How to Cope With Anxiety

April 1, 2008

The market downturn has created a confidence crisis for some sales associates. If you’re having a tough time keeping your equilibrium, it’s even tougher to help keep your clients from stressing out. Training guru Dirk Zeller, president of Real Estate Champions in Bend, Ore., offers some hints for alleviating client jitters:

Calming your clients:

  • Don’t assume you know what your clients are feeling. Get them to share what’s on their minds. You need to understand your client’s fear — further weakening in their market, they won’t qualify for a mortgage, their house won’t sell, they’ll miss a ripe selling or buying opportunity — to help them cope.
  • Ask clients what they expect from you and follow through. Consistency of communication is essential, and yet many sales associates fall down on the job. Find out how often clients want to hear from you and which medium they prefer: phone, e-mail, or text messages. If clients expect you to hold an open house once a month, then you’d better do it. The same is true if they want a monthly written report on changes in local market conditions or an update on where you’ve placed ads. Regular, reliable communication will go a long way to keeping their anxiety in check.
  • Get their worst-case scenario on the table. It’s imperative to encourage clients to speak about their fears and to listen attentively when they do. Don’t dismiss or belittle those concerns. If you expect them to trust you, they must feel comfortable sharing their anxieties about the market and the buying or selling process.

Calming yourself:

  • Lose the self-pity. Telling yourself that you can’t thrive in this tough market is a waste of time. Remind yourself of earlier successes to help boost your morale, and avoid blaming the market for your problems.
  • Take positive actions consistently. Salespeople sometimes become frustrated or panicked when they don’t have enough leads. In a tough market, you need a steady stream of good quality leads, so get focused on prospecting like you never have before (see “Prospect for Profit,” March 2008, page 36).
  • Get knowledgeable. Quit reading newspaper and magazine articles with a hopeless spin on real estate news. Remember, 2007 was the fifth best year on record for home sales. NAR research reports may provide more useful context for understanding the changing market. Stay up to date on sales and pricing statistics in your local market and on shifts in submarkets like entry-level or higher-end homes. Establish goals for the number of leads you need to generate for the number of buyers you want. No one needs to lower their earning expectations in a slow market. Instead, now is the time to retool your sales strategies to meet the demand that exists.