Thursday, April 11, 2013

Setting Expectations

One of the most important things I do in my job is to set realistic expectations. There's nothing worse than having a conversation and accidentally setting an expectation that you cannot meet or exceed. It makes closing a deal very difficult, if not impossible. I find it is better to be completely realistic and set an accurate expectation than it is to say what the other person wants to hear (or, more accurately, what you THINK they want to hear).

Here are some examples of setting wrong expectations and how easy it is to do:

1) prospective seller says to me, "so I hear the market is picking up." I say, "yeah, it is really booming right now. Prices are as much as 25% higher than 3 years ago." That prospect hears, "I can get 25% more than what I paid for this house 3 years ago." This could definitely be an unrealistic expectation. The number I said may be accurate for the market as a whole but not necessarily for his neighborhood. Plus, he could have trashed his house in 3 years but doesn't see that (pigs don't know pigs stink, ya know).

2) Buyer says to me, "Will they take this offer?" I say, "I definitely would if I were in their shoes." Buyer hears, "any normal thinking person would take this offer." Then what if they don't? What if they counter? Automatically the buyer thinks we are dealing with either a jerk or an idiot, both of which could be true but probably are not.

3) I say to my wife, "I only have a little bit of work to do." She hears, "I will be done in 10 minutes and we can go to dinner." An hour later I finish up and she is mad at me for taking too long.

My point is this, words are powerful because they set expectations for your actions. The thing is, people hear your words through a filter that is their own preconceived notion of the discussion topic. Most of the time you are not privy to the past events that set up that filter. Generally the best way to avoid the confusion is to ask more questions and to listen more than you talk. If you do this, you will probably pick up on the filters and set more accurate expectations. This could totally change your business and certainly make your life better. When you figure out some specific methods to do this, let me know and we will write a book together.

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