It may sound old school, but so much more can be accomplished by picking up the phone and having a 5-minute conversation. In a dialogue, there’s less opportunity to read between the lines, to misinterpret the other agent’s meaning. And, if there is back and forth, it can occur much more quickly and efficiently in a phone conversation. Then (and only then) follow up with an email.
The 5 Biggest Mistakes Agents Make in Emails
Despite the obvious fact that phone calls often resolve problems more quickly, some agents still love email and use it for absolutely every sort of communication. Here’s a list of the 5 biggest mistakes that agents make in emails.
- Bragging about volume, production, and length of time in the industry. It’s not appropriate to brag or tell other agents how it is—especially if you are a buyer’s agent hoping to get the listing agent to work with the seller and accept your client’s offer. Showing off isn’t cool. Not to mention, your production can always be verified in a simple MLS search. (Read about the Dunning Kruger Effect here.)
- Making a written guarantee. You are just the agent. You are not the financier (in most cases), and you cannot control the actions of others involved in the transaction. Know that if you do put a guarantee in writing, you may need to put your money where your mouth is. You’re not prepared to give up commission because of what quickly typed out in a email, are you?
- Acting like the boss. If you want someone to do something for you, you need to ask nicely. You can attract more bees with honey than with vinegar. Don’t make demands in email. A soft, gentle touch usually gets more accomplished. (Consider reading your email aloud before hitting ‘send’.)
- Making threatening statements such as “My client is not going to close unless…” By all means, if you say something like this, make sure it is true. If you are using “your clients” as a screen because you are trying to hold the transaction hostage due to a minor problem, just seek a resolution. Experienced agents can recognize false bravado and will call your bluff.
- Name-calling and making accusations. Last week, when I delivered bad news via email, the other party responded by asking my if I was “on drugs.” Since email conversations become part of your office transaction file, any threats, name-calling or accusations will probably outlive your memory of sending them via email. (At this point, she probably doesn’t remember that she wrote that. But, you can bet that I have a copy in the file.)
My New Favorite Book
I just had the pleasure of reading Chris Voss’ Never Split the Difference. Voss is a former FBI hostage negotiator and provides some really great tips for negotiation and conflict resolution—all of which are pretty helpful in an industry filled with negotiations and conflicts. The book has some great tips for ways to win at negotiation, and many of which could used in email messages… if the other party is avoiding “real” conversation. You may want to check it out.
Last but not least…
The key to sending successful email messages is to stick to the facts, to have a modicum of self-control, and always respond in a professional manner.
Despite the fact that others may make the mistakes noted above, it is always a good idea to take the high road and lead by example. Even though (admittedly), it is often hard to hold back when someone else goes ballistic.
What say you?