Would you like to close more deals, have fewer challenges in your transactions and leave your clients feeling you truly understand who they really are? Although this may sound like a tall order, it’s much simpler than you realize.
Whether you’re communicating via text, email, social media, print or face-to-face, great communication skills are the foundation for real estate sales success. If you’re ready to amp your personal communication skills, here are five proven strategies that really work.
You have 2 ears and 1 mouth
There’s no question that listening, rather than talking is at the heart of being a great communicator. To illustrate this point, have you ever seen buyers fall in love with a house and then their agent points out a feature they hate, and it kills the deal? If so, you’ve witnessed how detrimental it can be for agents to insert their opinion into the buyer’s purchasing process.
Today’s clients don’t care about your opinion or your expertise. A better approach is to ask “how” and “what” questions. In fact, even when a client asks your opinion, it’s smart to reply, “Your opinion is the only one that matters—it’s your house, it’s your mortgage, and it’s your decision.”
Putting it a little differently, “silence is golden,” or better yet: “Shut up and sell.”
Avoid Being a ‘white knight’
When it comes to sales, the “white knight” syndrome references the salesperson who jumps into the negotiation and says, “I’d never let my clients take a price that low!” If you find yourself acting as if you’re the client rather than the agent, stop it — see #1 above!
If you bump into a “white knight” agent on one of your transactions, take proactive steps to avoid this situation right from the start. Here’s what to do:
- Always present the offer either in person or via Skype whenever possible. While the listing agent may fight you on this, do your best to get the appointment. Unless you are in a dual agency situation, you ARE the buyer’s designated agent.
- Even if you are unable to present in person, you can have your buyers give the listing agent this directive. Make sure it’s in writing and signed by each buyer.
Here are the instructions to put in writing: “Please present our offer without making any comments. We want to hear what the seller’s first reaction to our offer is prior to getting input from either agent. Thank you.”
While this tactic will drive the white knight crazy, you may want to remind him or her of this old negotiation ploy, “The first one who speaks loses.”
Inquire about your client’s preferred style of communication
When you first start working with a client, always ask, “How would you like me to communicate with you—text message, Facebook messenger, email, or phone?” It’s important that you adjust your communication style to fit their style, not vice versa.
As a corollary to this approach, if your client sends you a text message, respond with a text. If they call you on the phone, call them back.
Also, be sure that you explain to your clients that if you do call them on the phone, they need to answer the call because there’s an important issue that cannot easily be handled by texting or email.
Use ‘charge neutral’
The term “charge neutral” refers to speaking in a calm voice with little emotion. The best example is how you might speak to a child that is upset or to a friend who has just lost a loved one.
This approach is extremely effective when you are negotiating. To achieve the best possible outcome from your negotiations, keep both your voice and body language still. Couple this with the phrase, “It’s your choice, what would you like to do?” to avoid having your clients feel as if they’re being pressured or manipulated. The result is your negotiation closing ratio should increase substantially.
Determine your client’s dominant communication modality
Your brain is hard-wired to prefer one of three primary modes of communication: visual, auditory, or kinesthetic. About 40 percent of the population is visual, about 40 percent is auditory, and about 20 percent are kinesthetic, or people who react viscerally to the world around them.
Here’s how to recognize and communicate best with each type:
These individuals are easily recognized by their fast rate of speech, their focus on how things “look,” and their preference for properties with open spaces, views, and high ceilings. They are also very focused on how their personal appearance. Visual women will put up with stiletto heels that kill their feet if those stilettos look good on them.
When you’re working with a visual, use the words, “see,” “look,” and keep pace with their faster rate of speech. For example, “I can see that this house is the right one for you. Shall we go back to the office and take a look at the numbers?”
Also, avoid showing them properties that need a lot of work, that face into other buildings, or that have chopped up floor plans. “Light and airy” is the order of the day.
People who are auditory love music, are focused on how things “sound,” and often have well-modulated or dramatic voices that can be quite expressive or loud. They will be particularly interested in any back stories about the property or the area. Make sure you have lots of things to “tell” them about.
When you’re working with someone who is auditory, use the words “talk,” “hear,” and words that reference sounds such as “quiet,” “soothing,” or “peaceful.” For example, “It sounds like this peaceful property is a great fit for you. Let’s go back to the office and talk about the numbers.”
Avoid showing them properties that have street or airplane noise and that lack a place where they can enjoy their music or any instruments they may play.
Kinesthetic individuals usually speak slowly. They are most concerned with how things feel, not how they look. Comfort is what matters first and foremost. Most kinesthetics would have no issue wearing their Birkenstocks to a formal event. When a buyer tells you, “This house just doesn’t feel right to me,” your buyer is probably kinesthetic.
Kinesthetic buyers prefer warm cozy spaces over open floorplans. Also, use the words “feel,” “touch,” and “hunch.” For example, “I have a hunch this is the right property for you. Let’s go back to the office and get a feel for the numbers.”
Now here’s the greatest challenge — if you’re a visual, you’re “fast-talking” persona will turn off the slow-speaking kinesthetic and vice versa. Auditory individuals can usually work with both visuals and kinesthetics.
If a client’s communication style is clearly a mismatch for you, refer that person to someone whose style is a match for them and take the referral fee — you’ll be glad that you did.
Bernice Ross, President and CEO of BrokerageUP and RealEstateCoach.com, is a national speaker, author and trainer with over 1,000 published articles. Learn about her broker/manager training programs designed for women, by women, at BrokerageUp.com and her new agent sales training at RealEstateCoach.com/newagent.