Many times when we’re speaking with a seller, we are so excited to tell them everything we can do for them that we forget to find out what they need. You end up wasting their time and your time, and 9 times out of 10, the conversation will end without getting a deal or the information needed to understand their motivational trigger. Once you learn their motivational trigger, you can relate your offers back and link your solution to their problem. This way they see your offer as a way to rid themselves of their problem, and that’s exactly what you want to do, isn’t it? What I’d like to talk about today is actually a technique used by marketing professionals when they perform market research for future products. The same principles can be used when you’re speaking with a seller. If you really think about it, you are fulfilling the role of a Market Researcher, Product Developer (Solutions Provider) and Salesperson, all during the first 5-10 minutes of speaking with a potential seller. Today I want to talk about the role of Market Researcher.

The 5 Why’s

In a presentation, I once heard: “The most potent ideas are those that appeal to people on a very deep level.” This is where the 5 why’s come in. When you first meet your seller, you probably know very little about them. You may THINK you know about them based upon the part of town they live in, or how they sound on the telephone, but do you REALLY know the seller’s motivation? You need to be ready to ask the question “why?” You should also be ready to ask it repeatedly. Here is an example:

Me: Hi, Seller, with the market in a slump and more houses for sale than ever before, why would you be trying to sell your house now?
Seller: I just think it’s time to move on.

Me: Yeah, I know what you’re talking about. Why do you feel you need to move on?
Seller: I’m just sick of paying for this house. You know?

Me: Yeah, I hear that from lots of sellers. For you, why are you sick of paying for the house?
Seller: It’s just too much headache. It’s a money-pit. It just seemed like less work when I was renting. I don’t like all of the upkeep.

Me: Why don’t you just hire a handyman and a landscaper?
Seller: I usually like to do my own work but don’t have the time.

Me: Headache, money pit, upkeep? It sounds like what you’re telling me is that the expenses of maintaining your home are becoming overwhelming.
Seller: It’s just too costly. I’m having trouble affording it.

Me: Why is that such a concern to you?
Seller: Because I value my credit.

So, in my example, I only needed 4 why’s to get pretty close to his motivational trigger but he has a financial problem and also wants to save his credit. It’s ok to throw in a couple of “non-why” questions in between, but you have to be prepared to ask the question “why” up to five times. If I would have just stopped at the first questions, I would have to appeal to a very broad desire to move: “It’s time to move on.” That could mean anything. Because I asked “why” five times, I now know that the seller doesn’t want the house because of cost, maintenance, and everything else related to owning a home. I also know the seller values their credit. I even know the seller would rather rent, so they have the potential to be one of my future tenants.

Remember to ask why. Depending on the situation, you may identify the root cause of the seller’s motivation in as little as three questions, but it could also take up to five. It all depends on how good your questions are, and how willing your seller is to open up to you and give information.

In my next post related to Success with Sellers, I will cover how the Real Estate Investor plays the role of Product Developer (Solutions Provider).

If you’re interested in reading more on the 5 Why’s, read these articles I found on the Internet:

The “Five Whys” of Branding
Ask Yourself Five Whys And It Will Solve All Your Problems