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There’s always something to howl about

Are you closing on the wrong objectives? The most insidious form of sales call reluctance is proudly racking up empty “accomplishments.”

I want to talk about being a sales monster, so I want to issue a disclaimer first: We are all about value. I get paid for closing real estate transactions, and I like getting paid, but I never want to get paid for encouraging a client to do the wrong thing. I’m going to be talking about closing in a lot of different contexts, but I am never talking about arm-twisting or even the mildest kinds of suasion. The ancient Roman law of agency is respondeat superior — let the master answer — and this is how we conduct our business.

But still, as a salesman it’s my job to close. That’s important just by itself. It’s one thing to be an ethical salesperson, as above, but it is quite another to fail to close at all. My job — always — is to move the process to the next logical step. If my client wants to make a deal, it’s my job to make it happen, and the way I do that is by closing on the step of the deal-making process that happens next in the sequence.

That’s Salesmanship 101, except that no one teaches salesmanship these days. And, alas, many of the salesmavens who taught this discipline in the past were creepy, oily, slimy, smarmy moral degenerates. Selling is not a confidence game, and there is nothing at all wrong with helping your client take the steps necessary to achieving his objective.

Because marketing on the web is so cost-efficient, I can do a lot of my closing with software — passively, automatically, at any hour of the day. But: I still need to close.

When a new vistor lands on one of our web sites, I’m closing on one idea: More. Stick around and read — there’s lots of content. Or swap over to our free Phoenix MLS search. At an absolute minimum, I want you in our internet universe, so I do a lot to attract people, then I do a lot more to hang onto them.

When we get someone to do something we want them to do, we call it the Commitment of Action. No one is glued onto us that early in the process, but the longer they stay with us, and the more straight dope we give them, the more committed they become. What is their motivation? Their level of urgency? Their financial qualification? I know none of this. But I know that I’m doing a lot of business now with people who committed to us — passively, without our knowing anything — months or even years ago. That’s the enduring power of the Commitment of Action.

And once I’ve gotten someone committed at some level to working with us, I want to get that person to commit on the next step: Contact. Fill out a form — we have plenty, all over the place and in many different contexts. Or, even better, shoot me an email. Best of all: Pick up the phone. Calls to action are everywhere on our sites, again in all sorts of different contexts.

Do you want to see a great call to action? This is from Tom Johnson’s email sig:

Has the market stabilized? Search your neighborhood like an agent and find out here: The best map based Houston MLS search on the planet.

He’s closing on his IDX, but he’s promising a concrete benefit in exchange for getting the email recipient into his internet universe. There’s more: He’s using his IDX system to close on sellers, not buyers. That’s simply brilliant.

What I want, when the prospective client is ready to assert himself, is contact, and then I want to push matters as hard and as fast as I can. As the Bawldguy never tires of telling us, selling is belly-to-belly, so if I have an email address, I want to close on a phone call, and if I have a phone number, I want to close on a listing or showing appointment. Everything I’ve done until now has been passive and automated, but once I have a self-selected volunteer to talk to, I want to talk — for real, person-to-person, with as much focused attention as I can bring to the relationship.

Why? Because, by now, that client is mine to lose. I’ve already chipped away at the fears and the doubts and the objections, and I now have the opportunity to talk to a real live person who is listening to me and who is ready, willing and able to complete a real estate transaction. If I can sell that buyer or seller on doing business with us, at that point, I can almost certainly make it all the way to the closing table.

I’m not done yet — really I’m just barely begun. But at this point I am done marketing and I have proceeded to actually selling. That’s important: Getting prospects to our IDX system is not selling, it’s marketing. Getting them to raise their hands — by form, by email, by phone — is really the last step in the marketing process.

What’s the first step in the sales process?

Following up!

Do you want to know how to determine if you have sales call reluctance? Here’s a simple test: When you should be selling — when you should be following up with real live people who have come to be convinced by your marketing that they should speak to you — what are you doing with your time? Are you banging on the phones, as Chris Johnson would have it, or are you researching their questions so you can give deep and authoritative answers when you finally work up the courage to call back?

Here’s a worse form of sales call reluctance: Are you giving yourself bruising pats on the back in appreciation for accomplishments that do not result in any additional income for you?

Are you counting up your filled out forms and calling them client relationships?

Are you carefully recording contact information in your CRM database and calling those people future prospects?

Are you gloating over how many Twitter followers and Facebook friends you have?

Are you closing on Google.com, for heaven’s sake? A high search engine ranking on valuable keywords is a good thing — provided it leads to real income. If all you have to show for your efforts are search results, you’re closing on the wrong objective.

Be honest: Are you busily closing on actions that will not ever result in a closed real estate transaction and then calling your massive accomplishment of meaningless activities a sign of your glorious success?

Selling is getting in front of real, live people with whom you can complete a real estate transaction and thus get paid. There are many other things you can do with your time, instead, but it’s a mistake to call those things selling.

If you find that you have been closing on the wrong objectives in error, then amend your ways. But if you have been closing on meaningless activities as a means of avoiding actually selling real estate, you need to get over your sales call reluctance — or get out of the sales business.

Selling is not a sleazy con-game. Ethical selling is possible. But it will not happen if you do not close — with a glad heart and an eager enthusiasm — on every step of the sales process.

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