• Be more assertive in your sales consultations. Take chances in order to differentiate yourself from other agents.
  • Sometimes, it's OK to just speak the truth as agents and tell our clients what they need to hear.
  • The most successful agents know the difference between playing it safe and playing it straight.

We are hardwired to proceed with caution in many aspects of our lives. Be careful; watch what you say; measure twice — cut once. Never run with scissors. In the real estate world, the need to safeguard our reputation through the watchful use of our words and prudent delivery of our promises is paramount.

And there are good reasons for this.

Primary among those reasons is the fact that without good relationships and trust, we have nothing. Whatever else you might say about real estate, at its core it’s about relationships.

What it’s not about, despite some claims to the contrary, is houses, yards, coffered ceilings or square footage. It’s not about the price, the schools or even the “location, location, location.” Not at its core anyway.

Real estate agents forge relationships with clients and either sell their home or sell them a home. Sometimes both. Sometimes multiple times throughout their lives. We serve as trusted advisers that help guide consumers through the largest financial transaction of their lives.

It’s kind of a big job.

So perhaps it’s not surprising that as a group, we’re a pretty cautious bunch. Add to that the fact that most closed deals can represent a fairly decent payday, and the high level of scrutiny placed on words and actions with our clients is easily understood. We’re careful.

And we should be.

But there are times in our conversations when we have to temper that caution. Sometimes, it’s OK and even necessary to just speak the truth. To tell our clients less what they “want to hear,” and more what they “need to hear.”

In my role as a sales coach over the years, I’ve researched and trained to create a bolder sales presentation. I push sales associates and agents to be more direct, more succinct and at times more blunt when they need to be.

For example, behind closed doors, I’ve heard agents complain that, “If only they’d listen to me, I’d get them to their goal.”

Maybe not exactly in those exact words.

But that’s a time to be direct. Buyers and sellers hire agents for a reason; often many reasons. Professionalism, market knowledge, negotiation ability and world-class people skills to name a probable few.

Confidently asserting ourselves during the sales process in a strong and direct manner — utilizing the client’s own criteria, wants, needs and stated goals should be far easier than we make it.

Unfortunately, it’s our inherent need to please that works against us and makes it difficult.

Consider an agency agreement that wasn’t signed or a listing appointment that didn’t get locked down. In many cases agents leave those meetings feeling great with a strong sense of rapport built with that potential client.

Until the call comes in that the buyer or seller went another way. The rejection almost always comes with kind words, and more often than not, the agent was actually well-liked.

Unfortunately, making friends and being likable didn’t get the job done.

It’s not enough to know what it takes to get our clients to success, if we don’t take that knowledge and strongly relay it in plain terms. Manage the balance between friendly real estate agent and trusted, straightforward adviser with closing more deals. That’s how our best and most successful real estate agents show the difference between playing it safe and playing it straight.

If it’s the house — tell them. When it’s the price — tell them. If it’s the offer — tell them.  Most importantly, you are the agent — so tell them!

A current or potential client’s ability to believe in us starts with our inherent confidence to believe in ourselves. Respectfully provide them the advisement they hired you for to serve them best.

Learn and use well-rehearsed scripts that acknowledge you’re listening. Show understanding. Back up what you say with fact, and most importantly, tie it back to them.

Use your expertise, professionalism and straight-forward advice to guide them to their goals. Through all of this, throw caution to to the wind and speak with authority and determination.

And then just listen.

Take some chances in your sales presentations understanding that most real estate agents excel at building relationships, trust and even friendships through our role. Transitioning from that to the hard, honest discussions is where you can separate yourself from the herd.

Be frank. Be direct. Be bold. But in doing so, be careful. There is, after all, a fine line.

John Kotrides is a sales coach with The Stephen Cooley Group in Fort Mill and Rock Hill, South Carolina. Follow him on Facebook or connect with him on LinkedIn.

Email John Kotrides.

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