All too often, we as agents, become a product of our surroundings. I hear more agents talk the “lingo” or our business and if they stopped themselves for one minute, and analyzed their thought to feelings to language/expression process, they would probably say, “oh, that’s not good.”
In the real estate business, once you become a product of the “biz”, you start to think and act like those you respect or look up to, which can be a good thing. It also can put you right in the mix with everyone else.
Fortunately, I learned how to be aware of how I speak with my clients in real estate by studying the principles of customer service through Brian Buffini – Work By Referral, Live the Good Life!So before I go on, I just want to fully acknowledge his impact on my business (and life).
So I figured I’d share some tips for re-engaging HOW YOU DO BUSINESS and train yourself and your mind to speak professionally.
The best first step, in my opinion is to start using better words. If you start with the words you use on a daily basis, that will work backwards through your feelings and to your thoughts. You’ll start THINKING differently.
Change behavior first. Then the mind will follow (cognition).
Lingo: (This is a short list but it’s a good place to start)
- “Get the deal done.”
- “My client is not going to…”
- “You (or they) should/shouldn’t….”
- “Low ball”
- Various mild curse words
Now I’m not going to say that I’m not guilty of thinking some of these terms and saying them. I’m human. But over the last year (and my broker can attest to this because I told him to keep an ear out for me back in January), I’ve specifically made a point to not speak this way. I’ll go through these quickly and provide suggestions on how to counteract them.
“The deal“. These two words are deadly to your business. I have virtually eliminated these words from my professional language. They imply that your client is just another “deal”. It’s unprofessional and makes you sound like a salesman. Not a professional salesman.
To this point, I hear and see agents try and mask the fact that they are in sales. They’ll call themselves “consultants” or “advisors” – a “Sales Consultant”. That’s worse when you do this. I like telling my clients that I’m a professionally trained salesperson with a broker’s license.
The word professional implies that I’m a person that is paid to undertake a specific set of tasks and it’s my sole job to orchestrate them with uncommon skill. I’m a pro, not a “consultant”. And yes, I am a SALESperson. A salesperson is someone who masters the art of marketing, advertising and negotiations. I don’t know what consultants do other than…consult.
Eliminate the word “deal” from your vocabulary. It’s a transactional mindset word that has no place in your business if you want to connect with your clients emotional needs and earn referrals. Don’t even use it when talking with other agents or loan officers.
A much better word is “transaction(s)”. That’s professional. Don’t be a gutter-salesman. You’re better than that.
I don’t refer to my clients as not doing something or agreeing to something unless I have spoken with them first. Many agents say “my client won’t go that low.” In negotiations, I hear this time and time again and it’s really code for “I”.
Here’s a tip, when you’re allowing your personal pride or need to be the “hero” to your client, you’re not meeting the emotional or transactional need of your client, but rather your own personal needs. Never good. Practice not doing this.
Tip: Pick up the phone and call your client. Let’s say you get a “low ball” offer (and we’ll change that lingo too). Don’t tell the agent presenting it. Rather ask them some questions and through that, see if they can’t go back to the buyer and re-engage and bring the offer up a bit. This takes skill in conversing with the other agent but saying, “my client’s not going to take that”, is amateur.
You should/shouldn’t, are words that are used all too often in our society at large. In college I learned a counseling method known as Rational-Emotive-Behavior Therapy or REBT by Dr. Albert Ellis. A New Guide to Rational Living
Dr. Ellis is best known for creating this form of therapy and also very well-known for dropping the “f-bomb” in any conversation as his self application of his own therapy over the years helped him shed many of society’s norms and restrictions on how he thought, felt and therefore behaved. Without going into any in-depth analysis of REBT, I want to shed one simple point.
Using the words should or shouldn’t in your mind and in your words to dictate what another person should feel or how they should act or what decisions they should or shouldn’t make, in life and in business, is fruitless. That fruit will die on the vine before you ever truly help someone. I know this from years in the counseling field.
I never use these words except when I’m describing the weather – it should rain today. Do likewise and you’ll see that allowing yourself to be a little more free from someone else’s decisions or behavior makes you lighter on your feet.
