Eight Magical Ways to Train Your Clients
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if every one of your clients was a joy to work with? But let’s face it—some are, and some aren’t. However, there are ways to improve your odds, reduce your stress level, and have easier, more productive relationships with every client. Here are eight strategies to help you create the best in client relationships.
We’ve probably all trained someone (or something), whether it was a new employee, a child, or a puppy. The most successful training is based on a system of rewards. Let’s see how we can apply that system to your clients.
- Model appropriate behavior. This is where the training begins and it starts with the very first contact. If you’d like your client to always be on time, do the same thing at your first meeting (and all the ones after that too). If you want clients to return your calls or emails promptly, do the same for them.
- Ask fact-finding questions up front. Always begin a new client relationship with an investigation. Find out what kind of relationship and service your client is used to or wants to have with you. Be very direct about this. Ask questions like, “What did you like best about your last Realtor? What did you like least?” Take notes. Then work to create the perception that you are adapting your work methods to their specific needs.
- Manage expectations. Once you have the client profile outlined, talk with them openly about your style, your way of working. Do you have support staff that handles details and paperwork? Does your assistant or receptionist answer your calls and take messages or are you always available by phone? Do you email or text frequently and does that work for them? If you’re not going to answer your iPhone on Tuesday evenings because you’re in yoga class, say so. Tell them exactly how you work and what to expect.
- Put it in writing. When you first start working with a new client, hand or email them a personalized document titled “(Your Name’s) Bill of Rights.” This should be a single page, bullet point list of exactly what the client should expect from you (see #3, above). This should include things like quick response to questions, open and honest communication (even about the bad stuff), impeccable paperwork.
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- Admit mistakes. You’re not going to be perfect, and neither are they. When mistakes are made, as they will be, the best strategy is to admit it immediately and move on. If you miss an appointment, a phone call, or your open house is a bomb, acknowledge that things went wrong and say how you’re going to fix it or avoid it next time.
- Honor loyalty. The client relationship is not a one-shot deal. You want clients who will send their friends and colleagues to you. You want them to call you five years from now when they decide to put that house back on the market or buy a vacation home. Show them how it’s done by sending business their way, if that’s appropriate. Introduce them to your book club, your coffee group, or invite them to join your Rotary club. If you tell others what great people they are, they will do the same for you.
- Reward good behavior. This has nothing to do with gifts, or even a free cup of coffee. It’s saying “thank you” when they are fitting into your “Good Client Behavior” model. You can thank your client when he completes important paperwork on time. When she gives you a prompt response to an offer so you can keep the deal alive, send her a short email to say “thanks.” When you let your client know that you appreciate what they did, they will feel good about your compliment and repeat the behavior in the future.
- Talk the talk. You want your clients to spread the word about what a great Realtor you are. So start by spreading the work about how great your clients are. You’ve created the good client profile, you’ve modeled the right behavior, so when you tell others, “I’ve got the best clients in the world,” it’s because you’ve trained them to be that way.
And it doesn’t hurt to close every new client meeting with the same statement: “I’ve got the best clients in the world—and I’d like you to be one of them.”