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Can you describe the home you want to find?

I have been having a small challenge with probing for wants and needs. Getting people to tell you what they want is harder than it sounds. ;pi Anyway what do you think about asking the question, "Can you describe the home you want to find?". Is that too broad? - by realtor
I recommend an open-ended question (who, what, why, when, where, how, tell me about...).

- "What is important to you in your new home?"
- "What type of home do you want?"
- "What are the three most important factors in finding a home that you will love?"
- "What have you looked at so far that you've liked?"
- "How do you want your home to look when you drive up to it?"
- "How do you want your home to feel when your friends come over for the first time?"
- "Everybody has things that want in a new home; But tell me three things you definitely don't want."
- etc.

If you try broad and open-ended questions and they don't work, then you need to narrow down the subject matter. For instance, instead of asking "What type of home do you want?" you could ask "What kind of kitchen would make you happy?"; sometimes reluctant prospects will answer narrower questions (but still open-ended) rather than broader questions.

Good luck! - by Skip Anderson
Well, if you ask folks to describe the home they want, they'll be telling you what features it needs to have, which gets specific quickly and may rule out a house that would actually meet their needs! And yes I think it's too broad of a question.

What might be more interesting is to ask them about the benefits they want in their home -- how they want their home to make them function -- and how it makes them feel. For instance:
  • how important is it to you to feel secure in your home (maybe they want to live in a gated community!)
  • do you want quiet and serenity (big lot perhaps, or older neighborhood), or are you energized by having a lot of people (close-by neighbors, maybe kids) around?
  • how do you want to use your indoor spaces? (need a sanctuary for an office or hobby room, need a playroom for kids, or large entertainment spaces for parties perhaps)
  • how do you intend to use your outdoor spaces, if at all (maybe they want to entertain so they need a nice deck and lots of outdoor space, or they want lots of natural area to enjoy from the screened porch, or a big yard for a dog, or no yard so they don't have to mow the lawn!)
You could ask a lot more questions like this...hope this gives you a start!

In prosperous harmony,
Terri Z - by Terri Zwierzynski

I have taught 'Gotta, Liketa, Niceta' to thousands of agents over the last 30 years. Many tell me it works like a charm to get buyers to make faster decisions on fewer showings.

Ask your buyers, "How would you like to find the best home without looking at a ton of home that just don't fit your wants and needs?

I help my buyer clients do this by taking a blank sheet of paper
(pull out a sheet of paper or pad as you say this)
and draw a line right down the middle of the page.
(draw the line down the middle from top to bottom)
On the left side I write 'Gotta'
(write Gotta near the top of the left side)
(write Liketa about one third down the page)
and 'Niceta'.
(write Niceta about two thirds down the page.}

Then we write down all the things you gotta have ... things like, 'I gotta have three bedrooms', 'I gotta have an attached garage'.

Then we write down all the things you'd like to have ... things like 'I'd like to have a formal dining room', or 'I'd like to have cathedral ceiling.'

Then we write down all the things you say it would be nice to have. These are things you don't really expect to find, but it would be exciting if you found them -- things like 'Wouldn't it be nice if we found a home with some apple trees in the garden.'

On the other side of the page I put the word 'Why?' and we write down all the reasons why. Why do you gotta have three bedrooms and Why would you like to have a cathedral ceiling and Why would it be nice to find a house with apple trees in the garden?

Then I do some research and we can go out and look at houses. And if the very first house you looked at had everything you said you 'gotta' have, and everything you said you'd 'liketa' have, and some things you said would be 'niceta' have, you could buy that home without even looking at another home and be happy with that decision for the rest of your life. At the very most, you would only have to look at three or four homes that way. Would't that be better than wasting a lot of time looking at 20 or 30 homes that don't fit your needs?

Would you like to do that?

What do you 'gotta' have?

realtor, memorize that and practice five or ten times till you can say it smoothly and start using it with your buyers.

Important: fill in all the gotta, liketa and niceta items before you start asking why.

Also important: when you start asking why, don't be surprised that some of the 'gotta' items become 'liketa' and some of the 'liketa' or 'niceta' items become 'gotta's. You are helping your buyers crystalize their thinking and saving them and yourself a lot of wasted time.

Good hunting. - by Jerry Bresser
The process of asking questions to uncover needs is not really that complicated, however, until you've had at least some training in what type of question to ask when - depending on how the client behaves and what attitudes they display - you will not be affective.

I say it is not that complicated because there are really only two types of questions, when have been referred to as OPEN and CLOSED.

I understand Skip’s point but, until you have profound knowledge of why and when to ask what type of question, this process of understanding your prospect(s) or buyer(s) will be any where from tedious to nearly impossible, which does not mean you will not get a deal. It just means you are wasting time, which I believe is your main issue, saving time on what homes you intend to show them.

Having stated that, I must say I also like Jerry Bresser’s approach, especially the critical advice; “memorize that and practice [this technique] five or ten times till you can say it smoothly and start using it with your buyers.”

