Arguably the most popular role in the property industry is the sales or lettings negotiator. Theirs is the job which is different every day, where they could be showing a property in the morning, speaking with a landlord in Melbourne in the afternoon and closing a deal before home time. Then there’s the pay and benefits – top negotiators can expect a good basic salary plus on-target earnings (OTE) that could significantly boost take home pay.
It’s a fast-paced, challenging but ultimately enviable role, and highly competitive. To increase your chances of getting the job, here are some of the skills, characteristics and experience that you need to be a great sales or lettings negotiator.
Personable and honest
Okay, we know that sales and lettings negotiators can have a less than positive reputation, but let’s put that down to a few bad apples spoiling the barrel. We say that because being personable and honest are two essential traits. The role involves building relationships with multiple parties: buyers, sellers, solicitors, landlords, tenants, referees, suppliers, contractors, the list goes on. It’s those who achieve that balance of determination and sheer likeability who gain people’s trust and build those good relationships. And never underestimate the impact of positive word of mouth.
“When you get a buyer that does not like their estate agent, they will be quick to complain, which makes life so much harder in the long run, so that bit of conversation on Monday about their weekend will pay off – especially when they recommend you to their friends and family!”
– Tom Lodge, Property Eagle.
Drive and ambition
To succeed in this profession, you must exhibit a consistent commitment, drive and the ambition to reach targets. We’ve mentioned before that estate agency isn’t for wall flowers; you need to be bold and confident, experimenting with different strategies and tactics. The best negotiators are determined and persevere, motivated by those all-important figures (though not to the detriment of client relationships).
It may well be a target-based job, and earnings are bolstered by commission, but what makes a sales/lettings negotiator ‘great’ is a client-centric attitude and the desire to deliver excellent customer service. Possessing both empathy and listening skills lets them understand everybody’s differing needs and respond accordingly, treating everyone as a person and not a sale. This approach has far more success than only thinking about targets.
“Empathy is also essential in our opinion as it’s really important to understand different people’s needs. Negotiators need the ability to listen, empathise and talk to people as people
– instead of talking to them as a deal.”
– Carla Bradman, Paramount Properties.
Not all deals will go through, but great negotiators have the emotional control to brush it off, learn from failures and not let it affect their focus. Having a thick skin and being resilient is just as important as confidence and drive. It allows them to remain calm and think clearly when under pressure; it ensures that they keep going and are hungry still for the next opportunity.
A flair for selling
Not everyone is a born salesperson and while it can be learned, the most successful have a natural flair for selling. This isn’t about being pushy, it’s about social awareness and intuition. You must be able to accurately read a situation, understand where the opportunities are and accept when you’re flogging that proverbial dead horse. Most importantly, you need to understand the negotiation process: know what influences people’s behaviour and what can affect the outcome, rather than viewing it as haggling over the financials.
“People sell houses for many different reasons, and often in difficult circumstances such as divorce or debt. At best, it’s a personal upheaval that raises everyone’s stress levels. Being able to weigh up what’s needed and respond sensitively is fundamental. You must be able to constantly reassure and remain engaged throughout.”
– David Spackman, Newton Fallowell.
Have a great mentor
Training is imperative, but what helps even more is having someone who can show you the way by mentoring you. Ask any of the best negotiators and they’ll say they ‘learned from the best’, so if you can pick up techniques from an experienced colleague, you’ll be well on your way.
It goes without saying that the best negotiators are also skilled communicators, knowing what they are talking about, and being able to convey that message in a way that is understood. However, it’s not just about how you communicate, but how regularly. Keeping clients and stakeholders up to date is key for keeping the process going smoothly.
“The best skills to being a great negotiator would be honesty and communication. When selling a house it can be so stressful and once the sale is going through those stress levels raise to another level. So much of the stress can be reduced or got rid of completely by just picking up the phone.
Also, being honest is crucial.”
– Amy, Be Street Smart
Being a sales or lettings negotiator is a hands-on, fast-moving, demanding yet exciting role; one which brings many benefits, lots of fun and usually some great teammates. Being a great negotiator requires numerous skills and characteristics, but if this sounds like you, take a look at our vacancies. You could be earning that commission in no time!