Handling difficult buyers and sellers can be easily entitled Relationship Management 101 because how you handle one being difficult can be the difference between deal success and deal failure. Real estate investing is very much a people business and it is inevitable that investors will encounter difficult people who engage in what can only be construed as difficult to bad behavior.
From the hard to please buyer or seller to the very angry at the world or nasty one, these difficult people can make a tough job much tougher, turning what was originally thought to be a good deal, a most uncomfortable, even painful journey to the close, if you even close at all. With someone difficult, even the joy of that success can be dramatically tempered.
Investors, no matter how savvy and credible, will not win over every buyer or seller they try to and do business with. There are practical tips to employ to improve those seemingly difficult relationships no matter how impossible it may seem to put them at ease or to please them satisfactorily. Mastering relationship management is all about the investor blending his or her most comfortable communicative style with expressions of empathy and understanding, turning confrontation into comfort.
Surely, there will be times and circumstances where all of your best efforts simply will not work, genuine expressions of guidance and patience are offered but ignored, and all efforts to reassure for naught. The posture of that buyer or seller is unrelenting and immovable, and you must move on and away. Time to “fire” that buyer or seller.
There are recognized styles to avoid whenever you can. There is “the know it all”. They make it clear in words, actions, facial expressions, and body language they know more than you. In fact, they know everything and you are lucky to have the privilege of working for them. Another is the ‘yes” person. Always agreeable but slow to deliver if they deliver at all. The “no” person is on the other end of that same scale, always negative, discouraging, often pessimistic. The “block of stone” is another to watch out for. No feedback whatsoever, nothing verbal or non-verbal offered, difficult, impossible to communicate with, leaving you with only guesswork to act upon. The “pushy loudmouth” is also difficult to the extreme. Easily upset and often nasty. You are forced to deal with their angry rants no matter how minute the issue or detail may be. The “bomb thrower” is yet another. When they react, you brace for the explosion. They launch one invective after another. Always explosive and very venomous, reactive, and often petulant. They never seem to calm down. Some buyers and sellers are too often Dr. Jekyll one moment and Mr. Hyde the next. Others turn into the big green hulk. Another problem occurs with buyer or seller remorse in the midst of doing the deal. To be sure, other examples abound.
So the investor reaches into his or her relationship management toolbox to salvage the deal, find the middle ground to smooth things over and not have to “fire” that difficult buyer or seller. Step one is to vet them. To pre-qualify them and get a grip on their personality style so you may handle them with patience, understanding, and empathy, offering guidance to accomplish the tasks at hand. Almost a job interview, you gain a sense of who they are and gain insight into how they are likely to behave if you do work together. By pre-screening for personality conflicts, it allows you to stand in their shoes and see the world through their eyes. That way you recognize their hot buttons, giving you the opportunity to become their trustworthy, credible white knight. It is always about remaining in control of the situation and how to avoid losing it.
Make use of your listening skills. Let them communicate without interruption how they feel and what they want. Pinpoint their hot buttons is key to closing the deal. That is the best way to gain a measure of how to best solve their problems. You educate on who you are and what needs to be accomplished. You are credible, trustworthy, proactive not reactive. As you listen and educate, you put them at ease. You find and offer creative solutions. You remain decisive, informative, in control. You pinpoint their trigger points and master yours. Be curious and always keep your ego in check. Choose your words carefully and avoid confrontation. Ignore unfortunate rants. Acknowledge but don’t agree. If you agree, you may be adding fuel to the fire. You are the one in control. Pin down the outcome and focus on the deal. Learn to recognize those intractable personality conflicts that will define your relationship if allowed, leaving only the recourse to “fire” them.
Relationship management is mastering the skill of dealing with the difficult and still journeying to a successful close.