When coaching valuers, it is useful to work to a checklist, to break appraisal appointments down into the key stages. Ours has six main headings:
1) The opening
2) The walkround/tour
3) Presenting the valuation
4) Presenting your proposition
5) Presenting fees
Although it may appear less important than some of the other stages, ‘the walkround’ is often the one that requires serious improvement.
There are three key aims of the walkround/tour stage…
1) To assess the appropriate price
2) To continue and increase rapport with the client
3) To uncover the service needs of the client
The first two points are relatively straightforward.
Tour the property in a logical order. Take notes and slow down to take in the positives and negatives so that you can objectively consider and present the valuation later in the appointment.
Also spot areas of common ground that you may share with them, such as family, hobbies and interests. Remember there is an old adage in selling – ‘People buy from people’.
In reality, the full version of this should be ‘People buy people who they feel are similar to themselves’. Shared common ground really helps build rapport and trust.
But the last aim of the three – To uncover the service needs of the client – is the most difficult but arguably the most critical. As a valuer, one of the key parts of your role is to sell your services effectively, which require an effective selling style. You can either adopt a Tell style or a Consultative style.
What worries you most about moving?
Tell sellers are often known as those with ‘the gift of the gab’ and perhaps a polished, rehearsed and well used ‘pitch’ that bombards the client with information about a service or product that may leave them feeling bamboozled or bored.
A Consultative Seller, sometimes known as ‘Needs Based Selling’, is a more skilled individual who will get better results. The idea is that the salesperson tailors whatever it is they are selling to the specific needs of their customer.
A Tell valuer would list and talk about all elements of their service while a Consultative valuer would structure their service presentation to inspire and persuade the client to use them.
However, while Consultative Selling is more effective, it’s also tougher to carry out than Tell Selling, as it requires the valuer to truly understands the client’s ‘service needs’.
We advocate that the best way to establish a client’s service needs is to ask the right questions during the tour of the property. The concept here is that the client is at their most relaxed during this stage and that you are more likely to get the answers you need.
It may even be that they don’t notice you asking targeted questions – they may simply think you are making polite conversation.
Recommended questions would include:
● “How many times have you moved?”
● “How did your last move go?”
● “What worries you most about moving?”
If the client has moved before and that experience was not great, getting them to talk about that experience will remind them of the problems they experienced last time and therefore give you an insight into which of your services will be most appropriate this time around.
For example, if they were frustrated at the quality of the viewers last time, or they sold to a buyer who then pulled out due to mortgage difficulties, you need to focus on your applicant qualification process and your in-house mortgage adviser who vets offers when they are put forward.
As you look round their property with your client, if you are engaging them in a conversation and focusing on trying to establish their service needs, you will uncover some issues that are important to them. However, it is important not to jump straight back at that point and deal with them. Far better to simply note it down and then refer back to it at the start of your service discussion later.
For example, the client may moan that a previous agent promised accompanied viewings but then failed to deliver on that promise. It would be tempting to come back immediately with your wonderful “accompany all viewings 7 days a week” approach, but don’t.
Simply acknowledge it by saying “I’m sorry to hear that” or “That must have been frustrating” and move on. Think how impressed the client will be when you refer back to it later!
‘Telling is not selling’ is a longstanding rule in estate agency – the above principles will help you avoid breaking that rule.
Julian O’Dell is founder of TM Training & Development