You know client retention is key for the future health of your business. While there’s always potential to turn buyers into repeat customers, the promise is even greater with sellers—many of whom will be in the market immediately to buy a new home. So, how can you make sure sellers will want to enlist your services for the next purchase transaction? Applying these six tips to your daily practices will help ensure your sellers return to you as buyers.
1. Treat every sales pitch like an interview. It’s your first opportunity to make a good impression on a potential client. “When you show up [to a listing appointment] with your research done immaculately, and you are present to discern their true needs by asking the right questions and giving careful attention to all of their concerns, they will know that they matter to you,” says Brenda Di Bari, a broker with Halstead Real Estate in New York. As you learn about your seller’s goals, find out what their plans are for the future. Addressing their next move at the beginning of the relationship will urge them to start thinking about employing your help in finding another home.
2. Develop open relationships with clients. Your clients want to feel confident they’re in good hands. They want to know you’ll always act in their best interest, not in the interest of your commission. “Getting to know your client as a person—not as a number—by really figuring out what makes them tick and being genuinely interested makes all the difference,” says Travis Carroll, a sales associate with Oxford Property Group in New York. Achieving repeat business requires you to establish meaningful relationships with your clients. Start establishing bonds with a prospect before you’ve even scored the listing. It’ll help you win their business now and in the future.
3. Manage clients’ expectations. Your clients may have expectations you can’t possibly fulfill; find out what they are at the outset. “Making clients’ experiences better than they could have ever expected starts with truly understanding what they’re actually expecting,” Carroll says. Learn how much they expect their home to sell for and how quickly. Then walk them through the comps and your recommendation for list price. Discuss average time on market and how long it takes homes in their neighborhood to sell. Managing your clients’ expectations is easier with data in hand.
4. Be firm about pricing. When there’s client pushback about list price, many agents ignore their better judgment. Nervous about losing listings, they’ll often cave to the client’s pressure to list higher than appropriate and then watch the property linger on the market. By the time the seller agrees to drop the price, the listing may have already lost momentum—and the agent is blamed for the lack of offers. “A sound and complete reason behind the price an agent recommends is something most sellers will recognize and respect,” Di Bari says. “If, in the end, an agreement cannot be reached, it is incumbent upon the agent to walk away as opposed to mispricing.” Listing at a client’s desired price with the intention of proving them wrong will only create tension. If you can’t see eye to eye, you’ll be more likely to receive bad reviews than repeat business.
5. Don’t avoid uncomfortable conversations. Client objections are common, and your success hinges on your ability to respond to them appropriately. Some agents skirt difficult conversations, but issues pile up when clients’ homes receive little interest. Speak up: A lot can be solved with client cooperation. If the property is in poor condition, recommend repairs. If the rooms are messy, ask them to clean. If the furniture’s outdated, explain how to refresh it. Avoiding these conversations prevents your clients from making the changes necessary to get their home sold, so don’t shy away from sensitive subjects. It’s your job to be honest, even when it feels brutal.
6. Never underestimate the power of data. Before talking about list price, agents should always analyze comparable properties. However, few refer back to the data after beginning to market the property to the public. When you’re struggling to identify why a property isn’t gaining interest, examine the data and ascertain:
- Have any comps sold since you listed?
- Has the inventory increased?
- Is the listing priced competitively?
- What does the listing have that others lack?
- What does it lack that others have?
By re-examining the inventory, you can determine if the price point of your listing is still appropriate. Furthermore, you can decide how to adjust your marketing to accentuate the home’s unique features and divert attention from its lesser qualities.
Whether you’re a seasoned broker or brand-new salesperson, it’s always useful to compare your practices to those of other real estate professionals. The nature of the business is competitive, and staying ahead means offering the best service available. The above tips will encourage your clients to return to you for all of their transactions and refer you to friends. For more advice, check out our tips for improving your buyers’ experiences.