Are you creating mutually beneficial client relationships in your business?
You’d be surprised at how many luxury real estate professionals don’t know they’re leaving opportunities on the table with their prospects and clients.
Because before you sell listings, work with buyers, or market your services, it’s critical to know how to find, grow and nurture client relationships. In fact, the longevity of your success depends on it.
That’s why we spoke with Steve Yastrow, client relationship expert and author of three eye-opening books—”We: The Ideal Customer Relationship,” “Ditch the Pitch: The Art of Improvised Persuasion,” and “Brand Harmony: Achieving Dynamic Results by Orchestrating Your Customer’s Total Experience.” All three books are centered on creating consistent and valuable experiences with clients, which are key to developing their commitment to you and your services.
So how do you create mutually beneficial client relationships? What does that even mean? And how do you start operating from a place of “we” rather than “me” and “them”?
Let’s take a look at what Yastrow has to say:
Focus On “Input” Rather Than “Output”
Yastrow starts by telling us, “The biggest mistake people make is assuming what a client’s expectations will be, because every human being is different, and every client has different expectations.”
He says the best way to create mutually beneficial client relationships is to focus on what he calls “input” rather than “output”. To do that, he says the best way to nurture any prospect or client relationship is to let them take the lead. That means more listening and more focus on them.
The goal is to discover what your client really wants so you can adapt your approach to their specific needs, interests and perspectives.
He continues, “Most people are taught when they learn how to sell, to say, ‘Here, let me tell you about my offerings and then I’ll get your feedback’. But really, you want to flip that around.”
He adds that you’ll know when you’re doing well if the client is doing all the talking. From there, you’ll get most of the information you need, without much effort. You’ll learn things like what conversational style is most acceptable with the client, what they really want and what past experiences they’ve had that might affect their decision making with you.
Remember You’re Always Talking to a Real Person
Although creating mutually beneficial client relationships is a timeless concept in any business, we now have many more tools to engage and communicate with our clients.
Yastrow says, “The trick is, when you’re on a video conference, when you’re on a phone call, when you’re writing an email or a text, to still employ the right tools of relationship building.
“And remember, your key goal no matter what you’re doing with a potential client—whether you’re seeing their home, signing a contract or talking to them about their life—all those different things may be unique situations, but the common thread is you are always trying to build your relationship with them.”
He also notes that any time you interact with a client, three things can happen: your relationship can get better, it can stay the same or it can get worse. That’s why any time you interact with a potential client, it’s important to have the intention to leave them feeling a little better about your relationship than before.
Remember to Develop Mutually Beneficial Relationships With Other Professionals
Yastrow says for new luxury real estate professionals, there can be a “ramp up” period before client relationships really start to bear fruit, which is why it’s important to develop referral sources early on in your career.
He advises that while it’s great to get to know local homeowners, developing mutually beneficial relationships with other professionals who also have clients in the luxury space can lead to a quicker return. He suggests getting to know wealth managers, attorneys and accountants, and other professionals whose own clients fit your client profile.
Start Thinking of Your ‘Listing Presentations’ As ‘Listing Conversations’
When it comes to winning listings, Yastrow says, “Our job is not to tell people why they should list their home with us, it’s to get them to ask us to list their home with us.”
He says too many luxury professionals still rely on “listing presentations,” which have the tendency to come off as scripted and “salesy.” Unfortunately, no one enjoys being sold to, and the relationship starts off on a stronger note when clients feel they’ve chosen to list with you.
“A lot of agents think their job is to impress prospective clients with all their credentials and tell them all about themselves. But they don’t really care about your story, they care about their own story. So your goal is to figure out what their story is, talk to them, listen to them, or as I say: ‘Ditch the pitch.’ Turn every listing presentation into a conversation about that person, and a conversation that matters to them.”
He explains when you learn their story, you’ll be able to weave your story into theirs.
He ends by saying that when you start to appreciate the process of building mutually beneficial relationships, everything else starts to fall into place. When you enter every relationship with a mindset of service, rather than what you can extract from the relationship, you not only have a better chance at creating a better experience for your clients, but a better experience for yourself.
Want to know more about creating mutually beneficial client relationships as a luxury real estate professional?
Institute Members have access to Yastrow’s “Ditch the Pitch” program right from their Membership portal, where we offer a vast library of done-for-you resources.
If you’re interested in becoming an Institute Member, take a look at our training schedule to take the first step toward becoming part of our leading edge community.
Diane Hartley is the president of the Institute for Luxury Home Marketing, a premier independent authority in training and designation for real estate agents working in the upper-tier residential market. Hartley brings her passion for luxury marketing and more than 20 years of experience growing and leading businesses to her role as president of the Institute.