real estate coaching: agent instincts
August 31, 2023

Harnessing the Power of Instinct to Win You Listings

Developing skills is one thing, but developing instinct is a new level of learning. Read this article to understand why every agent’s best tool is their instincts. 

One of the toughest skills that real estate agents find the most difficult to learn is how to pinpoint the moment where a homeowner is most receptive to hiring them to sell their home. Ask too soon, you risk sounding “desperate”. Waiting too long makes them wonder if you have what it takes to sell their home, or if another agent might be better. When you are talking to a FSBO or an Expired listing, that moment becomes even more important… and can easily be missed. 

A Star Wars Analogy 

(Geek alert!) Any Star Wars fans out there would recall that epic moment when the Republic forces were trying to aim their photon torpedoes at a tiny hole in their attempts to blow up the Death Star. Their X-wing ships would race down the narrow corridor, and their tech would hone in on their target and the pilots would fire, and yet even with precision technology, none of them could hit the mark. Luke Skywalker, however, was a student of the Force, and despite all the advantages the tech offered, he shut his targeting computer off, trusted the Force, and fired. Direct hit, ka-boom!  

Just like Luke using the Force, honing in on that moment when the homeowners are ready to hire you requires instincts, and just like training in the Force, developing our instincts comes with a combination of training and experience.  

What Exactly is “Instinct” Anyways? 

Instinct, when defined by the dictionary, is “an inborn pattern of activity or tendency to action common to a given biological species” or “a natural or innate impulse, inclination, or tendency.” In the animal kingdom, it’s instinct which drives their behavior, but in humanity, it can be overridden by reason, and often is.  

How many times have you reasoned yourself out of asking for the listing because you weren’t convinced the timing was right? How often have you overheard someone talking about buying or selling but you didn’t go talk to them because you didn’t want to intrude? How many phone calls have you NOT made because you convinced yourself they were just going to reject you anyways? As they say with muscle atrophy, if you don’t use it, you lose it! The same goes for instinct, which is why it’s so important to deliberately take these risks to develop it.  

Related reading: “How do I overcome the FEAR of the phone and prospecting?” 

Speaking of putting yourself out there to take risks, let’s talk about FSBOs.  

Dialogues for FSBOs  

When calling FSBOs, the words you choose are important. If you focus too much on trying to get a listing appointment, they’ll hang up on you. If you focus too much on having a buyer, they’ll invite you over, but feel betrayed when you don’t bring the buyer, but try to get their listing. Neither method will get you want you want: to help them sell their home.  

Here’s some dialogue that you can use which aims right for the middle:  

“Let me ask you this: if I had a buyer who is willing to give you the price that you need to make this move a success and you wouldn’t have to pay a fee out of that number, is that something you would consider? Great! Let me stop by, take a look at the house, and we’ll see how I can help you. Sound good?” 

The thing about this dialogue is that, if you are authentic, it’s not about getting the listing. It’s about offering to look at their house to see how you can help. While you are referencing a buyer – the truth is you MIGHT have a buyer – but you can’t know that for sure until you see the house. Buyer clients retain agents to do the heavy lifting for them – that means previewing houses out there to see if it is something they would even want. They have agents to save them time, money, and energy – you can’t do that if you don’t even know whether a home is a good fit.  You need – you guessed it – to see the house first.  

Getting invited over gives you the chance to build up trust and develop rapport, and THIS is where instinct and intuition become vital.  

Related reading: Global Marketing Guide – How Do Real Estate Professionals Become Trustworthy? 

Two Sides of the Listing Conversation Coin  

When it comes to scheduling this listing conversation, there are two things to consider: the technical side and the instinctual side. The technical side would include the tools you use like dialogues, presentation tools, flyers, etc. We could also include education and learning resources to grow your skills. These are tangible things you can use and things you can learn.  

Instinct, however, cannot be taught. It has to be learned through experience. If we use tennis as an example, your racket would be a tool you have. You need it to actually hit the ball, but instinct comes into play when you determine what moment to swing the racket. Instinct is knowing when to employ certain tools or knowledge. Instinct is knowing that the seller is ready to hire you.   

Instinct is constantly assessing the conversation and evaluating how it’s going. What is the demeanor and attitude of the homeowner? Do they like you? Have you gotten to the heart of what THEY want and need? What their commitment is? How you can help? Are you actively listening and being present?  

This is where a lot of agents go sideways. They are so tuned into their “script” and “presentation” – they aren’t “reading the room” or the people in it. They are just waiting for what they want to say next instead of truly being in the conversation and determining what the client’s needs are.   

Listening is a game changer in developing instincts. The truth is that people will often tell you exactly how and when you can help them when you are tuned in and paying attention to their words, their expressions, and their body language.  

Related reading: The Role of Real Estate Agents: Advocates, Golden Rule Followers, and Community Stewards 

It takes time and experience to fine tune your instincts, but at the heart of developing instincts is understanding what drives human behaviour and that people want to be seen and heard – not sold and closed. The more conversations you have, the better communication skills you develop, the more confident you’ll be in your instincts to not just win the listing – but develop clients for life.  

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