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5 Questions to Ask Every Prospect

June 3rd, 2012

There is a powerful axiom in the sales world that goes something like this: “If you are telling, you are not selling”. Sure you want to unleash your value proposition on the prospect and dazzle him with your capabilities, track record and all the reasons he would be a fool not to list with you. But what the client really wants to hear is how you are going to SOLVE HIS PROBLEM! That’s what we do…..we solve problems for our clients. So in order to present a solution to the prospects’ problem, we first need to be sure we understand very clearly what that problem is what the prospects’ expectations are of us.
The process leading up to earning a new assignment has many facets, but effectively questioning the prospect about their current situation, problems or needs and expected outcomes is a major key to winning the business. Commercial real estate agents and brokers can dramatically increase their success ratio through some basic training on how to ask strategic questions that will draw out the prospects’ motivations, problems and needs. You can word them in such a way as to make them feel natural to you, but here are 5 important questions every commercial real estate agent should be asking the prospect when working on a potential new assignment:

1. What was your original investment strategy when you acquired this asset? Asking this question forces the prospect to review why they purchased the asset and what their vision was for the future benefits they would derive from owning it. This will allow you to potentially contrast that vision with the prospect’s current situation. If the investment hasn’t performed up to their expectations or has deteriorated in some way, this question will help accentuate the prospects’ current motivations for disposing of the asset or his need to accelerate the leasing process.

2. If you could change anything at all about how this investment is performing or any other aspect of your current situation with this investment what would that be? In other words, tell me what’s wrong with this investment for you. This question will help the prospect clarify the shortcomings of the investment or his current situation. Perhaps the management of the property is weighing on the prospect and interfering with his personal life. He may tell you that if he could change anything he would have someone else manage the property so he could get back to working on his tennis game. This provides you with an understanding of what could motivate the prospect to sell and allow you to tailor your proposal as a solution to that problem.

3. What will be the consequences for you if you could not sell/lease this asset? In most cases a current problem or need that the prospect has will only get worse over time if not resolved. If vacancy is eating into his cash flow, this question requires the prospect to focus on that problem in terms of future implications if it is not solved. The impact of this question will serve to strengthen the importance of the solution you will propose for the prospect.

4. What would be the best possible outcome for you regarding this investment? Now that you’ve uncovered and clarified the prospects needs, it’s time to get him to describe how he wants the problem solved. In its simplest form this question gets the prospect to clearly describe exactly what he wants you to do for him.

5. If you are satisfied with my proposal and my capabilities is there any reason why you wouldn’t allow me to exclusively represent you? Questions 1 – 4 as well as all of the other questions you will ask the prospect should develop a clear picture for both you and the prospect of what the client needs and how you can provide it. Now it’s time to develop a commitment from the prospect that he will allow you to deliver a solution to him. This question is a classic trial close designed to draw out any potential objections from the prospect before you put a formal proposal together. If the prospect has concerns about your capabilities, your fee or is averse to signing exclusively, it is better to have that objection out in the open so that you can decide how to address it.

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