Building Business

Mistakes That Are Good For Business

These may sound like things you shouldn’t do with clients, but they actually show how far you’re willing to go to give them great service.


Trust: It’s a small word that carries a huge responsibility. Famed salesman Zig Ziglar once said, “If people like you, they will listen to you. But if they trust you, they’ll do business with you.”

We’re honored every time one of our clients calls to ask our opinion about something. We consider that a result of the trust factor. You probably think this article is about how admitting your mistakes can build trust. While that is absolutely true (and a topic worthy of an entire book), we’re taking a slightly different direction here.

Throughout our years of consulting, we’ve sometimes been criticized by our peers for doing too much for our clients. (Who knew that could be a problem?) Many wise entrepreneurs may consider the following a list of business mistakes, but we say they are the kind of mistakes that show your true passion and dedication to your clients.

Overdeliver, even for those who don’t appreciate it. Without a doubt, there will be times when you do more than what a client expected from you and they don’t show much thanks for it. For example, real estate professionals are accustomed to spending countless hours researching and showing homes to a buyer, and sometimes that buyer will still end up signing with another agent. Does that mean it was a mistake to put so much effort into this buyer? It might seem like your time was wasted, but think of this scenario as an opportunity to test-run your process. You might not have gotten the client in the end, but you did have the chance to hone your skills. Nothing a client or prospect does should prompt you to lower the quality of the service you provide.

Be way too detailed. Some people say getting “into the weeds” distracts you from the big-picture goal. But the little details are where most salespeople drop the ball. Particularly when it comes to negotiating a sale contract, it’s the smallest of things — such as whether minor repairs will be addressed or whether there are certain seller exclusions — that could have a big impact on price. Sure, demanding answers to all your nitpicky questions could slow down the process, but your clients will thank you for your due diligence in the end. In a nutshell, care enough about your client and your reputation to do your homework and complete a thorough checklist as you move through the transaction. You won’t regret being fully prepared.

Tell clients what they don’t want to hear. Many agents promise things they can’t deliver for the sake of keeping the client happy. Maybe they tell a seller they’ll get their home sold for a price no one will ever pay for it. However, when we take the time to explain the reality of a specific situation, clients truly appreciate the brutal honesty. A client would probably rather hear that you can definitely get that $275,000 sale price for their home, but the truth may be that their home is only worth $199,000 unless modifications are made. There are many amazing promises you should make to a client — such as being the most educated agent they can find, returning their calls within two hours, or marketing their property more aggressively — but there is serious merit to underpromising in those areas that will not serve your client well in the end.

Give them too much information. Communicating with your clients is all about handling their expectations. Perhaps the most common complaint consumers have about real estate agents is that they didn’t prepare them for the possible pitfalls in the transaction. You may think you should mention them once and let it go to avoid annoying your client or giving them more information than they can handle. But when you’re dealing with things such as possible delays or surprises that could pop up at closing, the risks of a deal falling through, or the estimated timeline of a transaction and the factors that can affect that schedule, you have to have multiple conversations along the way to make sure they understand. Keep in mind that most clients aren’t familiar with the real estate process and can feel very caught off guard if you haven’t explained things not just once but multiple times. Every client I’ve ever encountered would rather know exactly what to expect than feel left in the dark.

Many who would argue against doing these things in their real estate practice argue that it’s practical not to overextend themselves as agents. That’s somewhat understandable given the time crunch we all feel day to day. But making things easier or simpler for convenience or speed doesn’t trump delivering your very best service every time. More often than not, the fruits of your labor are proof enough. It results in consistent referrals, incredible reviews, and a reputation that is both elevated and unforgettable. Those are “mistakes” you’re probably willing to live with.

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