Let’s face it, we’re all a little self-absorbed. Our personal hopes, fears, and dreams dominate our thoughts, and even the most altruistic people get lost in themselves on occasion. That said, real estate sales is all about helping people achieve their American dream, and your success hinges on your ability to get outside of your head and see the world from a different point of view.
By age four or five, most of us understand that our best friend doesn’t share our passion for fish sticks or our obsession with the color blue… but it’s easy to forget when we become emotionally invested in our opinions. Despite all your training as a real estate professional, you may be floored when your buyer passes on that perfectly quaint country cottage by the lake, forgetting that her dream home isn’t your dream home.
The only antidote for projecting your personal preferences onto your clients’ desires is to get them talking. The more they talk about themselves, the more you’ll learn about how you can meet their needs.
While it doesn’t take much to get some people talking, your more introverted clients may need a little nudge. Michael J. Maher, author of The Seven Levels of Communication, uses the acronym FROG as a shorthand for four topics that get people to open up. FROG stands for Family, Recreation, Occupation, and Goals, and at least one of these topics will touch on something your clients want to discuss.
Figure out what inspires them, dig deeper, and learn to appreciate it as best you can. Even if you don’t share their passion for birdwatching, Jazzercise, or reenacting key battles from the Civil War, there’s something wonderful about seeing someone open up about their work or their hobbies.
Once you’ve built rapport and understand your clients better as individuals, you can transition into specific questions about their real estate needs. Create a checklist template to use as a step-by-step guide, taking you through everything you ought to ask. Keep in mind that these lists are no substitute for getting into your prospects’ heads and forging a bond that runs deeper than business. After all, your clients may have several reasons why they want to buy or sell, and they may not think to mention them all.
If you have a real conversation with your clients before delving into your checklist, you’ll learn a bit about your clients’ backgrounds, their values, and their vision for a perfect life—making it that much easier to help them realize their dreams.
In the end, isn’t that what your business is all about?