It’s critical that we put the client first.
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Jeff Bezos built the biggest online retail business, Amazon, by always thinking about the customer or future customers first. In every board meeting there’s an empty chair that represents Amazon’s customers. If the product or idea didn’t get past the customer, through their eyes, it did not become an Amazon product.
Every time you enter the home of a potential seller or property provider, the focus must always be on them – what does their world look like, and not you or your brand. As the late Dr Stephen Covey said in his best-selling book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: “First understand, then be understood.”
If you have been invited into the home of a seller or property provider, you must sit down with them first and understand who they are, what problems they want solved, and how can you add value? We are in the people business, therefore it’s critical that we start with them first.
Now, I know what some of you are saying – “I do the tour first and ask questions while going around the home, or it depends.”
There are two key reasons why you should stop doing the tour of the home and sit down first:
- You want to focus on the potential clients and truly understand them. (We are in the people business.)
- You can observe their non-verbal communication style, their baseline non-verbals (80 per cent of communication), what their body language is like when they are relaxed and talking about their home and family. This can’t be observed effectively while walking around the home.
You have two to seven seconds to make a first impression, and people will always remember that first impression. People like to do business with confident people who have certainty. Sitting down first sets the scene for both likeability and credibility.
What you say first will have an impact on the outcome of your presentation. What are you saying to your potential client once you walk in the front door and shake their hand? Are you delivering confidence and certainty, or are you winging it?
Have a direction statement prepared and deliver it with confidence. The direction statement can include variations of the following:
“Thank you for the opportunity...”
“What I would like to do first is to sit down and...”
“I/we would like to understand what's important to you...”
“I / we would like to answer all of the questions you may have...”
“I/we would like to understand what’s important to you and how we can assist you...”
“I/we want to make sure you have all of the information you would like from this presentation today...”
“Therefore, I would like to sit down first...”
The above will deliver a clear indication to the potential client that you are confident and that it is about them first, and how you can help them.
Now the information gathering process begins. There are many questions to ask, however the biggest failing of most real estate agents is not seizing the opportunity to ask deeper questions from the answers that are received. Remember, this should feel like a conversation and not an interrogation.
A great metaphor for this is to think of Russian or babushka dolls – ask a question, uncover an answer, then ask another question from the answer, then ask another question from that answer, then ask...you get the idea.
Your ability to not make the presentation all about you and, instead, all about them by sitting with them and understanding their needs, will provide you the foundation for the rest of the presentation.
During the sit down “conversation”, listen with your eyes. Notice the potential client’s posture, hand gestures, head position and their eyes. All of the key non-verbal cues you observe will provide a baseline or starting point for you to reference. This becomes useful when it comes to presenting your proposal and enables you to notice any shifts when discussing points of contention.
Your first impression matters, and when you come across as confident and credible and not making it all about you, you will become more influential.
Warren Tate is the chief performance coach at Harcourts Victoria.
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