How Do You See What’s Missing When Negotiating? Negotiation Tip of the Week

When you negotiate, do you see what’s missing in the negotiation? Are you attuned to how words are pronounced per any hidden meanings they might possess? Too many times, too many negotiators miss vital clues when negotiating. Those missed clues could be missed opportunities that might lead to a better outcome.

The absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. That statement has been used to heighten the perspective that, just because we don’t know something exists doesn’t mean it doesn’t. In a negotiation, we must heighten our perspective for who may not be at the negotiation table that’s calling the shots. We must also be mindful of the person that represents herself as the decision maker and in reality, she’s a stand-in.

… and the dog didn’t bark. There are multiple questions that this situation could pose. Where was the dog? Should the dog have barked? Did someone do something to stop the dog from barking?

There are many reasons why you may not observe a piece of vital information that may be right in front of you when negotiating. To become more aware:

  1. Increase your situational awareness. That means you should mentally prepare yourself to be more attuned to what will occur during the negotiation. You will already have developed your negotiation plans highlighting the strategies and tactics you expect to employ before the negotiation, but you’ll also layer those plans with the obscene. The obscene can entail something that is so outlandish that you’d think it would never occur; good negotiators flourish in the outlandish in an attempt to get the other negotiator to flounder. So, don’t take this ploy lightly. Also, by employing this strategy, you’ll uncover hidden thoughts that might come up during the negotiation and/or thoughts that will lead you to higher thoughts.
  2. Have people on your team designated to observe certain aspects that occur during the negotiation. As an example, you can have someone listening to the words used to express spoken thoughts of the person with whom you’re negotiating. That person would also seek to determine how such words were positioned, along with inflections, to assess any hidden meanings contained in the words. That designee could also be tasked with assessing what was not said; what’s not said can have as much, if not more of an impact, on someone’s hidden meaning. That same individual might also observe the body language gestures displayed to determine how synchronized someone’s words and body language gestures are aligned, along with when synchronization did not occur (note: when words are not synchronized with body gestures, the words have a higher probability of being misleading.)
  3. In preparation for vital negotiations, make sure you’re well rested and hydrated. In any situation that may be infused with angst or anxiety, your physiology will play a key role in how you interact in the situation. Thus, being well rested and hydrated will allow you to think better and more clearly. To add to your magnification of focus, be sure not to eat foods that will make you lethargic.
  4. Slow down or speed up the pace at which you normally present and consume information. Doing so will alter the way you see and think. It will also alter the perspective of the other negotiator because he’ll be responding at rates you control.

There are a lot of moving pieces in a negotiation. Some are seen, inferred, and others are unseen and/or inferred. To gain a better grasp of the unseen, consider employing the steps above. You’ll see more of what’s missing in the negotiation, which will allow you to shine a light into the crevices in which the unseen hides. That will lead to more negotiation wins for you… and everything will be right with the world.

Remember, you’re always negotiating!

Christmas Presents for Cats: Santa Paws Is Feline-Ing Generous!

This festive season, how can you please a fickle feline?

Cats are notoriously hard to please: They turn up their whiskers at toys and regard the comfy cat-bed with distain. You buy an expense present only to have them show more interest in the box than the contents. So this Christmas, do things differently and apply a little cat psychology to the dilemma of what to buy as the purr-fect present.

#1: The Tall Cat-tower
If you want to really get kitty pruuping with pleasure, the give her a high perch to use as her sentry post. Yes, a tall cat tower is an investment, but it’s one your cat will purr-sitively adore. Cats love to get up high to watch the world go by. Site the tower next to a window and she can sit on the platform and survey the scene for hours. Plus, she’ll want to mark her new favorite territory by scratching it, which could save from the best furniture a shredding.

#2: A Cat Dining Table
Indoor cats craze the roughage that chewing on grass provides. Giving your cat access to fresh, growing grass gives them the opportunity to satisfy this nature urge to chew, and a cat dining table does to in style. There are so many things to love about a cat dining table, from the angled bowls (less strain on the neck for elderly cats) to the side order of growing grass -plus they look nice for the humans.

#3: Wing-on-a-String
If it simply isn’t Christmas without a toy, then chose one that triggers your cat’s natural instincts to hunt. You can’t do better than a Da Bird and those fluttering feathers to get your cat’s heart pounding and the chase is on. It is a rare cat who can ignore the allure of a Da Bird in flight, which could be your key to getting a cuddly kitty burning the calories and back in shape.

#4: Zoom Groom
Every cat wants to look their best, and for velvet soft fur – especially in short-haired cats, your feline friend will go limp with delight when brushed with a Zoom Groom. This clever rubber brushes mimic the feeling of being licked by another cat, whilst shifting shed fur out of the coat like a magnetic to iron. This Christmas gift is one the cat will enjoy again, and again, and again, and look super sleek for it.

#5: A Cardboard Box
There’s no denying that simple is sometimes best. Don’t be bashful about giving your cat that old standby- the cardboard box. After all, if it’s good enough for Maru…

Furr-bulous festivities pet people!

Present Dangers to Real Estate

There is a bear in the woods. He has been lurking around for a few years and presents a threat to us. There is an aggressive new competitor in our industry. This competitor seems like an ally to Realtors but is really an adversary. There are a large number of web-based outsiders that are trying to penetrate the real estate marketplace. These outsiders are waging a battle to sign up customers through early stage offers of gift certificates, cash, gift cards or opportunities for free rebates. Multiple agents are also promoted to the consumer with the inducement to receive sales materials such as CMA’s or marketing plans. These companies are luring in consumers with the hook of lower fees or bonuses.

