Does it sound stiff, boring or attempt to tell everything about your home? Create just enough interest to get the caller to leave their phone number.
In newspaper ads you can refer to your recorded message; “call 555-1234 for recorded info.”
SAMPLE RECORDED MESSAGE
Hi. You're calling about our two-story home at 1234 Lois Lane in Smallville. Real estate agents recommended the asking price of 279,900. We’re in the Lucky Woods subdivision - known for having great community events and the outstanding ABD School District.
The home is nine years old, -- but has the feel of a vintage Williamsburg colonial, with hardwood floors, crown molding, high ceilings, a four hole outhouse and things like that.
It has spacious living and dining rooms. The kitchen has newer stainless appliances and birch cabinets and it opens to the family room - which has a cozy fireplace and sliding glass doors to the deck. It was added two years ago---around 500 square feet with a great view and lots of privacy.
There are four nice sized bedrooms upstairs. The home has three full bathrooms including one off the master. The house and landscaping have been kept in top condition. The lower level is partially finished, with extra storage space. There is an attached and oversized two car garage.
If you’d like to see our home or want more information, please leave your phone number and we’ll get back to you ASAP. There’s an open house Sunday, May 15, from one to three. Hope to see you.
COMMENTS ON THE RECORDED MESSAGE:
The idea is to come across as if you were talking, not reading a script, excluding the humor here.
When creating your script, start by simply writing out the items you want to include. Organize them in a logical sequence, eliminating duplication. Add descriptive phrases that paint a warm and fuzzy picture.
Note how hard it would have been to get these points covered by responding to a phone caller. By using a recording, you avoided answering questions about some things that might be negatives, such as fairly high property taxes, the partial basement or the undersized lot. Sell your positives. Your objective is to get the prospects to see the house and fall in love with it.
Some positive items were not mentioned, such as the new hot water heater, built-in wall speakers, ceramic tiled hall bathroom, first floor laundry, recently painted rooms and a large cedar closet in the basement. These wouldn’t necessarily make a person want to see the house, but will greatly add to any showing as bonuses.
If you’ve effectively prepared your home (see the PREPARE Step), it will sell itself to the prospective buyers that your advertising attracted.
You can provide more information in a recorded message than is feasible in a newspaper ad. But your objective is the same: don’t tell everything. Strive to get them to want to see the inside.