5. Client Focused: Trust us when we say that if you put the client first, everything else will fall into place. However, understand that your communication and interaction with clients must be client-focused, not client-driven. The two are often confused by well-meaning Realtors and other sales professionals who acquiesce to their client’s demands in the name of “good service”. But here’s the deal; you know more about the industry you’re in than just about anyone else you know. If you know this in your heart, than others will too. There have been several times where I have literally told my clients; “You’re the boss, but I’m the expert, and you have to defer to that.” I was able to say that because my clients knew that I was very honest with them, considered their concerns very carefully, and I legitimately put their needs ahead of my own.
Believe it or not, people want someone to take charge of the sales process and that is what you must do from the onset. No buyer has been in my car more than four times. This is because I not only prequalified them financially, but also emotionally. Buying a home is an emotional decision and you have to ensure that they’re in the right place. I urge you to sit down with buyer prospects before you send them anything. It displays commitment on your part and, since they’re taking time out of their day to meet with you, you’ve now been associated in their minds with the same commitment. When you speak with them, don’t just take an order as you would if you were waiting on tables. Listen to their wants and needs and then probe their minds as to whether or not they’ve considered other options, where they’re headed in the next several years, what their hobbies are, even what their dreams are. Get them thinking seriously about their decision and let them know that you’re not only going to buy them a home, but also a lifestyle. The purpose of this interview is to establish rapport. Create a relationship by helping them have a vision of the future full of hopes fulfilled.
Once you meet with the buyers, the next immediate step is to have them call or meet with a lender. You need to let them understand that you’re serious about what you do and that they have to see what they’re getting in to. If a buyer asked me why they needed to speak with a lender, I would tell them; “Because I wouldn’t want to compromise your expectations by seeing homes you couldn’t qualify for, or have you miss out on something which would be within your reach and you would really like.” Once they were pre-approved, I would set them up on MLS emails, but not the buyer version, the agent version. Why? Because it shows a) that you’re confident enough to know that they’ll stick with you b) you’re validating their concerns about honest representation, and c) you’re willing to give them something no other agent would. It’s amazing to me how many agents will set up prospects on automatic buyer version MLS emails and hope that someday they’ll return their calls. If you do this, you’re placing yourself on the same level as Realtor.com and your value to them will never be revealed. Let’s face it, agents rank somewhere between lawyers and politicians when it comes to the trust factor. There’s a tactful way to say just about anything. Determine from the outset that, as I would say in my intro packet to buyers, “I’m not here to sell you anything. I’m here to help you execute a decision you’ve already made.” And finally, “client-focused” means you have to say “no” when they’re about to make a mistake or they want something they think they need. Be honest enough to point out a property’s flaws, even if they don’t catch it. I’ve even gone so far as to say “I don’t like this place.”, even if the buyers did initially. By showing them that brushed chrome and granite countertops won’t make the freeway behind their home disappear, they got the fact that I knew more than they did and that I was willing to “blow” a sale for their sake. And for your own sake, maintain your sense of self-respect by showing yourself that you’re not only an agent, but that you’re a guardian as well.
6. Edification: “Edify” comes from the Latin word edifice, which means the erection of a house or a temple. The current definition is “to instruct and improve, especially in moral or religious knowledge”. At Mastery Coaching we like to say we help others do this because we know that people are incapable of changing others, we can only influence. With that said, you cannot influence someone without first making them feel important. In the communications classic “How to Win Friends and Influence People”, Dale Carnegie explains how the need to feel important is the primary desire of every human soul and how without it, we whither:
“Some authorities declare that people may actually go insane in order to find, in the dreamland of insanity, the feeling of importance that has been denied them in the harsh world of reality. There are more patients suffering from mental diseases in the United States than from all other diseases combined.”
Edification is not flattery. It’s not complimenting someone either. Any “improvement” mentioned in the definition above, requires truth, and the truth required before any improvement is made is inherently uncomfortable to your audience, if not hurtful. Before they begin to believe that you’re another face in the crowd which doesn’t believe in them, attempt to find something, anything, about the person which has redemptive value. Then, somehow tie it in to how the person can rely on this “something” to help them overcome the obstacle they’re facing.
Prior to entering sales and coaching, I served as an officer in the Marine Corps and had the honor of leading Marines into combat during Operation Iraqi Freedom. In the weeks before the invasion, our unit was relentlessly training across the border in Kuwait and spending its “off time” continually cleaning and maintaining weapons, vehicles, and radios. I had one marine, Private Barnes, who would not “get with the program”. Although enthusiastic and eager when he joined the unit, his performance had steadily declined. When I heard that his absent-mindedness was manifesting itself in not bothering to maintain his gas mask, I knew that he needed immediate and severe correction. I had Private Barnes report to me in my tent. When he snapped to attention, I immediately put him at ease and walked with him away from my tent and earshot of everyone. I said “Private Barnes, I understand that your father was decorated with a Silver Star for valor in Vietnam. Is that correct?”
“I also understand that he passed away recently. Is this correct?”
“What do you think he thinks of you right now?”
“I don’t think he’s too keen on me Sir.”
“I disagree. I think he’s proud of you. I think he’s looking down on you right now, hoping, in fact, ensuring, that you’ll do well out here. Do you think you can live up to that legacy?”
Barnes’ eyes moistened a bit, just a tad, not much. He assured me that he could and that was the end of it. I never had a problem from Private Barnes again, including in combat. He never turned into a superstar, but at least now he was reliable. No “rah, rah”, no appealing to God and country, no reprimand, no threats, not even encouragement. I simply helped the marine remember who he was and where he came from. The world is a harsh place, in Iraq and everywhere else. If something needs to be done, and you need the assistance of someone whom you can’t replace, the only way to correct the course of the relationship from your end is to help the person understand that the relationship exists for a reason, and that without them, the reason will never manifest. Barnes knew that since we were days away from crossing the border, he couldn’t be replaced. He knew that his fellow marines needed him to be his best because their lives, including mine, depended on him. He knew that being a marine was something few of us could be and that going to war was something that even fewer of us could deal with. Somehow that knowledge had been buried and I knew that he wanted to be more. All that was needed was someone to remind him.
Edification, like buildings, lasts awhile. They’re largely impervious to conditions, and can be improved upon to increase their value. That’s the difference between edification and flattery or compliments. Edification is based on unemotional facts which prove something. These facts are not given to interpretation or manipulation because they’re based in truth, not feelings, opinions, or rosy optimism. When I verified facts about Barnes’ recent past by asking him “is that correct”, notice I didn’t put question marks after the phrase because I knew that they were true. I spoke to him in a calm yet unemotional manner. I had no idea why Barnes was slipping and I didn’t care. There was something more important than Barnes at stake and he had to be shown that what he was doing mattered. In other words, he was important.
Salesmanship is leadership. Leadership is life itself. And like life, if you are unable to take charge of the sales process, your performance will be dictated to you. Another thing about life is that none of us can do it alone. We need others. And the best way to get out of a rut and become better people is to help someone else. Try it, it works every time. When you go to a listing appointment or give a sales presentation, you’re not applying for a job. You’re creating a coalition, which is what leaders do. And when you create a coalition, the best leaders among us focus on those who follow us. Focus on others, specifically people you serve, and not only will they benefit, but you will as well. And when you focus on someone, understand them by believing in them, even if they’re “unworthy” in your eyes. After all, there was a moment in your life where you were made to feel unworthy by circumstances or individuals. Be remembered for who you actually are, and help yourself by helping others.