Many sent a barrage of unsuitable properties based purely on price, which wasted my time and clogged up my mail box. I wrote back to one who was being particularly heavy handed with the emails, asking them to adjust, only to get yet another generic email telling me to go the site and re-register.It quickly became clear that few had read the additional details I added. Matching a product with their customer was apparently of little interest. Others who called me were obsessed with completing in-house forms. Some questions that either should not be asked at all or only in the right way. One agent rang me to ask my date of birth and when asked for a reason could only come up with: “ We ask for it on our forms”. A few asked me what my motivation was for buying in the area. Any good sales person knows that understanding what motivates a buyer is the key to a sale. But they equally know that motivations are emotive, personal and even sometimes unknown to the buyer themselves. They take time and relationship building to reveal. Only in a very cut and dried case – perhaps a re-location for work – can this be reduced to facts. Asked either abrasively or with a clear level of dis-interest (and I certainly had both) this question can be highly intrusive. Clever sales people chat, listen and glean the information rather than demand it for a form. Even the most basic rudiments of telephone selling and customer service escaped many of the companies that contacted me. My name appeared to be a major stumbling block. Many pronounce it wrong. Another absently called me by a totally different surname and despite me saying that I was looking for a house in the area, was too afraid of saying he was wrong to pick up the opportunity, but instead insisted he had the wrong number. Getting someone’s name right is just basic good manners. But equally no-one minds if you call, then apologise and say you are not sure of the pronunciation and could the person tell you. Humility goes a long way. Instead, most people fail to listen even when corrected and continue to use the wrong name. When I train my sales team, I always say that listening is one of the most important if not the most important skill there is. Many of these callers talked over me; rude to start with. One of my pet peeves in selling is a caller opening with “How are you?” on an introductory call. They do not know me. Half of them do not even wait for the response. All they achieve is introducing themselves as poor salesmen, who are spinning lines, rather than speaking authentically, as one human to another. Absolute anathema to their listeners and unacceptable in this day and age where authenticity is such a vital part in customer relations. There have been some really good, charming, efficient, helpful agents I have spoken to. But regrettably, poor salesmanship is alive and kicking harder than I could ever have imagined. We hear so much about the slow property market and the blame of governments, Brexit uncertainty and so on. What we don’t hear is that there are an awful lot of companies out there who have not the first clue as how to sell and only a handful deserving to survive. And I am sure that this lack of basic sales skill is not restricted to estate agents.
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