Subtle client clues that signal a need to adjust your strategy

Recognizing cues, understanding what they mean, and adjusting your tactic is an essential skill in the real estate business

As human beings, we give subtle clues to what’s going on in our minds,  whether consciously or unconsciously. We may raise our eyebrows in disbelief, lean forward with interest, or look away disinterestedly. Recognizing these cues, understanding what they mean, and adjusting your tactic accordingly is an essential skill in the real estate business. 

Imagine you’re walking through a property with a prospective buyer. You came prepared with an exhaustive list of facts about the home, and you’re sure that this will show your client how special the listing is. But then you notice that the buyer is speeding through the rooms, only half-listening to you. 

Rather than continuing to prattle on about a property that the client isn’t interested in, it’s time to read the room and switch gears. Try asking a question that gives you more insight into what the buyer is interested in or ask if you can show them a different listing. When you are attuned to clients’ thoughts and emotions, you’ll have better business outcomes.

So, how do you read a room? Here are some tips to help you hone this all-important skill. 

How to read body language

People don’t always say what they mean. However, you can get a sense of how a person is feeling during a meeting or walkthrough based on their posture and what they’re doing with their arms, legs, and hands.

When someone is open to and interested in what you’re saying, their body language will reflect that. They might maintain strong eye contact, lean in toward you, and keep their hands open and relaxed.

Conversely, a client that is getting agitated or doesn’t trust what you are saying may look away, cross their arms and raise their chin, or clasp their hands together tightly. If you notice these signs, it’s time to try a different approach.

By reading body language, you avoid pushing a buyer who is not comfortable with proceeding. Even if you don’t make a sale, the client will remember how you picked up on their feelings and were sensitive to them. Reading the room can be the difference between an angry online review and a glowing referral down the line.

How to read facial cues

We all know the expression: “It was written all over their face.”

Paying attention to your clients’ countenances will give you important insights into their inner monologue. 

Sustained eye contact suggests that a person is both engaged and comfortable. When someone is looking away or around the room, it could signify that they are uninterested or it could simply mean they are nervous. Take the time to make sure your clients feel at ease. 

Other telltale facial cues include a raised chin, which often suggests resistance, and raised eyebrows, which suggest disbelief. No matter what signals a buyer is sending, it’s your job to take notice and react accordingly.

Is the buyer smiling? Keep going with what you’re already doing. 

Nervously biting their lip? Assure them you are here to help them. 

Touching their chin and looking lost in thought? Offer to answer any questions they might have.

Know your clients (and listen to them)

Another aspect of effectively reading a room is knowing your clients. Put in the effort to identify what their unique needs are. If they’re more emotionally driven, their primary concern might be finding a home where they can host family gatherings or allow their kids to freely roam the neighborhood. If they’re more analytical, they might want all the facts about a property’s history.

When you don’t know who your buyers are, it’s harder to anticipate and tend to their needs. In order to read a room, it’s important to listen more than you talk. Really hear your buyers out. If they indicate concerns about feeling rushed, assuage their fears. If they share that they’re feeling energized and ready for action, stoke that enthusiasm. When clients feel seen and heard, they’ll trust you. 

The benefits of reading a room

The importance of reading a room in the real estate business can’t be overstated. Picking up on buyers’ emotions establishes a rapport and builds trust. Whether or not you make a sale, the client walks away feeling understood and supported. That makes them more likely to reach out when they’re ready to buy or refer someone else to your services. 

When you’re able to tell that a meeting or walkthrough is going well, you have a better chance of closing deals. Conversely, when you notice a conversation is going poorly, you’ll know to pull back and avoid alienating a prospective client. 

Reading a room leads to better business outcomes. You’ll be amazed at how effectively you can interpret clients’ subtle cues when you pay attention.

Rainy Hake Austin is president of The Agency in Beverly Hills, California.

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