“This has been happening for about the last six to eight months. Around the beginning of 2012, investors started to sense that we’d hit the bottom, and the market started to turn around. There’s been a frenzied rush to get in. Inventory has been tight for the last year and a half. Largely, that’s a result of banks delaying foreclosures. They aren’t foreclosing on properties, either, not as frequently as they could. There are fewer that are falling into default. A lot of the loans that were made in the mid-2000s have already gone bad.
“The greatest agents aren’t necessarily the ones who are good at what they do; they’re the ones good at selling the idea that they’re good at what they do. I’m a shy, quiet person. I’m not much of a salesman, in the pushy Buy this now! sense. I’ve gone to real-estate training seminars. They give you scripts that teach you how to turn casual conversations into sales pitches. I’ll sometimes sarcastically say to people I know, ‘And, by the way, who do you know that would like to buy or sell a house in the next 30 days?’ Because that’s the most asinine question on any of those scripts. They want you to then say, ‘May I have [your] phone number? May I tell them that you referred me?’ In good conscience, that’s just not who I am. I see it as being like the guy trawling the bar who will use a pick-up line on anyone. I don’t get a lot of listings, because I don’t do that.”
You gain control when you ask questions
When I pull into the parking lot of Jason Stewart’s Chula Vista real-estate office, the lot is dotted with luxury cars. There is a slick Mercedes E500, a BMV SUV, a Range Rover, and two Lincoln Navigators. I follow a woman in an animal-print skirt across the lot and up a flight of stairs. When I open the double doors, I’m immediately greeted by a secretary.
She says in a sunny voice, “You must be here for the script class.”
I follow her into an airy room. The walls are painted stop-sign red. The paneled ceiling features cut-outs that resemble marshmallow clouds. Two men and three women take up 5 of 42 folding chairs arranged in front of instructor Jason Stewart. Stewart wears a well-fitted pin-striped suit, a blue shirt, and a red tie. His hair is stiff with product. He looks like a politician.
Jason hands out a four-page script titled “Success with Ad and Call Signs.” There are four bulleted points: master the first five minutes of a call; use transitions; gain control; qualify.
“I want everyone to partner up,” he tells the gathered realtors. “Read off the script. I want one of you to be the buyer, the other to be the seller.”
A woman in a fuchsia blouse meticulously matched to her high heels partners up with an overly accessorized 40-something woman in a skirt suit. One pretends to be a rude buyer, while the other is an assertive seller. After five minutes, Stewart addresses the agents.
“Remember to ask questions. You gain control when you ask questions. You’ve got to be on your toes. The buyers in today’s market are more educated than the ones of ten years ago. Make sure to ask prequalifying questions!”
Anna Campos, a buyer’s agent in the front row, pipes in: “If they aren’t ready to give me their pre-approval, I’m not going to work with them.”
Darin Triolo adds, “I like to poke holes in other relationships. I’ll say things like, ‘Wow, your agent didn’t tell you that?’” He smirks. “That’ll get them in the office.”
Stewart wraps up the script class by saying, “People who practice scripts on a regular basis do better. People who call you are a great lead. Abraham Lincoln said it best: ‘If I had six hours to cut down a tree, I would spend five hours sharpening my axe.’”
After the class, Stewart tells me he has eight different scripts memorized when dealing with potential clients.
“I want to be the Coca-Cola of real estate, or, worst-case scenario, the Pepsi.” Stewart leans forward and shoots me a dimpled smile. “They say that someone needs to see a logo or hear a slogan about a company at least eight times before it registers in their brain. Anyone I’ve had a good conversation with, I try to eventually get that person’s phone number, address, and email. Then they’re going to get my emails on a regular basis. I call them every now and then and ask for referrals. Throughout the year, they are going to get nine to twelve pieces of mail from me. I have over a thousand people in my database. I dedicate two hours a day to nurturing that database. I keep my face in front of them. I call them. I request them on Facebook. I send them personal notes. They might not ever read it, but they’ll know that Jason Stewart is still doing real estate.”
Stewart sees scripts as hugely beneficial to his success.
“Learning the scripts helps me ask for referrals in all different types of conversation. One conversation I like to have with people is called FORD — family, occupation, recreation, and dreams. I call up and ask about their family. Then I’ll say, ‘How is your work?’ And then I’ll ask a recreation question. This causes them to engage in the conversation. I know most people’s FOR. The goal is to learn their D. The people whose D you know will send you the most business. Those are the people that know you, love you, and trust you. The biggest mistake in any real-estate business is not dedicating at least an hour a day to prospecting for business.” ■