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How to Bond with Clients to Close More Deals

One of the most important (yet less talked-about) skills for success in real estate is knowing how to communicate and read clients when you're face-to-face.

How many times have you worked hard to generate a listing appointment, researched the market, toured the home, created a stellar pre-listing package…only to learn the clients hired another agent?

Some agents have a natural knack for reading other people and knowing what to do in a pivotal sales situation. For others it's a mystery. The good news is, bonding with clients and creating skills for closing deals can all be learned once you understand a few basics.

Today I want to give you some very important tips for making a great first impression, reading your clients and understanding their motivation, handling questions and objections, and recognizing buy signals.

The First Meeting…
According to Patti Wood, author of "Success Signals – Body Language in Business" most face-to-face buying decisions are made within the first three to five minutes of the call. That means 85% of the buying decision is based on not what you say, but what you do non-verbally.

So how to you create non-verbal signals that quickly bond clients to you?

The first step sounds obvious, but many agents blow it: SMILE! No, not some fake, wishy-washy smile, but a sincere gesture projecting your openness. Make sure you're looking your prospects or clients squarely in the eye.

The second step is to use open body language. Open body language happens when you reveal the palms of your hands, keep your arms unfolded, hands away from the face, and project an open way of receiving your clients.

Another way of showing openness is in your speech tone. You don't want to seem too excited (a give away for an inexperienced or hype-driven salesperson), and you don't want to sound like a dud either.

You want to greet your clients the same way you greet your spouse (on a good day, that is!). Be happy to see them, but be sincere and keep your bearings.

The third step is to use the right kind of handshake. The secret of a great handshake is not just in the firmness of your shake (a must!), but in the percentage of palm-to-palm contact. Opening your palm to someone is akin to opening yourself to them.

Finally, a great way to bond with clients is to match your body language with that of your prospect or client. Matching body language is a non-verbal way of telling your clients that you like them.

The idea is that people prefer to do business with those similar to themselves. Watch the body language of people who disagree and you'll see what I mean (they "mismatch" their body language).

Once you start mimicking your client's body language, you'll notice that they start to subconsciously mimic yours. That's when you have the opportunity to open up – uncross legs and arms, lean forward, and speak directly – and they'll open themselves to you.

This is a prime signal that you've built trust and rapport, and you can guide the direction of the relationship.

Handling Questions and Objections…
Every client presents us with tough questions and objections. That's the nature of our business. While giving an accurate answer is important, don't forget about non-verbal ways you communicate to advance the sale.

So how do you handle questions and objections effectively? Here's a 3-Step process I learned more than 25 years ago, and works nearly every time.

The first step in handling questions or objections is to use "silence" as your ally – and this applies to the phone as much as in person. Before you jump to an answer, allow your prospects to completely finish their point – then pause.

This alone shows that you are in control of the situation and desire to hear-out your client. Plus, it gives you ample time to think through your answer.

The second step is to harmonize with your client. They're obviously concerned about their issue, otherwise they wouldn't be asking the question. I want you to indelibly mark your mind with these words: "I understand."

Always answer objections with "I understand," then, paraphrase the question or concern the client just asked you back to them.

Why are you doing this?

Because, 1) It helps you uncover the "real" issue from an emotional as well as rational standpoint, 2) It validates the concern of the client – a bonding tool, and 3) It allows you to compartmentalize objections or questions so you can handle them easier without causing confusion.

The third step is to answer their question, then follow-up your answer with a question back. Walt Disney used to say "there's a real question behind every question." Frequently clients will ask a question that highlights only a symptom or example of their objection, and you need to sort out the real issue from the symptom.

As an overly simple example, let's say your client begins to ask about the details of a home's alarm system. A novice would explain just the features, while a pro would realize that the wife wants to feel safe when she's home alone with her children – and match "security" benefits to features in her answer.

By asking a question back, you are ensuring that the issue they raised has been handled, and you are maintaining control of the situation.

Recognizing Buy Signals…
Nothing happens if you don't close deals, and knowing when to ask is just as important as knowing how to ask.

You probably know that when a clients starts contemplating furniture placement in a home they're viewing, they're getting pretty hot for the home. But there other non-verbal buy signals you should watch for…

The most important non-verbal buy signals come from three areas: Head Gestures, Facial Gestures and Body posture.

When a client tilts their head to one side, it can mean that they're very interested in what you're saying. When you see this behavior, make sure you're making an important point advancing a sale.

A head titled down means they're being negative and judgmental. Head titled back means they're exhibiting a superior attitude. A client who is open and accepting will generally keep their head neutral. Look for head gestures the next time you're in a listing presentation or showing a home.

When a client strokes their chin, it means they are considering making a decision. It's an important time where you can help the process. Rolling eyes, looking over the top of their glasses, rubbing their nose, or even placing their thumb under their nose with their index finger pointing upward are ALL negative, dismissive or critical actions.

When a client leans their body forward and leaves their arms open, it indicates interest and agreement. This is the very best time to ask for a sale. If they lean back with arms crossed, it shows a lack of interest. Leaning forward with arms crossed can indicate potential aggressive behavior. When a client leans back and opens their arms, they're showing cautious interest.

You'll also notice that, when a client mirrors your body language, it's a tell-tale sign they're in agreement with you. That's your prime opportunity to advance the sale.

How do you get better with detecting buy signals and body language?

The same way you get to Carnegie Hall: Practice, practice, practice.

A “Very Sweet” Prospecting Idea

“I create custom candy wrappers to give to buyers and sellers, and as a "Thank You" at open houses and real estate tours. The large wrapper fits on a full-sized Hershey bar®, and the smaller "house" one fits on a snack-sized Kit Kat®.

People really like them for the creativity, and of course, most everyone likes a little chocolate snack! (Note: The text must be rotated when wrapped on the candy bar itself. I have set up these examples just for easier readability)”

Quick Tip…

“Most REALTORS® I know have a traditional "point and shoot" camera and use these to take photos of their listing to place on the MLS. I want to share a wonderful product that is inexpensive and makes a significant difference when taking interior photos. It is a wide angle lens available from This device is easy to install on your reliable point and shoot camera and fits most models. The installation is simple being a magnetic ring that sticks to your camera so the lens can be attached and removed as needed. I use mine all the time!”

Pizza Prospecting!

This is one of my favorite "low buck" marketing plans. I locate one of the busier pizza delivery places in town and ask to speak to the manager.

What I propose is for them to use my flyers as "box tops". They would include a flyer with every order they send out. In return I pay for the flyers. I would also buy a gift certificate from the pizza shop and include them in my "welcome packet".

Pizza shops get free exposure to new homeowners love the convenience of having some free pizza delivered on their moving day...and I get lots of exposure for the price of some copies and a gift certificate. Cheap and simple!

Horror Story: A Squirrelly Deal!

I rented a vacant home to a friend of mine while their new home was being built. They moved in all weekend and they were so exhausted, they just put their beds on the floor, too tired to set them up properly.

The next morning they awoke to the dog barking and running in circles chasing the squirrel family that were already occupying the home. They ran across the beds and through the baby's crib and back down across the beds again!

My friend grabbed her kids, and grandma and the dog and ran out of the house. Later, the owner exterminated for the squirrels and everything seemed okay.

The next week at Hockey practice, (our sons played hockey together), her son came running out of the locker room screaming, there is a dead squirrel in my hockey bag! To this day, she says I rented her the house, but she is still my friend.

Agent Feedback…

Issue #1136