Hello, I’ve been watching you.
I was sitting across from a couple enjoying their food and to my left sat an older woman quietly enjoying her lunchtime. I’m a people watcher, been one all my life, so I noticed the woman seemed to be looking at the couple a little more than one might do ordinarily. As my plate of lo mein arrived, the woman was just finishing up her meal and putting on her coat. As she thanked the waitress, I saw her edging toward the couple’s table. My people watching voyeuristic skill took control and I stopped shoveling food into my mouth for a few seconds.
“You have a beautiful face,” the old woman said to the roughly 20-something girl, “I just had to tell you.” The young girl, slightly embarrassed, smiled at the woman and thanked her and they chatted about the weather for a few moments. Not exactly something I expected to hear the woman say I thought to myself as I went back to my noodles. As I continued with the shoveling, my mind wandered to how funny it would be if I had walked up and said those same words.
I imagine there would have been a few simple responses. The man getting up and smacking me upside the head. The woman thinking I was creepy. Everyone looking at me in an awkward silence. The thoughts would have been all the same…what’s this guy’s motive?
I’m a Realtor®, it’s okay.
We talk to people all the time…friends, clients, strangers. We walk up to people without a second thought about whether we know them or not. We’re Realtors®, it’s ok. All we want is a chance to tell the world how we can maximize their sales price or about this charming one-story we think they’ll love. We want to share our love of real estate with the world, right?
Motivation is a strong thing. Everyday, we are motivated to talk to people, engage with people, and build relationships with people. Our motivation? You can look at it a couple of ways, but it really boils down to the basics – we want business, business makes us money. Sure, we all do it because we love to help people and truly enjoy what we do for a living (at least I hope we all do), but if this career isn’t paying the bills (or at least has potential to pay the bills), it certainly makes it seem like a dumb idea to be doing it day in and day out.
So let’s admit, we always have a motive, it’s not outlandish to say that we want others to be our clients. I have no trouble with that. But what if we dropped the motive and entered into conversation? What if we listened to what others had to say without thinking, “when should I hand them my business card?” What if we didn’t ask if a consumer was interested in buying or selling, but instead got to know them for who they are – not what property they do or don’t own? Yes, the motive can exist without being at the forefront of everything we do. The motive is not going away. Nothing is going to change the fact that we will always be interested in a person’s real estate situations. What can change is how we present the motive.
Drop the motive.
Next time you’re meeting a consumer, think of them as a person first. Think of them as someone you’d like to get to know. Think of them as someone who has dreams, hopes, and problems outside of the real estate world. Find that person and connect with them. Find that person and be the person they want to talk to. Be the person they trust. Be the person they know is a Realtor®, but doesn’t need to tell them every five seconds how many houses they sold last week.
This is the Realtor® I would work with. This is the Realtor® I want to be.
Before we all chime in “Hooray for Consumers” in the comments and pat each other on the back for being so consumer-centric, seriously take a moment to think about it. Where do you keep your motives? What’s the vibe you put off when meeting strangers or prospective clients? Perhaps it’s time to step away from the consumer and consider just what it is you do. We all want to be great Realtors® and it’s easy to write about being a great Realtor®; but are we capable of stepping back, looking in, and being objective with ourselves? It’s not easy and I know I have room for improvement, but it’s necessary if we are going to move forward as agents and as an industry.
photo courtesy of Roomic Cube