Want to serve your clients better? Jimmy Burgess shares the lessons you can learn from Robert Cialdini’s must-read book on influence and persuasion — and how to apply them to real estate.

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This post was updated Dec. 13, 2023.

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What is it that draws ideal clients to certain agents? Have you ever wondered why certain agents attract business while others seem to constantly chase it? Whether agents realize it or not, there are scientific reasons why people decide to do business with some agents and not with others.

I recently read the book, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Dr. Robert Cialdini. The book explains the psychology of why people say “yes” and how you can ethically apply these principles in your business.

I couldn’t help but notice how these influences can be utilized by real estate agents to serve their buyers and sellers better. The following are the six principles discussed in the book — with a real estate twist.

1. The principle of reciprocity

Reciprocity is one of the most basic principles of psychology. It says that doing something for others will prompt them to want to do something for you. This means the more value you bring to others, the more they will return value to you.

So, the question becomes: What would people like to receive from you that would lead them to help you? When it comes to real estate, people want updates on their home’s value, and buyers want information on new listings and price reductions.

Buyers and sellers want clear communication through the closing process, and they want to know that they were more than just another transaction. Giving people what they want will inspire them to give you referrals and support your business in any way possible.

2. The principle of consistency

Consistency leads to trust, and trust leads to transactions. The goal of all agents is to be the first agent someone thinks of when they think of real estate. Consistency is the key when it comes to being top-of-mind.

For agents, consistency should come in many ways. There should be a consistent social media presence for agents looking to grow online and a consistent weekly or monthly newsletter going out to your database.

Your active buyers should consistently receive property update emails with potential homes for them. Your listings should receive marketing and activity updates consistently through the listing process. You should consistently add value to the overall market via market updates and any shifts in trends you are seeing.

By consistently adding value, you will be the agent of choice.

3. The principle of social proof

The principle of social proof says when people aren’t sure what to do, they will do what they see others doing. According to Inc., 84 percent trust online reviews as much as their friend’s recommendation. This speaks directly to the value of online real estate reviews and recommendations.

Utilizing your real estate reviews and recommendations on social media and advertising provides an opportunity for the principle of social proof to help your real estate business grow. Posting them on social media, including them in your email signature, on your website or any outbound direct mail marketing pieces will increase your potential for conversion.

If you are looking to grow your business, increasing your social proof by compiling more online reviews should be a cornerstone strategy.

4. The principle of liking

The principle of liking says people do business with people they like. How likable are you? Are you easy to work with? Do people enjoy being around you?

The real estate business is a know, like, trust business. I’ve heard the question asked before: What is more important in business, that people know you, that people like you or that people trust you? Most people answer “trust,” but I would argue that “like” is the most important of the three.

Think of real estate prospecting as a blind date. If you go on the first date, by the end of the first date, you will know the person, but knowing them will be irrelevant in determining whether you will go on a second date.

If, at the end of the first date, you know them and trust them, but you don’t like them, the odds of a second date are highly unlikely. But if you aren’t sure if you trust them, but you like them, odds are you will take that second date.

In real estate, we all want that “second date” with prospects to have the opportunity to earn their business. The more likable you are, the more business you will do.

5. The principle of authority

The principle of authority says people desire to do business with the person they feel has the most authority. When someone is unsure of who they should trust, they move toward the person they see as having the most knowledge of a subject. I’ve found this to be true in real estate as well.

Agents can achieve this perceived authority by being the information source for local real estate market updates, neighborhood sales updates, and real time information about any real estate market shifts that may occur.

Real estate testimonials or reviews also establish you as an authority figure in your local real estate market. Increase your perceived authority, and you will see business growth.

6. The principle of scarcity

The principle of scarcity says that the fear of missing out influences the decisions people make. We’ve seen this in real estate over the past 18 months or so as buyers are deciding on higher and higher offer prices out of a fear of missing out in multiple-offer situations. Scarcity does affect decision making and it may lead to short-term gains in your business if used in a manipulative manner.

Our job is to provide buyers and sellers the best possible information, so they can make the best decision for themselves. Making buyers aware that they may need to be extremely aggressive on their offer is truthful in today’s environment.

Informing prospective sellers that it would be naive to think prices will continue to move up as they have over the past two years is not manipulative — but true.

Understanding the principle of scarcity will help you serve your clients well and can lead to more business.

The ability to understand the psychological influences buyers and sellers are facing helps you serve them better. The better you serve, the more you will be served.

Jimmy Burgess is the CEO for Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Beach Properties of Florida in Northwest Florida. Connect with him on Instagram and LinkedIn.

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