Tip: Instead of “should” or “shouldn’t”, first listen to what someone is saying. Repeat it back to them. Clarify what it is they’re saying/thinking/feeling. Then use a phrase like, “I hear what you’re saying, but what about…” Offer options, not judgments. I could write an entire weblog about all the negative “self-talk” (Ellis) that we use in our own lives. Just start with these two words – don’t use them.
Okay, so you’ve got the “comps“ for this “deal” huh? Oye Vey. If I had a nickel…
To me, the word “comps” is unprofessional. Professionals in the business might use them once in a while with other brokers in short-speak – once in a while. However, I hear agents saying this all the time, to their clients, to every agent they speak with, and to appraisers, friends, family etc.
Tip: Just stop using the word altogether and supplement it with comparative homes for sale.
So you got a “low ball” offer? Who hasn’t. To me, I trained myself to actually like receiving low offers. The challenge is to stick with them and not brush them aside as fast I see many agents do. Time and time again, I’ll hear an agent refer to a low offer as a “waste of time”. That’s a recipe for laziness.
A “low ball” offer could be a result of any number of variables such as an uneducated buyer or a new agent (or both). It could also mean you may need to re-evaluate your listing price. It could mean that the buyer and agent have perhaps miscalculated several repairs the home needs. It could be an investor who’s looking at the wrong type of properties and maybe you can steer them in the right direction (and earn a client and future referrals).
The point is to not walk away mentally from them. But first, in my opinion, you need to train your mind not to think or say the words “low ball”. Get rid of it because in your mind, it’s attaching a negative thought and feeling to the offer and the person/agent presenting it. From there your feelings extend into your behaviors and you’ll blow off the offer without exploring the options.
Tip: Change the lingo to anything comfortable for you rather than “low ball”. Call a low offer…a low offer. Call it a “curve ball”. Call it “an offer that needs some work” (this is my favorite lingo especially with my clients. It implies that things are possible and that you’re positive, not negative.
Note here – if you’re reading this and saying to yourself, “This is just happy positive bologna. Call a spade a spade”, then perhaps this blog isn’t for you. But think for a moment how negative our surroundings are. Would you rather be like everyone else? Would you rather sound like every other agent? Or would you rather be able to acknowledge the “low ball” offer but handle it in a positive way? And this goes for anything I’m writing here in this post. Think it through.
Okay, last but definitely not least, I just want to cover the use of curse words. I use them. I won’t lie. But after I do, I feel such an urge to slap myself it’s not even funny. I don’t use them on the phone as much as I once did, but I may hang up the phone once in a while and say to myself, “What the fuck…!”
Yes, we’re human and sometimes people say or do things that just leave us with no other speech other than a nice colorful metaphor.
That said, I hear agents use curse words all the time on the phone. Not all, but some.
- “The fuckin’ appraiser brought the home in low.”
- “Can you believe that shit?!”
- “I have no fucking idea.”
I hate to write that stuff down so I apologize if I offended any readers, but the reality is, agents will talk like this. Let them.
Tip: Take an oath of silence when it comes to adding extra words in sentences that lower you and your personal business standard. If you don’t have a personal business standard, call me and lets chat.
The oath: “I, NAME, do solemnly swear to not use filthy language. It lowers my professional status. I am a professional who is paid to undertake a specific set of real estate tasks and I orchestrate them with uncommon skill. Filthy language is common. Therefore I will not use it today.”
Say this as an affirmation in the mornings five times. Take a jar and put a dollar for every time you use filthy language in your professional and personal life. Of course, be realistic, if you hit your thumb with a hammer and say “SHIIITTT”, I think that’s quite alright. But use it in your day-to-day life, it’s a buck in the jar. At the end of the week, see how much you have in the jar. Donate it to charity or just use it to buy yourself something as a reward to making this small commitment to improve your life. And don’t treat this haphazardly. Do it.
How we behave is a direct result of how we process our thoughts and feelings. If we give in to our feelings and think we can’t control them, then we’re doomed to continue being mediocre. I hate that word – mediocre. Terrible. I don’t ever want to be that and I hope you don’t either.
Raise your standards and other agents will notice. Your clients (and their friends, family and associates) will notice. And I think you’ll notice it in your monetary and spiritual bank account.
By Thomas McGiveron
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Unlimited Power : The New Science Of Personal Achievement