Here is the issue. Personalities and attitudes govern the way people respond. And, clearly, that means both yours and the prospects … but it is easier to think in terms of and concentrate solely on the prospect, eliminating your needs, wants and desires completely.

Outgoing personalities are more likely to talk freely and tell you what they want, at least to the degree that they already know. Anyone in real estate certainly could use as a beginning the approach REALTOR mentions, there is no issue from this sales trainer’s experience if he/she/they (the prospective buyer) displayed an outgoing nature. If, on the other hand, they did not, and where more taciturn (less talkative) then the example given to start this thread off will not gather much information.

Having stated this as a all-too-quickly-assumed waste of time with the non talkative type, what is wrong with using a question to at least find out how talkative they are? Everything we do helps us gather information, if only the info on what to do next, as I hope this post will begin to help you understand.

Great sales people have several techniques they know intimately, they practice them all the time and can say them easily. And, far more importantly, they know when and where to use them, because that is what they are for; specific instances.

That is why I would learn Jerry Bresser’s approach, for when it is needed.

It is also why I would learn Skip’s various suggested opening questions, for when they are most likely to be effective. For instance Skip suggest using "What have you looked at so far that you've liked?" That clearly would be a VERY EFFECTIVE question to follow if and when the buyer(s) admitted they have been looking at houses “just to see how far our money would go” or words to that effect.

It is also why you must know closed probes, for when open probes are not working (because the person is not talkative and outgoing, but are more taciturn or introverted by nature and therefore you must “pull it out of ‘em!”).

If you want to be as effective as you need to be in sales you need to understand the reasons for asking open and closed questions and, unless you have already gathered information about the personality type you are dealing with that might lead you to believe that you should hone in with your open probe or even start with closed probes, which is rare, then the broader you begin the better. The process of narrowing in follows …

In my case, my personality when I am feeling good is infectious. I am somewhat over the top by nature, a fun loving type you might say. So I might “hand them the magic wand” and ask them to “waive it and tell me what your future house looks like”.

All true pros know that in almost all cases, even when they are dynamic and very outgoing, there are a number of details that must be asked to confirm various things that are said and those that are not. Thus the need to switch to a closed probe once in a while, to confirm you understand something they said may have been a little broad in nature or to even direct the conversation for a moment.

In most selling situations, at least when there is a master sales pro at work, the sales process will flow back and forth from open to closed and back to open. And with each ebb and flow – like a tide – usually one main element/benefit or needed feature of a product or service or even PAIN is uncovered (like their current house is perfect but it doesn’t have ___________) and confirmed as important or not so important to the prospect.

Just to throw even a little more light on the subject, this ebb and flow may even just confirm what is definitely not of interest, like a pool or hot tub, or that you misunderstood them. And this is most effectively done with a very direct closed probe, as in “If I am understanding correctly, you are looking for _________, is that correct?”

Like the old time and proven Benjamin Franklin close, the specific technique well described by Jerry is not – at least in my not too humble opinion – always appropriate. Especially when you have a couple that knows exactly what they want. They are already telling you, without much prompting of any kind. And, when you have prospects like this you are furiously making mental notes (if I can put it that way) and using the broadest possible comments or even just noises, as in; “Uhuh” or “Right” and maybe “Go on!” And this is to stay out of their way and let or encourage them to talk/keep talking.

Heck, you might even find yourself in a situation with a young couple where you have already asked a closed probe such as “How much are you planning to spend?” Then, even though they are very communicative and are telling you everything they think you need to know, you realize that their desires are unreasonable, that they cannot afford such a house, which no doubt Jerry would say was an argument for using his method. And, at this point, if I knew it well, I might. I might also use another way to point out that they may need to be a little more realistic, even turning it into a benefit, like saying something such as “That is where I come in, I am known to be a master at making your budget stretch as far as possible to get more for your money, though you might not be able to buy everything you want, in many cases, I can help you get more value!”

People, this is the profession of selling, right? If this is a buyer, we do not want to loose them to another selling agent, right? Having stated that …

This art, and have no doubt about it being just that, it is learned through years of trial and error and serious study and application. I personally have no issue with you starting out with “Can you describe the home you want to buy?” Or “… find?” Again if you realize they are apt to just tell you or even if you are not sure but be prepared to change tactics if they are not outgoing enough or mature enough to explain their feelings and thoughts. And the change in tactic is something that you may do several times in that interview process …

Remember, I have never sold a home or taught a real estate agent. The point is that sales mastery is the same in all selling professions. In your heart you ought not to be a REAL ESTATE AGENT, STOCK BROKER, LIFE INSURANCE AGENT or FINANCIAL PLANNER, though that is what you tell people. In your very core you are a master sales person or a student well on their way to becoming one.

Can I recommend that you take a basic sales skills course? Not a real estate one but something even more basic … as you need help understanding our profession and the techniques or probing. I can’t recommend such a course because I am out of touch but the PSS model from Xerox would have been a good beginning point for you to start to learn more about probing if it still existed.

