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Just Smile And Listen

Written by Jeffrey R. Armstrong – President/Owner of Armstrong Capital

Your favorite Master Note Buyer – Straightforward, Honest, Fair…

When I was a little boy, maybe ten or eleven years of age, I lived around the corner from another boy my age that had a speech impediment and stuttered when he talked. Some of the other kids in the neighborhood and at school made fun of him and called him names. One day my dad sat my brother and me down to give us some advice and guidance. In short, he proceeded to tell us that in life, whenever we come across people that are different than us, whether they talk different, act different or smell different, to just be patient and take the time to just listen to them. Since then, I have probably used that single piece of advice every day of my life. There are so many different people in this world that just want to be listened to and acknowledged. This piece of advice has served me well in life thus far as well as in my business.

I am writing this just after Cash Flow 2002 in Chicago and one question from brokers that seemed to keep popping up at the convention was how do I set myself apart from the competition. Well, using that one piece of advice my dad gave to me, one thing that I do is just simply to listen to the note holders. As a Master Broker and Visiting Instructor for the American Cash Flow Corporation I am always telling brokers to try and find out the sellers need or want before they give them a price or quote. If the note holder doesn’t have some need or want you are not going to be able to convince them to sell all or part of their note no matter what you tell them.

Many of you know that the main way I get my business is through direct mail. When a note holder responds to my direct mail and calls me for the first time I try to take the time to just listen to them. I have been known to talk to someone that calls me for the first time for up to twenty minutes before I even ask him or her anything about their note. On the first call my goal is to build a rapport with the note holder as quickly as possible. It starts even before I answer the phone. When the phone rings I look in the mirror next to my desk and smile. Try it yourself. Look in a mirror and say hello in your regular manner then smile and say hello again. When you are smiling the sound of your voice is often much more pleasant and friendly.

From that point in the phone call I try to ask open-ended questions that make the caller give me more than a simple yes, no or one-word answer. Questions like, Where are you from? How long have you lived there? Do you like it there? How did you end up there? What do you do for a living? That’s interesting, how did you get into that? How long have you been doing that? How’s the weather there? Questions like that that will help you to start to build a rapport with that person, you might even have something in common with that person and that will give you instant rapport. Then you can start getting into the note itself and compiling the information on your worksheet.

I have found that most people love to tell me about themselves. Often when I get them to start talking and opening up to me their need or want will be revealed to me without me ever having to ask them. If I still can’t determine their need or want after I have gather all of their information I will ask them one more question and I will say it like this, “Gee! That’s a great note! Why would you want to sell that?” (Even if it is not a great note.) Nine times out of ten, this question alone will help me determine whether or not the note holder has that need or want to sell. It will also help me determine whether they might sell all or part of their note at this time, if they are a note holder who might sell in the future or if they will never sell their note.

In addition to finding out the note holders need or want I am also able to get valuable information from them that will help me determine if it would be a viable transaction or if I shouldn’t waste my time with it. On your future calls with potential clients or note holders of any kind, try my smile and listen technique. It can’t hurt, and it may open doors for you that you would have otherwise never opened. Who knows, maybe you’ll make a new friend or two in the process, I know I have. Good luck!

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