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Learning from “No”

March 21, 2011
by Scott Levitt ·  

How to go about learning from missed shots.

“Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.”
–Bill Gates

It’s hard for us to hear what we don’t want to hear. Sometimes our selective hearing is a defense mechanism that keeps us positive and keeps us moving forward. Busted listing presentation? Failed open house? Deal falls apart? Keep your head up and don’t look back, right? Sure.

And that works well… until it doesn’t. As uncomfortable as it can be to drop our defense mechanisms and really probe our failures, it is by far one of the most effective methods of self-improvement. It’s too easy to shake your head and say, “Well, they don’t know what they’re missing out on,” when someone chooses not to list with you. If you want to turn that “no” into a valuable learning experience (and after all, what do you have to lose?), consider this:

The next time something goes wrong with a prospect or a client, follow-up and find out why. A short email or letter is a great way to find out what “went wrong.” What you want to make sure you do in the letter is the following:

1. Acknowledge that you respect their decision not to choose you.
2. Thank them for the opportunity to serve them.
3. “In the spirit of self-improvement and honest feedback” ask them the main reason they opted not to use your services.
4. Impress on them the need not to “sugar coat it” and that you value their frankness
5. Regardless of how you feel about their feedback, thank them for taking the time to tell you
6. Most importantly: RESIST ALL URGES TO ARGUE

Not only does this present you as a true professional, but you’ll get straight-between-the-eyes feedback you would have missed out on otherwise.

When you take this path, those “failures” aren’t failures at all. They were steps along the way to greater success.

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