Counselors or Sellers

The more things change the more they stay the same. The changing life of a Real Estate sales person. I have been in sales, general and sales management now for nearly 30 years and it is astounding how the role of the sales person has changed, as have the ploys, training, insights, tricks, skills and influences that are employed to improve the closure rate of sales.

There is little doubt that real estate is a totally different industry to what it was in 1986 when I started as a sales person. In this days there was no internet (or we didn’t know what it was), holding Listings was to be King as buyers had to come to your office to find homes or trawl through local papers for pictures and descriptions they liked (we never ever had addresses on advertisements).

Local papers courted us like royalty as the real estate section was often the backbone of the paper and very often there was no fee for advertising in the newspaper. The shop front was the most important ‘buyer attractor’ and the top sales people always had the offices or seat closest to the window so they could race out and talk to people viewing the stock.

The greatest threat to your commission was the black art of Multi-List and conjunctions were rare but mostly amicable; discounting commission was to my memory never done, mentioned or discussed.

Sales Agents were taught closing techniques by the likes of Tom Hopkins and Steve Brown and each Franchise Group had their preferred rote sales presentation. Buyers had little idea of price, competitive stock, investment returns (this was for the rich not the everyday person) or how to negotiate. Sellers relied on agents exclusively for advice on pricing, method of sale and advertising. Ah, what joy it was!

“Buyers had little idea of price, competitive stock, investment returns (this was for the rich not the everyday person) or how to negotiate.”

Somehow the world changed! Buyers and sellers got edu-mecated! So real estate agents with shiny shoes, plait suits started looking like car salesmen and were seen to no longer be a trusted ally but a threat to the whole integrity of the process.

The internet brought every house for sale into the home of potential buyers. Information on sales, trends, capital growth, rental returns, mean prices were provided by research companies like PRDnationwide, RPdata and the like.

Training moved from slick lines to consultative selling, negotiations skills, neuro-linguisitc programming, soft skills, interpersonal relationships, real estate process and matching needs and wants.

Don’t get me wrong it is critical that a real estate sale person knows what to say in certain situations, but to learn scripts and dialogues really sits buyer and sellers in the dumb seats, and arguably today they sit in the dress seats with the other edu-macated people.

The important thing is that agents need to understand the psychology of selling, what’s happening in the sellers and buyers minds, what are the true motivations not what then are telling you, we need to be forensic investigators objectively questioning to determine what is really going on. Understanding they difference between what a person says and what a person means, understanding that wants and needs are very different issues; and understand that although logic is a driving consideration in purchases by and large people buy on emotion and then justify their decisions with logic.

Wow, are we that clever?

“The important thing is that agents need to understand the psychology of selling, what’s happening in the sellers and buyers minds.”

From my interaction with a significant number of Principals and sales agents over the years you would have to say probably not, although the transition is coming.

No longer are real estate agents mystics who foretold the future sale price and timing of your home and guarded the information on what was available for sale.

Agencies have started to recognize the importance of the Buyer in the equation and the birth of Buyers Agents has come to the fore and it is acceptable to work with another agent to secure a sale for your seller. After all we are supposed to work for our seller to get a result, so surely a split commission and a sale is better than not securing a sale for our seller??? (Some agents still don’t understand this).

So the environment changed, the pendulum of power changed yet some real estate agents still hold onto glib lines, out dated scripts and dialogues and mind games to secure listings and or sales. Over pricing, over promising, discounting, bagging competitors still is in the bag of tricks of many agents which continues to hound our reputation as a profession.

I contend that today with the amount of information available to buyers and sellers that the sales agent is less of a sales person (indeed who could every really sell a house to someone who didn’t want one) and more of a counselor.

Credit goes to these agents that can stand chest to chest with a seller, look them in the eye and tell them their price expectations are unlikely to be realized in the current market. Additional credit goes to those that stick by this and refuse to take the property to market under these conditions.

Often our role of counselor become nothing more than a greed counselor, take this outrageous example. The seller wants $600 000 and research indicates it is possibly likely to achieve $500 000, the buyer wants to pay $400 000 knowing it probably worth $500 000 ~ I’m sure no agent has ever been in this situation. No wonder agents become frustrated, but when we can secure equilibrium of greed between parties a sale is assured. Cynical yes but clinically often correct.

Scripts and dialogues would provide little support in such negotiations unless the agent understand the psychology behind what is happening, the true motivation of parties to the negotiation and has the ability to communicate with, not speak at both parties.

The one thing that rarely changes is the truth. Dialogue with all parties should be candid, professional, succinct and direct backed by facts; such communication builds trust, respect and can cut through the emotion (greed) which often clouds or stalls negotiations.

And all this for a measly few percentage points of commission….and some want to discount this, shame on you!

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Ric Mingramm

Ric Mingramm is a licensed Real Estate Agent and Auctioneer in NSW and QLD and has recently joined PRD Nationwide North Lakes as Sales Manager.