No matter how good of a real estate negotiator you are, you can always improve.
Here are five exercises expert real estate agents practice regularly to sharpen their skills and achieve better outcomes.
1. Practice the Negotiation 9™ every day.
The best real estate negotiators carve out time each week to work on their Negotiation 9™ (N9™) skills.
If I was king of the world, I would force agents to spend less time practicing scripts and more time building the interpersonal communication skills we capture in the N9. For example, the Quick 2+1™—which combines Labels™, Mirrors™, and Dynamic Silence™—can be a helpful exercise.
Here’s how it works: Get together with another agent on a Monday and put two chairs back to back. Have one agent read out a prompt: I’m not so sure that I want to go with a live agent when there are so many online opportunities these days. The other person would then use a Quick 2+1 to get to the true motivations (fear and mistrust) behind this statement.
Far too often, agents read scripts to prepare themselves for what they are going to say, not what they should be listening for. The normal result is their struggle to manage real-world objections. This is an area where the Quick 2+1 shines.
On Wednesday, do the same setup, but work on paraphrasing and Summaries™. On Friday, do it again, but work on Calibrated Questions™ and I Messages. Then the next Monday, work on delivery and tone of voice. You get the gist.
Too many agents focus on fictitious conversations that will never materialize when they should focus on the tools themselves. By practicing the N9 skills regularly and staying genuinely curious during each session, you will improve your negotiation skills considerably.
2. Rewrite scripts using the Black Swan Method.
Agents are notorious for practicing scripts ad nauseam. Unfortunately, those scripts are always poorly written, and they don’t take into account what we espouse here at the Black Swan Group.
Of course, agents can never get away from scripts entirely. Instead of using scripts replete with yes-oriented questions, print yours out, take out your red pen, and don your editor’s cap. Using your understanding of the N9 tools, rewrite your scripts using Summaries, paraphrasing, Labels, Mirrors, and no-oriented questions to make them better.
By embedding these skills in your scripts and practicing them regularly, you can groove your neural pathways and make the skills part of your DNA.
3. Practice Accusation Audits™.
Real estate agents know that the real work during a transaction actually begins once a contract is signed. And they know the process is peppered with land mines you can step on at any moment.
This is why the Accusation Audit™ (AA™) is such a critical tool in your tool kit. By practicing AAs regularly, you will have the skills needed to get in front of those mines, minimize the effect of unexpected problems and set expectations.
You’re going to feel pressure. You’re going to feel like people are trying to take advantage of you. You’re probably wondering if you’re listing your property too low or offering too much. You will wonder why the process isn’t anywhere as smooth as you thought it might be.
With this approach, you can effectively defuse the negative components of the actual process while diagnosing and forecasting the lay of the land. This enables you to prepare your counterpart to hear the news they’re not ready to hear.
4. Understand high-risk indicators.
Most agents operate out of fear. That’s not the right approach. Expert agents find out right away whether there’s a deal to be had—and whether that deal is with them. Those who don’t are consumed by the fear of offending or losing the business.
I cannot express the value and importance of asking Proof of Life™ questions: Why are you considering me as your listing agent? There are plenty of agents out there and other options to choose from. Why did you pick me?
Asking this question will ultimately help you determine whether you’re the favorite or the fool. If the person lists several substantive reasons they chose you, your work is done. If they ask you to pitch to them, you’re probably the fool because they haven’t even envisioned working together. If they have no vision of you working together, you likely won’t.
During this conversation, pay attention to high-risk indicators that may prove someone is not worth your time:
- They are trying to belittle you or make a power play.
- They incessantly bring up price and commission.
- They are exclusively focused on what you bring to the table because they want to compare you to another agent.
- They don’t have a vision of moving forward and can’t outline the next steps.
- They are limiting their engagements with you because they don’t want to waste their time.
- They are reluctant to answer your questions and are playing it close to the vest to maintain power and control.
By understanding these red flags, you can avoid wasting your most valuable commodity…time.
5. Master no-oriented questions.
Yes is an obligation. No is protection.
People want protection over-commitment. That’s just the way we are wired. And yet, most agents batter clients with yes-oriented questions. However, that is the wrong approach because it takes away a client’s autonomy.
Flip those yes-oriented questions around and aim for no instead. It makes the recipient feel better about answering because they don’t feel obligated to do anything.
I’m continually amazed at what people will agree to when they are allowed to say no. Give no-orientated questions a shot, and you will see it too!
Sharpen your negotiation skills.
When a client initially engages with you, you look no different than the hundreds of thousands of real estate agents over the country.
By practicing these skills regularly, you will separate yourself from the pack. Over time, this will lead to word-of-mouth recommendations and, ultimately, more deals.
Download our e-book, Real Estate Negotiation Skills: 3 Essential Tips for Closing More Deals, to continue sharpening your real estate negotiator skills.