Interpreting Cues and Clues from Your Clients | The Zebra Blog

Interpreting Cues and Clues from Your Clients

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One of the biggest challenges facing salespeople is picking up on the cues from your clients. Whether in a conversation or through their actions, clients give us cues all the time. Your challenge is to interpret these cues as clues to your next move.

We do presentation role-playing work with agents in our Mastery coaching program and our ENCORE group. It is not unusual to be working with an agent doing a presentation and have them miss a cue I have given. Sometimes that cue is avoided intentionally because the agent doesn’t want to address the conflict hidden beneath, but more often than not, it is because we go into client meetings with an agenda and a picture in our head regarding the anticipated result and we stay on our path until the result is reached.

Sales is all about the ability to read your client—to know when to push and when to pull, when to start talking and when to stop talking, when to back off and when to close in. The great thing about all this is that clients will often give you BIG signals as to your next move.

For example, let’s say you’ve been e-mailing a client for a few weeks and they haven’t been responding.

That’s a message. But what is the message? Perhaps it’s “You’re sending me too many emails. Please stop!” But don’t jump to conclusions. Maybe it’s, “I don’t check my e-mail that often.” or “I am on vacation and will be ready to resume when I get back.”

There’s a cue here somewhere that you’re not picking up on. So how do you find out what it is? Simple. Pick up the phone and call them! Instead of formulating a story in your head regarding what could be the problem, see what the problem actually is and use your energy into solving that problem instead!

You could get to the real answer by asking any number of questions:

  • “Have you been finding my e-mails informative?”
  • “Is there anything in particular I haven’t addressed that would help you?”
  • “How do you prefer to be contacted?”

Here’s another example:

An agent recently complained about a client who had been extremely excited to go look at some houses. After seeing them, the client hadn’t gotten back to the agent regarding an offer.

I said, “Well, she’s probably just not interested in the homes you showed to her.”

“No, Denise”, said the agent. “She said she loved the homes.”

“Yes, but is it THE ONE? And all the features and benefits won’t matter if it’s just not THE ONE. A buyer could even love the home and not have it be THE ONE. You just haven’t hit it for them yet.”

There was a non-verbal cue the agent didn’t pick up on—the lack of that wide-eyed, starry expression that people get when they realize they’ve found the home of their dreams. It usually happens in an instant. Their pupils dilate a little. They laugh uncontrollably. It’s a lot like falling in love. It didn’t happen overnight, but time and again I saw the same glassy expression and in that moment I knew that buyer wanted that house and I needed to be prepared to do some pricing research and help the buyer write an offer.

As an agent, I trained myself to look for these clues. The instant a client “fell in love” with a home became a cue for me to push a little harder or lay out my concerns if there were problems with the home that I was afraid the buyer would overlook in that dreamy state.

But if I toured a buyer and that glassy look never materialized, I learned ask some deeper questions such as “What did you like about this house?” “What didn’t you like?” When you take the time to pick up on cues, ask some tough questions, and narrow down exactly what they’re looking for, it becomes easier to find that one property that’s going to make them swoon.

As for communication, often people don’t like to be contacted a certain way. Some prefer phone calls. Others prefer emails only every two weeks. Others prefer regular mail while others will only respond via text. The best thing you can do to uncover the cue they’re signaling to you is—again—to ASK! Ask, “How would you like me to communicate with you? Phone? E-mail? Postal mail? Text?”

Of course, the timing of the market may dictate your options. In a fast market postal mail won’t work and emailing every two weeks is a recipe for disaster, but you can spell out the pros and cons of these to the clients who indicate a preference. This is a sure sign of a real estate professional—somebody who understands that people like to be treated in different ways. There is no “one size fits all” solution.

Too many agents miss out on so many opportunities to build stronger relationships with clients because we serve it up only one way—our way. But when we learn to pick up on cues from our clients on how they like to be served, our communication is much more likely to be received.

Once you start picking up on these cues, you’ll begin to see them everywhere. Experience, awareness, and a willingness to look deeper at those cues will help you be a better communicator, and a better agent.

Right now, think about a client or potential client who has given you a cue either by their tone, action or lack of action. Have you interpreted this cue correctly? Or have you made assumptions about what this cue has meant? Did you pick up the phone and give them a call? I encourage you to do so before the day is out. If you are not shy, please share below what you thought the cue meant before you made the call and what it really meant.

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