It was an unexpected leap of intuition that led us to equate signing a tenant with one of the strangest (and to us, most personally repulsive) kinds of “sales”: the “player.”
If you’re not familiar with “players,” they’re men who believe that they have some sort of scientific method established for how to seduce women. They are, in our humble opinion, utterly wrong, but it was happening across an article on sales that referenced what they call “the game” — the art of scientifically breaking down the process of meeting a girl, convincing her you are a valuable potential mate, and then moving directly to the mating — that got us intrigued. It turns out “the game” really is a pretty good set of generic strategies for selling pretty much anything to pretty much anyone — gender, in the end, being completely irrelevant.
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The Player’s Insight
“The game” breaks down the art of picking up girls into a few basic steps:
- Appear Non-Threatening: Nothing raises a woman’s hackles like someone obviously coming on to her, especially when she’s not looking for the attention.
- Ask Something Intriguing: There’s no point in getting a woman’s attention if you don’t have something to say that will make her think. By asking a question that will make her think, you’ve also forced her to respond to you, creating a relationship. (Open-ended questions only, obviously.)
- Show Interest: Whatever the response, be interested. Enjoy the fact that she’s talking to you without requiring anything other than a response from her.
- Show Engagement: Ask her a relevant, intriguing question based on her opinion to show her that you’re not just interested, but engaged in this conversation. Continue to show sincere interest as she continues to converse.
- Set a Standard: Once you’ve conversed for a while, if she shows any degree of interest beyond the specific topic at hand, find a reason you shouldn’t talk to her anymore. Cut off the communication while there is still clearly value left in conversation (from her perspective), and make her establish that she is valuable enough to continue receiving your attention.
- Be Ready to Be Rejected: No matter how skilled the “player,” everyone gets rejected — the key is to not care, because there’s another girl right over there who has no idea that you just got canned, and she’s waiting for someone to ask her something intriguing.
Now, this process goes on through a few more complicated phases and gets increasingly more miserable and vile from a strictly human perspective, but let’s set all of that aside and look at the insight that this short process has on the idea of selling someone on an idea — like, say, becoming the tenant in your vacant rental property.
One of the easiest ways in the world to fail at sales is to be obvious about your agenda. This is a difficult topic, because well, you are a “salesman,” and the people you’re talking to know that — and yet, we’re all fully capable of “stepping out” of those shoes and putting on a different hat. Yeah, a horrible mixed metaphor. But the point is accurate: You know that you can, in the middle of a business transaction, have a moment of empathy for the customer, understand what they’re feeling, and suddenly be “on their side.”
All we’re saying here is that when you’re showing a property to a tenant (and you have a good reason to believe that they’ll be the kind of tenant you want to have in that property), start the showing “on their side,” even if it’s just in your mind. By taking the attitude of someone who wants the best result for them, you eliminate the “salesman effect” entirely, and they’ll be a lot more receptive to your comments.
This translates a little differently for a landlord looking to sign a tenant because obviously you’re not out to create a relationship between you and the prospect — but what you DO want to do is create a relationship between the property and the prospect. So rather than asking an intriguing question and then engaging as they respond, the landlord’s version of the process is to inspire the prospect to imagine themselves in the home. Ask them how they would arrange the living room. Tell them the story about how the last tenant used the bungalow’s bedroom as a storage area and then slept in the basement. Get them intrigued by and engaged with the property.
Set a Standard
Fortunately, this step is super-easy for a landlord because all you have to do is whip out the lease agreement and then not let them sign it — because after all, you have to do your due diligence and perform the mandated tenant screening process. The chance at losing the “relationship” you’ve just created between them and the house (when they’ve only just begun to see the depths of the value it has to offer) will get them ready for your screening and excited to hear back.
Still, there will be tenants that you felt were good matches that don’t pass the screening process, and there will be tenants that passed the screening process but chose another property before you could sign them. In this case, the step to take is exactly the same: Move on to the next prospect and start the process all over again — get on their side the moment they pull up to see the property, and maybe they’ll be the ones to sign the paper.
In the end, the proponents of “the game” say that it’s not a bad thing to do because part of the process is getting buy-in from the target. We’re dubious on it primarily because it completely fails to address what happens the next morning — when you’re using the same strategy to sign a tenant, the opposite is true. You know full well going into it that what you’re signing up for is a 12-month commitment to collecting rent, dealing with maintenance and other issues, and otherwise having an ongoing relationship with your “target.” That single fact really does make all of the ethical difference in the world, and it makes “the game” a worthwhile subject for any sales person to study.
How do you incorporate sales tactics into your real estate deals?
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