I’ve been toying with this post for a couple of weeks because in this Web2.0 world a lot of us tend to forget the dynamics of relationship building because of the lack of face-to-face contact in our Internet world.
I can speak only about myself when I say that I have gotten good at communicating via e-mail and social networks and being able to interpret clients’ needs from a very few well structured questions. I can tell how serious they are about buying, I can also interpret urgency and loyalty. The question arises when you finally achieve that “face-to-face” meeting.
If you told me a few years ago that Real Estate would be about psychology, I would have laughed in your face. How could selling a property have anything to do with psychology? Well…..in my opinion, it has more to do with psychology than actual selling (go ahead and throw those tomatoes now).
If someone likes you, feels comfortable with you and trusts you, they will buy or sell real estate with you, plain and simple. That’s why the hard-sale is such a turn off for many people. If you show that you are more interested in making a sale than helping someone – there’s a huge chance you will loose them as a client.
So we spend all this time on line, blogging and showing our personality, communicating with prospective clients via e-mail and social networks and it could be so easy to blow it in person.
Just this week, I met for the first time with a European client that had found a property on my blog and spoke to them briefly one time on the phone. I was not able to get much information from them on the phone and figured I would know more in that first meeting.
While showing them a property, we were dissecting each other to death to find out if we would be “right” for each other (very much like a marriage…….a temporary one). In a few minutes, the listing agent achieved many things: to stick her foot in her mouth several times, to make the client uncomfortable, and to make me realize what this gentleman “was not looking for”.
I was able to walk away with knowledge about the client and with a lesson about not getting defensive about your listings if you want to kill a deal. (thank you listing agent, your insensitivity was quite rewarding).
We also do a lot of referral business. Some clients come to us that are not pre-approved and we have no idea how serious they are about buying or even if they are working with other Realtors. Today Rick was able to capture a non-loyal by being himself. But here’s the clincher……because it is a personality game, you have to know that not everyone will like your style and there may even be personality conflicts. You win some you loose some…….part of the business.
Bottom line is that if you don’t like each other or if you are not compatible, it will be difficult to do business together. The interview should be mutual, not just a buyer client interviewing an agent. It also makes me think how effective one of those “matchmaker” sites would be for business.
How about those long drawn out transactions that seem to take forever and everyone involved looses patience but most of all FAITH? We’ve been handling a short sale for over 3 months now that is driving all the parties involved absolutely crazy. The bank doesn’t respond, they stall….and we wait and wait and wait. If I were not communicating on a regular basis with the parties, this deal would have been out the window a long time ago. It’s our duty to hold hands, to help the client take deep breaths and to be the glue that holds it together. (This is not for everyone…..not even for me).
Please don’t misinterpret my message to be manipulative and give clients what they want to hear in order to make a sale. Your true colors will shine through in the end and your business will suffer from it. What I’m telling you is to listen.
The dynamics of relationship building is about finding liked-minded individuals who believe in you and trust you and who have similar business ethics. It is our job to find that happy medium where we can speak and e-mail prospective customers and make them feel comfortable in person.
Approach your clients the way you would like to be approached – treat them the way you would like to be treated and you will find that the virtual couch is a lot easier than you thought.
How comfortable is your couch?
August 12, 2008 at 12:34 pm
Ines, this is a tough one for a lot of people because before one can analyze how comfortable their couch is, they have to admit to themselves that there is even a possibility that it may not be comfortable to everyone (after all, it’s comfortable to them, so why wouldn’t someone else like it?).
After becoming open to analyzation, people often get stuck in the trap of trying to make their couch comfortable to all people rather than focusing on making it extra comfortable to the people already accepting it as it currently stands. The Internet is a wonderful tool because in this medium of transparency, people can test your couch out before they pick up the phone and this saves everyone time.
People who haven’t harnessed the usefulness of the Internet see it as a silly toy, but for those of us using this tool every day, we realize that it actually creates and enhances connections rather than weakens them. Ines, we talked about this a little bit at Inman and it seems many of us are writing about and thinking about the value of our online behavior. You bring it home by applying it to how clients are addressed, treated, spoken to and yes, analyzed psychologically. And you obviously do it so well, kudos to you and Rick! 🙂
August 12, 2008 at 12:34 pm
Ines, I agree… after taking a buyer through home search, escrow and beyond, you feel like you know more about them than some of your relatives. You see the interrelationship between a husband and a wife, how they treat kids, etc. It’s an interesting psychological balance.
Real estate is very much about learning to “read” others. It’s also about connecting with others. As you said, not everyone will identify with you or feel comfortable working with you and vice versa.
I guess my couch is pretty comfortable. I have learned to work with people that I like and establish tremendous relationships.
August 12, 2008 at 12:56 pm
Very true Ines. I think we need to be a lot of things…much more than a simple sales person. I spend a lot of time working on my couch and yes not everyone fits on it. But I find that out pretty quick.
