The market is creeping up. At a glacial pace perhaps, but creeping nonetheless. So a new market needs a new attitude. It gives you a clean slate, a great opportunity to move your business to another level.
The best way to make this happen is to embark on a well-thought-out program of reputation management. You do this by building trust and by managing how clients and colleagues perceive you. There’s an old saying, “Perception is reality.” If people perceive you as being reliable and trustworthy, then that’s your reputation. You become the go-to person, the one people count on to get the job done. Here are ten important behaviors that will greatly enhance your personal trust factor.
- Get excited. You must show a genuine eagerness about working with each client and staying with them until their needs are satisfied. You need to radiate confidence and an air of professionalism.
- Listen creatively. When you sit down with a new or prospective client, put yourself in their shoes. Avoid rushing to judgment, thinking you know what they want or need after the first five minutes of conversation. Instead, develop a word picture of what they are telling you, and play it back for confirmation before you start making recommendations.
- Become an expert. Know your territory. Once you’ve listened creatively, show your true expertise about the neighborhoods, the price range, and the other factors that are important to your client.
- Respect their standards. Just because you’ve invested a lot of time with a client doesn’t mean you should start pressuring them to make a decision. Resist the temptation to convince the clients to lower their standards or their selling price. Sometimes you may need to do a little educating, especially if the client has unrealistic expectations, but mainly you need to help them get what they want.
- Watch your language. Realtors sometimes use code words when describing properties. While there’s nothing wrong with putting the best possible face on a property, some of these code words are downright misleading, especially to the novice client. “Charming.” (It’s a run-down dump.) “Great neighborhood.” (The house is a dog, but it’s on a nice street.) “Spacious.” (The inside resembles a cave.) Be descriptive, but also be honest.
- Negotiate fairly. Of course it’s in everyone’s best interests to get the deal done. However, using some of the gimmicks and pressure tactics that are commonly employed by some in the real estate business won’t build that trustworthy reputation you’re looking for. Do any of these statements sound familiar?
- “Don’t bid too low or you’ll insult the seller.”
- “You better act fast—a lot of other offers are coming in.”
- “Are you willing to lose this property for $20 a month?”
- Always stay on the client’s side. It may be a challenge in the short term, but it will pay big dividends in the long run.
- Forget the “love connection.” Some realtors have been known to promise a client, “I’ll find you a house you’ll fall in love with.” That’s fine, as long as the “love” is balanced with a healthy dose of realism. Loving a house can cause people to overlook fatal flaws and potential costly repairs. A client with buyer’s remorse is not going to enhance your reputation.
- Take your time. Use the time factor to your client’s advantage. Unless the clients are in an emergency situation where they need to buy or sell quickly, slow the action down. Let them take the time necessary to get the best offer, or choose the right property at the right price.
- Buy low. A savvy Realtor should sometimes encourage their buyers to make strategically low offers. Writing an offer isn’t really a lot of work and the worst thing that can happen is that the offer gets turned down. In a buyer’s market, however, a low offer could easily turn into a counter-offer. A low first offer is just the starting point of a good deal.
- Forget your commission. Well, not totally, of course! Nobody wants to run a non-profit organization. But always put your clients ahead of your commission. It’s human nature to start counting the dollars as soon as the offer comes in. Instead, focus on doing what’s right for the client and the commission will follow.
The trust factor is the single most important element in your personal success strategy. With trust on your side and a market turnaround waiting in the wings, 2013 could be your best year yet.