You’re almost there. The paperwork is ready for signatures and everything is in order. Then suddenly the client backs out for no apparent reason. Now what?
If you make the right moves, sometimes the deal that goes south can still be salvaged. Here are five ways to resurrect the situation.
Ignore. Pretend you’ve suddenly gone hard of hearing. You didn’t hear that “no.” Just assume there are a few details to work out, maybe a case of cold feet or buyer’s remorse. Adopting this strategy will often allow you to shift the other person’s thinking. Unless there’s some deep hidden agenda, you just need to convince them that everything is still on track. Above all, don’t pressure or argue; just present your point of view in the most persuasive way and let the chips fall where they may. Even if this deal does fall through, you haven’t alienated the client and they may be back someday with a different attitude.
Question. Probe for information. If the client says no, try to find out what’s behind the no. Listen carefully to the answers. You may be able to change their mind if you have good logical come-backs for their objections. For example, even though they agreed to a 30-day close, suddenly they can’t possibly move that soon. What if we could get a five or ten day extension? What if we could get you some help packing or holding a garage sale? You need to be ready with your talking points when they answer your question and if your talking points make sense, you may get back to yes.
Anticipate. Sometimes you can avoid the no altogether if you address doubts in advance. Often your intuition will tell you when a client is about to go wobbly on you. For example, if a potential seller hasn’t signed your listing agreement yet and has made repeated remarks about the Realtor right down the street who really knows their neighborhood, be prepared. Have a list of five reasons why you’re the best person in the world to get this property sold. If a buyer is grumbling about the high cost of moving, be ready with references for competitive bids.
Wait. Sometimes the no comes from an overdose of stress or a sudden upset of some kind. Often it doesn’t even have anything to do with you. In this case, a cooling-off period may do the trick. But if you are backing away temporarily, be sure you leave the door open, even if it’s just a crack. “I can see this probably isn’t a good time to discuss things, Mrs. Jones. Why don’t we touch base in a day or two and let’s see what we can work out?”
Waiting can work both ways—sometimes it’s the clients who back away. If someone’s not feeling the need to take action today, there’s been a breakdown on the urgency front. And if they disappear, it’s out of sight, out of mind. Maybe they actually want to think over their decision, just to make sure it’s right for them. That’s fine. But don’t let them think for too long without following up. It’s too easy for them to talk themselves out of the deal. Let’s say you have a buyer who is nervous about making an offer. Set a deadline or create a sense of urgency, especially if you know other offers are pending.
Regroup. It’s never over until it’s over. And sometimes it’s still not over. Just don’t ever shut a door completely. Stay in touch with communications that are totally unrelated to buying or selling property. For example, let’s say that after multiple meetings and conversations, you lost a listing to another Realtor. So don’t let it make you angry or resentful (at least not in public). Wait a couple of weeks and send a nice email about something of mutual interest. “Hi, I hope everything is going well, I know you were looking for a painting contractor and I just discovered a great one. Here’s his number.” No hard sell, nothing about working together. You’re just doing someone a favor.
Guess what? Listing agreements don’t last forever. People buy and sell properties multiple times in their lives. And they give referrals too. You never know when that no will suddenly, magically, turn into yes.