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There's big money in listening

By Geoff Baldwin
26 February 2014 | 1 minute read

I was recently approached by a salesperson who had been in real estate for about 12 months and was seeking some guidance to overcome her low appraisal-to-listing conversion rate.

We'll call her Susan so as not to incriminate her, although I'm sure we all know at least one person like her.

Naturally I was happy to help and asked about Susan's approach and what she was communicating to her prospective sellers. Suffice to say, for the next 20 or so minutes she didn't hold back. In fact, I had little choice but to give her "a good listening to" as she crammed in more words per minute than the firing rate of an M16 automatic.


After several vain attempts to slow her down I resorted to holding my hands in the air in a gesture of surrender, at which she stopped, took a long breath and then launched into another drawn-out explanation of how she had always talked too much since she was a small girl.

Eventually I convinced Susan to start drinking decaf coffee, stay right away from energy drinks and to practice long periods of silence, which at that stage for her amounted to around 60 seconds.

I'll keep working with Susan, but after a lifetime of thinking that talking is the answer to her success, she has some serious work ahead of her. However, when it come to salespeople, unfortunately she is far from the exception.

Although Susan is an extreme case, it is very rare these days to find salespeople who have mastered the art of questioning and who understand the amazing value of genuinely listening, rather than feeling the need to constantly tell.

Early in my career I was given two pieces of advice that have stuck with me over the years:

1. The more you say, the more chance you have of saying something dumb

2. You can't learn while you're telling

Many salespeople feel that they need to impress people and that the only way they can do that is to talk about themselves and how much they know, what they do and what they've done. The cruel fact though is nothing could be further from the truth. These days, if you want one simple but significant point of difference, it's the ability to keep quiet and only ever speak enough to encourage your clients to keep talking.

Learn the old fashioned art of asking "open" questions and how to respectfully "prompt" prospects to tell you more about them and what they are trying to achieve.

A simple Google of "questioning techniques" will provide a plethora of expert guidance.

If you have any doubt about the human response to talkativeness, just think about how much you enjoy being with people who continually talk and who never take time to ask about you, your opinion or what you think.

As I advised Susan, the value of asking simple, open-ended questions and then listening intently to the answers is huge and it can increase your conversation ratios enormously.

There's big money in listening
Geoff Baldwin
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Since kicking off his real estate career in 1987, Geoff Baldwin has achieved success at the highest level in sales, management, multi-office ownership and as a group CEO. He is a licensed agent, auctioneer, respected trainer and a widely published and quoted industry spokesperson. Geoff is the regional owner and managing director of RE/MAX in Western Australia, which he purchased in 2009 and currently ranks as WA’s fastest growing group. 

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