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How to develop Authority as an Agent

For more than 30 years salespeople and marketers have been drawing lessons from The 6 Principles of Influence by Robert Cialdini. This 1984 book revolves around the factors that influence people’s decisions, the simple but powerful motivators that make people say “Yes”.

In this article we’re going to look at how you can use Cialdini’s fifth principle, Authority, to appeal to the respect we all have for expertise, experience and confidence.

The Take-away

We assume that people are aware of our experience and expertise. They probably aren’t, and even if they were it can be very persuasive to remind them. Take the time to figure out what topics come up in your work most often, how you can present as an authority at those times and how you can make your experience and expertise visible to your prospects and clients.

Authority is about persuasion, not status.

“Expose your expertise; don’t assume it’s self-evident. Surprisingly often, people mistakenly assume that others recognize and appreciate their experience.” — Robert Cialdini Why do doctors display their certifications on the walls of their offices? As patients we don’t use them to determine how qualified our doctor is, and having those certifications doesn’t differentiate them from any other doctor.

People are persuaded by evidence of authority, even if they would expect it from you. You can use much of the experience and expertise you already have to bolster your reputation among clients and prospects, even if you think your clients or prospects expect it from you.

So how can we apply this to the work of a South African real estate agent?

Expertise

The best way to be seen as an authority is to become one. You don’t need to be the most experienced agent to do this. You just need to be prepared.

Keep abreast of the listings and sales in your area, the area itself, your company and competitors, the market - anything that would be relevant to your clients. You don’t need to be an expert to get the benefits of authority; you just need to present as knowledgeable and be able to offer your clients real value using what you know.

Don’t have the time to research a handful of topics? Consider the most common questions you get asked and make sure you can speak authoritatively about those topics. These are likely to be about the properties you are working with and the area in which you are working.

Develop and show evidence

What applies in doctors’ offices applies in Real Estate. Buyers and sellers, if asked, would say that they wouldn’t consider using an agent who didn’t have any experience, who a colleague wouldn’t recommend or who wasn’t informed on their area. But showing people that you have experience, that colleagues respect you and that you’re well-informed can be very powerful and persuasive.

Here’s some ways you can present evidence of your authority.

  • Go through your personal and business profiles and compare them with other, more experienced agents. Make sure you present as professional and credible in all your profiles.
  • Write down all your awards, successes, client reviews, relevant years of experience and anything else that might make you seem more authoritative to clients. Think about where you could include these (from brochures to Facebook) and practice bringing them up in conversation.
  • Back up your opinions with supporting evidence. When talking about the value of a home, be able to refer to market evidence, recent sales or comparable listings.
  • Be able to refer to comments from industry experts. You can find these in articles, case studies or on Real Estate news sites.

Knowing your most powerful Social Proofs is a great way to appear authoritative to clients and prospects.

Presentation

You can make use of people’s respect for authority without opening your mouth. Presentation – from your clothes to your sitting position – is powerful. Make sure your outfit is clean and ironed. Arrive early at meetings. Don’t answer calls when speaking to prospects. Dedicate time and effort to clients. Always behave like you want to be where you are.

In short, look and act like a professional. If you have the appearance of authority, people are more likely to give you the credit that goes with it, regardless of your status or experience. We may not realise how much authority we are giving up simply by appearing disorganised or disinterested on a regular basis.

In Summary

  1. You don’t need to be an expert to get the benefits of authority. Consider the most common questions you get asked and make sure you can speak authoritatively about those topics.
  2. Back up your opinions with supporting evidence. Give evidence-based reasons for what you think. Be able to refer to comments from industry experts.
  3. Show people that you have experience, that colleagues respect you and that you’re well-informed. Make sure you present well online, in your profiles and in person.

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