By Mark Rodgers
Is the couch in its proper place? What do you think of the décor? Will there be enough lighting?
You work diligently with staging professionals and others to scrutinize every detail of the properties you represent. Why is it, then, that people who are professional in every other facet of their business give almost no thought to what their own office looks like?
Your office is the single greatest space in which to conduct business. This is where you may have your first meeting with clients, where you review offers and deliver advice. You need to be at your best in your office.
Robert Cialdini – probably the most quoted sociologist in the study of persuasion – likes to talk about the time when he worked at a medical clinic in which patients were taking almost 100 per cent of the advice given by physicians, but rarely taking that of the clinic’s physical therapists. So Cialdini analyzed the spaces where both groups dispensed their advice. Turns out that the physicians were speaking with patients in spaces highlighted with evidence of authority – licenses, diplomas and awards.
The physical therapists, on the other hand, met with patients in offices decorated with those crazy motivational posters, like the one with that kitten clinging to a ledge encouraging you to “hang in there!” Yikes. The therapists replaced the posters with their own credentials and guess what happened? Almost instantly, patient compliance with guidance from physical therapists increased 34 per cent.
Here are six ideas to augment your workspace and help you hear “yes” faster and more often:
- Hang your credentials. If you have a college or university diploma, post it. Hang your real estate license, along with membership certificates from professional organizations. Nicely framed, such items assure others of your proven expertise.
- Display sales and customer satisfaction awards. Were you Realtor of the Year in 2014? Top seller for three months in a row this year? Nova Scotia’s “most trusted” real estate agent? Put up the plaque, get out the trophy and frame the article. All of these are excellent examples of third-party verification of your excellent service.
- Keep distractions for kids handy. One of the greatest obstacles to clear and persuasive communication is a distracted parent. That’s why it helps to have items nearby that will occupy the youngsters: crayons and colouring books, perhaps, and Wi-Fi with an easy guest sign-in so older kids can stay busy on social media or the Internet.
- Use a digital picture frame. This is a must-have item and it should be loaded to rotate images of your happiest clients in front of their new homes. Then, as the pictures scroll through, you can simply say something like, “Oh, see this couple? That’s Bob and Mary Roy. They had a situation similar to yours, and here’s how we worked through it …” This leverages the powerful persuasion principle of social proof: We follow the lead of similar others.
- Have a pair of reading glasses ready. Not for you, but for your buyer. Have you ever heard a client who was ready to sign on the dotted line say, “Oh, I can’t. I don’t have my readers!” Don’t let this happen to you. Have several decent pairs with various powers in a drawer and offer them to clients when necessary.
- Keep the marketing to a minimum. Your office should be bastion of professionalism, not look like you’ve got more sponsorships than the Grey Cup Festival.
In today’s market you must use every tool available to help you win the business.
You spend a great deal of time making sure the property is right; now make sure your space is working as hard as you do.
What if I can’t meet at my office?
When meetings or important negotiations can’t be conducted at your office, for whatever reason, establish a home-field advantage elsewhere.
Pick a favourite upscale restaurant and get to know the owners, the wait staff and the menu. Be generous with tips and have a favourite table that you can request frequently. All of this will help you leverage as much familiarity as possible. When your clients hear the maître d’ call you by name, the chef comes out to say hello or the owner stops by your table, that’s impressive and persuasive. People want to do business with movers and shakers. And that’s exactly what you are.