Selling Real Estate in Today's Environment

In this Q&A, sales trainer Jim Cathcart of Lake Sherwood, Calif., shares his ideas on selling in today's real estate environment.

What's different about the sales environment today versus twenty years ago?

Cathcart: We've moved from an industrial to an organic era. Our frames of reference, even our language, are less mechanical. For example, today we view businesses not as structures, but as organisms. The emphasis today is on interrelationships and synergies among components.

How has this impacted real estate selling strategies?

Cathcart: Our more organic outlook has changed the way we sell and how we handle relationships. The role of the real estate salesperson has changed from persuader to helper. High-pressure, manipulative sales tactics are a thing of the past. Selling today is focused on building trust and meeting the client's goals in the real estate transaction.

What are the characteristics of today's real estate consumer?

Cathcart: First, today's homebuyers and sellers are better informed than in the past because they have access to information from many sources. However, that doesn't mean they are more knowledgeable. Knowledge comes from organizing, interpreting, and using information, and that's where the modern real estate practitioner comes in. Educating clients is a big part of our job.

How can real estate sales associates succeed in this new environment?

Cathcart: Salespeople have to keep up with new client expectations. Those who aren't willing to learn new technologies and new sales techniques are really saying, “I'm ready to retire.”

Cathcart is the author of Relationship Selling: The Key to Getting and Keeping Customers (Perigee Books, 1990) and The Eight Competencies of Sales Leadership (Leading Authorities Press, 2002).

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