The Art of the Appointment

The first appointment with a seller is an inflection point in a relationship. Done well and you can secure the listing and eventually a paycheck; done poorly and it may be the death knell for a relationship.

Part art, part science. The structure of the appointment–clarity and accuracy of facts–is science; delivery and connection is art. Here are my thoughts on how to most effectively conduct an appointment.

Gather the decision makers. Having an appointment without all the decision makers is often a waste of time. Be sure to ask up front about who is involved in the decision and endeavor to have them all available for the appointment. If all cannot be there face to face, a conference call is an option,

Clearly schedule a time and place. To ensure an appointment will happen Brokers shouldn’t leave anything to chance. The date, time and location, along with the meeting’s purpose, should be confirmed. The more specifics you cover when scheduling the less likely that the appointment will be canceled/rescheduled. Also, be sure to send a confirmatory email.

Try to schedule appointments in the morning because days generally become busier and early appointments are statistically less likely to be canceled.

Prepare collateral material and ensure its accuracy. Sellers expect materials when you meet them even if they are simple in nature. Prepare them in advance and ensure they are correct.

Build rapport. We want to do business with people we like and avoid people we loathe. When you build rapport and really connect with someone, you and everything you say will be viewed more positively. Be likable by complimenting, asking questions and listening to their point of view.

Prepare an agenda. Providing even a simple agenda indicates preparation and forethought about the meeting’s structure. Be sure to ask if the seller would like to add anything to the agenda.

Show passion. Adopt the adage that “you don’t have to believe what I believe but you have to believe I believe it.” Enthusiasm and excitement sells.

Ask questions. It is important at all times, though especially when face to face for the first time, to show sincere interest in the seller and his/her objectives. The best way to express this is by asking open ended questions. Questions like “what are you looking to achieve”, “what’s your strategy”, or “what do you intend to do with the sales proceeds” are all great ways to get the seller to open up. Closed end questions, in contrast, not only limit the length of a response but guide its direction and, while necessary, should only be used when specific information is needed to keep the conversation on track.

Have a purpose. There are a lot of potential purposes to meetings: simply trying to add depth to a relationship, sharing an opinion of value, pitching an exclusive, picking up materials, walk throughs or extending an offer face to face. It is important to have and share a clear purpose.

What to share. As noted above, all appointments have a different specific purpose but in the end the purpose is to earn business. Therefore, the salient areas that need to be covered include:

1. Provide details of your firm in a value added manner so that the Seller can clearly understand why they should do business with you.
2. Share the experience and expertise of the deal team. Here it is important to discuss similar properties transacted and who will be doing what on the team.
3. Discuss current market conditions and how those will influence how the property is marketed and the price it will secure.
4. Offer an opinion of the property’s value (providing a range is ok).
5. Identify the steps in the marketing process because this is what drives and secures the highest price.
6. Gain commitment on next steps. Many times after the meeting the Seller wants to think about what they want to do. Give them the space to make a decision but be very intentional to discuss and schedule follow up timing.

Send a thank you note the next day. A simple follow-up is both professional and enhances the relationship.

Following these simple steps will help you successfully move on to the next steps beyond the first appointment.

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