You’re a real estate expert. You know your city; you know the neighborhood; and you’ve run the comps. But your client just won’t listen. They go on and on about how their great aunt who lives not far from here — maybe thirty minutes — sold her house for $20,000 above the listing price you’re suggesting, and that was 3 years ago. And their cousin sold his for $25,000 above that. And maybe you’re just not the realtor for them.
What do you do?
Do you walk away from the client? Do you argue?
According to George J. Thompson in Verbal Judo: The Gentle Art of Persuasion, no. While it is always within your rights to walk away, that should be your last option. And arguing is both unprofessional and ineffective.
Here is a step-by-step guide on how to get real estate clients to listen, especially when they don’t want to.
Step #1: Stay Calm
Never get upset.
Mushin, which translates to “no mind,” describes a state of being with no ego — no biases. A person in this state is calm and centered. No matter what is happening, she remains undisturbed.
In the book, Thompson says professionals must practice Mushin, especially in high tension situations. He stresses that the moment you show anger is the moment you lose power and any hope of controlling the situation.
Step #2: Deflect and Refocus
The two natural reactions to hearing something unpleasant is to grin and bear it or to argue and get sucked in. Neither option leads to a good result when you’re dealing with a difficult real estate client.
Instead, deflect and move forward professionally.
Deflecting phrases include:
- I appreciate that
- I’m sorry you feel that way
- I hear that
- I understand that
So you might say, “I understand that your great aunt sold her house for more, and I’m sorry you feel that I might not be the right realtor for you…” When deflecting, it’s important to use more than one phrase so you don’t sound abrupt.
After you’ve deflected, it’s time to refocus. The refocusing words are BUT or AND. For example, “… BUT I’m just trying to help you achieve your goal of selling fast.”
When you are deflecting and refocusing, always sound calm and interested; and make sure that everything you say after your refocusing word (BUT or AND) is professional and goal-driven.
Step #3: Ask, Explain, and Paint a Picture
Once you’ve refocused the conversation on the goal of your client selling their house, the next steps are as follows:
- Ask them to do what needs to be done in order to achieve the goal.
- Explain why it’s important.
- Present them with their options by painting a clear picture.
In an actual conversation, asking, explaining, and painting a picture look like this:
“Will you let me list your house for $480,000?”
If your client says no or appears unconvinced, add context. Tell them why it’s important they list at $480,000.
“It’s important that we list at $480,000 because that’s the highest you’re going to get in this buyer’s market, and I don’t want to waste your time or have you be disappointed down the line when your house doesn’t sell.”
If your client says no again or is still wavering, present their options.
“If you list at $480,000, you’ll be relaxing in front of the TV in your new home in under a month. If you list for more, you’ll be stuck here for months and will end up saying to me — let’s lower to $480,000. That happens all the time. So let’s list right the first time. You might even be able to move into your new house before Christmas.”
When presenting the options, paint a clear picture and follow this sequence: good, bad, reminder of good. Painting a clear picture helps get your client in touch with the reality of the situation, and sandwiching the bad scenario between the good makes it more likely they will choose the appealing option.
Being a realtor can be frustrating, especially when you’re trying to help your client but they don’t want to listen. Using these techniques from Verbal Judo: The Gentle Art of Persuasion will help you manage your conversations with clients to help you both achieve the goal of getting their house sold.
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