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Seven Reasons You Might Suck at Building Relationships

J. Lamar Ferren
7 min read
Seven Reasons You Might Suck at Building Relationships

The key to developing a successful real estate business is building relationships. However, if you’re not good at it, you may be damaging your own potential. This past week my wife was interviewing for a job in the security and surveillance field. To her surprise, she was hired on the spot and was invited to come to a two day orientation. The first day she got there, she was among thirty other people who were recently hired as well. When she showed up the next day, only five people returned for training.

Why did this happen?

It’s simple — the company sucked at building relationships and ended up chasing away twenty-five people in only one day!

So, what happened that caused these people to suck at building relationships? After speaking with my wife and hearing what she had to say, I boiled it down to seven key reasons, and they all pointed to relationship building:

You’re Not Being Transparent

Nowadays, people want to get down to the nitty gritty. They want more details that can help them make better decisions. This security and surveillance company failed to mention that they didn’t pay by the hour and that it was commission based job only. Basically, the position required people to get others to buy a security system for their business or home. I’m not saying that this is a bad idea, but they tried to hide the details of the position until the last minute. They weren’t open and upfront about it. They just said you could make $35,000 a year without revealing how that was possible.

If you tell a seller you’re going to buy their house and you plan on flipping it, you need to be upfront about that. Some investors will try to hide this sort of thing because they don’t want to get rejected. However, doing business this way will only cause you to waste the seller’s time, your time, and may leave a bad mark on your reputation. Let them know how you plan on helping them get their home sold. Give them reasons why working with you will benefit them. Show them how you are the solution to their problems. If they see the benefit in doing business with you, then they’ll work with you; if they don’t, then they won’t. Show people you have nothing to hide and they will be more inclined to trust you.

You’re Trying To Be Someone that You’re Not

If you’re not a comedian or if you’re just not funny, don’t tell jokes! From what my wife was telling me, this company was trying too hard to tell jokes — but they weren’t funny. In fact, some of them were a bit offensive. They were telling jokes, laughing their heads off, but their audience (potential employees) were not impressed. Supposedly they were trying to show compassion and she could see the realness in what they were saying about wanting to help people secure their homes, but they tried too hard to “convince” and relate to the potential employees, which obviously backfired on them.

If you can put a smile on your seller or buyer’s face over and over again, you’ve opened an emotional gateway. They’ll instantly be attracted to your personality and may be more open to doing business with you. However, if you’re only putting a frown on their face, then they’ll be instantly turned off. Laughter is a powerful emotion that can really be a great way to build relationships with your buyer and sellers.

If you’re not funny, then its best to tap into other emotions. If they’re in a tough situation, then you want to be compassionate. This shows that you care and that you’re actually listening.  I’m not saying that you should cry if they cry. You need to be yourself and show them that they have a way out of their situation with your help. Not only that, but keep in mind that trying to be a “tough guy” will only get you the boot. There are ways to be firm and compassionate at the same time. You just have to figure out the right timing. The only way to do that is to listen, be yourself, and know your audience.

Understand that there is a key difference between simply being someone you’re not and being the someone you aspire to be.

You Keep Beating Around the Bush

Specific questions deserve specific answers. This security company beat around the bush a lot, and many people had questions that simply didn’t get answered. When they started revealing the part about the pay being commission based, people asked simple questions like…”What is the percentage of commission we will make for each sold system?” and their answer was, “Well there are many bonuses and incentives that we offer along with paid vacations that you can work your way up to. It all depends on how motivated you are and we have the best training to make you successful.” Ok? Well that sounds nice, but you didn’t answer my question…Then they just said, “Well we’re getting off track, so let’s move on..”  Huh? 

