Sometimes it takes a galactic slap in the face to wake you up from repeating stupid mistakes, doesn’t it? Even a seasoned pro can use a reminder every once in awhile to stick to the basics, and use the lesson to get back on track. Want more articles like this? Create an account today to get BiggerPocket's best blog articles delivered to your inbox Sign up for free Such was my lesson last week, that I wanted to share with you. New or a veteran, there is one thing in working in real estate investing that will be a constant force in your business, affect your personal life, energy level, and bank account. That is: identifying who your core customer base is, and working with those that are: motivated. It’s so simple, isn’t it? Don’t work with people that aren’t really ready, able, and willing to make that decision. Whether it’s making sure a Buyer is pre-qualified before you ever put them in a car to look at homes, or vetting a renter who calls on your investment property, the same rules apply. If the leading questions, responses, and actions are not in correlation with the equivalent of a flashing “I’m ready and motivated” neon sign above their head, they’re NOT an ideal customer. Given, they may be down the road, so massaging the relationship may be all it takes. But if what you’re hearing is a lot of excuses, pushback, and indifference, thank your lucky stars you’ve gotten through one more “NO”, and another “YES” is coming. I’m Not Taking That as an Answer! My forte is working with those that are facing foreclosure. If you want a reason to be motivated, it’s staring them straight in the face. But even then, the attitude can turn from confusion, desperation, and spin into capitulation, with moments of concern in between. My best customers are those that adopt the “can do” attitude, work with us as a team throughout the process, and stick to the plan. We always make ourselves available to answer any concerns, questions, and even venting sessions from time to time – it just comes with the territory! However, I took on a customer that was motivated at first, then decided they would allow the house to go into foreclosure. I knew I could get activity on the house, would not have to pay any money for any deficiency, and wouldn’t have to pay taxes on any losses. I put on my psychologist hat and “talked them down” into a more reasonable game plan…to pursue the short sale. After all, it’s of no consequence to them, more work for me, and they retain the upside. So, thinking once I performed my magic, they would come around, I continued to fight a battle I should gracefully departed from. Ensues the calls, texts, emails from interested parties, my correspondence to the lender to get the foreclosure date pushed back, and ongoing legwork. We get an above full price offer, the lender agrees to extend the foreclosure date, and, the Seller says to cancel and let it go to foreclosure, for the third time. It blew me away. It’s such a rarity to have that happen (when everything about the short sale is in favor of the Seller) that I couldn’t believe it. But it was glaring me down: I wasn’t working with a motivated party. I was working with a scared person who had reached out at one point, and no longer cared. I had done everything I said I was going to do, performed my duties, and dismissed his lack of motivation because I had the confidence and ability to make things happen. But….so what? Somewhere along the way, he had fallen off and I ignored his desire to quit. I’m not a quitter, I fight for my customers, and I refused to believe he wouldn’t come back around. My stubbornness, that usually serves me well, had blinded me to this folly. So who’s fault is that? Mine. Related: What is a Short Sale? The Definitive Guide Keep it Simple When I wiped his deal off my white board, cancelled the sale, and let the lender know the Seller no longer wished to pursue the short sale, in some ways, it was relieving. Why would I fight so hard for someone that didn’t care? It’s exhausting, when deal-making should be exhilarating. But behind that, more Sellers that are “in it to win it” were waiting, and it made me appreciate them all the more. If in doubt, here’s some lead-in questions: What makes you need to sell/buy? (“Just because” isn’t very confidence-inspiring. Listen for a “need to’s”) When do you need this by? (A timeline helps determine a level of readiness and need) You want to make sure they’re ready, willing, and able – that makes for a great customer! (In the dating world, this would be the equivalent of wondering if they’re “into you.” If you’re straining for an answer and chasing them, the answer is, “probably not!” Move on!) What or who in your life or business are you allowing to slow your progress? If you are new, are you chasing every lead and “trying” to make it a deal, just to say, “I got one on the board!!”? Are you showing Buyers properties that do nothing but complain? If you’re having trouble getting motivated leads and instead latching onto ones that don’t make sense, you need to massively increase your lead generation; that’s the only fix! Wouldn’t you rather know how to quickly identify the best types of prospects, and work with those that appreciate your efforts? When you align yourself with motivated customers, your business, life, and earning power are elevated. What do you think?