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Why you should ALWAYS ask Sellers questions you already know the answer to

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When you’re talking to a new Seller lead, there’s something you should ALWAYS do, that most investors don’t do:

Ask the Seller questions you already know the answer to!“Why?” you ask?  

Thanks for asking–allow me to explain.  🙂 

When you’re talking to a new Seller lead, your goal isn’t really to collect information….your goal is to gather INSIGHTS.

You see, most investors would think their goal is to get as much DATA about the property and the situation as possible:  what’s the condition of the property, how much are the rents, when was the roof last replaced, when do they want to close, etc.  They’re looking for stats to plug into a formula that allows them to spit out an offer.    

But as TREEs, our goal is different–our goal is to understand who we’re dealing with.  Our objective is to learn about the attitudes of our Seller; to determine their opinion on various topics, and to find out how open and transparent they are. Those are critical INSIGHTS about our audience that will help us negotiate with them. Because ultimately, we’re not looking to make an “offer,” we’re looking to make a proposal that will resonate with the Seller and get us what we want.  

So when we ask questions we already know the answers to, we are doing so because we simply want to see how they respond…because that tells us SO MUCH about who we are dealing with and what will ultimately work in a negotiation with them.  

Let me give you an example from my own business. Earlier this week, I got a call back from an older woman on one of my letters. I noted that she sounded a little cold and businesslike in her voicemail, so I sensed she would have her guard up in our phone call.

In her voicemail, she referenced the property I had mailed her about, but also mentioned another property she’d be interested in selling–she named the street it was on, but not the street number. Then she casually mentioned “we have four rental properties” but didn’t get specific about the other two unnamed properties.  

So I–of course–did my research using the County public information records website before I called her back, and had identified and looked up each of her four properties. 

I knew all the basics on each property:  their addresses, sizes, how long she’d owned them, what she paid for each, etc.

When I called her back, after a few minutes of chatting about the property I originally contacted her about,

I said: “In your voicemail, you mentioned you and Ed have four total rentals.  Where are the other three located?”

Now…did I ask this question because I needed the answer?  NO.  I already knew not only the locations, but lots more about them.

I asked this question so that I could simply see how she’d respond.  She could have responded in one of several different ways, each of which would have told me something very different about her.  

For instance, she could have answered with: “Oh yes, the addresses are ______, ________ and _________(This gives me an insight that she’s transparent, open and NOT having her guard up; she’s feeling comfortable with me. This tells me I can likely ask her other questions about her overall objectives, existing debt, openness to seller financing, her desired price and terms, etc.)

–OR–

“Let’s just focus on discussing the one you mailed me about.” (This gives me an insight that she’s a little guarded.  It tells me that I can’t yet ask my deeper questions…and may never be able to.)

–OR–

“That’s really none of your business.”(This insight is VERY telling, and gives me a big clue that my relational way of negotiating may not work with her.)

Additionally (or alternatively), I could ask (and did ask) her many other similar questions I already knew the answer to:

–“How long have you owned that house?”

–“How much did you pay for that house?”

–“Do you manage it yourself?” (I had already seen a property manager’s ads for the house, so I knew they outsourced management)

In summary, while most investors think their job is to SURVEY the seller so that they can get all the DATA they need to quickly spit out an offer like some sort of investment computer, we TREEs know that our job is to learn WHO OUR AUDIENCE IS.  

Because know our audience is the #1 key to getting our proposals accepted.  

And asking questions you already know the answers to is an incredibly powerful way to learn just who they are. 

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