Meaningful, productive conversations play an important role in building long-term relationships with your real estate clients.
You use conversation to identify clients’ needs and provide information, which means you must be able to ask questions and communicate ideas clearly. Conversation also serves the purpose of getting to know one another and building trust, which is where knowing how to build rapport comes in handy.
In this blog post, learn strategies for showing your genuine interest, getting better answers to your questions, helping people feel comfortable talking to you, and forming deeper connections.
What it means to be a great conversationalist
Let’s look at this from the client’s perspective. A great conversationalist is someone who:
- Is approachable and easy to talk to
- Doesn’t judge
- Shows genuine interest in what you say
- Actively listens, then replies in a way that builds on what you said
- Knows when to wrap things up
8 Strategies for Better Conversations With Your Real Estate Clients
To show that you’re genuinely interested...
1) Don’t ask. Order.
An article on CEO.ca suggests this idea: Rather than asking, “How was your vacation?” say, “Tell me about your favorite thing you did on vacation.” It’s not a question—it’s an order (albeit a very friendly one). It’s bold and assertive. It shows that you are genuinely interested in the answer; that you’re not asking out of obligation or just making conversation to be polite.
2) Repeat it back to them.
This is a great tip to use during those preliminary client meetings when you’re learning about their budget and wants/needs. During a conversation, repeat what they said back to them, in your own words, to make sure you have a clear understanding. This ensures that everyone’s on the same page. (Plus, your clients will appreciate how dedicated you are to understanding them.)
To get better answers...
3) Ask open-ended questions.
Avoid questions that lead to dead-end answers. Let’s say you just learned a client loves to hike. Instead of asking, “Where is your favorite place to hike?” or “How long have you been hiking?” you could say, “What do you love most about hiking?” or “Tell me your best hiking story.” Questions (and orders!) like these will yield richer conversations. Read up on how to ask open-ended questions.
4) Don’t offer possible answers.
When asking a question, especially in the beginning, don’t ramble on nervously with possible answers: “So, what are you looking for in a home...something in a quiet neighborhood? Something more metropolitan? A more traditional style, or maybe more modern…?” By doing this, you might be unintentionally setting expectations for how they should answer.
Contently cofounder Shane Snow advises to “terminate the sentence at the question mark” and “get comfortable with silence.”
Let them speak, in their own words. You can always follow up with more specific questions to get the information you need.
To help them feel comfortable...
5) Mirror their behavior.
This is a classic tactic for developing rapport. Start by observing your client’s energy level (calm or energetic?), tone of voice (soft or booming?), posture (leaning back or forward?), and use of hands (still or all over the place?). Then match his or her behavior. According to body language expert Carol Kinsey Goman, “When using mirroring in a business setting, you will know that you have developed mutual rapport if your partner begins to mirror you in return.”
6) Quid pro quo.
Robin Dreeke, head of the FBI’s Counterintelligence Behavioral Analysis Program, wrote a book on 10 techniques for building rapport. One of these techniques is the use of “quid pro quo”—for every piece of information they give to you, you give a little bit back to keep the conversation flowing. This keeps your more introverted clients from feeling awkward about doing the majority of the talking.
7) Let them know it will be brief.
People are more willing to speak with you if they know they won’t get trapped in a long conversation. Another of Dreeke’s 10 techniques is to “establish artificial time restraints.” You can use Dreeke’s line—“I’m on my way out but before I left I wanted to ask you…”—or simply schedule a call for 5 minutes instead of 30.
To start forming a deeper connection...
8) Read their emotions.
Don’t just listen to what they say. Leverage emotional intelligence and be attentive to body language, facial expressions, and mood. If something seems off, inquire about it: “Is everything ok?” They’ll appreciate the kindness behind the question, and it will take your agent/client relationship to a deeper level.
Here’s my challenge to you:
The next time you’re having a conversation with someone—whether it’s a real estate contact, a friend, a family member, or someone else—try to incorporate one of these strategies. When you and your spouse both get home, say, “Tell me about your day,” instead of asking how it went. Get your not-so-chatty friend to keep talking by sharing your own stories in between hers. Ask your client a nice open-ended question, and then shut your mouth and let them answer! You just might find that your conversations become more meaningful and productive.
Tell us about your favorite conversation strategy. I bet you’re already a pretty great conversationalist, so what has worked for you? Please share in the comments section below!
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