April 20, 2018

How to Deal With the Undercommunicator

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How to Deal With the Undercommunicator

If your new client seems standoffish or passive, they may have been burned by a salesperson before. Here are four tips for breaking down barriers and building unilateral respect.

We would love it if all the potential home buyers we met were warm, engaging, and easy to communicate with. But in reality, wary shoppers find the homebuying or homeselling experience intimidating. When the customer fears a negative environment, they often strike a self-protective pose that can be seen in any number of ways. They might seem passive, quiet, disinterested, and even mean at times. Does this make the shopper an unfriendly person? No! It makes them a normal person.

As food for thought, consider how many bad experiences people have at used car lots or other high-pressure sales environments. It’s no surprise, then, that for many customers, negative perceptions resurface when faced with another big-ticket sales experience. They have a fear they are about to be confronted by an unscrupulous salesperson whose only goal is to take advantage of them. Is this really true? Of course not. But the fear is real and the reaction to that fear is also very real.

I like to think of myself as a good guy. As much as possible, I like to get along with those around me. However, if you see me walk onto a used car lot, you’ll see a person who is quiet, reserved, disinterested, and unsocial. You might even read me as a bit mean. Am I a mean person? No, I’m a car buyer who knows the pain of buying cars from people who have tried to take advantage of me, and I have no desire to become the victim of another manipulative smooth talker. My biases and perceptions control my actions. I recognize that a great many salespeople in that business are trustworthy and ethical, but I don’t yet know that when I walk through the door and, at this point, I fear the worst. 

Now imagine a similar response from someone who carries these same fears who also has an introverted personality. Small wonder that customers will choose to undercommunicate — it’s simply a defense mechanism.

The solution exists in one overriding mind-set: unilateral respect. Some real estate practitioners offer respect only after they receive it, but this is the wrong approach in the sales conversation. We must understand that respect is earned, not handed to us. The great agent makes a decision — before a customer walks through the door— to offer unilateral respect and appreciation to this individual. If the respect is not immediately reciprocated, the mature agent responds by saying to himself or herself, “That’s fine; I have work to do to build the trust with this customer and earn their respect, but I will not allow my respect for them to wane in the meantime.”

Respecting someone who does not (yet) respect you takes a great deal of maturity and confidence, traits that Daniel Goleman describes as “emotional intelligence” in his book of the same name. Emotionally intelligent sales professionals practice unilateral respect, friendliness, and kindness. They understand that what the customer needs, above everything else, is an advocate who truly understands what they are going through and who will go out of their way to meet the customer’s needs.

How do we do this? Here are four suggestions…

1.      Respect the Need for Control

One of the greatest fears shoppers have is the fear of losing control to a manipulative salesperson. These customers want to be in control, but they don’t always know how. They fear that if they tip their hand and share too much information, they’ll weaken their position.

Undercommunicators need to be talked to in the language of esteem. Don’t be afraid to take a submissive posture in your desire to help.

“It’s my job to give you the information you need to make an intelligent decision.” 

“I promise to provide the best service I can throughout this process.” 

2.      Match Their Analytical Side First

Undercommunicators don’t need sales professionals who are fresh out of a motivation seminar or who desire to carry the entire transaction on their own emotional shoulders. They need a chameleon, someone who will adjust to their style and their communication preferences. Does that mean we take all the emotion out of the sale? No way! It simply means that we start with the logical and factual and then transition to the emotional when the customer reaches a comfort level that allows them to do so.

Do this by sharing information early and immediately asking questions about whether you have what they are looking for. For example,

“I have a lot of listings here in Orange Park. Are you familiar with the area?”

“The average home price for this neighborhood is $350K. Is there a price range you were hoping to find?”

Once it appears that your product might fit their needs, begin transitioning to confirming statements such as, “Wow, this sounds like it meets your needs exactly.”

3.      Use Your Tools

Most sales environments are full of wonderful and positive distractions that will temporarily take the focus off of the one-on-one relationship between buyer and seller and instead direct the prospect’s attention to something more tangible and analytical. Give the customers an initial overview of the home and let them get comfortable with their surroundings. All the while, you’re giving them reason not to fear you. This will encourage them to open up and share information. 

4.      Appeal to Their Intellectual Ego

The cynic would respond, “Do you mean I should patronize this buyer?” Well, yes — if patronizing means meeting them at their level and understanding what they are going through. Tell them that you appreciate their style and that they obviously know what they’re doing. It’s okay to say to an undercommunicator, “You’re in charge. I’ll give you information, but you’ll make the decision.”

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