The Salesman Hat
By Amy McIntire
Our motto is that if you want business, you have to go out and create it. Which isn’t easy for home inspectors, since inspecting and selling are two different jobs and should be treated as such. Although, there are some similarities. As a home inspector, you would never go to an inspection without all the tools, supplies and information need. The same is true of selling: You must have a plan and be prepared. With a little preparation and planning, your sales hat will fit comfortably and even become enjoyable to wear.
Home inspectors don’t always react positively when I suggest open-house prospecting to build relationships with realty agents. But any sales coach will tell you to step out of your comfort zone and try something new. From experience, I know open-house prospecting can generate business if approached correctly. Remember, it is a sales call on a prospective referral source, and you must approach it as such or it can end up working against you. More than 50 percent of our current business comes from referrals from agents we met at open houses. Shouldn’t this be in your marketing plan, too?
Four things to plan and do before you go to an open house
a positive attitude and smile!
Planning who you want to see is critical to time management.
(story continues below)
Agents will remember you by it.
what to say.
1) Greeting: Your greeting to the agent sets the tone for the conversation. Be upbeat and smile as you introduce yourself as a home inspector and add, “I came to see you!”
2) Quick company story: Write out a few sentences that you are comfortable with, memorize them to use when the agent asks about you. For example, “I have been an inspector for a few years now. I am an ASHI member and am based out of Smithville and serve the surrounding counties. I’ve worked in the construction field all my life and have many years of hands-on experience building and renovating homes. Becoming a home inspector was a natural fit for me!” (smile!)
3) Questions: This is your opportunity to find out lots of information. A salesperson knows that the person asking the questions is in control and that people like talking about themselves. Sample questions include:
• How long have you been in the real estate industry?
• Which office do you work out of?
• How do your clients choose a home inspector?
• Do you have a home inspector who you refer regularly?
• Does your office have a list of inspectors?
Who would I contact to be added to the list?
• On what day does your office have meetings?
Be comfortable asking questions, be patient and listen to the answers. The more prospective referral sources talk, the more you learn about them.
4) Company benefits, storytelling & countering objections: Every company has its own benefits. My partner, Terry, has a strong background in HVAC and construction, so we discuss how we are able to give our clients extra knowledge about the HVAC system in the home. Because there are two of us at the home inspection, we manage time and people well. You’ll want to tell a short story or two about your business to paint a visual picture and create a solid memory.
The biggest concern agents want to talk about is a home inspector being a “deal killer.” We know this even if they don’t bring it up. Instead of ignoring concern, discuss it and get it out of the way. Say with a smile, “I can’t change what I find at a home inspection (bad roof, broken furnace), but what I can do is make sure that any concern is delivered in a professional and non-threatening manner. I have a lot of experience working with people, and I know how to talk to them without scaring them.”
A second concern for the agents is how to nicely tell you they won’t use you. Tell them you know that. Say, “I heard it takes five-seven times meeting a real estate agent before I get a referral.” (You have their attention now.) Continue with, “I’m hoping that it only takes 3 or 4 times meeting YOU before a referral.” (smile) Now let them talk. This is when they will tell you how they met the home inspectors they are working with now and how it works for them.
5) Wrap-up and goodbye: Before you leave, you must get their business card or contact information. By this time, they should have all of your literature and the treat. If not, hand it to them and ask for their business card. Shake hands, tell them it was nice meeting them and that you are sure you will see them in the future. (smile!)
Three rules for
#1: Never create the impression you are there to see the house.
Know when to leave.
Always get agent’s contact information and keep it organized.
Good luck in your prospecting adventures!
We hope you take this information and create a prospecting presentation of your own.
Copyright © ASHI Reporter. Reprinted with permission. This article originally appeared in the May 2012 issue of the ASHI Reporter. To learn more about the American Society of Home Inspectors go to www.ashi.org and www.ashireporter.org.
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