10 Dating Rules That Can Help Your Career

Sales can be a lot like dating. Start using these interpersonal skills and you’ll be sweeping prospects off their feet.

December 1, 2006

Ever wonder why meeting new clients is so easy for some practitioners, but so difficult for others? Have you ever considered why some of your colleagues seem to get repeat business and referrals naturally, while others struggle to keep their clients happy throughout the transaction?

The secrets to success may lie in the interpersonal skills that come into play in the dating arena. To improve your chances for success with prospects and clients, pay more attention to the details that can make or break the relationship. In other words, approach sales like you would a first date.

Here are 10 dating rules that you can apply to building your next client relationship.

Rule 1: Desperation is Not Attractive

Everyone has known the guy who is so desperate for a date that he’ll do anything, date anyone. It certainly doesn’t make the girl he’s pursuing feel special.

The same is true in real estate. If you can approach prospects with the perspective that you don’t need the business, but you’d like it, then they are much more likely to want to work with you.

Rule 2: Confidence is Key

Women want to date men who are confident, and vice versa. People find it reassuring, comforting, safe.

Likewise, prospects want to work with a practitioner who’s confident. If you think you know what you’re doing, and you’re confident of your abilities, your clients will pick up on it. But be careful — just like in dating, when confidence rolls over into arrogance, you’re sidelined for being a jerk.

Rule 3: Make Them Know You Want Them

In the dating world, it’s important to let the person you like know that you like them. But there is a balance you must strike: You have to be interested, but not too interested. And, you have to be willing to walk away. If they’re not interested enough to chase you, then perhaps they weren’t your true love after all.

The same is true for prospects. Show them you’re interested in working with them. Make them notice how wonderful you are. Sweep them off their feet. Then let them know that it’s their turn to make the commitment back to you — in the form of a contract. If they won’t sign, then they aren’t your clients after all — walk away.

Rule 4: Listen More Than You Talk

When you go out on a first date and you monopolize the conversation, the chances for a second date grow slim. No one wants to spend time with people who are so self-absorbed that they don’t even ask a few questions and listen to the answers.

With prospects it works the same way, although on a slightly different level. Prospects don’t expect to be in a personal relationship with you. So when you ask them for information about themselves, they will give you very little initially … and open up more as you ask additional questions.

By the time you get to the end of the conversation, if you’ve done your job right, they feel like they have a connection with you — which they probably didn’t expect to have after just one conversation.

Rule 5: Image is (Almost) Everything

You wouldn’t leave for a hot date without making sure you looked your best. You’d also probably grab a breath mint before you show up. And yet, some practitioners think that they should do less for prospects.

Reconsider going out for showings in jeans or a T-shirt, or having garlic for lunch and then not grabbing a mint, or picking up buyers in a car filled with old soda bottles and fast food wrappers. You can destroy your chances with a prospect by not taking a few minutes to primp. It doesn’t take long — and your professional image depends on it.

Rule 6: Go Where the People Are

People who sit at home night after night don’t get many dates. Why? They’re alone and not someplace where they have the potential of meeting someone.

By the same token, practitioners who sit in their office waiting for the phone to ring are never going to meet the prospect of their dreams. Get out! Go do something! Preferably something fun, where you’ll be having a good time and be in a good mood.

Rule 7: Nobody Likes a Whiner

No one wants to hear all the details about how your dry cleaner lost your jacket or your accountant messed up your tax return. On a first date, complaining is off-limits. When you whine, you’re not attractive. In fact, you’re decidedly unattractive.

The same is true for your clients and prospects. It’s not their fault if you had a bad day. Even if you listen to them vent their frustrations, it doesn’t mean it’s OK for you to expect them to listen in return. Remember, you’re being paid to listen and respond to prospects' concerns. When you're with customers, keep your problems to yourself.

Rule 8: Never Put Other People Down

When you gossip about a mutual friend on a date or insult someone, you lose points. Similarly, if a prospect is trying to decide between you and another agent, never say anything bad about the other agent. Instead, talk about the value that you bring to the transaction and the things that you do differently from your competitors.

If prospects are unhappy with a competitor of yours, allow them to vent, but resist jumping in with your editorial comments. Let prospects make their own comparisons.

Rule 9: Always Call

The best way to make someone feel like you didn’t like him or her is to fail to call after the initial meeting. Don’t keep someone waiting. It’s rude.

By the same token, when you’ve just listed new clients, call the next day. In this case, it’s not a question of whether you like them or not, it’s a matter of whether you’re going to take them for granted or not. They are afraid that you’ll sign them and then disappear. Put them at ease by proving that you’ll keep in touch.

Rule 10: Be Yourself

Just like your perfect mate, the best clients are people who like you just the way you are. But they can’t do that if you never show yourself. If you try to be someone who you hope they’ll like, you never give them the opportunity to like the real you. The charade can’t last forever.

Be yourself and do your job extremely well. That’s what counts in the long run. And by doing so, you may just find a perfect match!

Kelle Sparta is the author ofThe Consultative Real Estate Agent: Building Relationships that Create Loyal Clients, Get More Referrals, and Increase Your Sales(AMACOM, 2005). She is also the founder of Sparta Success Systems , a real estate training company.