While negotiating skills are top of mind for agents as commission confusion sets in, consultant Rachael Hite offers a step-by-step strategy that should ensure optimal service all summer long.

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Lead generation and commission negotiation skills are currently the song of the summer for most agents. While I love a good lead gen brainstorming session, unless you have a solid plan in place for how to nurture the prospects you capture, you’re going to have difficulty seeing a return on your investment for prospecting efforts.

As we approach the August deadline for implementing new post-settlement policies and procedures for working with buyers and consulting with sellers, it’s important to create a workflow around onboarding new clients so that you can make sure your bases are covered — and clients can move forward with confidence.

Smart agents know that a solid consultation with prospective clients is the glue that holds transactions together and builds meaningful referral relationships for the future.

I’m going to cover the anatomy of a well-organized consultation, helpful tools to help you stay organized, and the secret to letting your clients know that you are their No. 1 advocate, and not a caricature of a salesperson just trying to close a deal.

Start at the top: Getting a HEAD of the game

Your prospects and clients are extremely busy and so are you. Setting an expectation for the time and purpose of the consultation is a great way to convey that your clients are working with a professional who has a system in place and not a cold caller who is just trying to get them to commit to something over the phone without fully understanding their needs.


Hi Susan! I’ve enjoyed chatting with you online about your questions for 123 Main Street.

When can we set up a time for a quick consultation about your goals so that I can best help you. It’s very important to me that I make time for each of my potential clients to create a profile for them and listen to their needs. 

I have June 10th available at 4:30 p.m. Will this work? If not let me know a day and time that works for you! 

Next, you will need a profile or contact form; I use a written and digital form that works in tandem with your CRM, that has basic questions to help you prepare for the consult.

Typically consults should be about 30 minutes to an hour.

Suggested tools:

  • CRM
  • Google form
  • Notecards (Pre-printed collateral for in-person meetings)
  • SalesMail / BombBomb
  • DocuSign
  • Zoom

These are my essential tools for organizing notes, collecting data, and ensuring that my clients get the messages they need to hear. These tools also aid in documentation. Remember texts and emails do not always convey the message.

Key elements to determine:

  • Best ways to contact the client: (Phone, Address, Email, Text, Social Media)
  • Hours that are OK to contact the client: (Do they work nights? When is the kid’s naptime? What is their work schedule?)
  • Who is their financial advisor or lender?
  • When would they like to move?
  • Would they consider themselves a real estate newbie or a seasoned expert?
  • Are there any accommodations that they need while you are working together to make the process easier? ( No-tech/ low-tech, paper documents, Zoom calls vs. in-person, accessibility issues, etc.)

Eyes: Show them transparency

The next part of the consultation is all about disclosure and transparency. This is where you provide some education about general current market conditions in their specific area of interest, agency disclosures and required representation agreements. This is also a good place to provide them an avenue to research you as an agent, obtain contact information and schedule time with you.

You can do this in a few ways:

  • In an email and on your business card, include all your contact information and business hours.
  • Have a dedicated business cell phone that they can text anytime with questions, with a timeframe of when those questions will be answered.
  • Show your personal website which should have links to third-party reviews, your resume, and examples of properties that you are an expert in.
  • Provide a resource library of videos and articles that you have created that they can watch or review at any time to get more information or find answers to Frequently Asked Questions.

Ears: What they need to hear

The message your prospects and clients need to hear is the following:

  • You are not too busy for them
  • You understand their budget and goals
  • You know what their bottom line numbers are

At the end of the day there needs to be a strong conversation about actual costs in the transaction to the consumer. Become an expert in net sheets (Hint: Your title company friends should be happy to help) and use net sheets as examples.

A sample net sheet

Jones offer Smith offer
PRICE FOR HOME 275,000.00 310,000.00
FIRST MORTGAGE 202,000.00 202,000.00
SECOND MORTGAGE 5,000.00 5,000.00
TOTAL ENCUMBRANCES 207,000.00 207,000.00
POLICY OF TITLE INSURANCE (based on home price) 1,375.00 1,550.00
TITLE AGENT FEES 250.00 250.00
PROPERTY TAX 800.00 800.00
HOME WARRANTY 0.00 500.00
FLOOD CERTIFICATION (common in some localities) N/A N/A
BUYER’S CLOSING COSTS (that seller is assuming) 5,500.00 5,000.00
BUYER’S AGENT COMMISSION 8,250.00 9,300.00
TOTAL SELLING COSTS 24,550.00 32,775.00
TOTAL ENCUMBRANCES 207,000.00 207,000.00

Courtesy of Bank Rate.com

Hint: Your local association or state association may have templates you can use as well.