And, for God’s sake, learn Jerry’s approach too. And I say this – again without ever having sold a home - because, as a master prober … I believe there are times when it fits perfectly. Good luck and God bless. - by Gold Calling
I have been having a small challenge with probing for wants and needs. Getting people to tell you what they want is harder than it sounds. ;pi Anyway what do you think about asking the question, "Can you describe the home you want to find?". Is that too broad?
Asking questions without making it sound like an 'interrogation' is very difficult. It can be at times very important to get the prospect to talk. You can simply say....."Let's pretend, it is months from now and you are IN your new home, describe it to me. If I were a friend visiting, take me on a tour of your new home." - by Paulette Halpern
I have been having a small challenge with probing for wants and needs. Getting people to tell you what they want is harder than it sounds. ;pi Anyway what do you think about asking the question, "Can you describe the home you want to find?". Is that too broad?
I like your general concept, questions, and I think your concern that it may be too broad could be true.

Instead, use an NLP approach. First, listen to the sensory language of your prospective client. Are they more visual, auditory or kinesthetic. THEN reframe the question leading with their preference. For example, if you know they are more kinesthetic, then ask, "Can you tell me what it feels like when you are living in your home six months from now?"

This is one approach that puts you on the exact communication of your client and I find often allows people to clearly specific what they want. - by patweber
Using NLP skills in the interaction between prospective client and salesperson is wonderful. Sales trainers, including myself, work to improve our clients ability to be better practitioners of NLP.

But you have to get the client to talk. Salespeople spend too much time, doing most of the talking and 'telling isn't selling'. You have to have a dialogue with the client doing most of the talking. Engaging the client using a technique like "Let's pretend" and helping them 'imagine' themselves already 'owning the home' and then having them describe it, will open up many more topics which will need to be delved into such as finances, decision process and time frame.

Other skills such as Active Listening will play a major role in how you build your relationship, before you can show the client home to fit their needs.

First you need to get their needs, and why they are needs, on the table....otherwise as many salespeople find themselves, you are 'too often, an unpaid consultant'.

I have heard real estate agents say often, "I spent days showing homes to a prospective buyer, only to learn that several weeks or months later, they bought a home through another agent, that I 'could have showed them' if I knew they were looking for THAT!'

I guess they did not find out what the client REALLY wanted or needed. - by Paulette Halpern
... and 'telling isn't selling'. You have to have a dialogue with the client doing most of the talking.

Appropriately stated, the old-adage is bang on;

"Telling isn't selling!"

Enabling the prospect to talk and listening are key - for that we usually employ open probes. And if you need to discover exactly what was meant by a prospect's statement - was it an unclear definition of a need or not - or, if they are uncommunicative, you can confirm or direct conversation using; closed probes.

Paulette's example of "Let's pretend" is very similar in technique to "If I could somehow hand you a magic wand and you could waive it to instantly locate the perfect house - within reason on budget - what would it look like?" Both work well.

Of course, it is improtant to realize, if the prospect is talkative and understands the process, there is no need to employ either example of what is really the same type of advanced probing technique, for the prospect will tell you anyway. All you need employ then is the simplest of probes, which I won't elaborate on here as I am sure you already know them.

Remember, every prospect is different. Forget anything you might have been told about "on average", key in on that individual or individuals (if a husband and wife) then use the techniques appropriate for the situation. make sure you do not limit responses (to a specific or; YES or NO) unless you have to.

Realize with certain prospects you will need to change your strategy depending on how easy or difficult it is to understand their wants and desires.

And, in order to do this well, you must know many of the important probing and closing techniques, one for each situation you can face, as well as practice them constantly. Otherwise, when you go to use one you have not learned well enough and you may blow it.

Of course, there is no way to have already practiced that which is new other than roll playing and; using memorization and a mirror or a significant other to speak them out loud. Not much will prepare you like the real deal will.

Learn 'em and apply them right away and consistently - at every opportunity you get - till you master that which you may be weak on now. This is the best advice I can provide.

Again, if you have never taken a basic skills training course, that practices probing, I strongly recommend this as great advice. I also recommend signing up for my free newsletter (see SIG), we always touch base on probing as well as closing skills. And repetition in learning increases retention - it is great for any professional. - by Gold Calling
And, for God’s sake, learn Jerry’s approach too. .
Gold Calling,
Thanks for the endorsement.
Jerry Bresser - by Jerry Bresser
Every prospective client is different; what is consistent is that prospects 'will try to leave out details' because they are afraid the sales person will 'oversell' them or 'sell them something higher priced than they want to spend' or have had one of many bad experiences with sales people who lied to them in the past, and want to prevent that from happening.

It is important to develop some level of comfort, and start to build a little trust with each other....when those things happen, the prospect 'lets down his defenses, and becomes more open and honest' -- because he is not afraid of the salesperson, but can start to see him as an ally.

Getting business from referrals, makes this go easier. But we all meet people for the first time, in other ways. - by Paulette Halpern
I would like to say "THANK YOU" to all the experts who replied to my question. You have helped me solve one of my biggest challenges. I printed this out and will keep it with me until I have assimilated everything. Life is Good Again! sn; - by realtor
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