Square Pegs and Round Holes - Or is it Oil and Water?

Real Estate Agent with Solutions Real Estate CA DRE #01490977

 Do you fit with your buyer or seller client? Yes? No? How do you know? What do you think they would say?

Are you a square peg in a round hole? Or are you and your client oil and water?

Most of us probably fit pretty well with our clients, most of the time. But sometimes it's the "square peg, round hole" deal. So whose fault is it?

While we all like to think we get along with most, if not all, folks, the reality is that we probably don't. The same is true with buyer and seller clients. Each person we meet has their own style, temperament, and way of looking at things and solving problems...just as each of us does.

So what happens when the fit is not right? Do you walk away?  Maybe. More likely, the potential client makes the decision to hire a different agent. The fit, perhaps, was just not right, although there might be other reasons, too.

So who is in charge of fitting? Should we expect the client to respond to us in the way we want?  To see things from our perspective? To want the information we want them to have? Dare I say NO? You bet.

 Many times, I suspect that we want the client to see things our way, or we make the erroneous assumption that they do. Perhaps it's not obvious to us that they are viewing things as we have. And sometimes there is a level of discomfort that arises, for reasons unknown, because the peg and the hole are a mismatch.

Let me suggest that we must keep focused on what the consumer wants and needs, and on their style and behavior. Remember, they are, at some level, thinking WIIFM. Maybe not consciously, but they have certain needs we must address, and in a manner that they can relate to and are comfortable with. They have a style we must adapt to, a perspective we should try to understand, and their own way of looking at things.

  • There are variations in the kind of information that they want - some want the big picture, while others want every detail and tidbit, some want numbers, others want touchy-feely kinds of stuff
  • They might ask a zillion questions, or none at all
  • It might be obvious what they are thinking, or clear as mud; they may share information or they may not
  • Perhaps they are impulsive, and make rapid decisions, or maybe they must analyze everything before decision time
  • Are they very visual? Or are sounds, smells or touch/textures more important?
  • And when you are working with more than one person and their styles differ, it becomes even more convoluted.

The challenge for us is to figure out not only what the client needs but how best to address these needs, and then to provide that to the best of our ability. We must adapt OUR style to fit theirs - if they want details, but we like the big picture, we need to modify how we respond. We show them 5 homes and want them to decide, but they need to spend time thinking about it before they make any decisions. Are they wrong? Absolutely not.

Sometime the fit will not be right, no matter what we do. Or there may be other issues that result in a parting of ways - the seller wants a ridiculous price, the agent only wants to show certain homes, the buyer cannot make a decision after seeing 50 homes, and so on. It is in the best interests of our clients that we adapt our style and behavior to fit with theirs, to the extent that we can, so we can help them achieve THEIR goals. After all, they have other choices.

How about a bit of self-analysis - are there any square peg/round hole scenarios in your business? How have you dealt with these situations?


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Ray Saenz
Exit Realty Laredo - Laredo, TX
Homes for Sale in Laredo, TX - Texas, Realtor

My friend Jeff,

Very well explained it, I love it :)

oh, I agree with you you need to focus on their needs/wants, everyone is different. :)


Apr 25, 2007 07:16 AM #1
Kaye Thomas
Real Estate West - Manhattan Beach, CA
e-PRO, Manhattan Beach CA

Jeff- Interesting observations.. I took a class about mirroring many years ago,, as I'm sure you know the concept is that to make clients feel comfortable with us we should mirror their body language..   I found myself trying so hard to mimic their movements  that I lost track of what I was supposed to be doing.. which was listening to what they were saying...

Through the years I have found that really listening to what people say is the key that works for me..  we speak in a lot of different ways.. both visual and through speech.  My Grandma used to say that for every pot there is a cover.. our job is to try and find the right cover for each person's pot.  

Apr 25, 2007 07:17 AM #2
Jeff Dowler, CRS
Solutions Real Estate - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Thanks, Ray. I appreciate your comment and compliment.

Kaye - yep, I am very familiar with it. It is a challenge, and I don't think we necessarily need to exactly mirror the client in order to be successful. But if you have a very analytical person who wants lots of information and numbers, then you have to provide that. Other folks do not want that level of detail and probably resent you giving it to them. Some like email, some want phone contact, others want face to face. And so on. Good points - thanks for stopping by and for the comments.


Apr 25, 2007 07:22 AM #3
Marlene Bridges
Village Real Estate Services, Inc. - Laguna Hills, CA
Laguna Homes|Laguna Condos|Laguna Real Estate
Jeff-Thanks for another very intelligent post.  It's no wonder the client I was able to refer to you recently thinks so highly of you.  You are absolutely just the right person to assist her.  Thanks for being aware of her needs.
Apr 26, 2007 06:24 AM #4
Sharon Simms
Coastal Properties Group International - Christie's International - Saint Petersburg, FL
For us, with a family team, we have more flexibility - with different presonalities, one of us may fit better than the others.  If none of us fit, because of a total difference in philosophies - then we shouldn't be working together anyway.
Apr 26, 2007 09:01 AM #5
Carol Lynne Bull
Keller Williams - Alexandria, VA

I come from a retail back ground I was taught when taking any order be it wedding, funeral or party the key is listen,listen listen. When you think you have all the information you need. Listen some more. I'm hoping this will work in real estate all so.


Oct 26, 2008 12:48 PM #6
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Jeff Dowler, CRS

The Southern California Relocation Dude
What's my Carlsbad CA Area Home Worth??
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