We often only need a little edge when confronted with an incompetent agent or miserable curmudgeon. Sometimes just a flick and swish of your wand is all it takes to win.

With fewer deals to go around, many markets experiencing a downshift and more agents than ever, it makes business sense to reach for the fundamentals. That’s why at Inman, we’re going Back to Basics with curated throwbacks to some of our most-read stories as well as new insights from agents in the field — all culminating in Inman’s Playbook for the Fall Market, a two-day virtual event that you should make plans to attend.

Dealing with a “bad” agent in a transaction is something that happens to all of us at some point in our careers. It’s not your job to “fix them,” it’s often too time-consuming to report them, and you dare not confront them and risk the deal for your clients. What’s left? MAGIC!

Here a simple formula for how to deal with a bad agent on the other side of the deal:

M: Map your mission

Your goal is to close with favorable terms for your clients. Map your mission in advance. What must be accomplished to progress to your goal? This mapped mission must be intentionally set out before you each day.

Pro tip: On a piece of chart paper, create a visual flow chart with small boxes. Each box represents a necessary step from contract to closing. The visual will help you stick to the mission. This is professional, not personal. 

A: Assess and address the agent in question

How are they weak, bad or difficult? Are they unskilled, unpleasant or unresponsive? You must efficiently create a profile.

Pro tip: Pretend you’re profiling someone who may date one of your closest friends or family. What can you dig up? What can you learn and learn quickly?

G: Gauge the situation appropriately

According to Collier’s Dictionary, when you gauge someone, you carefully consider and judge them. Which one or two facets of their profile can be used to judge them effectively? Remember that you are seeking a temporary fix to last until closing. 

Pro tip: In every contest, from boxing to baseball and from real estate to racing cars, every player has strengths and weaknesses. What is this agent’s Achilles heel? What are they committed to or passionate about?

I: Identify, Indulge, Influence

In your short time between this moment and closing, you take action on the one or two facets you’ve identified. Through contacts that you have in common, social media and former associates, you’ve identified things they like, hate or avoid. Now you gently put these facets to work for you. 

Pro tip: The key personality traits you identify can help you connect with, empathize with and even work with the challenging agent. The introduction of common ground and personal insight can momentarily disarm the miserable and occasionally get them leaning in your direction.

C: Close and care

With your map guiding you, you’ve assessed the “subpar” agent, gauged which of their traits provides opportunity and effectively indulged them. You now close with your client’s interests in mind.

Pro tip: You’ve kept your eye on the prize, maintaining professionalism in spite of subpar behavior. You have held your mission out ahead of petty squabbles and the finish line approaches. 

Many years ago, I worked for Pepsi during the soda wars. At one point during the 1980s, Coke changed its formula, and then after some resistance, reverted back to its original Coca-Cola Classic. At the time there was a sign above the clock where we punched in each shift. It said something simple but profound:

For years Pepsi and Coke have had an intense staring contest. Well, Coke just blinked.

We often only need a little edge when confronted with a miserable curmudgeon. Sometimes just a flick and swish of your wand.

Finally, if the agent isn’t emotionally cancerous, you may wish to place karma over conquest. Is there a way to positively impact this person as a “closing gift” of sorts to them and perhaps to the profession? If so, maybe the real magic here is the win-win you’ve pulled out of your hat.

Brian McKenna manages two residential resale offices for Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, Blake. You can follow him on Twitter and on FacebookEmail Brian McKenna.

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