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Making effective phone calls

"I’m keen to stop my staff spending their day pinging emails to their applicants. I’d much rather they got on the phone to their best applicants and talked to them. Having said that, I’m conscious that some of the younger staff have not been trained to make effective outgoing phone calls. Any tips?"

Julian O'Dell
telephone_trainingJULIAN SAYS…

julian-the-dilemmaIn the busy sales or lettings office environment, it can be tempting to take shortcuts to get things done as quickly as possible – even if that way is less effective than other methods.

Without doubt, if you’ve built a relationship of trust with the customer, a phone call to that person can still be a highly effective way of getting results. When I last moved house, the one estate agent who dealt with me in the right way made his life easier by the way he dealt with me on first contact. When he subsequently phoned to o er me suitable new instructions, I agreed to view immediately because I trusted him to make that judgement on my behalf. Other agents phoning me with a potential property, were simply told to send the details because they had failed to win my trust, and so were not in a position to tell me what to view as they knew little about me!

I just wanted to talk to you about your plans…

So, assuming your staff correctly qualified the applicants in the first instance (our mystery shopper calls reveal that sadly the majority don’t), then phone calls are worth making… but how should they be conducted? There are seven key stages to an effective phone out call. The first stage is…

PREPARATION

Applicants that you’ve deemed worthy of VIP treatment, such as a regular phone call or instant notification of suitable new property, should represent business opportunities because they are either hot applicants who are ready, willing and able to buy or rent a property immediately, or they are applicants with local properties to sell who represent brilliant instruction opportunities.

It’s not practical to call every applicant with every new instruction or price reduction. The first element of preparation is decide which applicants are worthy of these calls and in which order the calls should be made. When stock is in short supply, it’s a good idea to contact potential vendor applicants with new properties first as it shows them that you are looking after them, subsequently increasing your chances of getting their property to sell. If you get those properties to sell applicants, deal with their viewing appointments in an exceptional manner, show them that you are giving them priority treatment, you’ll massively increase your chances of securing their instruction now or in the future.

Before picking up the phone, review what you know about the applicant. Ask yourself the key question – why would this person buy this property? Decide on your objectives for the call – is it just a viewing you want to achieve, or are there other business opportunities to target like a market appraisal or conveyancing referral.

OPENING

The “Opening” is the first stage of the actual call. Always check that they have time to talk. An agenda is important. “I just wanted to talk to you about your latest moving plans and to discuss a potentially suitable property…”

THE NEXT STAGE IS REQUALIFY

Assuming you established their motivation, ability and needs when the applicant first contacted you, these now need to be rechecked. It’s important to recognise that these things change as time goes on. A great start to the call is to say, “Can I just check I’ve got the current situation clear…” and then summarise your understanding of the applicant’s key information. Listen carefully and amend your records accordingly. It may be that things have changed to the extent that the property you are calling them about is no longer relevant, so you may need to do an instant match on your system to see if any other properties are potentially suitable. Once you have updated the situation, it’s time for the next stage.

PRESENTATION

When introducing the property in question, always remember that the applicant can only imagine what the property is like by the words you use, while their response to the suggested property might also be influenced by your tone of voice. To help enhance the customer experience, be upbeat, use positive language and smile as you speak.

Use empathy – “I thought of you when this one came available because your son’s school is located nearby” or “I remember you saying that you wanted to be near the station…” Use positive language to point out the benefits and match them to the applicant’s needs.

COMMITMENT

An attempt to secure a viewing might be “When shall I tee up a viewing for you?” or “Would Saturday or Sunday be better?”

CLOSE OF THE CALL

If you have secured a viewing, then clarify timings, dates and so forth. If not, then agree the next time for you to contact the applicant.

These golden rules can be applied to new instructions, price reductions and properties coming back on to the market. The quality of these calls will have a direct impact on your results – ensure you get them right!

Julian O’Dell is founder of TM Training & Development.

May 8, 2015