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When you’re smiling…

Taken back to a memory of himself as a young negotiator, by the plight of a struggling client, Nathan Emerson recounts the tale of a door slammed in his miserable face…

Nathan Emerson

Link to Mentoring featureIt’s great when we are busy, hectic and everything is going well. Everything we touch turns to gold and the world is a great place. It is not so great when things start to deteriorate and you stop winning the business, those deals together and as for the fees you want to command… well you may as well chuck them in the bin. It is just not happening.

When this starts to happen it’s not hard to find your team in a position where it all becomes a lot like hard work. And let us be honest, when things start going wrong, they really go wrong. Complaints increase, bad reviews appear, and you just cannot win. For some readers this may sound familiar. In business, as in life, things go up and down, peaks and troughs and it’s how we understand it and deal with it that counts.

A lengthy conversation with a well-respected agent recently presented an interesting problem. Despite many agents operating within a perfect storm of activity, a captive market, low interest rates, the stepped Stamp Duty holiday and a raft of people reassessing their needs, this one practitioner was not finding things working the way he expected nor the way his local competitors were, it appears, performing.

Link to Mentoring feature

Nathan Emerson

Stock is hard to come by in many areas of the country as buyers have driven prices up in the clamour to secure new properties vainly hoping to complete before the Stamp Duty holiday subside. Sellers have benefited from prices rising by over 15 per cent in many areas during the pandemic period, and many agents have banked considerable sums in fees.

In his case, his figures have been down for the past three months – and this perplexed me, for he is an experienced agent with a good track record and no stranger to hard work.

Redundant baboon

In a market where a redundant baboon could sell a house, he was struggling. A man who had been performing well was about to utilise his untouched Bounce Back Loan to balance his cash flow. His frank admission made me realise things had probably been going wrong for a period of time.

We went through the systems, structures, applicant qualification, valuation info; and in fairness to him they were certainly adequate to achieve what he needed to do. His team, whilst fairly young, were also stable with no recent turnover of staff. They were obviously struggling to list properties and the ones they had listed they were not selling.

It is not so great when things start to deteriorate and you stop winning the business.

Considering things that evening, I started looking at his web site, his Google reviews and his social media profiles. It was then that the root problem began to materialise. I was confident I had my answer before dialling into his 08.30 team meeting the next morning; by 08.45, I was certain. Showing him my observations, I gave him some quite simple instructions for the whole team to observe.

Things are now already considerably better. His team are now achieving, and he is starting to get good properties back on the books and with motivated buyers, sales are already starting to follow.

And the problem? In a word ‘him’…

Change in demeanour

He had personally received upsetting news, and this had seen his demeanour and behaviour in the office change. With only a small team, if the control function bows to pressure and demonstrates a negative demeanour, then the whole mood of the office can change. They went through the functions without purpose and as results did not materialise, a vicious circle ensued. In months gone by his social media showed a beaming, smiling team, proud of what they had achieved. The most recent posts were somewhat different.

The morning meeting was a flat emotionless affair with limited engagement and a resigned attitude. No fight, no fire, and no enthusiasm. Observing this brought my mind back to the beginning of my career as a young inexperienced negotiator. Finding myself in a rut and watching less capable colleagues starting to outperform me, I was at a loss. Fiercely competitive by nature, I worked harder. Yet no matter how many hours I worked it still was not happening and finally my head started to go down.

An old builder client witnessing this invited me for a coffee that afternoon. Stressed, between appointments, I knocked on his door; he opened it, then slammed it in my face. I knocked again and he did the same again.

What was up with this man?

A bit shook up I knocked one more time. He opened the door and said, “Don’t come to my door if you can’t stand proud and really mean it when you smile.” Then he promptly slammed it again. Reluctantly I left.

At 3am it hit me. He was not being miserable. He was teaching me a lesson. From then on, every time I talked to clients on the phone I stood up and what is more with the biggest smile I could manage. My problems, no more.

What did I ask him to do? Well, stand up and smile of course.

Sometimes in sales it is easy to forget the infectious power of a simple smile…

Talk to Nathan at [email protected]

August 18, 2021

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