Larry Kendall and “Ninja Selling”
When Larry Kendall believed that anyone can find a job in commission sales. Having decided to sell real estate, he attended a huge sales rally in Denver where so-called sales experts extolled what he now calls Depression Era selling techniques that manipulate, coerce, con and intimidate buyers.
“Customers want to work with somebody who has both deep smarts and street smarts, who really knows the market and where it is headed, knows how to negotiate, and knows how to manage a transaction.”
Instead of following that, he chose looked for people whose expertise aligned with his character and personal ethics. He found teachers and mentors who helped him become the kind of sales professional he wanted to be. And here are notes on what he’d learnt.
The Ninja Selling System
Ninja vs. Samurai
In ancient Japan, samurai swordsmen guarded the emperor and they were given the best clothes, food, accommodations and weapons. Eventually, their lavish perks made the samurai lazy. Worried about his personal safety, the emperor arranged for his gardeners to be trained in the martial arts. Later known as “ninjas,” they participated in dangerous missions at night and returned to gardening by day.
That’s how they became the ultimate stealth fighters – humble, yet lethally efficient and not egotistical like the samurai.
Sell without selling?
Many salespeople act like the samurai who’s driven by ego and the desire to become rich. Meanwhile, ninja salespeople are neither pushy nor aggressive. They sell without selling by focusing on their buyers and working to deliver maximum value.
Several specific traits which characterize the Ninja Selling System are:
- It is a documented, by-the-numbers approach everyone can understand and implement.
- It provides predictable results.
- Regardless of personality type, gender or other factors, anyone can use it to achieve maximum sales and financial success.
- Salespeople in all fields can use it.
Green Light Selling
Ninja Selling incorporates psychologist Don Aspromonte’s concept of green light selling. Ninja real estate salespeople address four primary fears buyers must address before they’ll give you the green light to buy a home.
“Selling, at its best, is serving, and solving – often solving a need or want a customer didn’t even know they had. The customer comes first.”
Customer (almost) always comes first. So, try to solve their primary fears or to help your clients move right through them:
- “Losing the home”
Buyers who like a prospective property think, “I had better buy this house before someone else gets it.”
- “Missing something”
Buyers think, “Wait a minute. Not so fast. This is only the second house we’ve looked at. We may be missing something.”
- “Paying too much”
Buyers think, “This house is still available…because it is probably overpriced. Be careful.”
- “Something wrong with it”
Buyers think, “There is probably something wrong with this house. That’s why it is still available.”
Address their concern and by doing so, you’ll win their hearts and their business.
The 10-Step Buyer Process
Ninja salespeople employ a specific protocol in order to get rid of all those fears and earn a green light:
Treat buyers as if they are special, everyone wants to feel special. Show that you’re glad to help them find their dream home.
Don’t meet with buyers in the same place where you first greet them. They might be be nervous when you first meet and they’ll bring that negative energy with them. Hence, hold your actual meeting somewhere else much more comfortable for them, like in your office or coffee shop.
- Buyer interview
Begin the conversation by saying,
“I would like to ask you a few questions that will help me help you find the right home. Is that OK with you? Is it OK if I take some notes?”
Ask informative questions, such as, “Where are you living now?”
Get to know them on a personal level.
- Buyer packet
Prepare for them a packet of print materials signals your professionalism.
- You should include, for example, a map of the area, a mortgage application, a closing costs brochure, contracts and addenda, an agency disclosure as well as the brochure of your company.
- Funnel process
Buyers fear that selecting a property means they might miss out on a better one. Use the funnel process to eliminate this fear. Tell buyers, “the basic idea of the funnel is for us to put everything in the funnel that might work for you. This way, you don’t miss anything. Then we’ll filter out all the properties that don’t fit your criteria.”
- Scale of 1 to 10
Know exactly which stage the buyer is in on his or her home buying journey. Ask clients to rate their progress on a 1-to-10 basis, with one indicating that they’re just starting to look and 10 indicating that they want to buy a new home today. By doing so, you can plan the conversation with their urgency in mind.
- Dream home exercise
Ask buyers to write down the attributes of their dream house. If you are selling to a married couple, give each person a separate piece of paper.
- Whats and whys
Once you’ve secured the buyer’s dream home criteria, draw a line down the middle of a second sheet of paper. On the left, list the most important dream home attributes. These are the whats. In the right-hand column, ask the buyers what benefits they see in those traits – the whys.
- Cash or loan
Home financing is complex, but don’t get hung up on details early in the process. Save that discussion for after you’ve secured the information you need about why buyers want a new home and what that home should offer.
- What happens next
Now that you understand your buyers and what they want, ask, “Is there anything we’ve missed?”
Help clients fully “review the market.” Discuss local conditions. Make sure they’re prepared for negotiations and what that entails.
