You’re ready for your pitch. You’ve done your prep work, and you know you have properties that will be perfect for this prospective client. So when another broker swoops in and clinches the deal—with inferior options—you’re left scratching your head. What just happened?
Blame it on the quirks of being human: according to psychologists, people are more likely to do business with people they know and like, even when there’s a better deal elsewhere.
It turns out people don’t just buy properties: they buy relationships. And that other broker probably knew it.
OK, time to get emotional
No—not about that lost deal. We’re talking about emotional intelligence: the ability to recognize your and others' emotions, influence the energy in a room, and build meaningful relationships.
When it comes to sales, emotional intelligence is the secret that separates top performers from the rest. The best brokers in the business aren't practicing high-level Jedi mind tricks: they’re simply using psychology to their advantage.
What emotionally intelligent brokers do right
So how can you do what they do? How can you use emotional intelligence insights to win more business, build great relationships, and bounce back from inevitable rejections? Here are our top tips.
1. They make people feel valued and welcome.
“A man never likes you so well as when he leaves your company liking himself,” Dale Carnegie famously wrote. Emotionally intelligent people understand this, and it shows: they make eye contact, greet people warmly, ask them about their interests, and listen to them generously. In short, they make them feel valued and important.
Here’s a simple trick to get you in the right mindset. Imagine yourself as the unofficial host of wherever you happen to be, whether it’s lunch with a client or the office with your colleagues. Make it your secret mission to make others feel more comfortable: Remember names. Make introductions. Take an interest. Offer a seat. Offer a smile. Offer to help. And don’t underestimate the power of these simple but generous gestures.
“Some cause happiness wherever they go, others whenever they go,” wrote Oscar Wilde. Which will you be?
2. They don’t get defensive—they get curious.
Many brokers shy away from rejection, which stops them from doing the #1 most effective thing that brings in new business: calling prospects! Instead, they hit “send” on a generic email and hope that a warm body responds.
Top brokers prioritize high-value activities like phone calls over low-value time-fillers, like generic email blasts. They’re not scared of “no,” because they don’t take it personally.
In fact, when a prospective client says, “Thanks, but no thanks,” good brokers don’t get defensive, they get curious. They’ll say, “Would you mind walking me through your thought process?” or “What would happen if we approached this from a different angle?” or simply, “Is there some other way I can help you—even if it means referring you to a competitor?"
3. They follow rejection with action.
Even for the most resilient brokers, a rejection can still sting. But according to Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence, dwelling on it just makes it worse. That’s because, as he explains, thinking about sad things only makes you sadder. The best way to bounce back is to take action and do something that will distract you.
Got rejected—yet again? It’s all just part of the job. Rather than moping, pull up that prospect list and start making phone calls. You’ll be too busy to feel bad—and you may just line up a better opportunity while you’re at it!
4. They own up to their mistakes and make things right.
It’s one thing to win people over when everything’s going smoothly. But what about when things go wrong—and it’s your fault?
Good news: mistakes can actually be blessings in disguise, thanks to a phenomenon known as the “service recovery paradox.” Coined by Michael McCullough and Sundar Bharadwaj, the service recovery paradox refers to a client’s likeliness to rate you even more highly after you address a problem, compared to if the problem had never occurred at all.
How could that be? When people see you responding to a problem promptly and professionally, it sends the message that you care about them and their needs. People can tell when you’re on their team, and they trust and respect you all the more for it.
So if you’ve got bad news to share with a client, be honest, open, and willing to take responsibility. Then do everything in your power to make it right.