My apologies for making this long...in looking at breaking it up into two parts, it just didn't flow. Hopefully it's worth the time. Or come back to it!
Part of being good at selling is "reading" your client. Studying people is one of the most fascinating subjects around and if you continue to grow in your knowledge and understanding of people as well as listen to your gut, you'll be successful in a people-oriented business like real estate.
Marilyn Ellis, author of How To Succeed in Your First Year as an Entrepeneur (and dear friend who has been a real estate client of mine) has this definition for an ideal client:
An ideal client is someone who:
1. Has the money to pay you.
2. Already knows and appreciates the value of your goods and services.
3. You like them.
She goes on to say further: "Don't discount number three. Trust your gut when choosing a client. Remember, they are already on their best behavior!"
Whatever your definition of what The Ideal Client is, below is my short list of Fatal Flaws (my term for difficult personality traits) or not-so-ideal clients:The Control Freak, The Know it All, The Cheapskate, The User, The Liar
The Control Freak: (one of my least favorites) They control the conversation, they control the pocketbook, they control their spouse (if they have one, who is often quite meek or literally and figuratively "taking a back seat") and basically tell you what THEY want and they don't care about anyone else. It can often be paired with The Know it All and they will even try to control how you drive! They will tell you how to do the entire transaction, start-to-finish. Often they are not good listeners and will readily give you their opinion as if no one else's matters.
The secret to dealing with them is getting a handle on why they are like this and simply allowing them to be in the lead, but guiding them along the way (often gently). It can be based in insecurity and if they can control every aspect of their lives then no one can hurt them or see how really vulnerable they are. An adult child of an alcoholic parent can certainly fall into this category, or someone who's been abused as a young person. There could easily be some trust issues here. Sharing every detail with them, letting them make the decisions, keeping the door open for them to go through without pushing them allows them to feel that they are in control. (Leave your ego at the door with these people).
The Know it All: This person often interrupts in conversation or competes with you about how much they know and will even prove to you ad nauseum how many DIFFERENT things they know and that they know more about anything than you do--even if it's your specialty! This person may have been told growing up that they were stupid by a parent, or they may have always been overshadowed by an older sibling who was always better at everything than them (or that was their perception). Often used as a defense mechanism it is to show people, "See, I AM smart!" Truly learning from these folks helps them establish a camaraderie with you and makes them feel like they're making a difference in your world. Saying something like, "Wow, I didn't know that!" will soothe their egos and allow them to "help" you because they feel safe with you and you are acknowledging their intention and it could (or could not) allay some of their need to constantly prove their "worth". They usually mean well, they just go about it in an annoying way!
Don't try to out-do them, as they usually are good at arguing, debating, what-have-you and you will either be out-talked, outwitted or both of you will simply end up getting pissed off and then no one WINS.
The Cheapskate: Obviously money is going to be a BIG topic of conversation with this person, usually with the first contact! From negotiating the offer price to nit-picking with a whole laundry list of credits or To Do Lists after the inspection it can be a looooooong ride with this personality. They are almost ALWAYS in control of the money and have a long relationship with money that (possibly) wasn't good. They may work in a finance field and can be smart about money but clutch onto it like a pitbull. Every penny counts with these folks, and they WILL hold you accountable (no pun intended!) if you aren't on top of the details, receipts and costs for everything. Copious amounts of notes with numbers are good, just like any accountant would look for. Don't wash over it or try the Big Picture aspect with them, as they like details, how you came up with the numbers and what are they going to get for their almighty dollar.
Sometimes this person doesn't care one iota if the seller/buyer gets screwed, they are in it for themselves and can be giant negotiators. They also have a good memory for numbers, so be on top of your game regarding this part of the transaction! I try to be very detail-oriented with this type of client.
Marilyn Ellis also describes what she calls a "tire kicker" in her book when defining a type of Less Than Ideal Client and further explains:
"If a client first asks about your fees, they have already disqualified themselves as ideal clients."
Which reminds me of:
The User: When this person needs you for anything, you are like their new best friend! They want all of the information, time and focus that you can give them RIGHT NOW. They will bolster your ego in the beginning because they let you feel like you are VERY IMPORTANT until they get what they need from you and then they're on their way to use the next person because it's all about them. They are quite self-centered, and what I call "drama divas". It is usually a one-way relationship, "What can you do for ME?" They will suck you dry. These transactions seem to take forever, because you start saying to yourself, "I just want this person out of my life!"
Quite often these folks don't finish things, so if your radar goes up and your gut says, "Should I work with this person?" I would think twice, because you may not be able to cut loose from them as they might make you feel guilty or plead with you; they are good manipulators. They see themselves as victims and you may be their savior. Beware that they won't get the message right off that you are DONE with them. Even after the transaction is over, they might call you with some silly little thing just to reel you back into their lives.
The Liar: This personality can really fool you because they throw in charisma, maybe good looks and a giant dose of ENTHUSIASM and you get swept away before you realize that everything they're telling you is what they think you want to hear and none of it is TRUE. Yikes. This personality has quite often been doing it for so long that they have themselves bamboozled and IF you try to call them on it, WHAM they come at you like a freight train. It can take awhile to sort out the truth especially if it is your seller and they are lying about problems with their home that you don't know about. OR the buyer who tells you in no uncertain terms that they HAVE the money, and how dare you even question that! (There is a certain agent who is like this and I've done my best to steer clear of any dealings with this person, it's just EASIER).
These people usually have a pretty solid memory, they have to to recall WHAT they said and to WHOM. Also, denial is another trait that goes hand-in-hand with the lying and they're quite adept at manipulation. I choose NOT to deal with this type of person and avoid them entirely.
If you have to work with these Less Than Ideal Clients you can take the following advice as my principal broker rather succinctly put it:
YOU HAVE TO MASSAGE EGOS
And by golly we all have them! OR you can simply walk away.
Broker, Vernonia Realty
Specializing in Fishhawk Lake Recreation Club
"Your Gateway to the Lake!"
My website: http://www.lakehomesatfishhawk.com/
My blog: http://fishhawklakerealtor.wordpress.com/