It’s no surprise that seeing a ton of transactions leads to seeing just about any and every situation possible, from the mundane to the downright crazy. As a market strategist, one of the things I have started to focus on is finding the common mistakes all new agents make. The biggest one? Backseat driving.

By Zach Teters, special to The Home Front

Everyone overprices houses, everyone overpromises, everyone “freaks out” when a client meeting blows up, and everyone has an “oh crap!” moment early on in the process. What I’ve started to discover is that most of these problems have a common thread once you dig into them: the agent takes a passive role, much like a detached backseat passenger on a road trip.

Redefy CEO Jordan Connett wrote about his mission to put the client in the driver’s seat, empowering customers to make great decisions. This doesn’t let the agent off the hook. In this scenario, the agent’s job is to serve as the well-traveled navigator, plotting the course and actively guiding the customer on the most efficient route with the least roadblocks.

Have a plan for the appointment

Let’s look at an example of rookie agent Sarah, going on her first listing appointment. She has her comps, she’s studied the contracts inside and out, she’s prepared for every possible question, objection, or hurdle that can get in her way. Sarah is ready!

But, as soon as she begins to discuss comps and recommends the listing price of $275,000, the client says “Sarah, that’s way too low and I can’t see myself listing for that price. I love your company, I love your attitude, and I want to list with you, but I won’t list for less than $325,000.” Just like that, Sarah’s careful planning is out the door. The sails have deflated and Sarah is in “reaction” mode. Sarah is now firmly planted in the backseat.

The truth is that Sarah could have avoided this conundrum (or at least made it easier to get through) with an assertive approach. New agents try too hard to make clients like them and “go with the flow.” Instead of plotting the course as the expert, they picture themselves as a necessary evil in the transaction. In a passive agent’s mind, the client’s thinking goes something like this: “Well I have to have a real estate agent, and Sarah is less bad than the other agents, so I guess I’ll go with her.”

New agents try too hard to make clients like them and “go with the flow.”

The truth is that a great agent isn’t just along for the ride, doesn’t have to justify being part of the transaction, or convince a client to use them. A great agent confidently walks in the front door with a plan to explain how to sell a house and how the process works. This kind of agent is the expert that the seller relies on, rather than just a “mascot” – a smiling face that merely represents a brokerage.

Being the expert guide isn’t just about being assertive on price or explaining every single clause in a contract. It’s about presence and confidence. When I walk into a listing meeting, I immediately take the lead in a non-offensive and non-off-putting way. “Mr. Smith, so nice to meet you and thank you for having me out! Why don’t we start with a quick tour? My favorite part of the business is seeing houses!”

With that simple request, I have subconsciously told the client that I have a roadmap for this meeting and the process as a whole. I don’t shuffle around awkwardly in the foyer and wait for the client to ask me to sit down. I establish my role as the expert navigator from the start.

Decide to lead

The secret to a great first meeting with a buyer or seller has nothing to do with the order of the steps (“should I ask for a tour first or jump into the CMA first?”). It has to do with the agent deciding the order of the steps. There is no secret formula to winning listings or buyers. It’s about confidence, composure, market knowledge, and leading a client to their goal.

The secret to a great first meeting with a buyer or seller has nothing to do with the order of the steps.

Most buyers and sellers haven’t listed a house or scheduled a showing in the last 6 years, let alone the last 6 days. They don’t know the details, such as how to run a Comparative Market Analysis, when the inspection happens, or that the first step to home shopping should be prequalification. They are relying on the agent as their expert and their guide. How would you feel about crossing the Serengeti and having the guide ask, “So how do you think we should get there?”

I could provide a hundred different examples of passive backseat agents, but the overall message is clear: buyers and sellers want their agent to be their guide. They invited the agent to their house because they trust their professional judgement and skill set. They know it’s smart to be led through the process by an expert guide.

Buyers and sellers want their agent to be their guide.

If you’re a trainer or manager, the next time one of your newer agents has a crisis situation, first put out the fire, then ask them why the situation occurred. I’m willing to bet that once you dig in a little, it will start with the agent just being along for the ride. Help them get out of the backseat and show them how to lead by expertly guiding their client.

Zach Teters is a Regional Business Consultant for Redefy


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