Real estate agent #1 hates the red tiles in our foyer. She tells us that right away.
(My wife and I are staying in Boston, but attempting to sell our house—for the second time. We're interviewing agents.)
"These tiles—they're the first thing you see," she says. She looks very unhappy.
Everyone knows the power of first impressions. I used to train salespeople on this challenge.
When you walk into someone's office for a sales call or a job interview, how do you start strong?
Generally, it's not by insulting the other person's flooring.
Sincere compliments work better. You might comment on the building, or the view, or simply thank them for accommodating your schedule.
Agent #2, within minutes of arriving, says she's obligated to read a disclosure form, as if informing us of our Miranda rights.
My wife, meanwhile, is leading the way upstairs. But this agent doesn't budge. She seems glued to the red tiles. I used to like those tiles.
So she reads the form, but sounds scripted and inflexible.
Do you ever sound that way?
Adapt to the other person. If the other person talks fast, speed up; if they like small talk, chit-chat; if they seem no-nonsense, follow suit.
Agents #3 & 4, a couple, show up on our doorstep, uninvited.
I'm not the sort of person who lets strangers into my house, unless it's at gunpoint.
But this couple is well-dressed and well-mannered—armed only with a unique selling proposition: "We've got some innovative and aggressive ways to market your house."
That's exactly what we're looking for. And knocking on our door—which no other agent has done, even though it's public knowledge that our first listing expired—demonstrates boldness.
Can you demonstrate what you're selling?
For example, if you say you're innovative, prepare some examples and testimonials of your creativity and, just as important, act that way. Walk in as if you're already on the job.
Well, I'd like to report that we hired the plucky couple, but we didn't. Turns out, they were long on flair but short on experience.
Also, their company name, "Depart Realty," focused on the seller's concern (leaving), not the buyer's (arriving).
Their yard sign, "DEPART!" implied, "Get Me Out of Here!"
And if a buyer came to the house, that's what she'd see. Even before the tiles.
Tip: In high-stakes meetings, sometimes all you get is a few seconds. Send a powerful message, immediately.
© Copyright 2011 Paul Hellman. All rights reserved.
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Patricia Hunt Sinacole is president of First Beacon Group LLC, a human resources consulting firm in Hopkinton. She works with clients across many industries including technology, biotech and medical devices, financial services, and healthcare, and has over 20 years of human resources experience.
Elaine Varelas is managing partner at Keystone Partners, a career management firm in Boston and serves on the board of Career Partners International.
Cindy Atoji Keene is a freelance journalist with more than 25 years experience. E-mail her directly here.
Peter Post is the author of "The Etiquette Advantage in Business." Email questions about business etiquette to him directly here.
Stu Coleman, a partner and general manager at WinterWyman, manages the firm's Financial Contracting division, and provides strategic staffing services to Boston-area organizations needing Accounting and Finance workforce solutions and contract talent.
Tracy Cashman is a partner and the general manager of the Information Technology search division at WinterWyman. She has 20 years of experience partnering with clients in the Boston area to conduct technology searches in a wide variety of industries and technology.
Paul Hellman is the founder of Express Potential, which specializes in executive communication skills. He consults and speaks internationally on how to capture attention & influence others. Email him directly here.