2008年9月25日 星期四

Friendship before Business

Super Salesperson Joyce Chen
Friendship before बिज़नस http://english.cw.com.tw/article.do?action=show&id=10451&offset=1
By Judy HuFrom CommonWealth MagazinePublished:September 18, 2008 (No.405)
With her own strategy of individually tailored service, real estate agent Joyce Chen has posted the best sales record in the industry for nine consecutive years, and a sales rate of 100 percent.
Photos: Ming-tang Huang
Under favorable circumstances most people rapidly climb up the career ladder, but when the going gets tough, many fall off the top and find themselves at the bottom again. Some, however, manage to stay on the top amid boom and bust, because they keep conquering themselves. For the past nine years in a row, Joyce Chen has been a sales champion, even though the real estate market went through three bear and bull phases during the same period, which makes her story an extraordinary one.
From the very beginning Chen, now project manager at the Xinyi Branch of Taiwan's largest property agent Sinyi Real Estate Inc., had to fight harder than others to get a foothold in the industry.
As a graduate of the Department of English at National Chengchi University, Chen was not seen as particularly suited for selling real estate when she started to work as a property agent 14 years ago, since back then the real estate industry was dominated by people with non-academic backgrounds. On the one hand, her superiors seriously doubted that the university graduate would have enough staying power to stomach setbacks. On the other hand, being female meant another handicap in this male-dominated trade.
Moreover, Chen had hardly joined the business when the real estate industry went into a severe downturn. Desperately trying to find new customers, Chen would ride an old motorbike through the big streets and small alleys of Taipei, distributing flyers from door to door and making the rounds soliciting business. "Back then I was trying very hard and often had accidents," Chen recalls. Even today a two-centimeter-long scar on one of her thumbs remains clearly visible, reminding her of her humble beginnings.
Chen, who had previously only worked as an editor of English-language children's books, had no idea how to go about selling homes. As an excellent student from childhood on, she was used to drawing confidence and self-respect from passing exams with flying colors. Consequently, being dressed down by her supervisors did not go down well with her, which is why she was once close to quitting.
Three-Step Strategy to a Perfect Match
Half a year into her fledgling real estate career, Chen had learned the ropes. "Getting cases is not easy, so raising the closing ratio is most important," Chen explains.
A common mistake real agents make is to indiscriminately show their customers their entire portfolios,
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which is as effective as trying to kill a bird by randomly firing bullets into the air. Instead, Chen achieved a 100-percent sales rate through her own three-step strategy: explore the client's needs, understand the client's needs, and then match the client's needs with a suitable property.
Good salespeople are usually also good detectives. A good detective needs to be able to ask the right questions. Instead of talking right away about buying a home, Chen first chats with her customers about their lives and their families. Through a string of casually asked questions, she "puts together a picture piece by piece."
Last year a customer walked into her office, looking for a studio apartment. In the course of the conversation, his real housing needs gradually surfaced. The client had just returned from an overseas posting, his father was living in an old luxury high-rise in downtown Taipei, and his sister had meanwhile had a child. From these three leads Chen pieced together the following picture: The client comes from a wealthy family, which means he is not on a budget and that a studio apartment is probably not big enough. The sister with the expanding family is also thinking about moving to a bigger place.
With this picture in mind, Chen was able to sell three homes within less than two weeks for a total of NT$64 million.
Selling is like the pursuit of knowledge. You must do your homework every day, and when fortune knocks, you will be prepared to open the door. "Since she is honest and professional throughout the deal, she makes a deep impression on customers," says Simon Yang, head of the Xinyi Branch, in describing Chen's working attitude from first-hand experience. Even though it is difficult to keep in constant contact with more than 1,000 customers, word of mouth is sure to bring Chen a steady string of new cases.
"Your value lies in looking at problems from the customer's viewpoint and solving them right away," says Chen in detailing how she built her reputation. Yet despite posting a revenue of NT$1.1 billion in the first half of the year, which translates into NT$30 million in commissions, Chen does not dare to relax, given that she works in Taipei's Daan District, where all real estate firms have a massive presence and compete fiercely.
Chen – an Aries with type O blood – is meticulous and never procrastinates. "Especially if it's about a client's
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business, you can't put anything off for a minute, even if it's just paying a utility bill on their behalf," she says, astride her motorbike with a helmet on her head, waving a client's bill in her hand.
Chen seems to have escaped unscathed from the real estate slumps of 1995, 2003, and March of this year. A poster on the wall shows the milestone that she wants to reach this year: exceeding the NT$36.28 million in commissions she raked in the year before last. Indeed, she is already not far from reaching her target.
American property tycoon Donald Trump once said, "If you really want to succeed, you'll have to go for it every day like I do. The big time isn't for slackers." Giving her all on her way to the big time, Joyce Chen has earned the reputation of being Taipei's queen of real estate agents, and is tasting the fruits of success.
Joyce Chen's Secrets to Success1. Business grows on the heels of hard work.The Taiwanese cherish personal relations. If you visit a landlord many times, he will feel obliged to give you some business, and your rate of consignments will naturally increase.
2. Figure out the customer's needs as a friend.Explore the customer's needs not by doing business but by making friends. Foster the habit of understanding people's needs when interacting with them, which increases business success.
3. Diligently do your homework instead of acting at random.Selling is a matter of pursuing knowledge, not blindly taking customers around. If you first help your customers finish their homework, your closing ratio will approach 100 percent.
4. True service begins only after the sale.Don't procrastinate even a minute when it comes to your customer's needs.
Translated from the Chinese by Susanne Ganz

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