Negotiating and Sales Skills Are Critical

By: Tim Randle

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When I first started getting active in creative real estate,
my skill set at negotiating was very weak. I had done the
telemarketing thing for American Express as a financial
planner and had studied and learned a few techniques.

On the surface one might think that would be a perfect
tie-in to talking to sellers about their properties and their
financial situation. I can promise you it wasn't.


Yes, I did pick up asking general sales techniques like never
asking close-ended ("yes" or "no" answers) questions. Also,
it still works to ask multiple choice assumptive questions
like "Would Tuesday at 6 p.m. or Thursday at 3 p.m. work
better for you?". The basics were not enough.


When I first began asking sellers what their loan balance was,
I may have actually received a number for an answer 50% of
the time. I had two major obstacles facing me.


First, my belief system was cock-eyed in that having come
from a financial/accountant type background, I knew without a
shadow of a doubt that no one would ever just give me their
house and that only a complete fool would tell me the balance
remaining on their loan.


Second, I didn't have a clue as to the right way to ask and I can
tell you from experience that it matters greatly.


The first obstacle, belief system, was easily overcome after I
met my first truly motivated seller. Okay, beliefs systems are
trashed and I must be the complete fool because that was
way too easy.


The second obstacle, phraseology/negotiating, is no longer
an obstacle, per se, but it is still a skill that I continually try to
improve upon. The two key components, assuming you have
already properly established good rapport, are timing and the
phrases you use.


Here are some quick examples of how NOT to ask a seller what
the loan balance is:


·        What do you owe?


·        Are you willing to sell it for what you owe?


·        How much equity would you say you have?


·        etc., etc.



Now, don't get me wrong. If you use these phrases and similar
ones enough times and with enough confidence, you will be
able to get a numerical answer on occasion (as opposed to
some of the not so friendly responses I received early on).


Contrast the above phrases to these:


·        How much is left on the loan?


·        So, the property's not owned free and clear?


·        etc., etc.



The first set of questions personalizes the issue and attaches
the debt, and thus the problem, with the seller. The second
set of questions creates detachment and since it's no longer
"their debt" or "their problem" or "what they owe", it's just simply
a number and not a problem to share.


Since I first picked up on this one little tactic, I would estimate
I get all the information I want on 99 out of 100 calls with almost
no real effort. Granted, it does take time and practice to develop
decent phone skills. The ability to naturally create rapport and
flow with the call, yet still get the information you want will come
with time. My point is that it's important to begin testing and
tracking different approaches. If you do this, you will notice some
very interesting results.


Here's another example when asking about whether or not the
seller would consider a carryback (financing it for you). I'd
suggest actually trying this one out just to verify the reality. If I
ask a seller something like:


·        Would you consider owner finance?


·        Would you do a carryback?


·        Would you carry paper on this?


·        etc., etc.



What do you think my responses will be? Yes, I know that we
like to use our fancy terminology once we've mastered it. I'm
probably as guilty as anyone in that regard. However, what
the above questions accomplish is forcing the seller into a
corner. Either they have to admit they don't understand, and
thus appear foolish, or simply say "no". Which do you think
happens most often?


Compare the above questions with something like:


·        Are you in a position where you could take payments?


·        Would it be possible for me to make payments for a while
and pay off your loan later?



These questions almost always lead to a "yes" or a "tell me
more" type response. You'll be amazed at the difference.


These are just two quick examples of how the phrases you
choose can affect your results. Take a minute to consider
how many questions you ask and how much information you
attempt to extract from a seller in a single call. Knowing what
to say and when to say it will improve your performance more
than you can imagine.



I highly recommend picking up some books and/or taking
some courses on sales and negotiating. Roger Dawson has
great materials available on this web site...
and you can visit his site at


I'd also recommend reviewing our recommended book list for
materials on sales and negotiating which can be found here...



Grab some books by Tom Hopkins, Zig Ziglar, and other top
sales and negotiators and begin the quest. I firmly believe no
other action will make you as much money as fast as developing
these skills and practicing them.


Regardless of your specific approach to your business, these
skills will absolutely be used in every aspect of your life.



Tim Randle



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