Kevin Hoover talks through why the client isn’t always right and how the industry got here, both through consumer misconception and agent misstep.

We have made some big mistakes in real estate over the years. 

One of those missteps is to accept the torment from a potential client in an attempt to generate business. Far too often, we accept the abuse. 

We tell our war stories of being yelled at, called names and cursed out in our cold calling frenzies to show how seasoned we are as agents.

Granted, no one treats cold calling sales people with very much respect these days, but why is it OK to take the verbal lashing? What makes this acceptable for real estate agents?

Let’s talk through the conditions that have gotten us to this point, some of them misconceptions on the consumers’ part, and some of them through our own missteps.

The fear of saying ‘no’     

We would rather say “yes” and deal with the potential conflict than say “no” and preserve everyones time and energy.

Clients want to hear a “yes” to their requests. It’s that simple. If you don’t tell them what they want to hear, they will find another agent who will. Just like the internet these days, they can find an agent who will say whatever suits their agenda if they are willing to search long enough. 

That does not make the information true from their newfound agent, it simply makes it available to the public. 

Bernice Ross detailed some key situations where a real estate agent should say “no” in a post last September. The five main points that required a firm “no” according to Ross were:

  • Reducing commissions
  • Accepting overpriced listings
  • Answering questions that an agent shouldn’t answer
  • Badmouthing clients
  • Participating in unethical behavior

This is a concise list where we see agents bend or break during a moment of decision. The slippery slope of making a small exception to your rules can lead to big losses in business. 

Ross wrote, “Your inability to say ‘no’ can cost you tens of thousands of dollars every year. The reason many real estate agents struggle with this simple word is that they have a strong need to please others, even if it comes at their own personal expense.”

Our value, as agents, has to be in analyzed data, human-based opinion on a micro level and — wait for it — the truth. 

Sometimes that means walking away from clients if they want to hear something that is not the truth. It’s difficult to do when you need clients and commission checks, but to create a legacy business, you have to say “no.” 

Quantity over quality

“If no one yells at you, you haven’t made enough calls,” or “I will call until you buy or die” — I’m sure you’ve heard these phrases floating around the telephone stations in your office.

This mentality has, over time, created the public opinion of our industry while, at the same time, creating calluses for how we run our business.

Frankly, people just don’t like us. 

But we will endure the unpleasant phone call if it means we can get paid. This is second nature to the agent of today’s world. Tolerate the punishment if it means you get a check. 

It is far easier to buy into this idea and roll with the punches than it is to change the popular opinion of real estate agents.

So, we play the numbers game. The more people you show, the more deals you should close. The more listings you have, the more closings you should have. The more you do, the more you make.

Regardless of the time investment or the emotional struggle you endure, we are all about more instead of better.    

In real estate offices, we boast about being called names because that somehow means we have made a lot of calls and done our job. We arm ourselves with a script and a speed dialer and plug away for hours hoping for one single “yes.”

It is an effective tactic, but upholding our standards around the way we do business and the way we are treated can be tough to navigate in the middle of hundreds of dials.    

We tend to sacrifice our standards for appointments. Bending on price, terms or even whether the potential client is going to suck the life out of us for the next three months are all standards that are quickly abandoned for a possible deal. To add insult to injury, we think that makes us more credible in the real estate game.

Over time, this practice holds similar traits to that of habitual liars. What is a standard in business today slowly morphs into its sheer and utter opposite when broken time and time again to get a deal. In essence, we decide that we have a price.     

Over-promise and under-deliver

There are agents out there, and I’m sure you know a few, that will say anything to get the business. They make promises that the market won’t support and the data can’t defend. Yet, people will still believe them for a period of time until the truth shows up.

Most of the time this happens on the listing side of things. The tactic is to get them to sign the agreements first, then give them a reality check. 

This often arrives in a fury of price reductions over a short amount of time and marginal marketing. Promises like:

  • We will sell quickly
  • We can get you 10 percent more than the market holds
  • It didn’t sell because of your last agent
  • We will not negotiate on price
  • Our international database of 100,000 potential buyers will love your home

These are promises that are commonly left in the past and never realized for a bevy of reasons. The end result is detrimental to your brand, the clients well-being and our industry as a whole. 

Industries where professionals do what they say they are going to do tend to thrive, while industries where there is a lot of double speak and borderline deception will suffer when it comes to being relevant in a future market.

The beauty of real estate occurs when just the opposite happens. 

When promises are at a minimum, but performance is at a maximum, we see results that boost our business. It’s also a business decision to show them instead of tell them. The practice of under-promising and over-delivering builds our reputations and industry. 

This firmly plants in the real estate industry that the client is not always right. The variable degrees of information, the wide range of agent experience and even the chatter on social media about real estate are all playing against us. 

Everyone is the “expert” in their own right.

If our intention is to create value against technology, automation and public opinion, we have to change. We have to be different. 

Instead of regurgitating data and stats that are easily found in public forums these days, we need to add the element of truth and performance to support our value proposition. In today’s world, the client is not always right, however, neither is the agent.            

Kevin Hoover is a Realtor with eXp Realty – Myrtle Beach. Follow him on Facebook or Twitter.

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