Old Scripts/New Scripts

I love ‘scripts.’  I hate ‘scripts‘.  It’s a love/hate relationship.  Scripts are so phoney.  Yet, scripts can be the key that unlocks a great real estate career.  I know:  they unlocked mine.

Way back when dinosaurs roamed the earth (oh no, here he goes again), I was failing as a new real estate salesperson.  I was 25 and most of my buyers and sellers were 40 or better, so let’s just say I had a lot to overcome.  Completely frustrated after six months, I went to my local Board of REALTORS and checked out a set of Tom Hopkins’ cassette tapes.  Do we still listed to Tom Hopkins?  I don’t know. . . Anyway, Tom was very big on LEARNING THE SCRIPT WORD FOR WORD AND NEVER DEVIATING FROM THE SCRIPT!  As if the words had some magical power to make people say, ‘Yes!’

I’d drive around in my car, previewing property, listening to Tom Hopkins, saying to myself, ‘There’s no way I’m ever going to say any of this stuff, it’s not me,’ or ‘it sounds so fake.’  Still, I kept listening; and then the damndest thing happened.  I called on a FSBO (I had such a great attitude walking up to that door:  I knew I wasn’t going to get anywhere with this person because I’d never gotten anywhere with a FSBO before!).  She opened the door and stood there, arms folded across her chest and . . . suddenly Tom Hopkins’ words started coming out of my mouth.  I got the appointment and I got the listing.  Then I sold the listing in a couple of weeks sold the seller a house and listed two family members’ property.  It was the beginning of my success.

I became a devotee of scripts, a script junky.  I studied them all and I started to notice something:  while the early scripts were pretty much sales technique and tricks of tongue to get the other person to do what you wanted (‘I could stop by at 5, or would 7 be better?’ there is no bad answer to that question), the more sophisticated ones were just simple truths. I started noticing that when I learned a new script I was actually clarifying some basic piece of knowledge I already had and learning how to package it powerfully.  Let me give you an example:  my favorite script from 1987:

‘You know, Mr. FSBO, there really are only four kinds of buyers out there.’  (Intrigued, the FSBO raises an eyebrow or otherwise indicates he wants to know more).

‘There’s the first time buyer.  I love  them;  they are so rewarding to work with.  But you know what?  They’re usually scared to death.  I often have to sell them three or four times on completing the purchase they’ve already made.  Plus, they rarely buy directly from an owner.  They need help and they know it.  It’s probably not a buyer you’re going to find as a FSBO.’  (Is that true?  Yes!)

‘Then there’s the move-up buyer.  This is the local person who’s wanting to go to a newer, better, or bigger house.  They’re great buyers too and you know what?  You CAN find them.  They do shop FSBOs because the number one thing on their list of wants is:  it has to be a bargain and they think that’s what FSBO means.  Plus, when they decide they want to buy your house, you know what they have to do before they close?  Right:  sell their house.  Hardly your best buyer.’  (True?  Pretty much).

Third is the Investor or Speculator.  It’s really two buyers but I lump them together.  The Investor wants to steal the property so he can have a positive cash flow when he rents it.  The Speculator wants to steal the property so he can do some cosmetics and then flip it for a profit.  The operative phrase, of course, is ‘Steal the property.’  You can find them all day long, but you probably don’t want to deal with them.’  (True?  I think so — all that ‘steal the property‘ stuff is just packaging the truth that they’re going to want a good deal.)

‘Finally there’s the quality buyer from out-of-town, the transferee.  Now, think about it.  Suppose you were moving to, say, St. Louis, and you’d never been there in your life and really didn’t know anyone there.  Your company is giving you a long weekend to come into town and find a place to live.  Are you going to trust yourself to find the right house at the right price in the right neighborhood?  I sure wouldn’t.  And transferees rarely do. They seek the professional help of a REALTOR who can keep them from making a big mistake.  The transferee is a buyer who rarely looks at FSBOs because they don’t have time and they don’t know enough on their own.  It’s a buyer that’s largely unavailable to you.  And it’s the buyer I can bring.’  (True?  Mostly.)

All of that was stuff I already knew back in 1987 on some level.  The ‘script’ was just a way of clarifying it and packaging it.

Today I think scripting is mostly about first knowing your business, then about finding ways to present what you know powerfully.  I think it’s fine to learn a Mike Ferry or Brian Buffini or David Knox script, but while you learn it, tie it to your base of knowledge.  Make it your own.

Today’s scripts are different.  In the old world it was all about ‘how can I get this person to buy or sell.’  Today it’s all about solving problems.  Seems everybody’s got some kind of real estate problem and our scripting needs to be focused on this.  For example, I got a glimpse of one that went something like, ‘You’re like so many other homeowners today who find themselves upside down and possibly  unable to keep up mortgage payments.   What you need to know is that you have options.  In fact, I have nine strategies that can help.  When can we get together to review them?’  I don’t know what the nine strategies are but I’ll bet one of you does.  How about sharing it here in a comment (or via email to me if you’re worried about your competitors stealing your silver bullets).  What are your favorite scripts today?  What seems to carry the most weight when you speak to a buyer or seller?  I’d really like to know.