Handling a Future Resident Inquiry Part Four
By Tami Siewruk
Recording the Telephone Conversation
Write down every detail that the future resident gives you throughout your conversation and use it. Your goal is to set up an appointment and to get the contact information you’ll need in order to follow up if necessary. If you listen carefully, you’ll also learn plenty about the future resident that will help you to begin to personalize your presentation and/or follow-up approach. Remember that you will need to start writing the minute you answer the telephone in order to avoid asking for the same information that the caller has already given you. I can’t begin to tell you how many times I hear leasing professionals ask the question “ What size apartment home are you looking for” when I know that this information was given by the caller the minute the phone was answered. In fact I have heard the same question asked several times to the same caller when the leasing professional forgot to “say goodbye before saying hello”.
When you begin to answer a future resident inquiry, the first four sentences you speak will determine whether your future resident will want to listen to your presentation. Select those sentences carefully. I dislike scripts, but… the first four sentences should be well thought out and rehearsed to the point that they sound quite natural when spoken aloud. There is plenty of affordable technology available today to allow us to record our own telephone conversations (a $20 trip to Radio Shack will do the trick) and play them back or even practice with a friend who can offer an objective opinion. If your community is fortunate enough to be using the services provided by LeaseHawk, all of your telephone conversations are already conveniently recorded, providing you with a fabulous tool.
Three Types of Telephone Questions
The person asking the questions is in control of the conversation, and you have to be in control before you can effectively set an appointment and obtain the future resident’s contact information for follow-up. Much of your success will rely on effectively using three types of questions: open, closed, and assumptive.
1. Open-ended questions on Urban Design and Planning Firm are designed to elicit more than a “yes” or “no” answer, in much in the same way a doctor does when he is trying to find out why you are sick. The goal of an open-ended question is to get the person talking so that you can obtain general information. Common lead-ins include the words what, how, and why. You can only lease with sincerity and conviction when you have a complete understanding of the future resident’s wants and needs; and you’ll only come to that understanding by encouraging and allowing them to talk to you. This technique also helps tremendously in developing that very important rapport. To practice asking open-ended questions, invite an associate to play the role of a future resident and advise them to answer as many of your questions as they can with a yes or no answer. Your goal is to then ask as many questions as you can to force your associate to answer your questions with a more detailed response.
2. Closed questions are designed to solicit a simple “yes” or “no” answer, or very brief response. The goal of a closed question is to control the direction of the conversation or to limit talking. Common lead in words are who, when, did, which, would, are, can, have, do, is, will, and may. To practice asking closed questions, invite an associate to play the role of a future resident and advise them to answer as many of your questions as they can with a long response. Your goal is to then ask as many questions as you can to force your associate to answer your questions with a simple “yes” or “no”.
3. Assumptive questions are asked in a way that assumes the person will become a resident of your community. As you’ve undoubtedly noticed, I prefer the words future resident to prospect or perspective resident. This implies that your relationship building efforts will result in this person becoming a resident of your community. “May I please ask how soon will you be moving in to our community?” is another example of how you might use assumptive questioning in lieu of the usual “How soon do you plan to move?” or “When do you need to occupy the apartment?” These are basically the same questions, but one assumes that the person will choose your community. Assumptive questioning plants a seed in the future resident’s mind, and sends a subtle message that starts the decision-making process moving in your favor.
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