Dear Zuess,

I’ve got a couple of listings that are bringing me a good number of sign calls.  One in particular is located on a main street and I get several calls per week from the sign.  I always call the people right back and I answer all of their questions, but not one of them have ever wanted to see the property.  I’d love to sell the listing myself or at least turn some of these callers into clients – What more could I be doing?



Hello Stephanie,

It’s such a treat to have calls coming in, isn’t it?  I can really sense your frustration with not being able to convert any of them to showings or even better, clients.  This is definitely where the art of masterful sales skills comes into play.

Masterful sales skills are about understanding basic psychology.  Let’s begin by taking a look at what the caller’s perspective may be.  They drive by a sign on a busy street.  They could be thinking, “I really want to live in that house on that busy street, quick – call the agent and let’s see the house and maybe we’ll buy it”, but this scenario is highly unlikely.  What are some other possibilities?  There are of course many possibilities, but a few that pop into my head are:

“Maybe that house is a lot less expensive, because it’s on a busy street – maybe we could afford this neighbourhood if the house is cheap enough.”

“I wonder how much that house costs?  If it’s over $400, 000, then ours must be worth a fortune, because it’s not on a busy street.”

“What a great location for a home based business.  I’d love to work from home – I wonder how much it costs?”

“Oh look honey, your colleague’s house is on the market – call the agent and see how much they are asking.”

Unskilled agents will get the call, answer the caller’s questions and the call will come to an end.  Unskilled agents don’t sell very many properties.

Great agents take a very different approach.  They recognize that an incoming call is a fantastic opportunity.  They prepare themselves for the call by emptying their head of all the self-talk and busyness.  They focus 100% of their attention on the call.  They set their intentions on what they what to achieve in the call.

Intention:  Build rapport – without rapport you cannot persuade anyone to do anything.

To build rapport, you need to get the caller to like and trust you and you need to do it in a few short moments.  This is done through what I call deliberate conversations.  In deliberate conversations, you are proactive about learning what the caller’s needs are and then satisfying those needs.

Step one:  Let go of any assumptions you have about what the caller’s needs may be.

Step two:  Answer the caller’s first question directly and briefly, without judgement or attitude and then ask them a related question that will give you some information about them.

Great examples:

“The property is listed for $699,000 — Is that the price range that you are shopping in?”

“Yes, it has been nicely renovated with a great designer kitchen — is a gourmet kitchen important to you?”

“No – it’s not in that school district – it’s in the Mapleview district.  Do you have school aged children?”

Step three:  Continue answering their questions directly and asking questions to help them, tell you more about their situation.  Use masterful sales tools like reflecting back to earlier in the conversation, acknowledging their expectations, proposing “what if” and “suppose” style questions, and injecting humour.  It’s important to listen closely to their responses and to ask questions about values and needs.


“Wow, three kids.  That must be fun.  I have heard that Flagstaff school is preferred — but I can’t say I know why.  What’s most important to you in your next home?”

Once the conversation feels natural, you know you have built some rapport.  Continue to strengthen the rapport.   During deliberate conversations, you need to try to learn a caller’s needs, motivation, and time frame.  If they seem qualified to buy or sell soon, don’t hesitate to ask for an appointment.

If their time frame is longer than 3 months, offer to be their real estate resource, ask them if you can call them back in a week or two, and then send them a hand written follow up note.   If they say you can call back and you forget or are too afraid, you don’t deserve to be their agent.

Want to learn to be a masterful salesperson?  Sign up for our very popular Unscripted Sales workshop presented by Suze Cumming at the Oakville, Milton, and District Real Estate Board (OMDREB) on September 11th, 2013. Click here for details.


Columnist, The Nature of Real Estate


Dear Zuess is a column dedicated to offering tips for real estate agents that want to have deliberate conversations with their clients. Do you have any real estate binds you’ve been in lately? Drop Zuess a line at