Has a Client Ever Said to You: "Wish I Met You Sooner?"

Services for Real Estate Pros with Oakley Signs & Graphics

Scott's Thoughts: "Wish I Met You Sooner"

How do you get clients to say this and mean it?

"The human contribution is the essential ingredient. It is only in the giving of oneself to others that we truly live." --Ethel Percy Andrus (Educator & founder of AARP, 1884 - 1967) 

Is there someone in your life that makes you think: "I wish I met them sooner"?

Think of someone who you would probably miss if you didn't hear from them for a long time. Someone who makes you marvel at how lucky you are that you met them.

Do any of your clients think of you this way?

If you've been at it for a long time, you probably have at least few clients that think of you this way. They're probably directly responsible for a lot of referrals, too. If you have clients that think of you this way, you will never have to worry about business. Your sellers will become your future buyers and together they'll refer you more business than you can handle. Sounds like an admirable goal to shoot for, doesn't it?

To be memorable, you should be indispensable. You must be someone who gives freely, someone who builds life-long bonds by enriching the lives of people with whom you have rapport.

So how do you do it?

1. Empathize with people. Imagine, as you're listening to them, that they're not describing their problems, questions, and dreams, but they're describing your own. Make yourself the star of the movie of their life and be aware of how you would feel.

2. Be a part of the solution, even if you cannot solve the problem. Can you solve everybody's problems? Of course not. But you might be able to help them to see a pathway through their problem. This might be in the form of questions that help them think something through. It could be a referral to someone who can help them with their problem. It could even be as simple as a list of good articles to consider.

3. Aim to counsel, don't aim to please. An advisor is a true ally. A "yes man/woman" is completely forgettable (and untrustworthy). Risk short term rejection over a tough truth in order to grow a long term relationship.

4. Teach others how to teach themselves. Don't just give answers. The more you can increase a client's capacity to empower themselves, the more valuable your standing will be in their eyes. Think about it: Do you ever forget your mentors?

5. Give without anticipating return. If you're running a little cost/benefit analysis in your head for every interaction, you're not giving freely. Hesitancy, a stinginess of spirit, and an unwillingness to risk without reward will always cost you more than you think.

Comments (23)

Oakley Signs & Graphics
Oakley Signs & Graphics - Altamonte Springs, FL

@Sonja: What a great client story!  To be "reserved" for the next move 5-7 years down the line is an incredible compliment.  That's exactly the kind of client you can bank on for great referrals.

@Al & Peggy:  I greatly appreciate you flagging my recent entry for a feature.  I've also just accepted your invitation to the "Be the Best In Your Field" group.  Thanks so much.

Feb 04, 2010 11:34 AM
Roland Woodworth
eXp Realty - Clarksville, TN
eXp Realty

This is always a great thing when this happens. Great time to get them to write a testimonial

Feb 04, 2010 03:51 PM
Frank Castaldini
Compass - San Francisco, CA
Realtor - Homes for Sale in San Francisco

Fortunately I can say yes.  Lots of great point here.  Good list.  I especially like the "aim to cousel, not to please." comment.  How true.  One must check their premises to be sure he is there to help and not to just to make someone feel good.  Big difference.  Thanks.

Feb 04, 2010 04:04 PM
Carla Muss-Jacobs, RETIRED
RETIRED / State License is Inactive - Portland, OR

Yes, I've had clients tell me that.  But, if they had . . . they wouldn't have known how truly helpful I am!! 

Feb 04, 2010 04:14 PM
Dan Tabit
Keller Williams Bellevue - Sammamish, WA

We had someone stop at an open house and say, "I wished we'd have listened to you sooner."  We met them as FSBO's, they later listed at too high a price with another agent. When that expired we met with them again and suggested price and interior color changes, again they went with someone else too high.  $100,000 less and an interior color change, they eventually sold.

Feb 04, 2010 04:25 PM
Aaron Vaughn, REALTORĀ© 830-358-0455
eXp Realty - Canyon Lake, TX
My knowledge is your power | eXp Realty

You list describes me to a tee; must be why I am so wonderful and so busy all the time.

Feb 04, 2010 05:16 PM
Aaron Silverman
SuccessfulRental.com, Bluewater Property Management, LLC and Lowcountry Turnkey Properties, LLC - Charleston, SC
Improving Real Estate Experience through Education

Well said.  Especially number 3.  People may not want to hear it at first, but they will remember the person that gave them the realistic picture.  They may not come back immediately due to embarrassment; however, they will refer friends. 

