Is the art of “selling” actually dead?
Given the strong Sydney market we’ve experienced, and especially in the last four years, buyers could be forgiven for viewing real estate agents as more “door-men/women” rather than sales agents. After all, at many Saturday open inspections they take your details, hand out brochures and watch as you traipse your way through the property, only to coolly ask you on your way out “What did you think?”
Following up with a phone call, email or text the following Monday your feedback is sought, long after the face-to-face interaction opportunity has passed by. It all seems so routine and something we’ve come to accept, as purchasers in an active market.
As those of us who have been in the property industry for many decades now, however, we know it wasn’t always like this. Sales agents today often struggle with sheer numbers, preferring to take the “pack them in one open and follow up later” approach. I’m not condemning it, as opens certainly have their place but it does seem sometimes that the limited time inspections can actually be made (or that the agent is willing to undertake) has lessened over the years. So one has to ask: Has the current buoyant Sydney market made some sales agents lazy? Have they lost the art of actually “selling”?
Not every buyer falls in love or necessarily wants to buy a particular property. However, with some persuasion, excellent sales skills and a willing real estate agent who is able to suggest solutions to buyer objections (eg: dark living rooms, insufficient storage, lack of parking) and garner enthusiasm in their product results can turn around. In my time, I’ve met many excellent sales agents who do just this and can turn indifferent potential buyers into real purchasers. With their “sales hat” 100% on and working passionately for their vendor, they can turn negatives into positives, come up with workable and realistic solutions to buyer concerns (asking buyers what these are is always a good start!) genuinely take an interest in purchasers, educate them on the reality of the market and justify just why their vendor’s property is the best fit for them at this point in time.
Some years ago I recall one agent, Peter, who took the extra time to show one of our clients the advantages of living in a battle-axe block, despite their reservations upon inspection. We thought the house ideal, but knew that the position would be a sticking point. Peter went to the trouble of knocking on the neighbour’s door following our inspection (adjoining battle-axe) and asking if they wouldn’t mind sharing their thoughts with our client on how they found battle-axe living. He realised our clients were concerned about security, driveway access, resale value and other issues and was able to work through these concerns with them both on the day of inspection as well as follow up information (including supplying us with a vendor-paid survey to confirm driveway width, a sales list of all battle-axe blocks within the suburb and a written verification and quote from the gas supplier regarding gas connection) Not only did he listen and follow up but he genuinely did his best to “sell” the property on behalf of his vendors, a job for which he was subsequently rewarded. My clients were so impressed with him that they even recommended him to friends who were selling in an adjoining suburb a short time later.
With the sale of my own home last year, I engaged the services of two outstanding sales agents, whom I knew would not only represent us professionally but would go all out to exhaust the avenue of every buyer in countering their objections and solving any potential problems that could be overcome. I was thrilled with the outcome and saw first-hand the amount of time and effort that went into communication with every single potential buyer.
Contrast this with a recent agency experience, where my partner and I personally inspected a property and didn’t receive any correspondence or follow up from the agent at all. This was despite providing our details, requesting a contract and leaving a VM some days later. I expect to see the “Under contract” or “Sold” sign go up any day but what a letdown and a complete lack of any sales service at all. If only the vendors knew what a poor salesperson they had engaged to sell their most expensive and precious asset. The assumption that buyers will only contact a sales agent if they are truly interested can be a risky move, and even more so if there’s been no attempt to take the time to understand or even acknowledge the buyer in the first place.
The art of selling comes easy for some, and especially those who truly enjoy what they do. It shows and it ultimately makes the difference between a good and a great selling agent. When you list your property on the market, make sure you engage an agent who’s not only proactive and results-driven but has the gift of the “sales gab” and is genuinely enthusiastic about selling. You may just end up selling to a buyer who was initially going to walk away from your property.