So I wrote last week that I had gone on two "soft" listing presentations — situations where I was in a property and met the owner, though I wasn’t necessarily pitching them at the time. As a result of these low-key situations, I was relaxed … and then it hit me, after the fact, that these had been practice sales calls. So I sat down with Bernice Ross’ CDs, "List and Sell Real Estate Like Crazy!" and graded myself after the fact.

Last week I talked about seeing a college friend who had a very expensive property in a territory where I don’t sell. This week, I want to talk about someone who was more predisposed to be a client — she called me as a landlord, wanting me to rent out her apartment — but who was secretly open to being pitched more services. In this case, she and her husband were actually thinking about selling the property. So I had a chance, though I didn’t know it at the time, to upsell them on my services.

I had talked to her about the apartment — a property that I love — in fairly glowing terms, and I had run comps to price the rental. (To orient non-New Yorkers, this is a property that will rent for about $100,000 a year, so the commission is equivalent to selling a $250,000 house.) We had gone back-and-forth over the comps of course — everyone thinks their baby is the prettiest — and then she had had me run sale comps, which also got sent to her husband. He disagreed with my assessment of what the property would sell for, and I gently explained how I had gotten to my number, but that it was ultimately his decision.

What Bernice Ross’ tapes say I did wrong: You are supposed to "treat clients like they want to be treated" — some clients will want a personal connection, some will want a more business-y, hands-off style — it’s the job of an agent to figure out what clients want and match it. This is nearly impossible to do in an e-mail situation where the wife likes my naturally discursive, explanatory style, and the husband is more all-business, but I still should have figured out that the husband was going to read the comps, and made them look more like an appraiser’s report.

What Bernice Ross’ tapes say I did right: There’s a rule that "it’s their house and it’s their decision." I was asked for my opinion for the best sales listing price for the apartment and I gave it, but when I was challenged I said that that was only my approach and that it was ultimately his decision. I had said just the right thing, asserting that the power was in the hands of the customer, even before I’d gone back to the training.

Of course it helped that we disagreed on price by only a matter of a few percent. If it had been a 20 percent differential, I might have kicked up more of a fuss, because then it’s not a listing that I would have wanted to take anyway.

What will happen in the future: They’re going to chew on the rent-versus-sell decision, but I think they’ll end up renting — which is probably a good call in terms of long-term appreciation. I hope to sign a listing agreement as the landlords’ agent this week, and I’ll let you know when I lasso some tenants. But here’s the lesson I learned: For my future presentations, I’m going to count to 10 and think not just about the primary recipient of the e-mail or the sales pitch, but also the spouse or partner who is waiting in the wings, who might need to be sold in a slightly different style.

Alison Rogers is a licensed salesperson and author of "Diary of a Real Estate Rookie."


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