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A seller counseling session occurs at the beginning of the agent-client relationship and is a strategic activity that helps ensure a high-quality experience for everyone involved.
The consequences of unprepared sellers cannot be overstated. In a recent article in REALTOR® Magazine, agent Ryan Zwicky outlines some lessons learned the hard way, one of which was about setting appropriate expectations from the start. Zwicky says, “I learned that trying to please the seller only harms them in the end. It is better to be completely honest and open from the start.”
A seller counseling session is a powerful expectation-setting tool. It can be a sit-down meeting in person, a virtual web-based teleconference, or even a long phone call—all supplemented with a print resource to help guide the conversation. The mode of communication that is used for it is not quite as important carving out uninterrupted one-on-one time for the agent and the seller to get to know one another a little more deeply, and to go over how everything will work.
There is no one set way to do a seller counseling session, but there are some best practices and resources—home-grown or for-purchase—that can help plan the conversation beforehand so that you the 2 parties do not forget any aspect that needs to be discussed.
Regardless of the exact structure and the exact resources used, a seller counseling session is an invaluable strategic tool that will help both agent and seller succeed. Below are 10 reasons why.
Demonstrate Value – The session helps showcase the agent service package by highlighting and explaining the agent's business background, education qualifications, the extent of agent experience, and the value being brought to the process. Agent expertise and service orientation will help the client feel at ease and taken care of.
Set Expectations – The session will help set expectations so that in the long run there will be fewer surprises (and therefore fewer delays and less confusion). The client will come to understand their role, the agent role, and the roles of everyone else along the way. Things will run more smoothly. Smooth transactions lead to more referrals.
Get on the Same Page – As confusion and potential misunderstandings are addressed and cleared away up-front, the session will help put agent and client on the same team so that both are working together, and not at odds or toward opposing goals.
Reduce Risk – Because of this meeting, there will be fewer chances for confusion, missteps, breaches, and conflict. Whenever processes are made clearer at the outset, the risk of veering off into antagonistic or dangerous waters is greatly minimized.
Explain What Can and Can’t Be Done – An important aspect of further reducing risk is addressing what the agent, as the client advocate, can and cannot do. By addressing this early, there will be fewer or no client expectations or demands that the agent do something which is unethical, illegal, uncomfortable, or just plain fishy.
Outline the Process – All parties will be calmer, confident, and cooperative once everyone has a big-picture scheme in their mind about what the entire process will entail.
Position the Property – Having an in-depth conversation about the property, its current position in the market and what can be done to improve this position, like staging (and what can’tbe overcome), will help all parties down the road when they have to deal with price reductions, price negotiations, concessions, contingencies, multiple offers, deals that fall through, and so on.
Explain Fees – Understanding the line items of the different services clients are paying for will head off a number of questions, objections, and frustrations down the road, especially if things get challenging. Having a talk about fees, as connected to the value of what you do to help the property succeed in the marketplace, is key.
Gather Preferences – The seller counseling session is a great time to gather information to help you understand how your client prefers to communicate and be treated. Do they want a daily or weekly check-in, by phone or text? How would they prefer open houses be handled? What makes them stressed and what puts them at ease?
Provide Resources – The session will provide the opportunity to share resources that the seller can take home with them, review in detail on their own time, and ask questions about later. The value of takeaways and reading material as time-saving educational tools cannot be underestimated. The seller counseling session helps you present and offer these materials so that the seller knows they exist and understands how to review them.