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How to Win a New Client: Become a better listener

posted Mar 9, 2018, 3:48 PM by Joyce Evans   [ updated Mar 9, 2018, 3:50 PM ]
By REALTOR® David Swanson

Asking the right questions and listening to the answers I believe are keys to winning new clients. With prospective clients, I recommend starting with a consultation at the broker’s office. Confirm the date and time beforehand. Have refreshments available. At this initial meeting, ask a ton of questions and listen carefully. I don’t need to give advice or offer solutions, all I need to do is just listen. In fact, advice-giving can be counterproductive. With today’s technology, it’s likely a buyer already has dedicated lots of time to inform themselves about the market long before you were introduced to them.

Among such questions as: “Why do you want to buy or sell? What’s most important to you, schools or neighborhood or convenience to shopping or medical services? What are your expectations? What’s your understanding of the transaction process? What are your long-term goals and objectives in your life? Ask clarifying questions: Who? What? When? How? These questions will let those you are listening to know that you are paying attention and want to know what they have to say.

Sometimes I will ask the same question multiple times in different ways in order to drill deeper to help determine whether I can help them. There’s a big difference between hearing and listening. You can hear something and not really be listening. A deeper discussion can lead to a long-term, respectful friendship, which is what I’m looking for. One of the things I’ve learned is that I have never learned anything while I’m talking. If my mouth is moving, I’m not learning. You don’t learn when you’re talking. Rather, you learn when you’re listening. Good relationships and trust come from building a positive rapport. Building a positive rapport can help you explore all available options. At the core of the real estate business is good relationships.

Listening isn’t always easy. One of the most common causes of frustration and friction in agent-client relationships is that we don't really listen to each other. Too often we talk at each other rather than with each other. The last thing you want is upset, annoyed or angry clients. Satisfied clients will refer more business your way, plus happy clients make your job more enjoyable.

Fortunately, listening is a skill that can be developed.  Anyone can learn to be a better listener. The benefits of learning how to listen are enormous: fewer mistakes, better negotiating, greater income possibilities, more friends, and less confusion to name a few.

Especially for new agents, several things can hinder the art of listening to clients, including: Lack of preparation (to avoid panicking, bring a list of questions or a fill-out-the-blank questionnaire to gather feedback and collect the correct information); Presumption (we think we already know it all, or we think we can “wing-it”); Impatience (when we interrupt and jump to conclusions); Pride (we've become defensive and, thereby, unteachable).

Listening will help you give clients what they want. It’s not helpful to ignore client requests and show them homes out of their budget, or homes in the wrong neighborhood, or homes that don’t have the number of bedrooms or bathrooms or amenities they need or want.

To become better listeners, let me suggest: Look at people when you listen to them (listen with your eyes; probably 80 percent of communication is nonverbal); Be sympathetic (listen with your heart; tune-in to the emotions behind the words). Listening is probably the most important skill in building friendships and relationships, because you can’t love people without listening to them. When you give your attention, you’re showing them love. You show that you care by staying aware.