It is important for real estate agents to be able to develop the skill of client relationship building as early as possible in their career. Many agents say “I get on easily with people” and give a look that says “no need to cover this with me, let’s move on”.

Perhaps, though, there’s room for a bit of personal reflection by some … perhaps!

Knowing what is required when client relationship building is a little more complicated than the simple ability to interact socially with people, especially if there’s a significant transaction at stake – like selling, buying or managing real estate!

The capacity to interact socially is an important skill for agents at all levels to have (and to nurture and develop). The ability to build rapport with those clients is also important.

Developing that rapport is likely to have a greater impact on your capacity to build the referral-type business most real estate agents aspire to.

The task for all agents is to establish trust and understanding with those who are likely (hopefully!) to be your clients – your prospects. To move a ‘prospect’ to the preferred position of being a ‘client’ means they must trust the agent to be able to perform the tasks they want the agent to perform.

The client is either (usually) a vendor or a landlord with a property to either sell or manage. The  agent wants to enter into a commercial arrangement with that potential client that is going to lead to a longer term relationship.

The agent wants the opportunity to provide a tailored and unique solution to that client which meets the needs of the client. To provide that ‘tailored and unique solution’ the client has to trust the ability of the agent to be more than a socially-adept individual, and to understand them, and their motivations.

In pitching for that business opportunity, the agent is on the look-out for client relationship building opportunities which are going to be mutually beneficial.

If mutually beneficial relationships are the foundation of sales then establishing rapport is the foundation of mutually beneficial relationships. A finer appreciation of the importance of rapport can lead to a positive impact on agent performance.

Critical to the relationship between agent and client is the capacity of the agent to understand and appreciate the “world” of the client –

  • What is their motive for coming to the agent?
  • What are they looking to achieve?
  • What are their timeframes?
  • What are they looking to do next?

The questions are about them! The task is to find out about them, before launching into the spiel about the agent and what the agent can do for them!

Agents often embark on an enthusiastic monologue about what they have done, what they can do, and what they have to offer before taking the time to understand the world of the prospective client.

It is very difficult to develop trust and understanding when the focus is almost entirely on one ‘party’ – the agent. The mission is to explore the world of the client, before taking them on a journey to the world of the agent.

Active listening skills are important if the agent is to deliver a message which resonates with the prospective client. The client wants to know you care about them and helping them achieve their desired outcome.

If all you do is tell them what you have done and can do – without tailoring that message to what they want – it may well turn out to be a waste of time for all ‘parties’ involved.

Spending some time on developing an understanding of the motivations of the vendor or landlords is time well spent. Knowing a bit about the street on which they live, of the properties nearby that have been recently sold, or haven’t been sold for a long time, is “intelligence” that is easy to come by even before turning up for an appraisal or listing presentation.

Knowing a bit about them and theirs can be the difference between the successful agent and the competition. Are their kids at a local school? Not yet at school? Left school? No kids? Having good local knowledge is invaluable. How the agent is able to use that knowledge with a potential client is a skill to be mastered.

Being an “area specialist” is more than a marketing label. If an agent makes the claim, it would be good to be able to back that up with an understanding of the demographic of the street, or the block, or the suburb – and how that may have changed in the last 5, 10, 15 or 50 years is important, too. How good/far is the local shopping precinct? Where are the schools in relation to the property? What are the local suburb features (parks, pools, playgrounds, sport facilities, clubs, etc) that are possibly important to potential purchasers?

It’s a ‘speed-dating’ exercise for a short-term relationship, that may extend to a long-term relationship. It’s an important activity – this client relationship building thing. The agent should be very well prepared to make a great impression with the potential suitor/clients for the opportunity to provide the tailored and unique solution for which the agent claims expertise.