The #1 Client Communication Mistake

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The Lones Group, Inc.

The Number One Client Communication Mistake

Do you ever wonder how some people seem to have such a way with words and have absolutely no problem talking to anyone?  Others, however, stumble and find it hard to engage potential clients in a conversation that is anything more than superficial.

When I think about my own real estate journey over the years and evaluate which agents really connected with me, I can pinpoint a very common theme. Some of them just bombarded me with sales tactics and questions that felt scripted, while others really listened to me and engaged me in meaningful conversation.

If you don't know someone well, or if you have just met them at an open house, don't overwhelm them by trying to get them to answer questions. Instead of pushing for answers they may not be ready to give you, you are far better off trying to get their thoughts.

YUP, it is that simple: try to GET THEIR THOUGHTS, NOT THEIR ANSWERS.

Last year I was visiting open houses for the purpose of possibly buying an investment property. I must have gone through over 20 open houses and at EVERY one I was bombarded with questions such as: "Where are you from? What are you looking for? What do you need? Are you working with an agent? Do you have your financing in place?"

Wow, at least let me walk through the home first before you pounce on me!

Many agents have been taught that the best way to get people to communicate is to ask them questions. While there is absolutely a place for that, the best way to get someone to communicate with you is to listen to what clues they are giving you. For example, if I am walking through your open house, before you bombard me with an interrogation you might want to listen to what I am saying.

If I walk in and move quickly through the home, there is a good chance I want to be left alone. Rather than slow me down with your questions, you need to help me speed along with my search. I will respect you so much more if you make it easy for me to see the home without feeling compelled to have a conversation. Instead of asking about me, ask my thoughts on the home, my thoughts on the area, my thoughts on whether I am finding anything suitable for my needs. People will tell you their thoughts far quicker and easier than if you ask them too many direct questions.

During my search for an investment property, an agent bombarded me with questions.

Agent, "What are you looking for?"

I replied, "I am looking for a good investment."

He quickly snapped back: "This is a great investment; do you want to buy it?"

Talk about too much too soon. What he should have done was find out what my thoughts were regarding a good investment. A simple question like this would have been much better and he would have learned more about what I was looking for: "What are your thoughts on the perfect investment property?"

Had he asked me that question, he would have quickly learned that the property he was holding open was NOT my definition of a good investment. It might be his idea or his sellers' idea of a perfect investment, but it wasn't mine. By listening to my thoughts, he would have learned EXACTLY what I thought was a perfect investment property and then he would have something to work with. He would have a clue about what I wanted and then he could help me by offering to send me information on homes he knew that fit my perfect investment criteria.

So, the next time you find yourself asking too many questions, slow down, and try to ask potential clients and current clients what their thoughts are. Here are 5 of my favorite ways to get people to tell me their thoughts.

  • What are your thoughts on __________?
  • What do you think about _________?
  • What thoughts do you have on this issue?
  • If you could plan the perfect purchase (or sale), what would be your thoughts on that?
  • What are your thoughts on how this should be done?

You will be shocked at how much more open people will be with you when you ask them for their thoughts rather than answers to your direct questions. Give it a try. I know you will be glad you did!


By Denise Lones CSP, M.I.R.M., CDEI - The founding partner of The Lones Group, Denise Lones, brings nearly three decades of experience in the real estate industry. With agent/broker coaching, expertise in branding, lead generation, strategic marketing, business analysis, new home project planning, product development, Denise is nationally recognized as the source for all things real estate. With a passion for improvement, Denise has helped thousands of real estate agents, brokers, and managers build their business to unprecedented levels of success, while helping them maintain balance and quality of life.

The Lones Group, Inc.

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Shari Burke
eXp Realty - Houston, TX
Real Estate Agent who lives in the Galleria area.

Great article.  Thanks!

Mar 18, 2019 02:24 PM #1
Carol Williams
Although I'm retired, I love sharing my knowledge and learning from other real estate industry professionals. - Wenatchee, WA
Retired Agent / Broker / Property Manager

Excellent post, Denise.  It's all about discovering the other person's point of view and going from there, isn't it? 

Apr 10, 2019 03:55 AM #2
Kat Palmiotti
Grand Lux Realty, Monroe NY, 914-419-0270, - Monroe, NY
The House Kat

Excellent suggestion. People usually want to share their thoughts.

Apr 13, 2019 03:05 AM #3
Grant Schneider
Performance Development Strategies - Armonk, NY
Your Coach Helping You Create Successful Outcomes

Good morning Denise - some people just can't allow any silent space.  The key is to listen carefuly and ask questions based on the responses.

Apr 13, 2019 04:07 AM #4
Debb Janes EcoBroker and Bernie Stea JD
ViewHomes of Clark County - Nature As Neighbors - Camas, WA
REALTORS® in Clark County, WA

Far too many agents are taught to go for a soft close, and then a hard close way too early in the game. Personally, we don't ever "go for a close." We need to build a relationship with people - in an organic and easy manner. And then, genuinely help people determine if a property is a right fit, or if we are a right fit as a listing agent. 

Apr 13, 2019 07:22 AM #5
Steffy Hristova
HomeSmart Elite Group Tempe AZ Tel: 480-966-9353 - Tempe, AZ
Tempe AZ Realtor - Your Home Close to Your Work!

Denise, excellent advice about connecting with people at an open house. There is so much more to learn from hearing what visitors' thoughts are about the place.

Apr 13, 2019 08:24 AM #6
Dorie Dillard CRS GRI ABR
Coldwell Banker United Realtors® ~ 512.750.6899 - Austin, TX
Serving Buyers & Sellers in NW Austin Real Estate

Good evening Denise Lones ,

I'm so glad that Carol Williams featured your post in her Second Chance Saturday Series. Building a relationship with clients and really helping them through the process is really the way I like to work. Its always about asking the right questions..excellent post!

Apr 13, 2019 04:59 PM #7
Jeff Dowler, CRS
Solutions Real Estate - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

There's some really sound advice here. I know I hate being bombarded with questions when out looking at home, or is other areas of business as well.  NO one wants to feel interrogated.


Apr 14, 2019 01:09 PM #8
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

This is a thought-provoking post regarding the right way and wrong way to ask questions. Sadly, I think many new agents are taught to do it the wrong way.

Apr 15, 2019 08:07 PM #9
Dana Basiliere
Rossi & Riina Real Estate - Williston, VT
Making deals "Happen"

You have a good point here. Too much "in your face" and peppering with questions can send someone running  I like your recommendation about asking what are their thoughts on the area, home, condo vs. SF. . Etc  

Apr 16, 2019 05:41 AM #10
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Denise Lones

CSP, MIRM, CDEI - Real Estate Coaching & Branding
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