Feb 04, 2010 05:22 PM
Charita Cadenhead
eXp Realty - Birmingham, AL
Serving Jefferson and Shelby Counties (Alabama)

I am proud to say that I have had clients to tell me that they wished they had met me sooner.  You make some very fine points and a give a basic education on how to treat people.

Feb 04, 2010 06:23 PM
Cheryl Ritchie
RE/MAX Leading Edge www.GoldenResults.com - Huntingtown, MD
Southern Maryland 301-980-7566

I think that the person would not have been ready for them if it had been sooner. Sometimes a little growth or  challenges need to first  occur for this insight.

Feb 04, 2010 08:30 PM
Tony Grego, 317-663-4173 #1 Trade Association for Alternative Inv
REISA - 317-663-4173 - Indianapolis, IN

Yep, just part of the business. I get plenty of it trying to fix others blunders or delays. I find you get this when you have a solid drip campaign.


Feb 04, 2010 09:29 PM
Mark VanBuskirk
Cassidon Realty - Lehighton, PA
PA REALTOR Specializing in Carbon & Monroe County

Helping others always comes back in some way.......Thanks for the blog!

Feb 04, 2010 09:46 PM
Claudette Millette
The Buyers' Counsel - Ashland, MA
Buyer, Broker - Metrowest Mass

Absolutely, and they have said it with testimonials, referrals and repeat business. 

Feb 04, 2010 11:09 PM
Joyce Thomas
The Thomas Group Brokered by eXp Realty - San Tan Valley, AZ
Your Home Sold Guaranteed!

Great post!  I have had clients say I wish I met you sooner or I am so glad I met you.  It feels so good as a business professional to have someone compliment you in that way.  Testimonials are awesome too!

Feb 05, 2010 12:15 AM
Barb Szabo, CRS
RE/MAX Above & Beyond - Cleveland, OH
E-pro Realtor, Cleveland Ohio Homes

What a wonderful post. I'm happy to say that a few people have said that to me. After 23 years in the business it is sometimes tempting to take a short cut here and there i.e. skip the Monday morning report, skip a few feedback calls, etc.. and then I remember how great it is to do the job well and the subsequent referrals I will likely get.

Feb 05, 2010 12:28 AM
Jenna Dixon
Momentum Real Estate Group LLC - Marietta, GA
55 & Over | New Constructions | Horse Farms

Never underestimate the power of empathy & truth. 

Feb 05, 2010 01:52 AM
Sajy Mathew
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - Lancaster, PA
Making your real estate dreams become a reality!

Great post!  Thanks for sharing.  I have had this said to me and it really feels good to hear it.

Feb 05, 2010 03:26 AM
Oakley Signs & Graphics
Oakley Signs & Graphics - Altamonte Springs, FL

Wow, when I checked in this morning, I never anticipated such a response to this post.  Thanks to everyone who has commented.  Forgive me for not responding individually. 

I came to this point of view with Oakley Signs, and that's why we launched our Tuesday Tactics newsletter and Free Help for Real Estate Agents.  It's made a huge difference in our company internally, and has really become our guiding philosophy. 

If you think about it, there aren't that many careers out there that allow you to become a trusted guide in someone's life.  I'd say there are a number of real estate agents out there who their clients think of like we all think of that one special teacher that made a difference for us in school. I know my family owes a great deal to those who have been successful in real estate, as it's been the foundation of our business.

I think the stories shared here prove the points in the post rather well.  No one has ever gone broke by being indispensable, right?

Thanks, ActiveRain members!



Feb 05, 2010 03:54 AM
Oakley Signs & Graphics
Oakley Signs & Graphics - Altamonte Springs, FL

@Corinne:  It's definitely wise to decline working with someone if you suspect from the start the relationship will be corrosive.  We wrote a free ebook on this topic called "How to Manage Bad Clients" last year.  It's surprising how much energy can be consumed when the client/agent relationship is toxic... it can actually cost you a lot in lost opportunity.

Feb 05, 2010 06:29 AM
Ed Gillespie
WealthWise Mortgage Planning, a Division of American Pacific Mortgage Corporation NMLS #1850 - Folsom, CA

Scott, nice post and great wisdom.  These five points are the antithesis of being selfish.

Feb 05, 2010 06:59 AM
Oakley Signs & Graphics
Oakley Signs & Graphics - Altamonte Springs, FL

@Ed:  Thanks, Ed.  I think you hit it on the head-- to be unselfish is to be indispensable.

Feb 05, 2010 07:38 AM