Spring Cleaning Your Client Relationships

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client_relationshipsSpring is here! Better Homes and Gardens® Real Estate has launched an updated Greenhouse for BHGRE Metro Brokers sales associates! The new CRM (known in the Greenhouse as the “Customer Relationship Management” tool) allows you to make a fresh start on building or growing lists of contacts, customers and clients to massage for future business.

Since our very livelihoods depend on relationships, this is a great opportunity to do some “Spring Cleaning” of our contact/customer/client relationship skills and eliminate things that clutter or completely undermine those relationships. We may be dismayed to find that some or many of our relationships are not in as great shape as we would like to believe them to be. Do we recognize any of these bad relationship habits:

1) Are you making client interactions about yourself rather than them? Yes, a healthy sense of self is needed to avoid being taken advantage of by clients and competitors, but “winning”, recognition and accolades are not “the point” of what we do. It’s impossible to put the client’s interests first if we are focused on our own goals and consumed with how others see us. Even those of us who want to be seen as the “best, brightest and/or most ethical” will find that we have veered down a path of moral ambiguity, cheating and trampling others in the name of success. Besides, what client wants to deal with anyone constantly singing their own praises? 

Spring cleaning tip: Notice how often we bring the story around to ourselves. Stop! Building rapport does include finding common interests; just don’t dominate the conversation with our own stories.

2) Are you fudging the truth? We all want to be honest and we actually believe we’re always honest with our clients. Do a little soul-searching, though, and we’re shocked at the number of little white lies, exaggerations, and lies-by-omission we may be guilty of. Things like, “This probably isn’t the best house for the client but it pays the highest commission since I put a zero commission in the Buyer Brokerage Agreement” or “I forgot to have the client initial this document; I’ll just put their initials on it for them” or “No problem; your house looks fine just the way it is” or “This isn’t probably the best vendor to recommend but they send me a lot of referrals so I’ll recommend them anyway”. Cultivating a reputation for rock-solid honesty – for laying out all the options even if it doesn’t benefit us, for telling the whole truth and not holding back or sugar-coating – will build client loyalty that money can’t buy.

Spring cleaning tip: Go ahead and tell the truth. Don’t worry about the fallout. Bravely take the leap. Most people want the truth.

3) Do you think that you know best? It’s true that we, not the client, are the real estate experts. But that certainly doesn’t mean that ours is the only opinion that matters! In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. When to buy or sell, what terms to offer or accept, when to back away from a contract and many other situations are NOT our decisions to make. We can recommend, but it’s always the client’s ultimate decision. Of critical importance is never assuming that we know what the client will want to do. Some clients really like dark and dingy houses, don’t mind broken items, love living next to railroad tracks, have assets available we’re not aware of and any number of other things we may be surprised at.

Spring cleaning tip: This is a toughie. We call up an ex-client. This is a former client who later bought or sold through someone else. We assure him/her upfront that our goal is not to win back their business. We ask for the truth about how the client perceives us and the truth about what the client really wanted from us. If we are willing to do this (make no mistake, this is difficult to do), we’ll learn a lot about what needs to change. 

All of this is meant to stress that we must put clients first, not our own interests. As Joseph Callaway states in his book, Clients First;  The Two-Word Miracle, “Most business owners are so concerned with paying the bills that we instinctively put ourselves first. It’s a behavior fueled by fear. But when you really put the customer first, and put your own needs second, a whole lot of other things naturally fall into place. Decisions will become easier, your business will flourish, and your relationships will be based on true transparency.”

Do you have any client relationship tips? Please comment below.

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One Response to “Spring Cleaning Your Client Relationships”

  1. Kathy Steward, Broker Support Says:

    Building client relationships is like building any other relationships….it’s about mutual respect and trust…..
    asking questions of the other person and listening
    pro-actively to his answers…..without interference or judgement.

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