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The value of self-awareness

"I own an independent estate agency. With stock so hard to come by, I’m conscious that I and my other valuers need to up our game. Our conversion rate is disappointing. Where do valuers go wrong in their approach and how can they improve? "

Julian O'Dell

Property valuer image


Without seeing your valuers in action, it is difficult to assess where they go wrong. However, I can take an educated guess at the traps they fall into. This guess is ‘educated’ as it is based on a recent structured training programme for an independent estate agency to increase conversion rates. It achieved that objective spectacularly.

A number of key lessons came out. The first is to ensure your valuers have the key attributes – knowledge, communication skills, passion, a will to win and so forth – most importantly – self-awareness.

Julian O'Dell image

Julian O’Dell is Founder of TM Training & Development

Being a valuer is a solo occupation, the only feedback you get on your performance is from the client; either you win the business or you don’t.

When a valuer loses an instruction they need to be sufficiently self-aware to accept it is their fault and not anybody else’s. I hear valuers blaming everything and everyone but themselves for losing instructions… cheap fees, overpricing, spurious social or family connections.

The best valuers are those who let their self-awareness kick in when they lose a listing. They replay the whole process from the client booking the appraisal right up to when they instructed another agent. An exceptional valuer will then pinpoint where they went wrong and ensure they don’t make the same mistakes again.

While consultative selling is way more effective, it is far tougher to carry out than ‘tell’ selling.

Self-aware valuers constantly evaluate their own performance and seek to improve it; they recognise the gap between perfection and performance. I occasionally witness a lack of self-awareness. One valuer, whose figures were alarmingly on the slide, attended a session on how to raise the bar in a challenging market. It was clear from his demeanour and limited input that he didn’t feel he needed to be there. Everyone else was engaged and left with a commitment to up their game in many key areas of their approach. He, however, I suspect will be hampered by a lack of self-awareness and will be a casualty of changing times.


The other key lesson was that there are two main types of valuers – TELL and CONSULTATIVE – the latter is significantly more effective and successful than the former.

Tell valuers are those with ‘the gift of the gab’, a polished, well used ‘spiel’. You may have been on the receiving end of such a sales approach.

A customer is bombarded with information and left feeling bamboozled or bored. A Consultative valuer is a much more skilled individual who will get far better results in the long run. The salesperson tailors what they are selling to the specific needs of their customer.

In our case as valuers, a ‘tell’ valuer would list and talk about all elements of their service – a ‘spray and pray’ approach – while a ‘consultative’ valuer would structure their conversation according to which parts of their proposition are most likely to inspire and persuade the client to use them.

However, while consultative selling is way more effective, it is far tougher to carry out than tell selling. It can only be applied if the valuer truly understands the client’s service needs.

Service needs are what a client is looking for from their agent. Some needs may be crystal clear in their heads… others will need teasing out.

The best way to establish a client’s service needs and ultimately be a consultative valuer is to ask the right questions during the property tour. The theory, proven over many years, is that the client is at their most relaxed during this stage so you are more likely to get the answers you need.

They may not notice you asking these questions – thinking you are making polite conversation.


“What problems would it cause you if you couldn’t sell your home by the end of the year?”

  • “How many times have you moved?”
  • “How did your last move go?”
  • “What worries you most about moving?”

Past experiences are a rich vein of information. If they have moved before and that experience was not great, get them to talk about it, they will give you an insight to which of services will be most appropriate this time around.

For example, if they were frustrated at the quality of the viewers last time, you will focus on your applicant vetting process.

In summary, a combination of self-awareness and a consultative approach will serve as the ideal combination of valuer attributes to win business in even the most challenging of times.

October 12, 2018