Winning a client’s trust requires agents to listen actively, be authentic and take a genuine interest in their needs, according to three leading industry figures.
When building rapport with clients, it is important to “rock up as a human being first and an agent second”, says industry coach Tom Panos.
“If you want to get share of wallet in the marketplace, you need to get share of heart,” he says.
Mr Panos suggests thinking like a consumer rather than an agent. “It’s when you mirror their thought process – that’s when that person’s problem becomes your problem, that’s when you have a connection at a listing presentation,” he says.
The way you approach the initial conversation can also help to make the client feel safe. Mr Panos recommends approaching the client softly, starting the conversation with something like this:
“Hi, thanks for having me over. Today, I'm going to ask you a few questions, you'll ask me a few questions, and if at the end of that we feel that we can help you, I'm going to tell you what we do and how we do it. If I don't think I can help you, I'll tell you as well. But I'd like to let you know, Mr and Mrs Client, it's OK if nothing comes out of this, apart from us having met.”
Starting the conversation in this way makes the client feel comfortable and stops them thinking that “the agent wants to win and that the client may lose”, Mr Panos says.
“Listen and check in”
Caine Real Estate managing director Paul Caine, who placed 91st in the 2015 Top 100 Agents ranking, says the key to building rapport during a listing presentation is to pay close attention to the owner’s specific needs.
“A lot of owners that we meet don’t transact in property very often. Our job is to investigate, delve into why they’re doing what they’re doing, and find out what they need,” he says.
Mr Caine says listening to the client and repeating the issues they raise makes them believe the agent isn’t just focused on their commission.
“I think vendors can very easily see through people that are not being real or attentive to their needs,” he says.
“It’s a matter of paying attention, listening actively and constantly checking in.”
One vital factor in building rapport during a listing presentation is to remain professional, according to McGrath Estate Agents Lane Cove agent Brent Courtney, who placed 24th in the 2015 Top 100 Agents ranking.
Mr Courtney points out that some agents speak to clients in the same way they would their friends at the pub. He says they should adopt a more formal approach instead.
“[Don’t] automatically think that the client’s a friend of yours. I think you’ve got to treat them like a professional first,” he says. Pretending to be a client’s friend “just comes across as being fake and false”, he adds.
Mr Courtney says agents should instead be sincere and businesslike. He emphasises that ultimately the key to building rapport during a listing presentation is to “take a genuine interest in your client”.