August 12, 2008 at 12:58 pm
Lani – I knew you would get the couch analogy – you are a master! no one says it’s easy, but a lot of us get it. I would have never known that the internet would be such an amazing tool and now I don’t know what I would do without it. Can’t wait to see what else comes up and ready to dive head first! 😉
Irina – and to add to your comment – to know that it’s a 2-way street – that it’s just as important as us being comfortable with our clients as they are with us.
August 12, 2008 at 1:00 pm
Monika – you bring a great point – sometimes we can’t tell if the couch will be comfortable and we need to test the waters. Hopefully we would be able to identify our true clients first before everyone ends up wasting time and energy.
August 12, 2008 at 1:26 pm
It is a great point that not everyone will like you and that your style will not work with all people but that you should allow your style to come through. I believe that everyone should do a buyers consultation so you can figure out if your style works with the client. When you find that your style or your clients won’t work you can always refer them to another associate in the office or even another company and get a referral fee.
August 12, 2008 at 1:33 pm
As you noted, the key is always being open-minded, asking questions before, during and after any transaction (even a failed transaction or connection) to keep us on track. The Internet is not just powerful for connections but for learning, we’re reading hundreds of articles a day- never stop learning and you will naturally remain open-minded. 🙂
August 12, 2008 at 6:20 pm
What we always have to keep in mind is the fragile state most clients are in at the time we’re dealing with them. They’re oftentimes scared out of their wits and want the reassurance that we can provide not only as a professional but a trust advisor – in some cases as a friend. We see people at their worst and try to help them maneuver through all the emotions of the beginning of their new life or the end of their former one. That’s one of the reasons we become so bonded to people in such a short period of time. This is a great topic and one I have a lot to say about – can you tell? 🙂
August 12, 2008 at 6:25 pm
Joseph – you also have to consider the dynamics within each market place. We have found it extremely difficult to do our old buyer’s consultations because people are shopping around not only for homes but for Realtors and they don’t want to waste their time. That first showing is the crucial meeting where we KNOW what’s to come.
Lani – I was just telling Rick that what I’ve learned from blogging in the past 2 years is truly amazing. The fact that I was able to do my first short sale and knew exactly what to do and expect. The fact that our foreign national business was already organized and ready for any questions or objections that would come our way. And not to blow smoke up your nose 😉 but AG provides a wealth of information that is priceless – you guys have done such a great job of obtaining a well balanced group of writers in all sectors of our industry.
August 12, 2008 at 6:28 pm
Vicki – you are right on!! Sometimes we wonder why it is so difficult for people to trust us, but the reality is that we have to prove ourselves to achieve that trust. I wouldn’t just dump my life savings into somebody I just met and know it takes time. Emotions are the number one factor we need to take into consideration in this business (I also have a lot to say about that) – those that ignore emotions usually hit a brick wall.
August 12, 2008 at 7:03 pm
“Approach your clients the way you would like to be approached – treat them the way you would like to be treated and you will find that the virtual couch is a lot easier than you thought.”
I think that pretty much sums it up. Dealing with clients in such an stressful time in their lives really gives you a wonderful opportunity to connect with them in an intimate way. I think it is also our “job” to ensure our clients that we do indeed have their best interest in mind and that they can trust us. This is a tall order when you must establish this trust in a very short period of time.
August 12, 2008 at 8:23 pm
This has been the most important feedback I’ve received from people. They can see that my couch is comfortable – and not fake. I am “me” that’s all there is to it!
I think its great that clients don’t really realize they are also being interviewed to see if I/we want to work with them. I have run across a few people that I am not compatible with -next- usually the feeling is mutual.
August 12, 2008 at 9:00 pm
Mike – a very tall order when the public has a pre-conceived idea of what Realtors are like.
Kim – but you have to agree that many agents out there are not picky and just want to make a sale – the interview part goes out the window and so does the relationship…..and then you get the comment I got last week from an attorney that swore he would never work with a Realtor who said “you have changed my perception of Realtors” That’s what I call a MAJOR win!
Mack in Atlanta
August 13, 2008 at 3:41 am
The comfort factor of our couch is sometimes able to be determined by our readers well before we have the opportunity to meet them face to face. We just need to make certain that our writing accurately represents us.
August 14, 2008 at 3:56 pm
A great point about the REAL amount of relationship building that goes on in a real estate transaction. @Mike’s point – yeah, it is typically a tall order given the pre-conceived notions about REALTORS,and the time frame but I find that the victories (when relationships-clients for life- are formed), are truly sweet.
I think while your points play well to REALTORS, they can apply to most everyone.
August 14, 2008 at 8:58 pm
Mack – the beauty of blogging!! and you are right – if our writing doesn’t represent us it will be a big disappoint me in person
Hey Eric – I think you are right about other industries as well. This medium is getting so big because of its success rate – one thing is for real, it’s not easy and it does take effort….but that effort pays off without a doubt.
August 14, 2008 at 9:17 pm
Ines – Masterful Insight! While we can’t be all things to everyone, and don’t want to be, a little insight goes a long way in making our clients feel comfortable.