offrs Reviews: Bedside Manners in Real Estate
You may be the top closer in your region, perhaps even the world... but if you're losing the hearts and minds of your clients, you may be losing out on serious referral opportunities. Here are some tips to improving your bedside manners and upping your game. Let's review...
Real estate consultancy is an exciting career and the commissions can be great! But let’s be real – agents have to put up with a lot. Between sellers obsessing over every market dip and buyers’ financing disasters (not to mention the truly bizarre stuff that happens across the board), we’ve seen it all. As real estate professionals, it's often put into our laps to take on the voice of reason, the psychologist and the mediator all at once. Of course, if you fail to keep your cool through some of the most common agent/client conflicts, it could end up costing you. So, here are some tips for keeping emotions in check and improving your bedside manners (if only to maintain brand integrity and grow your business's reputation around town)...
One of the most common complaints agents (especially newbies) have, centers around clients who don’t respect your time. Yes, it’s well known that we work flexible hours and may show properties on weekends if the right opportunity presents itself. But if your client calls you nightly at 10 pm, or asks you to drop everything to show them some homes, sans appointment, then you're going to want to set some boundaries. By this point, it'll be too late (at least to do so subtly), but you can start now and have these policies in place for next month's wave. Boundaries aren't just for you... they help establish your leadership. They will also guide the homeowner or home buyer through the more established protocols of real estate.
Like an established hiking trail and a guide to lead you on it, more traditional channels of communications and time-tested processes mean more predictable and controllable results. While controllable may not be the word you'd think of when asked about real estate, it certainly unravels when you don't set boundaries and end up letting your client drive the process. You're the expert... take charge and ownership of the outcome as well as the steps to get there. Beyond your client's sense of safety and comfort (being in the hands of an expert), it'll make the whole thing doable for you in the long-run. What good is a wilderness guide to the whole group if she or he is off helping someone pick paint colors or dozing off because they were up all night talking with another client. Reliable results require leadership and leadership sometimes requires a firm "No."
Set clear expectations
With regard to the housing market, real estate clients on both sides are inundated with information from friends, neighbors and the media (thanks, Million Dollar Listing). As a result, they'll inevitably come into the transaction with unrealistic expectations of their home's value or false impressions of the housing market's conditions. So, help your clients "save face" and cut them off at the pass. In your first few meetings, demonstrate your knowledge with updated Comps, recent market driver conditions and your own regional experience regarding realistic deliverables. Set things straight from the get-go with a Q&A session to determine the client’s needs, wants, and expectations of both the market and of you. Use this time to educate them on the reality of their prospects and of your responsibilities. It's okay to not over-promise - truly better not to. Use this opportunity to remind your client that anyone promising results isn't being realistic. In setting clear expectations, you're demonstrating integrity and taking on professional best practices. A good doctor will tell you the odds with a warm yet honest tone... not cave to false expectations. It's about the delivery and tone.
Be communicative & offer facts
On that note, it's important to recognize that some people won’t take anything at face value. There will always be someone who thinks they know more than you or just won’t budge from that $400,000 selling price they had their heart set on. We know... surprising revelation there. So how can you approach their skepticism (or over-zealous optimism)? Data helps. Going back to the tips above, give these clients some cold hard facts to back up your assessment of their home's position in the local market. Let them know what updated research you’ve done, then show them the numbers. Do your homework in advance and go in prepared. They’ll be less likely to argue when they see the unbiased facts. If you formed your suggested path forward based on the facts, it's a harder case for them to counter. If they're still pushing back, then they're not arguing with you - they're arguing with the data. It'll become your task to collect, interpret, present and translate everything. If after all this, they're still pushing back... you may need to mark this as a red flag.
Acknowledge their feelings
The best advice we can give for when a client freaks out or is being overly-negative – listen more, talk less. Ask questions to find out what’s fueling their doubts. After all, there are a lot of moving pieces to a home sale and when mingled with personal conditions and pressures... it can be a lot to handle. More than likely they are feeling overwhelmed, experiencing financial stress, things aren’t going as planned, they don’t understand the process, or something similar. After listening, express what it is you think they are feeling and let them know you understand their point of view (you don't have to agree with their feelings, just hear them and recognize them). You may be surprised to see first-hand that, once heard (and felt), more and more of your clients become more receptive to your experience and advice. Naturally, this will only help them reach their long-term goals and alleviate the stressors above. Don't underestimate the power of emotions and feelings... it's not all number-crunching. Become a master at working with people at the emotional level and you'll hit those numbers.
Develop a thick skin
It’s almost inevitable for a customer to get frustrated at some point during the transaction. Even if you’ve done everything right, it’s still a possibility that the client will take it out on you. Take ten seconds to breathe before responding to a tirade, take a mental health break when you need it (this is important for sustaining your sanity in this career) and... pick your battles. You are not obligated to fight - just lead. If you've done your best and failed somewhere along the way, you still did your best. Even the best prize-fighters get knocked out, but if you can't get up and back to work again, then you're no good to the next client that needs you. Along those lines, don’t take it personally. Having a thick skin and being able to shake it off when things get heated will mean more opportunities you can take on down the road. Of course, you don't want to become callous... better bedside manners is, after all, the whole point of this article. But gauging the room and speaking from the heart doesn't mean becoming a push-over. Just imagine the doctor or lawyer you'd want to have and be that person, presenting the best path forward for your clients. Be warm, be present, be situationally-aware and be firm. You got this.
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