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EFFECTIVE HABITS -- Finesse first

13 July 2012 Reporter

Top performing agents have a certain ‘finesse’, writes Dan Neylan, principal of the Real Estate Institute of Queensland’s Medium Agency of the Year

MANY PEOPLE have asked me over the years about the real difference between a top producer and an ‘average’ sales agent.

This is not easy to describe – real estate is a ‘people business’ and everyone has their own way. In saying this, it’s still possible to break the key differences down into segments and to prioritise them.

While time in the business is definitely a factor, I believe success comes significantly more quickly to those who master the following areas early:


First, know your onions. Many sales agents, often under pressure, are so eager to start earning they don’t do the groundwork. Knowing your market and understanding why people buy in your area are crucial elements agents often skip over. This includes monitoring weekly the properties available for sale, who has listed them, when and for how much. Being able to demonstrate this market insight to buyers gives them confidence in you and your advice. Demonstrating that knowledge to sellers will give them confidence in you also.

Have disciplined processes – or at least be accountable to someone else who has this attribute as part of their personality. This can be a principal or even your personal assistant (there are plenty of PAs who work hard to keep their top performer on track and on time!). As an agent’s career develops, their inability to handle core productive activities usually results in a lack of control. Often both selling and listing performance become inconsistent as the agent drops the very activity that made them successful in the first instance.

Constantly learn and refine your skills. You’re never as good as you could be. This doesn’t just mean sales skills – think outside the square. What do you really understand about property construction, negative gearing or self-managed super funds? How’s your marketing expertise? What do you really know about social media and how it is being used?  

A final intangible, and yet a defining difference, is the ‘finesse’ with which a top producer deals with people. They may be active in the top end of the market or in the lower price brackets. Their sales techniques may be different, but the outcomes are usually the same.

Finesse is the way you present information to a client. It involves thinking through what you plan to say, knowing how your information will be received, and presenting it in a desirable way.

It’s also about anticipating responses and dealing with them in a professional manner. Finesse also involves knowing when to push an issue and when to wait.

There are three ways to develop this level of communication:

  1. ‘Strategise’ the conversation and write down what you plan to say and the points you will cover
  2. When in discussion, listen and make notes – only then respond
  3. If you’re not sure how you want to respond, don’t be afraid to say, ‘Let me consider that for a moment’. There is nothing wrong with slowing down while you gather your thoughts   

The most important thing is to take the time to think. Stop and plan your actions; consider how you interacted along with the reactions you received; and identify the phrases or words you could have used that might achieve a better outcome.

Top agents apply these principles of finesse in all areas of their business. For example, even when cold calling, the first thing they do is check whether a client is free or able to speak.

Presentations are approached as consultative meetings, aimed primarily at building rapport and getting to know the client’s situation via well-presented questions and discussion.

Finesse is also a calm voice during a tense situation, a quiet confidence and diligent attention to detail – but it always includes a sense of urgency with every issue.

EFFECTIVE HABITS -- Finesse first
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