Many agents fall into the trap of the “agent show,” during their first conversations with a potential client. This happens when an agent focuses mainly on their own expertise and listings, rather than uncovering the client’s wants, needs, and motivations. 

At the end of the day, if we don’t understand the true wants, needs and pains of a home buyer or seller, we can’t use a solution-based approach to help them with their transaction. Real estate is a service industry, so the agents who fully understand their clients will stand out from the crowd. And that understanding begins with the very first conversation.

Below, I dive into the two biggest mistakes I see agents make during initial consultations, and share solutions to help you connect with leads and tailor your approach for success.

Mistake #1: Skipping the Deep Dive

The key to effective lead qualification lies in asking the right questions—and then going deeper. In other words, don’t settle for surface-level answers.

Many agents follow a script, checking off all the boxes as they ask about the following: 

  • Budget
  • Timeline
  • Who’s involved in decision-making
  • Previous solutions they have tried
  • What they want in their next property
  • What they want when selling their property

Don’t get me wrong, this is a great start. The problem is, that too many agents stop there. This leaves them with an incomplete picture, making it difficult to provide solutions that resonate with the client.

Solution: Layer Your Questions

Instead of a monologue, turn your initial consultations into a dialogue—one in which your prospects do the majority of the talking. Use open-ended questions to peel back the layers and understand the “whys” and the outliers behind each of their answers. 

Here are some examples:

A home buyer says their budget is $600,000-$800,000. 

Go deeper by asking, “If we found your dream home at $850,000, would that be a dealbreaker?” 

Follow up with, “What would ultimately influence your decision?” 

This technique reveals flexibility and helps you prioritize properties.

A home seller mentions wanting to move within the next six months.

Ask the seller, “What events or factors are contributing to your six-month timeline?”

You can follow up by asking about where they are moving to next: “If an ideal property came on the market sooner, would you be prepared to sell earlier?”

In addition, find out what could push out the timeline: “What could potentially hold you back from moving within that timeline, and how can we address those concerns?”

This line of questioning helps you understand the urgency and flexibility of the client’s timeline, which aids in prioritizing properties and aligning your efforts with their schedule.

A home seller is interested in downsizing because their children have moved out. 

Start by finding out exactly what they mean: “What does downsizing look like for you?”

From there, follow up with questions to get a clear picture of what they want in their next home: 

“What are you looking for in a smaller home that your current home doesn’t provide?” 

“How do you envision your lifestyle changing with this move?”

“Are there specific amenities or community features you would like to have nearby in your new home?”

These questions delve into the motivations behind the client’s desire to downsize and help identify properties that not only meet their size requirements but also enhance their lifestyle in meaningful ways.

Mistake #2: Talking Too Much, Listening Too Little

Even agents who ask good questions can fall short by neglecting to use the gathered information to provide solutions.  Clients can feel like their needs are ignored if the focus remains on the agent’s agenda.

For instance, a seller focused on getting top dollar might lose sight of the client’s desire for a quick sale.  Here, understanding their motivation is crucial.

Solution: Become a Master Listener

Actively listen to answers and then summarize what you’ve learned. This demonstrates that you’ve been paying attention and reinforces your commitment to finding solutions.

From there, use the client’s responses to tailor your value proposition. This personalization builds trust and positions you as the agent who understands their unique needs.

By using the client’s answers to tailor your sales pitch, you can emphasize solutions and showcase your value. This allows you to:

  • Anticipate objections based on their concerns.
  • Build rapport through a collaborative approach.
  • Find solutions that directly address their needs.
  • Establish authority as a knowledgeable guide.
  • Create a comfortable space for open communication.
  • Identify urgency and tailor your approach accordingly.
  • Eliminate wasted time with unqualified leads.

Asking the right questions is not just about gathering information—it’s about building rapport and a foundation for effective service. By understanding and addressing the specific needs, wants, and motivations of each client, real estate agents can significantly enhance their ability to engage clients and close deals successfully. In real estate, the most successful agents are those who listen as well as they sell.