It was a fall Sunday morning before a Denver Bronco game. I was playing fantasy football and desperately wanted to watch the pregame shows to make the best decisions for my fantasy team. There were bragging rights on the line after all, but instead of going to the remote, I went for my phone.
I had a small office in the basement of the house I was living in located in Thornton, a northern suburb to Denver. It was basically a hallway outside of the laundry room and my roommate was busy washing her clothes. I had to stand at my desk in order to let her pass each time she needed to check on things. There were several other places I would have rather been and other things I wanted to be doing. I did not want to be in that hallway with a phone to my ear while laundry was blasting away, but I had a goal to reach. I needed to make 30 calls before the Broncos kickoff.
This was my routine every weekend and most week nights. I had a great phone script, but it was the tweaking to that script, making it mine, and the practice on the phone that helped me become successful. I purchased more than 50 houses by calling sellers directly, and over the years I learned what makes an investor successful on the phone. Here are three keys in cold calling sellers that will make you successful.
Have a script. Routine breeds success. This is nothing new, but it is worth mentioning. The most successful people in the world, in any area, have a routine for what they do best. This could be a professional golfer, a builder, a waiter or waitress, or a school teacher. In business, if you find something that works and you do it over and over, you will become rich. It is really that simple. A script is your routine, it helps you work your way through a call and should be used every time you make a seller call.
Make the script your own. Although a script is extremely important, it can also hurt you. If you follow a script that you are not comfortable with and read it word for word, you will sound nervous and rigid. This will make the motivated seller uncomfortable and make them want to end the call. It is best to find a script that you can change a little to fit your personality. It is also important to know that you need to be prepared to veer from the script and go with the call. Enjoy the conversation. That is why I like real short scripts with plenty of flexibility.
Don’t sell on the phone. When I was just starting, the script I was using had me make a creative offer on the phone. If the seller was open to the offer, I would set the meeting and negotiate the numbers. It took hundreds of calls to get an appointment with a seller, because I was over qualifying them by selling on the phone. Maybe someday your time will be way too valuable to meet with sellers that you might not do business with, but for most of us, getting the appointment with a qualified lead is the most important result. The way you do this is to qualify their motivation and then schedule a time to view the house; the goal is not to get a deal on the phone. If they ask for an offer you can simply say you need to see the house before you can discuss it and that they should invite you over. The qualifying question in my script is, “Sounds like a great house. Why would you even consider selling?” The answer to this question will give me enough information to schedule a meeting or not.
Focus on “no” oriented questions and never trap your lead. Many sales books teach “yes” oriented questions. Hearing the word no is scary, and as a sales person we are taught to get our prospect saying yes. This is done by asking questions that the only answer is yes. For example, you might say “Most people are looking for the best price for their home, do you agree?” Of course they are going to agree with that. Doing this can create some unease and make them uncomfortable with you. People want to feel like they have options and giving them the option to say no can be powerful. A question like “Do you disagree?” will be much more powerful than “Do you agree?”
Another strategy often taught in sales that makes people uncomfortable is giving them limited options. I think this can be extremely useful and is a great strategy, but you need to be careful. I had a solicitor call me the other day asking for a donation. His questions were, “Would you like to donate the normal $50 or would $25 be easier?” This is a great close when you have rapport with someone, so it could be very effective in a meeting, but it made me hang up the phone. I don’t know you!
Remember the purpose of the call is to gather information and set an appointment. It is not to close a deal, and it is certainly not to trap a prospect into an uncomfortable call.