When talking to sellers, you primarily want to be the one asking questions. However, there will come a time when they will have questions that need to be answered. When people ask questions, they’re showing interest and trying to make sound decisions that the specific situation calls for. Your ability to effectively answer those questions depends on your expertise and can help your clients understand exactly what they’ll be getting into. If you don’t know an answer to a question, then tell them you don’t know, but that you’ll be sure to get an answer. Don’t leave them hanging and don’t beat around the bush. I recommend checking out Jeff Brown’s recent BP blog post called, “Answering Questions The Right Way”

You’re Being Too Cocky

If you’re really good at what you do, there is no reason to throw it in people’s face. Also, if you want to be firm with people and reveal a harsh “truth”, there’s no reason to say it in a condescending manner. The guys talking about the company were bragging about how they moved up quickly in the company and began talking down to people who just “couldn’t cut it.” Sure, a commission based job isn’t for everyone, but there are ways to relay that to people in a manner that avoids offending them.

When talking with sellers and buyers, there is no need to convince people that you’re the best thing since sliced bread. It’s not necessary. They want to know about you, but their primary goal is to solve their own problem. They won’t care about you as much as you’d like them to. If you can show them how you can help them, then you have a deal because they’ll see what you bring to the table, not just hear about it. 

You’re Being Too Shy or Fearful

This company was definitely not shy or fearful. However, I mention this because it can really cause you to miss out on building that relationship. Being too shy or fearful not only shows a lack of confidence, it shows that you may not have what it takes to close the deal. If you’re not a people person, then you might be in the wrong business. However, if talking with people is something that you want to work up to, then you need to break out of that shell and take charge of your life. This is key if you have a family and your expected to provide for them. Being too shy or fearful about doing real estate deals won’t keep food on the table. Especially if it’s your main income source.

Perfect example: When I first got started in real estate, I was afraid of making mistakes when doing deals. So when a seller said, “No Thanks” to my offers, I felt kind of relieved because I didn’t want to “screw it up.” However, once I realized that I was not only hurting myself, but my family as well, I took charge and got over it. If you want bigger pockets, you need to do deals.

You Don’t Show Any Tact

As I mentioned earlier, the guys representing this company told offensive jokes they thought were funny and rubbed people the wrong way with their cockiness and ignorance. Having tact means you have a keen sense of knowing what to do or say, while avoiding offensive comments.

It’s important when inspecting a seller’s property to not insult them if they need cosmetics or if you don’t like how they painted the wall. You probably don’t want to say something like, “Oh these Pink Walls make this room look like crap!” Maybe you can say something like, “In order to sell your home faster, we may want to go with a neutural color scheme for this room.” (Thanks for the word Tom Koziol | BP Post: 2010 Real estate Buzz word) If they need repairs, don’t insult them and come down on them about not “taking care of there home.”

You don’t know what happened and you might end up hitting a nerve. I’m not telling you to ignore the repairs. I’m saying to use tact when you address it, especially if you want to talk about renegotiating. “Well after inspecting your home, I have some reservations about…XYZ.” Be honest and open with your clients and show them respect because they’ll likely do the same.

You Don’t Have Any Interpersonal Skills

What this all boils down to is interpersonal skills, and the guys representing the company I’ve been talking about really need to work on this. Interpersonal skills are how people relate to each other through effective communication. This is a skill you want to constantly develop. The better you get at this, the more relationships you’ll build, and the more successful your business will be.

Would you want to do business with someone who was hiding something, someone who was phony, someone who refuses to answer your questions, someone who just talks about themselves, someone who shows a lack of confidence, someone who offends you, or someone who you can’t relate to?

It’s a long question, but I think you get my point.

The fact that only 90% of the people showed up the next day for that company says something about the people in that company, especially in this economy where the unemployment rate is at an all time high.  The only reason my wife showed up the next day was because she was trying to be optimistic and wanted to challenge herself in this type of sales field, however after seeing the type of people she’d be working with, she had enough and left the orientation early.

Don’t get in your own way when it comes to your success!

To Your Success,

J.Lamar Ferren
New Breed Real Estate Investor

PS- What do you do when building relationships with others that contributes to any type of success in your business?

Photo: Alejandra Mavroski

Note By BiggerPockets: These are opinions written by the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions of BiggerPockets.