One of my first jobs out of college was at a large market research company. The company had a national symposium where all branches were invited to receive training from the firm’s top executives. The speaker for the “Opening Remarks” was late. We all used the time to chat amongst ourselves at our tables, when suddenly, a man in a suit walked into the auditorium. The entire auditorium slowed their chat to silence. The suited man looked around, found a seat and sat down. We all assumed he was the opening speaker…later, I found out he was a junior in sales.
What made everyone in the auditorium assume this man (there were plenty of suited men) was an executive? I’m convinced it was the way he walked.
Making an entrance. It’s said Roosevelt was a master at walking into a room. He would burst through the doors, pause to look around, and took a place either sitting or standing. This is exactly what the junior salesman did. He flung open the doors, walked into the center of the auditorium, paused and took his seat. I’m convinced it was the pause that made us take notice. He was evaluating all of us before deciding what to do next.
Stand up straight. Show off confidence by walking with your back straight and your chin up. Don’t stick your chest out like a gorilla, you’ll look ridiculous. Maintain a natural and correct posture. Think of your head as a bowling ball (my physical therapist makes me do this, so I’m forcing it on you) that you’re trying to carry. If you try holding it away from yourself it is heavy, but if you hold it with your arm extended and straight over your head it’s easy. Straighten your shoulders and back and tilt your chin slightly up and you’ll notice that pinching pain in the back of your neck fades away. You’ll look confident and save yourself from getting a hunch-back in your old age.
Stop verbal pausing. There’s nothing more annoying than that guy who says, “Ummm” every five seconds. Often times, verbal pauses are used to collect your thoughts before you speak. Instead of saying anything, take a deep breath and remain silent until you’ve figured it out. However, too many silences will make you seem awkward. If you get stuck, tell your client the truth, “I don’t know, but I’ll find out.” No one expects you to know everything. They just want to know you’re working on it.
Focus on others. You’ve been taught to convince others that you’re awesome. All your potential clients have been through the “I’m awesome” wringer with every agent they’ve met. How many CRE agents have spent time actually listening to what their clients need? Very few. Ask questions about their current properties, what they’re looking for in a new investment, and explain additional tips like, “Have you pulled up the comps in that area? I’ll pull them and we’ll look over the lease rates.” You don’t need to brag about your current or former big-name clients. Instead, showing interest in their work will get you closer to the deal.
Stay present. This is the opposite of derailing. Derailing is when you change the subject to get your potential client to talk about your subject of choice. Note: Derailing isn’t a bad thing; in fact it’s necessary if they won’t shut up about their grandkid’s ballet recital when you’re supposed to be talking business. Staying present means you’re in the moment and thinking about what the prospect is telling you. You’re not waiting for them to finish so you can talk; instead, you’re listening and responding to their topic of interest. All potential clients will appreciate “staying present” since it’s so rare. After all, how many conversations have you had today where the person you were talking to was “staying present”?