Forget high-pressure commission negotiation strategies.  If you have net-sheet examples of different commission structures for your clients to choose from, you are providing the best opportunity for your clients to fully understand what all the fuss is about with commissions.

Explaining to your clients that what they have seen on the news, is exactly why you are providing them choices and examples to choose from. The changes are because more transparency is needed with understanding how finances work inside of the real estate transaction.

True cooperation on both sides of the kitchen table happens when all parties feel confident in what to expect and understand what everyone’s role is.

Shoulders: What’s weighing on them?

After you have their profile created, and all your prospecting notes uploaded, get down to the reasons they are looking to move.

  • What’s prompting the move?
  • What are some things you are worried about in this process?
  • What are some things you are excited about in this process?
  • Have you had experiences before in real estate where you were uncomfortable or didn’t understand something?
  • What are your absolute non-negotiables in this transaction?
  • Wish list vs. Needs list: This is especially important if there are multiple folks in the transaction. Make sure all parties’ needs are accounted for.

Heart: Build resistance to challenges in the transaction

After understanding their pain points, it’s important to go over the ins and outs of how contracts and offers work, and the milestones in the transactions.

I use a simple chart that shows the lifecycle of the offer and the transaction, with things they need to know about the closing process. Dividing the process into three parts (offer, transaction, closing) helps them understand which step they are in, and what to expect next.

Before we write or prepare an offer, we go over a quick mock contract scenario, answer any hot questions and get clarifications so we can move swiftly if a property is identified.

  • Showings/offers: How to put the best foot forward
  • Active contract: Contingencies, disclosures, inspections and repairs
  • Closing: What are their financial obligations, time to have contract reviewed, how to prepare for a smooth move and transition into the new space.

Knees: Build flexibility into the transaction

Setting the expectation that the timeline will have different cadences (times we need to move fast and times we need to slow down) will help your clients understand the flexibility they need to have to navigate this market.

My best advice is to always plan for more time than you think you will need.  Too many times transactions are rushed; the urgency often isn’t needed, and it creates extra stress or complications in the transactions.

Asking for patience from all parties can be the simplest way to avoid pitfalls and hurdles because, with extra time to prepare (when allowed), you can often avoid unpleasant surprises and uninformed decision-making.

Feet: Stay grounded and build a solid foundation

At the end of each consultation, thank the prospects or clients for their time and let them know that you are going to use the information gathered to help them meet their goals, and also to help them stay in the driver’s seat throughout the transaction.

This is a great time to also encourage teamwork from everyone involved. By working together, being open to compromises, and being prepared to flex into new ideas and opportunities that they may not have thought about, there may be even more open doors for them to explore.

This final step shows that you are their best advocate. It says that you are not only committed to their experience upfront but that you understand the impact of the process on their future.

Final thoughts

Thinking about how you would craft your ideal consultation will lead you to have more meaningful conversations with your prospects in the front end of the transaction. Much of our industry has been in such a panic that they will not be paid, that they have lost sight of the fact that consumers want to work with calm, trusted professionals who have a plan, not someone who is going to try to manipulate them into something they don’t want to do.

In a word, we have to put the human touch back into the sales process or we will never be able to close this growing gap where consumers fear that agents are paid too much or are not valuable. Build a secure place in your business for consumers to land, listen, watch — and be willing to grow.

Slow down and remember that the person on the other side of the table isn’t a commission to be earned, but a human seeking a home. There is plenty of room for good business all along the way.

Rachael Hite is a former agent, a business development specialist, fair housing advocate, copy editor, and is currently perfecting her long game selling forever homes in a retirement continuing care community in Northern Virginia. You can connect with her about life, marketing, and business on Instagram. 

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