What the best brokers do, continued:
5. They connect first and sell next.
It’s much easier to sell to somebody who’s already on your team. That’s why top brokers work hard to establish common ground with their prospects and clients by taking a genuine interest in them as people. That’s how they uncover the little similarities that tend to bring people together—whether it’s a shared love of ice hockey or the same small-town upbringing.
There’s some subtle psychology at work here. Research out of Harvard suggests that we prefer people who are like us. Not only that, but we tend to believe that if a person has just one thing in common with us, they’ll share our opinion on many other things. So when you meet someone who likes their eggs scrambled and their coffee black (just like you!) it’s as if your brain gets excited and thinks, “Hey, here’s someone who gets it: someone just like me!”
So yes, small talk is a big thing. In fact, research suggests that just five minutes of casual chit-chat before a negotiation boosts the outcome of the negotiation. “What’s funny about all this,” says Amy Cuddy, “is that the things you do to increase trust actually often are things that are seen as wastes of time. People say, ‘Oh, I don’t have time for small talk.’ Well, you should make the time.”
What will put you and your prospect on the same team? Every conversation is a chance to establish common ground: you may discover you both once lived in Fargo, have kids the same age, and love the same special at the local deli. Bit by bit, this is how relationships are built—and how sales are won.
6. They listen more than they speak.
Good brokers are generous listeners, and they make people feel heard and valued. That sounds easy enough to do, right? Yet this simple skill can be remarkably challenging, especially for brokers who are just starting out. Notice how when you’re nervous or a lot is at stake, you’ll start to talk and talk and talk and…?
Every broker wants to come across as competent, capable and knowledgeable about their market. And many will try to do this by telling their clients all about how competent, capable and knowledgeable they are.
Successful brokers do exactly the opposite. They ask good questions and they listen, and then they let their thoughtful responses subtly signal their competence. That’s it.
7.They’re not afraid to challenge a prospect or a client.
Emotional intelligence isn’t just about being a good listener and knowing how to connect. It’s also about being assertive and engaging in healthy conflict, when needed. Power brokers aren’t afraid to challenge their clients and prospects because they know it can lead to better relationships in the end.
Remember, clients hire you to help them make smart real estate decisions. Your first priority, then, should be to serve them—even if it means disagreeing with them. But here’s the subtle distinction: when you challenge a client on an issue, do it from a place of curiosity, not accusation. Instead of saying, “No, that’s not going to work and here are all the reasons why,” say, “We seem to have a different opinion on this one. Can we walk through it together?”
You can guide their thinking by saying, “How might doing X impact Z? What’s the upside and the downside?” Then offer your expertise and guidance where it’s appropriate.