Standing out from the crowd starts with breaking out of your comfort zone. Knowledge, service, and hard work are the fundamentals. But where to from there to gain that certain edge?
Stepping out of your comfort zone, doing something that challenges your perceptions of who you are and what you can do, allows you to gain the courage and self-confidence to do things that allow you to develop that competitive edge. It isn’t something that will happen overnight, but self-confidence, grounded in fact, will enable you to stand apart and shine.
People who undertake unconventional training programs, participate in team activities, take up an individual pursuit, engage in public speaking sessions usually report gains in courage, clarity, and credibility in their interactions with the public. Journalists and politicians are skilled media operators. They know the value of the “10 sec sound bite” – that practiced little snippet that will get them on the 6.00pm news (rehearsed over and over again so that it sounds like it came out naturally)! Some footy players still have difficulty getting the message out after a game, or in an interview, in something that resembles the English language, but they are trying to improve that!
As a real estate professional, getting the message across clearly and precisely is a skill that not every person has – but everyone should have. The art of negotiation requires a level of proficiency in the English language that will enable you to offer your vendors and potential buyers the best possible deal on the sale, purchase or management of property through your services.
It also requires you to have a very clear understanding of what the message is that you are trying to convey to your “audience”. The message HAS TO match the advertising. If there is a “disconnect” between the advertised message and the actions, then there will be a problem in securing the sale or management.
Actual and potential clients make very quick judgements about the suitability of an agent at open homes or on the street or via some signage (this may well be done hastily and perhaps, unfairly).
So, it’s important to make sure the message being conveyed is clear, simple, unambiguous and honest.
Exceptional customer service and communication skills are of paramount importance to the achievement of your business and industry goals. If an agent has difficulty communicating effectively with their clients – they’re not going to be in the business for long!
So, how do we improve the ability to get the message across? How do you get to be a truly effective communicator?
There are several ways to better connect with prospects and clients.
- Know your subject. If you are not clear on what you’re selling, it’s very difficult to sell it! If you want to turn someone off your ability as an agent, there is no surer way than showing your ignorance.
- Know your audience. Have a clear idea of who your “audience” is likely to be. If you know your subject, and have an indication of the likely audience, there’s a good chance you’ll tailor your message to suit them.
- Be friendly. Communication is easier when people are comfortable with one another – the conversation is easy, and that makes finding out about the “audience” a lot easier, and that makes the “sale” easier. Work continuously at being honest and friendly, so that your audience doesn’t tune out. Reputation counts for a lot here – and first impressions make all the difference!
- Ask questions. This has two benefits. It helps them clarify their thoughts and feelings and provides the listener with more information. The best questions are open-ended questions that recipients can’t answer with a simple “yes” or “no.” Begin questions with words such as “what,” “why,” or “how.” These questions provide you with information so that you find a solution for them.
- Be an active listener. Give them your undivided attention. Remove distractions; close the door; don’t answer your phone. Be aware of body language that says “not paying attention”, such as looking at your watch, files or papers on your desk.
- Make the message clear. Don’t use real estate jargon if the “audience” is not familiar with it. Simple language will make your point clearly and show that you are tailoring the message to them. Make sure they understand what you “really mean”. Don’t be condescending.
- Take time. You’re the expert, but don’t show off. Find out what they want to know BEFORE providing them with the solution! Take the time to “farm” potential clients (everyone you meet!).
- Summarise. The task is to get them to choose you to provide the solution – now, and if not now, sometime in the future! Show them you care about finding a solution for them! It’s a good idea to emphasise the main points, summarise them again, and make sure they understand you. That’s a skill! At the same time, don’t lose their attention by talking too much.
It’s important to recognise that only very rare individuals are “naturally good” at what they do. For most people, it takes hard work and lots of practice to be good at whatever it is they do.
My Mum didn’t always make the best marshmallow slice in the world – she does now, though. She messed a few of them up over the past 86 years, but there’s no one who can make one like she does now! She started with a good recipe (Grandma’s – my great grandmother), plenty of advice (from those who had used the recipe before – Grandma, Nanna and the aunties), several hundred “sales”, a great reputation amongst those “customers” privileged to have tasted and tested the “product”, and tons of testimonials to verify how good the slice is!
Being #1 means you’ve made mistakes and learnt from those mistakes – in order to improve and be the best. No one gets to be #1 in anything and retain that position without rehearsing, training, experimenting and enhancing their skills.
Being an effective communicator means knowing what the message is that you want to send and making sure all the collateral is consistent with that message. The look, the feel, the content, the delivery has to be consistent with the impression that you want to send out – to the widest possible audience – that here is the agent who “can do” for me! This agent is good at what they do, they’re skilled, practiced, refined – and the solution offered will meet my needs!
That takes effort!
What good communicators do:
- Know the message they’re trying to send
- Understand their topic
- Understand their audience
- Convey their message simply, concisely and precisely
- Adapt their knowledge & language to suit the audience
- Make sure the message sent, is the message received.