If you want to close more transactions in 2007, stop relying on your fax machine and your e-mail and start negotiating your offers in person.
I recently had a discussion with a top producer who is on track to sell $30 million this year. When I asked her about presenting her offers face to face, her response was “I’m not a go-for.” That statement is 100 percent true. I completely understand that if you are going to sell 200 houses per year, it may not be feasible to negotiate everything face to face. On the other hand, when we’re being paid thousands of dollars in commissions, don’t we owe it to our clients to give them the very best that we can do on their behalf?
High Touch Still Matters
As digital communication has continued to increase, listing and selling agents have fallen into the pattern of either faxing or e-mailing offers. One of the most important strategies you can use to differentiate your services from those of your competitors is to present all of your offers in person. Granted, some clients may not want to face an aggressive agent who vigorously represents his or her clients. On the other hand, that is exactly what your clients hired you to do — to be their trusted advocate who will help them get the best possible price for the property they are buying or selling.
The reason that high touch is so important in negotiations is that there is no one who is better qualified to represent your clients’ interests than you are. If you’re representing the buyer, the listing agent has a fiduciary duty to help the seller obtain the highest possible price for the property. Clearly, when the listing agent controls the offer presentation, your buyers are the ones who suffer.
Digital is a Poor Substitute for Face to Face
When you rely on digital communication, you lose the majority of the content that is available when you are face to face. Psychological research shows that our words carry about 7 percent to 10 percent of our communication. A huge proportion of our communication is contingent upon our intonation, inflection and rate of speech. Even more importantly, our body language communicates approximately 60 percent of the information that we use to determine what the other person means.
An agent who relies on an e-mail or fax presentation of an offer is losing a wealth of valuable information about what is happening in the negotiation. For example, is the listing agent the one who is persuading the sellers not to take your offer? If there is more than one seller, is one in favor of the offer and is one against it? What points are nonnegotiable? Where can you obtain additional concessions on behalf of your clients? Are the sellers highly motivated? Are they under stress about relocating to another city? All of these factors can play an important role in the negotiation. The agent who relies on fax or e-mail will almost never know why their offer was turned down or what he or she might have done to put the property under contract.
Dare to Be Different
Old habits die hard. Most agents will continue to fax or e-mail their offers to their sellers. To differentiate your services from the competition, insist on presenting all of your offers in person. If the listing agent resists setting up a meeting with the seller, ask your buyers to write a cover letter to the seller that says, “We request that our offer be presented to you in person by our agent.” Even when the seller lives outside your area, you can still present your offer via telephone. Do not rely on the listing agent to do it for you.
If you want to really stand out from the crowd, an even more aggressive strategy is to take any counteroffers that your sellers may write and present them to the buyer. There are multiple advantages to using this approach. First, there are so many untrained agents currently that your negotiation skills are probably far superior to the person who is representing the buyer. Second, meeting with the buyers in person can assist you in helping your sellers achieve the highest possible price for their property. Finally, if you are selling an estate property, this extra level of service provides the so-called “white-glove” approach that well-heeled clients expect.
Agents are constantly searching for ways to differentiate their services from those provided by their competitors. What better way to do it than by taking the extra step to add your personal high touch to the negotiation by presenting your offer or your counteroffer in person.
Bernice Ross, national speaker and CEO of Realestatecoach.com, is the author of “Waging War on Real Estate’s Discounters” and “Who’s the Best Person to Sell My House?” Both are available online. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit her blog at www.LuxuryClues.com.