Traditional salesmanship is often about the swagger. Be so charming, memorable, and professional that they can't help but say no. Dazzle them with your sales record and your personal statistics of success. Show off the "brand of you" with a brilliant presentation and a beautifully compiled leave-behind for them to view at their leisure.
There's nothing wrong with this method; it can yield real results. But in my, and my company's constant work to elevate the field of play I had to ask myself if there was something more. As I see my job and the job of the real estate agents I have the honor to work with and for, we are, to our clients, three things. We are ambassadors, strategists, and negotiators. These are the three areas we excel in and we deploy our skills in these areas to suit the situation. But before we can do any of these things we must do something more basic: we must ask our clients what they want.
There are two questions that are vitally important in asking any client I am preparing to work with. The first is to find out what they truly want from their experience with their broker. This goes deeper than just the inevitable success of the transaction and delves into how they want to be communicated with, what they value, and what will make them feel, once all paperwork is signed and the deal is done, that they are truly satisfied. In all fields, a satisfied customer remains the best form of advertising a business can possibly have.
I've found that much of the time when I ask this question I'm greeted with a puzzled expression. Not only has no other realtor they've met with asked this question, but it's also something the client has never truly considered. They are so focused on the outcome that they've never thought to address the process. As someone who has brokered thousands of transactions, I've seen just about every way a deal can transpire but to many clients it's all uncharted territory. It's here that I can serve as an ambassador not just of the property, but of the real estate industry, and strive to embody the best of the best. I've written before in this column about how realtors are perceived in this industry, it's often negative and it's my mission to change that perspective, one client at a time.
The other question I ask is about the why. "Why are they making a move now, what's the deeper motivation?' This question that can often be the harder one to ask because it can unlock emotion. Sometimes the reasons for making a change are joyful, a family is growing or increased prosperity has prompted a new standard of living. Other times a move can be prompted by a less happy change in circumstances. It is then that compassion can the most important thing we can offer the people we are working for.
Virtuoso salesmanship can be great fun but it will never trump the value of truly sitting quietly with someone, listening to what they are saying, and paying attention to their body language to make sure you are aware of the unseen as well. Business is full of technology these days but there is no way to automate the power of a person-to-person connection. If a client is going through a deep personal change and this transaction is part of that, it's my job to handle it with sensitivity and empathy. Once I know what the "why" is for my client, I never lose track of it. Even in the heat of negotiation I remain aware of the deeper needs of the people I work with.
Compassion isn't something you hear a lot about in business but when you let go of the need to crush the competition and tune into what is actually needed it can yield amazing results. My commitment to my clients is always to listen first and then use all the tools at my disposal to deliver the desired result.