Seeking first to understand
Updated: Apr 21
“An effective sales person first seeks to understand the needs, the concerns, the situation of the customer. The amateur salesman sells products, the professional sells solutions to needs and problems” - Steven Covey
Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been re-reading Steven Covey’s 1989 classic, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. What’s really struck me the second time around is the chapter on striving to better understand others, and the transformative effect that this desire can have on our relationships. So for the past couple of weeks I’ve been really trying to focus on being a better listener.
As real estate agents we’re naturally focused on selling, and rightly so, as we are measured by our ability to deliver results. Whether that’s results for the companies we work for, or results for the clients who have chosen to use our services, the metrics for both are based on our ability to sell. If you do a great job at selling yourself, or the services of your company then you might leave your clients home having won their business. If you do a great job at selling your clients home, you’re getting remunerated for doing so.
However, how do we achieve these things? More and more it seems that there’s less and less to differentiate between what real estate agents can realistically offer clients. Databases, property portals, digital marketing etc. Everyone can do it, and everyone can certainly say that they can.
So instead we try and convince potential clients, or potential buyers about how great we are, or the property we're selling is. We put our own, autobiographical twists on things, we talk about our experiences, the things we’ve done or the wins we’ve had at the expense of our competitors. In many instances we do this instead of actually listening to what people are really trying to tell us.
If you want to test this theory, just ask someone you know well for their honest opinion of estate agents. “Great listeners” is unlikely to feature on the list.
Everyone knows what amazing service feels like. It feels attentive, personal and like the other person really understands what we’re trying to achieve. Probably, because they have spent time listening to us, what we have said and how we act.
In many other industries people are prepared to pay more to be made to feel like this, and it’s no different when it comes to selling your home.
So perhaps instead of employing the services of the great talkers, we should be seeking out those who are really listening with the intent to understand. After all, they're probably more likely to help us achieve our desired outcome.