The more and more I help real estate investors grow their businesses the more I am realizing the lost art of conversing and getting to understand a seller and his or her individual needs has been replaced with handing over complicated forms and giving sellers low-ball offers for their mobile homes. It seems in this fast-paced, digitalized, G4, social media friendly world we have forgotten how to make “real life” friends before making a “real life” deal.
During the first few months of my mobile home investing career whenever I would meet a seller for an appointment to see their home (after they are pre-screened over the phone by me) I would spend no less than 4 hours building rapport and getting to know the seller and their unique situation. Why? I loathed the “closing” point of every sale. I would keep delaying the “Can I buy your home?” question by continuing to ask more and more questions of the sellers, both business and personal questions. I ended up buying 11 clean, cash-flowing mobile homes in less than 7 months. How was I able to buy so many without using cash or credit?
“If you can control the questions being asked you will control the conversation.” Ask questions and listen for the full answers. These heart to heart “Question and Answer” sessions really opened-up sellers to revealing the real rock bottom prices they were willing to accept, why they really had to sell, how long they had before falling behind on payments to the park, if the seller is willing to sell their home “subject to” the existing mortgage, and much much more.
After these first few months of long appointments with mobile home sellers I became more and more comfortable and proficient at asking questions and thus my appointment times began to drop in length from 4 hours to less than 60 minutes. Something interesting then happened…
I then realized it was taking me more appointments to close the same amount of deals. In other words I was getting worse at being an investor! I realized by trial and error that because I was so comfortable buying, holding, and selling homes I was taking my sellers for granted. I was starting to see my sellers as big dollar signs rather than people. Sellers are people with real problems, real dreams, and real concerns.
Here is how I began to self-sabotage my own success and how I corrected it fast:
- I started cutting off a seller mid-sentence, talking about trivial objections. Here is a tip: Count to three in your head after the seller stops talking and then you can begin talking.
- I began to quickly correct a seller’s wrong statement (in mid-sentence) to show him/her how much I knew about real estate. Tip: Wait until the seller is finished talking to discuss any wrong information the seller may be holding on to. Never argue with a seller.
- I began to only make one or two offers to buy each seller’s mobile home (Instead of my usual four creative offer method.) I even started to think I knew what was best for each of my sellers. I began to half-ass my efforts in my day to day investing life.
Because I always track my leads, results, and conversions it took less than a month to realize the problem was ME. I now STILL spend less than one hour meeting with most sellers; we talk about family and social events, discuss their problems, create a few Win-Win solutions, present offers, make slight changes, make a deal, sign paperwork, answer questions and leave; but now I am closing deals because I remember to treat my sellers like my own family members.
Final thought: Do not become too comfortable and close the door to friendship, cooperation and making Win-Win deals with every seller; this is how you can be in business for the long-haul. Always keep your seller’s MINIMUM goal in mind when you are making offers. Remember without solving the seller’s problem you will never create a Win-Win deal.
Invest with Passion,
– John Fedro