The most sophisticated of all these interlopers is Lending Tree. They have already been engaged in lawsuits with the Cendant Groups and RE/MAX. I have no doubt they will continue to step over the line and others will follow. The only service these companies are providing is being the intermediary between the potential prospect and a group of agents bidding for the business. For this service they want 30% – 40% of the commission!

These companies are working diligently to become significant players in the agent referral business. For example, if a consumer used Lending Tree to help them find an agent they could receive up to a $2,000 gift card at Home Depot based on the price of the home.

The whole industry of these web-based party crashers is to make money at your expense. For you to do all the work you have been doing already but for a 30% – 40% reduction in your fee structure.

There are others like Home Loan, which offers a cash reward of $500, or Master Moving, which offers a reward of .225% of the sales price. The reward would amount to $675 on a home valued a $300,0000. All these companies want a slice of an already thin pie.

A recent study by NAR gives us an indication of why we are experiencing these predators prowling in our industry. For the years 2003 and 2004 only 13% of the consumers returned to their agent they used from a previous purchase. This statistic shows our glaring lack of service after the sale. It shows that we are no better then other sales people who make a sale and never follow up with the client again. Until we change our ways that bear will be out of the woods and in the back yards of our clients. He will be rummaging through the garbage cans trying to find a way to be invited in!

We must drive these bears back to the woods. The only way to do that is to really protect what we have starting now!

As agents, too many of us are relying on the mail and email to forge relationships with our clients after the sale. We are using a pre-packaged CAP program, or Client Appreciation Program, where we give them “items of value” monthly. I don’t want you to misunderstand me here. It’s fine if you do that. There is nothing wrong with regular contact via mail or email.

The problem lies when we get lulled into a secure feeling because we mail them something every month that generates an impression on our client for a total of 30 seconds at best. The clients also knows that you send this same “stuff” our to 500 plus other people as well. The consumer knows that all we did was mail merge a mass letter and mass marketing piece. How special does that make them feel? Sending out mass mail marketing pieces is better than doing nothing, but it falls far short of the exclusive relationship that we are hoping for.

We must realize and value these mass mailings for what they are…support pieces. These pieces’ only value is supporting the personal efforts we should be engaged in. The personal efforts we make toward our clients are the foundation of raising our referrals and our retention of our past clients.

Our personal efforts can be segmented into two key areas, the “relationship building” area and “expert in the industry” area. We need to be building the relationship so they know we care about them. We also must establish ourselves as the industry expert. Our past clients need to feel that having an expert on their side outweighs the giveaways that these companies are enticing them with. If all we have is a relationship they will be tempted to evaluate and even accept these outsiders offers.

To master the relationship-building arena we need to move beyond mail and email. We must intermesh personal intervention, phone-to-phone or face-to-face contacts. Our past clients need to hear from us personally on a regular schedule. We must raise the level of intimacy with our clients by frequency of personal contact and intensity of personal information. Intensity of personal information is the core information about a client. We are going to track this core information on each client. An example would be birthdays, anniversaries, children’s birthdays, children’s activities, and client’s interests. There are more options than one could list in an hour. The question is what do you want to track? What will give you the edge to protect what you already have? The power of this information in a usable format is explosive. A usable format would also set up intimate correspondence based on life events, like sending out birthday and anniversary cards. A usable format would be the ability to search your database based on these categories as well as other specific categories.

Very few agents go do what I will describe now. You have a client that has an interest in golf. You know that because it is core information you track on your client’s interests. You read an article on a golf topic about a new course opening in your greater region. You then photo copy that article with a note for the client saying, “I read this article and really enjoyed it. I thought of you when I read it because I know you love golf. I hope that you and the family are doing well.” You then mail the article to your client. Then place a call in a few days to make sure they got it and you can ask for referrals. If we do this type of relationship building we reduce the exposure to defections of clients. A defection is when someone leaves your database and uses someone else. The use of the CAP system being your only avenue of relationship building is not enough!

We also must position ourselves as the expert in the industry. The reason why fees have been feeling additional pressure downward is the message from these outsiders, the media and others. The message they are sending is, “It doesn’t matter who you select, as agents we are all the same.” Our message needs to be “It matters who you select to represent your interests.” First we have to believe that to our core. Second we have to be able to document that empirically with statistics. We must be able to articulate our average list price to sales price, average days on the market and average listing sold verses listing taken verses the board average or another agent’s average. From these statistics that we call the “Big 3″ we need to show the benefits to the client. The benefits of a higher net dollars in their pocket, lower hassle factor or disruption to their family because of a reduction of days on the market and a higher probability of sale when using us to represent their interests.

We also must regularly update our client to the condition of the marketplace. Again, showing them empirical evidence of inventory of homes based on price range, number of homes sold in each price range, days on market in each price range and the absorption rate. The absorption rate is how many months of inventory we have based on current trends. These statistics affect the value and ultimately the equity position for our clients.

There are endless ways to position you as the expert. We must create a positioning plan and then implement or execute the plan to raise awareness of our expert status.

These outsiders are threats and they present a clear and present danger to our industry. There are strategic and tactical moves we can make in this game to minimize the momentum that is building from these outside forces. The timing to implementation is now. We all need to work together to drive the bears back in the woods.

Dirk Zeller is an Agent, an Investor, and the President & CEO of Real Estate Champions. His company trains more than 250,000 Agents worldwide each year through live events, online training, self-study programs, and newsletters. He’s the widely published author of Your First Year in Real Estate, Success as a Real Estate Agent for Dummies┬«, The Champion Real Estate Agent, The Champion Agent Team, Telephone Sales for Dummies┬«, and over 300 articles in print.