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Values-Based Selling: Image and Integrity in Real Estate

I know, I know. I get those funny looks when I open up conversations about the softer side of business development (i.e. values, ethics, principles, and mission) and how this can build and enhance the hard science of selling – including your profit margin.

But honestly, a real estate salesperson’s business is all about his or her professional image. It’s about projecting integrity, trustworthiness, and dependability. This is important to clients, and it’s been documented that it only takes seven seconds to make a first impression. The easiest way, then, to be sure your first impression as a real estate salesperson is one of high integrity is to make sure you are abiding by your own set of guiding principles.

I recently re-read the book, The Four Agreements, by Don Miguel Ruiz, and I was reminded of how the four ideologies represented in the book are paradoxical in their depth and simplicity. But perhaps more importantly, they are the perfect place to start when considering the essential task of developing your own mission statement and how you will represent yourself – both in your own life and to your clients. While this certainly isn’t a course in ethics, this is a good way to begin thinking about what kind of professional image you would like to project out there in the real estate world. Because while real estate school prepares you for the book smarts you need to succeed, developing your own sense of professionalism as a real estate salesperson is all on you.

The First Agreement: Be Impeccable with Your Word

Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth, and take responsibility for yourself.

As a real estate agent, blame-shifting and finger-pointing is something you may have to deal with when closings get delayed, inspections don’t turn out perfectly, and offers get rejected. It helps when you affirm to yourself and others that you mean what you say, and promise only what you can deliver. Be as good as your word.

The Second Agreement: Don’t Take Anything Personally

Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own perceptions, whether they are right or faulty. Be immune to the opinions of others, and pay attention only to what is true and what you can change.

Real estate salespeople must understand themselves well enough to temper their own emotions during a difficult transaction or when dealing with a high-maintenance client. It seems obvious that getting angry or creating conflict isn’t going to benefit anyone in the long run, but it is easy to slip up and let our emotions run awry.

By understanding that even if someone yells, blames, or gossips, it’s really not about you. It’s about their own beliefs and points of view, which they feel they must defend. Even criticisms that seem directed at you really say more about the other person’s state of mind than it reflects who you are. So when it’s all said and done, what other people think about you is really none of your business, right? So don’t take it personally.

The Third Agreement: Don’t Make Assumptions

Ask questions. Communicate as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness, and drama.

As a real estate salesperson, you will often find yourself under pressure to have answers or get them quickly. It’s okay to be uncertain or admit to not having the right response – what’s not okay is making up answers or misguiding anyone, even unintentionally. Never, ever make assumptions when you aren’t absolutely sure. Admit when you don’t know something, and say you’ll find out and report back. Be proactive, not reactive. It’ll save you a lot of headache later.

The Fourth Agreement: Always Do Your Best

Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best.

At the risk of seeming too simplistic, or something like a trite aphorism, this agreement is arguably the most important. Doing your best as a real estate salesperson means taking action because you love it. Because you are driven by integrity and the desire to serve your clients – not necessarily because you are expecting something in return.

As Ruiz says, you are alive, so take your life and enjoy it. You hold (or are in the process of attaining) a real estate license because you said yes to opportunity. Take that opportunity and show the world what you can do with it – using the highest form of integrity you can muster. Being a whole person means to define and abide by your own set of personal principles, which ultimately become business principles. Your clients and colleagues will recognize this in you, and will choose you above the others. Remember, actions become habits, and habits become character. Let your character sell who you are, and your sales report will follow.