Part GP, Part Psychologist

Following with the theme of my previous article ‘Is there a doctor in the house?’ I am going to draw on a book widely read by the medical fraternity.

In 1969, Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, a University of Chicago medical school instructor, wrote ‘On Death and Dying’, which was inspired by her work with terminally ill patients. She hypothesised the ‘five stages of grief’, now known as the Kübler-Ross model and widely accepted by the general public and medical community, and her work revolutionised how the medical field in the States cared for the terminally ill.

Her hypothesis suggests that when a person is faced with the reality of impending death or other extreme, awful fate, he or she will experience a series of emotional stages: denial, anger, bargaining,depression and acceptance.

Here is how I see the five stages of acceptance in our business – the business of real estate – based on the hypothesis that when something bad happens, people go through a process before accepting the new reality.

Stage 1: Denial

This, for example, is the seller in denial about the current market he or she is selling in and wanting to achieve an inconceivable sale price.

Right, you’ve put the seller in the picture about current market conditions, provided all the evidence you possibly can but they are still in denial and even appear to be directing their anger at you.

Stage 2: Anger

Here is something new to consider! SO… when seller is yelling at you, it is actually a positive sign that they are going through the next phase, which is…

Stage 3: Bargaining

Here is where the seller says, for example, “Yes we do appreciate it is worth $500K but can’t we just leave it at $650K for a couple of weeks…”

And it is time for you to roll out the hard evidence.

Stage 4: Depression

Oh dear! Here is where you are likely to hear from your seller, something akin to “We are not going to give it away. But if we go along with what you are saying, we might as well just give it away!”

In the Kübler-Ross model, this is an important time for grief processing; and feeling emotions like sorrow, regret, fear and uncertainty indicates a person has begun to accept their situation.

At this stage, the seller begins to understand the certainty of the market and what needs to happen to move toward a successful sale outcome as they move closer to …

Stage 5: Acceptance

At our regular sales meetings, we plot where each one of our sellers is sitting in this active process of moving through the stages.

This is the science of vendor management.

To understand and interpret it means accepting the processing that takes place in a vendor’s head.

It tells good real estate agents they must be great at having those very crucial conversations even though they may feel uncomfortable doing so, because they know it is putting the seller on the path to a happier result.

I return to the question of what makes a good real estate agent, and apply the ‘doctor mentality’.

What makes a good doctor? The good doctor is the one who asks you the best questions, and gives the best ideas that moves things forward and makes you feel better.

We adopt that mentality as agents. We consult, ask loads of the right questions and really extract all the information possible so that we can devise a series of events that leads the seller to the healthiest possible outcome.

Consultation is something I ensure my salespeople take very seriously, and has led me to turn the traditional listing-marketing process on its head. My three-point approach is:

  • Make the first meeting with a vendor in the real estate office, because that puts the focus firmly on the vendor-agent relationship rather than the ‘bricks and mortar’.
  • Consult, like a doctor, rather than deliver the traditional familiar mode of listing presentation.
  • FIRST list the property, THEN go and visit the property to establish the pricing strategy, marketing strategy and all the other matters around the sale.

It’s all about the alliance between the agent and the vendor.

I love real estate, and it is a wonderful career that gives me a wonderful lifestyle with wonderful choices; but even now with all the years and the experience I have, it can still give me a good kick now and again.

And a career in real estate is not about how good you are, but how quickly you can get up again after you are kicked.

TONY WILLIAMSON B.Comm GAICD owns RE/MAX Real Estate Services in Cairns. The business, which he opened in October 2009 enjoys the largest market share in Cairns. His team includes a sales division of 18 agents and a property management division of 200 properties.

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