One thing is for certain about the real estate business: agents waste a lot of time by not adequately pre-qualifying prospects. To a certain degree it’s understandable. You make a connection while phone prospecting, and the person seems eager to move forward. You get excited, perhaps forging ahead without asking some basic questions. And, in your enthusiasm, it’s possible that you end up going down a dead-end road, wasting a lot of your valuable time.
A critical part of any agent’s job is to learn how to ask pertinent questions, those that help you get a sense for the prospect’s motivation. And, of course, asking solid questions not only helps to minimize wasted time on your end, but also informs you as to the prospect’s needs.
There are many benefits to effective pre-qualification. Perhaps three of the most critical benefits are:
- Understanding what’s motivating your prospect: Why are they taking the effort to spend time with you? You’ll want to know where they are thinking of moving, and when might they be interested in making a move. This line of questioning will tip you off as to their urgency, and will also help you to develop a more thorough listing presentation. By having a clearer picture of their future plans, your presentation can help put their needs first. Plus, you can fan their excitement about an impending move, which helps to ramp up their urgency.
- Understanding their financial picture: Effective questioning helps you get to their financial motivation, and the realities of their financial situation. Are they really able to afford to move? How much money will they need to bring to their next close-which, of course, relates to the amount of equity they may have in their current property? What’s behind their urgency to possible “sell now?” The truth is, your pre-qualification questions may reveal that this is not the optimal time for them to sell. By being transparent, you can build trust by showing your concern about their dreams and aspirations, as opposed to looking like an agent in search of their next commission check.
- Understanding the importance of pricing: Your pre-qualification process should give you insights as to what the seller wants to get out of the sale. If they’re adamant about listing, yet don’t seem terribly motivated, you may be dealing with someone who is more curious about what they can get, as opposed to being serious about selling and moving. While adding an additional property to your inventory list sounds good, you could end up wasting a lot of time and money servicing an overpriced listing that is not likely to sell.
Effective selling (and servicing) is about know how to ask solid, open-ended questions. And taking the time and attention to listen carefully to your prospect’s responses. Thorough pre-qualification can save you a lot of time and energy, plus minimize your frustration. The pre-qualification process also helps you better serve your clients’ needs by getting a complete picture of their goals.