Real estate customers are the same. They want to know that you don't "need" their transaction in order to meet your next car payment. Seeing you as needy sets up distrust - a feeling that you might lead them in the wrong direction just to get a sale closed and a commission check on your desk.
On the other hand, if you look overly successful, they'll also be suspicious. You know a lot of people think agents make way too much money. And if you make too much money, then you must be crooked. (No, hardly anyone knows just how much work goes into a real estate closing.) So even if you make 3 times more than your average client, don't flaunt it!
One way you can convey the right image is through your physical presentation.
Just as you tell clients to stage their homes before you bring buyers in, you must stage your own appearance.
Start with your clothes. They don't have to be expensive, but they do need to look clean, well-pressed, and appropriate.
I've seen agents show up to meet with clients wearing an old t-shirt and sweat pants. In summer, many agents think its fine to wear shorts. I also once saw an agent in her office at 10 a.m. wearing a hot pink satin evening dress. Hmmm... I don't want to do business with any of them.
I should back up a moment there. If you're showing waterfront property and using your boat to transport customers, the shorts are appropriate. They may also be appropriate in a resort town where every other business person you meet is wearing them.
But if you look like you just took time out from your golf game, or just rushed in from a day at the beach to meet with them, you'll convey a completely different image. Face it, even if you worked double-time all week-end, your potential customers don't want to know that you get to take Tuesday off.
Likewise with jeans. In this mountain community they're the uniform, and many Realtors choose to wear them because they never know when they'll find themselves hiking through the forest or crawling through barb wire fences. But that's no excuse for wearing the old faded pair, or the ones with holes! (and some do) And that's no excuse for the faded t-shirt. A nice shirt or sweater and good blazer make a pair of jeans look business-like in the right community.
Your grooming counts too. The unshaven look conveys the image that you didn't care enough to present yourself well... so does dirty hair and fingernails. And ladies, you don't have to wear any makeup at all if you don't like the stuff, but if you do wear it, go lightly. For Pete's sake don't put on so much that you look like you're ready for a night on the town.
Next is your vehicle. It doesn't have to be new and it doesn't have to be expensive. It does need to be clean and free of clutter. When you have to shove the junk over on the seat so your customers can get in, you don't project a professional image! And yet, I've seen Realtor's cars that look just that way.
I recall a Broker Education class when the real estate instructor told us to always drive a mid-range car. Never use the Cadillac or the Mercedes to show property. One elegantly dressed woman spoke up and objected. She said that if she didn't drive her well-polished Cadillac her clients wouldn't trust her. She needed to look as if she belonged to their "class." It turned out that she sold the most expensive homes on the waterfront.
So, there are exceptions. The most important thing is to look and act appropriately for the customers you serve and the properties you sell. Don't appear needy, and don't ever look arrogant.
Marte Cliff is a Freelance Copywriter and former real estate broker who specializes in writing for real estate and related industries.
Her e-book, Getting Clients, is a resource for beginning real estate agents as well as seasoned agents who want to know how to make more money in less time. Read all about it at http://www.marte-cliff.com/career.html
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