Study for Understanding

I pulled the manual apart
I recently interviewed Sandy Rogers, salesperson at Marsellos Pike Real Estate in Morayfield, QLD. I first interviewed her ten years ago and since that time she’s been a high income producer for her office.

During the interview I wanted to find out how Sandy achieved longevity in her career. After more than fifteen years in Sales, you’d have to agree that Sandy is a stayer.

A single mum with a four-year-old child (at the time), Sandy had no support network; if her son was not with her, he was in day care. And so Sandy needed to learn how to get results and get home to look after her son.

How she did it was, I think, telling.

Sandy happily admits that she made a lot of mistakes in her early years. But one mistake she did not make was to shun training. In Sandy’s words, “I pulled the manual apart“.

Before reaching this epiphany, however, Sandy merely read her manual. She could parrot her sales scripts word for word, but she didn’t understand them. Sandy read her manual; she didn’t study, that is, study for understanding.

Every time clients ask a question such as, “Why should I list with you?” they are giving you a test, one that you had better pass or lose the business. If you want the right words to come out of your mouth at the right time, you must put them into your head in the first place. You do this through study.

Yet while studying will give you the right words to say, it’s understanding that guides you when to use them.

Even a change of tone can change the meaning of what you say. Understanding guides you on what tone to use, what body language to exhibit. Understanding completes the right words with the right timing, the right tone – the right DELIVERY.

Many people stay at the level where they can parrot the right words. Few study their craft to the level of understanding. These people are the winners.

There are so many subtle nuances in Sales. Sandy said that in her early days she wasn’t connecting with people, getting to understand them. As a consequence, she launched into her presentation too soon, presenting before she fully understood what was important to her clients.

This turns a presentation into the child’s game of “Pin the tail on the donkey“. If you don’t know what is important to your clients, you are forced to cover everything in your presentation, making it too long, for the greater part irrelevant to your clients. You lose them when you do this.

By studying for understanding, Sandy learnt to not rush into her presentations. First find out what is important to them and then target the presentation toward showing clients how, by listing with her, they would get what was important to them. This was the turning point in Sandy’s career.

American sales trainer, Tom Hopkins, pressed this point often:

Practise, Drill and Rehearse.

This implies far more than just reading our manuals. It is the essence of studying for understanding.

It means get the words into your head, practise the delivery of those words in regular role plays – this is the ‘drill’ part – and rehearse constantly, go over your presentation in your head.

A large part of live client presentations requires you to think on your feet. Sometimes you have to take your presentation in a different direction based on what your client has just said.

People new to real estate don’t think on their feet. Why? Because they are new. They know the words, but lack the finesse that comes with understanding.

There is a clue here. Prepared people think on their feet. Unprepared people don’t. They can’t.

Handle Every Objection

Study for understanding and you will learn to think on your feet. You will be able to handle every objection that comes at you. You will say the right things at the right time, pause at the right time, close at the right time, and ask the right questions. You will do this unconsciously.

Sales is a wonderful profession, deserving far more care and attention than most salespeople give it. How do I know this? Eighty percent of sales are made by twenty percent of the salespeople. Statistics show that eighty percent of people employed in sales roles should not be in those roles. How many of these study their manuals for understanding? Absolutely none would be close to the truth.

You’ve got to be good to survive in Sales for the long term. You’ve got to study for understanding.

I’ll leave the last words to Sandy Rogers: “I pulled the manual apart“.

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