Now that you’ve learn in depth about your prospective customer expectations, you can serve them better. The key word here, is serve. Make it apparent that you care, not just about closing the deal with them, but also make an effort to make sure that they’ll get the best possible deal around. Not only this will facilitate the process, it’ll also get the word of mouth going, a free yet the best marketing available.
The Four Principles
Ninja Selling stands on four principles:
1. Personal Mastery
Self-mastery. Self-awareness. Self-discipline.
You can’t control your life and achieve your goals or your sales quota if you can’t control your thinking, the way you feel and your personal sense of energy. The Ninja Selling approach teaches you how to master your thoughts, your feelings and yourself.
It calls for focusing your energy in a positive way and programming yourself to do well. To achieve your goals, you must master yourself.
Strive to achieve excellence.
“Your database is the central nervous system of your business. It represents your relationships and is your most important business asset.”
Use positive daily affirmations to build up a positive mental state. These affirmations are like mental push-ups. State your daily affirmations in the first person and the present tense. Make them as specific as possible.
For example, “I enjoy weighing 175 pounds” – even though you currently weigh 205 pounds.
This is aspirational; it expresses where you hope to be one day. Write your daily affirmation 25 times every day for a period of 30 days. These repeated affirmations will positively re-program your unconscious mind and open it up to new possibilities.
“Ninja Selling is about asking the right questions to determine the customer’s pain and pleasure and then offering a solution.”
In addition to your daily affirmations, be positive in your thinking and daily actions. Be a beacon of positivity for everyone to see and experience. Your positive vibes will increase your buyers’ enthusiasm.
Note: To maintain a positive emotional state, turn to music, walks in nature, exercise, supportive reading material and the companionship of upbeat people. Always be grateful for everything you have.
2. Stop Selling, Start Solving”
Everyone loves to buy, but no one likes to be sold to or targeted by a hard sell approach.
The Ninja Selling System focuses on delivering value, not on selling real estate. The word “sell” derives from “sellan,” an Old English word that means “to give,” as in providing value. Ninja Selling doesn’t include chasing buyers. It calls for attracting buyers by being likable, connecting in engaging ways, solving their problems and making them feel good.
“It’s remarkable how much mediocrity we live with, surrounding ourselves with daily reminders that the average is the acceptable. Our world suffers from terminal normality.” (Motivational speaker Stewart Emery)
Ninjas don’t make presentations; they consult with buyers to address their problems. This requires asking the right questions. Start with the “FORD” questions about “family, occupation, recreation and dreams.” When you question buyers about these four areas, you learn what matters most to them.
“You are either visible, or you are invisible. You decide. People need to see you to get to know you.”
Discover your perspective buyers’ pain and pleasure points. Help them shed the pain and feel good.
3. Ninja Business Strategy
Focus on your most likely buyers, people who “know you, like you and trust you.” Develop a constant stream of clients. Stick to the script and the “Ninja Nine”- five daily and four weekly habits.
First, follow these five daily habits:
- Start with daily gratitude
Develop a sense of appreciation. Every morning, give thanks for the good things in your life. Start your day being positive, upbeat and grateful.
- Stay on your agenda
Don’t let emails and other nonessential activities interfere with your daily plan. Perform all five daily habits before you get sidetracked.
- Write two personal notes
Prepare and mail at least two handwritten notes to past, present or future buyers. Use one of the “three magic phrases” to start your personal notes: “Thank you,” “Congratulations” and “I was just thinking of you and…”
- Focus on your hot list
Prioritize people “who want to buy or sell, know they want to buy or sell, want to buy or sell with you, and want to buy or sell soon (typically in the next 90 days).”
- Focus on your warm list
Identify the 20% of people in your database who “want to buy or sell, but may not know they want to buy or sell.” Add them to your warm list.
“Relationship selling is a 24/7 career. You cannot be a loudmouthed jerk on the sidelines at your son’s soccer game one day and Mr. Nicey Nice the next, when you are working in your sales career with one of the other soccer parents.”
Add these four weekly habits:
- Focus on your customer service calls
Call your “current customers, sellers, under-contract buyers, active buyers, recently closed customers, referral sources” as well as “past customers.”
- Schedule two live real estate reviews
Offer every customer an “annual sit-down” to assess their real estate holdings, “current market conditions” and “refinancing options.” Don’t attempt to sell them anything at this meeting.
- Schedule 50 live interviews
These conversations must be held “face-to-face or voice-to-voice.” Stay updated with your clients and prospects on a regular basis. Use the FORD questions.
- Update your database
Keep your records current. Add new contacts. Delete closed contacts. Back up your database.
4. Connect and Communicate
Use the four-step “Ninja Consultation” system:
Buyers want to do business with people they connect with, people they like and trust.
Never discuss home options with buyers before you know what they really want. Ask and listen with care.
Buyers will never accept solutions you propose unless you make everything crystal clear.
Propose only. Never push.