Real Estate is a transaction-based business, and your success as an agent hinges on your ability to sell … or that’s the most basic view of this business, anyway. But in reality, agents do so much more for their clients than accept their check. The truth is that the nature of a real estate transaction is complex; the process takes time. And there are many intangibles associated with the business as well.
Think about it: you’re not selling a computer or a car – transactions which often start and close on the same business day. You’re helping someone buy or sell a home – an emotional investment, a place where potentially countless memories will be made. Because of this, an agent truly operates more like a consultant than a salesperson in many ways. When it comes to selling a home, for instance, agents consult with their clients on how to best position the house to sell for the price they want. And when helping people buy a home, agents consult with their clients on finding the home that best fits their needs, wants and budget.
As an agent, if you realize this and proactively embrace the role of trusted consultant just as much as fulfilling your role as a salesperson, you’ll likely experience more positive client relationships, and thus more success overall. Read on, as we go over more specifically why this is, and outline some techniques you can put into practice to ensure you’re upping your “consultant” game.
Sales = Negative Connotations
The very idea of dealing with a salesperson can often turn customers off. For example, take the experience of buying a car. No matter how much someone might want or need a new car, most people dread the idea of buying one. Why? Because of the image in their mind of that fast-talking used car salesmen. We won’t comment on the actual percentage of used car salesmen who are truly shifty, but we can probably all agree that, for many, just the idea of speaking with one adds a lot of unnecessary stress to the process of purchasing an automobile – which in turn can lead a person to make a decision they’re ultimately not happy about.
In real estate, this is the last thing you want to happen. Car sales is a high-volume business less likely to be negatively impacted by poor customer experience than other lines of business … like real estate. Real estate agents actually rely on happy, satisfied customers to help lead to even more clients. So the more clients who feel like you helped them versus “sold” them, the better.
This is a primary reason why it is so important to interact with clients with an emphasis on the role of consultant more than a salesperson. Doing so will eliminate a lot of pressure for both you and the client, and ultimately will help you gain their trust quicker.
Behaving Like a Consultant
We believe the art of fulfilling the role of a consultant can be mastered more easily than it might seem. It starts by acknowledging to yourself why you became an agent in the first place. If it’s because you truly want to help people find the perfect home, then well, you’re off to a good start. After that, it’s a matter of sticking to some basic fundamentals in how you help your clients.
First and foremost, always be honest. It’s true that you can keep a lot of people happy in the short term by telling them what they want to hear. But in real estate, it’s vital you make it standard practice to tell people what they need to hear, even during those times when it’s not necessarily music to their ears. For example, we all know it’s typically difficult to find someone’s “perfect” home, so the art of engaging the customer to embrace comprise is essential. Speaking truthfully with them while making sure to point out the pros and cons of a house based on their wants and needs (emphasizing the pros, of course) will go a long way toward presenting yourself as a trustworthy consultant.
Strive to become a trusted resource. The more you know and share, the more your client feels informed and confident. In real estate, knowledge equals confidence. So stay current on the latest trends and up-to-date on the latest industry news. The growing confidence you have in yourself will in turn inspire confidence in your client, making the entire process much less stressful for all parties involved. And for the areas in which you have some knowledge gaps, keep a list of resources you trust that operate in the same way you do.
Know your market areas. This is essentially part of being a trusted resource, but a simple fact is that the more you know and can share about an area, the more comfortable your clients will become with making decisions regarding what they do or don’t like about the area. Again, it’s all about keeping your clients as comfortable and confident throughout the process as possible.
Helping > Selling
People don’t want to be merely “sold” a house. They either want help finding the right house that best fits their needs, lifestyle and budget, or they want help finding a new owner for their home while getting the most value out of it. They want a trusted consultant. A trusted advisor. Not a salesperson.
When you start with the goal of helping and consulting versus selling, people will notice. And their appreciation for your services will translate into leads for future business and referrals. By taking this approach, you create a win-win situation for you and your clients. That’s our advice, anyway. Consider yourself consulted.