How Great Estate Agents Say No to Bad Fit Clients

By: Matt Giggs | April 1, 2024

Today I'm going to tell you how to say no to bad fit clients – how to say no.

We're estate agents. We are shit at saying no, right? We are the best at saying yes, making promises, and begging. Why? Because we always think we need another listing.

No, no, no, no. We are going to change that up today, so keep reading.

In case this is your first time here, why should you listen to me? I'm Matt Giggs, and I've been an estate agent for over 28 years. Let me be clear: I never expected to be in this industry for 28 years (read this to find out what I did expect). But, I'm still in it, and I'll tell you why.

I've sold over a billion pounds worth of property. I started as a trainee without a driving licence, and I’ve been a tea boy, a junior. I've worked my way up the corporate ladder and been director, MD of my own company, been involved with premium brands, and built the group that I'm in now, The Giggs Group. I have been there and worn lots of different t-shirts.

I'm telling you right now, I'm going to share with you some gold today – some gold that's going to help you build your self value and value who is exactly your right client to work with moving forward. So, here we go, how to say no to a bad fit client.

Bad fit clients need you to say no

I bet you're reading this thinking, ‘This will be quite interesting because I don't often say no.’ Or maybe you're reading this for some reassurance and reaffirmation around the fact that this is actually more important that we all give it credit for in estate agency.

One of the most frequently asked questions you get from a client, a vendor, or someone looking to sell their property while you're in an advice meeting or evaluation, whichever you call it, is “What are your fees?” It's at that point that most agents introduce what I call a ‘but fee’. You know, they'll quote the fee and then say. “But, but, I'll negotiate. But I'll come down. But I'll do this. But I'll do that to make it happen.”

That's the moment when you begin to decline. That’s when you begin to change your value and, crucially, start to lose faith in yourself.

Don’t reduce your value

I admit negotiation is a part of our process, it's a part of what we need to do. But it's also the first step towards reducing your self worth and your value. When you do that, you're not actually going to be helping out that client anymore moving forward.

Recently, I’ve been more involved back in the business than I have been in many many years. The reason for that is the current economic climate. I understand these challenges. I worked in 2008. I've worked in difficult, challenging markets before. What I've realised more than ever before, since being on the front line and supporting the team, is that you need to believe in what you do.

You need to believe in what service you offer, what your value is that you bring to a client that you're looking to work with. If that client doesn't value that, then there's two things you can do:

1. Explain your value and educate the client better, or

2. Accept that they're just not the right client for you.

If that’s the case, the best thing you can do for yourself and the client is say no.

Believe in the value you bring as an estate agent

Whilst I've been out there in the field I've witnessed and experienced the power of actually saying the following:

"Look, I just don't think we're going to be the right fit. I don't think it's the right fit for us to move forward and for you to achieve your goals. My service and experience aren’t right for you. I just don't think we're in the same place."

When I said that recently, a client asked, “What do you mean?” I said:

"Well look, I've got one desire here and that's to protect your equity, to get you the maximum value from the best buyer in the market. I want to use all of the resources and the years and years of systems and processes and marketing that we've drawn on to find the right buyer, to get you to the right price. I want to get to your outcome. And your main focus at the moment is to reduce my fee."

So the question really is, do you want to work with me? Do you want what I have to offer to get you to your goals? Or do you just want someone who's cheap, someone that you feel you can tell what to do? If you do, that's absolutely fine.

When I’ve said things like this, I've had a mixture of responses. I can deal with all of them because I’m going out there in the field knowing that I'm not desperate.

Work on your confidence

I'm not desperate because I’m confident in what we do, what we deliver, the process that we follow, the steps that we use to help a client to achieve their outcome. That wouldn’t be the case if I was going out there feeling like I needed to win the instruction.

Being confident brings a tremendous difference in body language, tone, attitude, and mindset. If you need help with your mindset, check out ‘3 Things You Need to Do to Stand Out as an Estate Agent’.

I don't go in there thinking I need validation from anybody. While I'm out there on a valuation, talking about marketing advice and strategy for how they're going to get to their outcome and protecting their equity, I'm confident. I believe in myself, and I back myself. I'm asking you this question: do you back yourself?

In other words, when someone asks you about your fee or any of those kinds of questions, what's your reaction? What's your response? Do you believe in it?

I believe I'm worth double what we're charging right now. In my mindset, it's about how we increase our fees over the coming years to add even more value to the clients that we work with. And that actually can mean reducing the number of clients that we work with over the years ahead.

Don’t try to win everything

As you can see, it's a really meaty one for today. I'm basically telling you not to go out there and try and win everything, which sounds crazy, right? Usually in the estate agency world that's what we've been taught and conditioned to do – that's to go out and win, go out and get the instruction at any price, at any cost.

But the true cost is your value. The true cost is how much you back yourself and believe in yourself.

There's a great book that you can read about not negotiating: Never Split the Difference. I honestly believe that the best negotiators talk about value, and they don't talk about discounts. My question to you is what's your strategy at the moment? Is it about education about your value? Or is it about negotiation on discount?

Educate, don’t discount

Now, if you demonstrate negotiation on discounts to a client, what you're actually showing them and evidencing to them is that you're actually going to reduce their equity more than anybody in the marketplace.

When you explain it that way to your client, they’ll respond. Like when I recently said this to a client:

"Look, I'm here to protect your equity, not discount your equity."

They actually really looked me in the eye and said, “Okay. Can you explain more?” I said:

"Well, 100%. We're here to protect the equity in your home and to do that we need to go out and find the right buyer. We need to thoroughly and aggressively challenge the open market and understand who we feel is going to be the right buyer for your home. At that point, we use our strengths, our skills, our experience, our expertise, to arrive at the best price and to work in the time frame that meets your needs. Now, you can either have that or you can talk to somebody who's willing to discount their own fee and your equity. It's entirely up to you who you'd rather use, but I'm cool with walking away these days."

The power of walking away

So I'm asking you, are you cool with walking away? Are you cool with understanding who's a bad fit client?

Now, some people, and I'll say eight out of 10 clients, just don't really understand, so they're not necessarily bad fit clients. They just don't really understand because nobody's really educated them.

If you're going out there and you're a little bit scared of having this conversation, you need to do more work on:

- what you do,

- what you believe in,

- what value you bring,

- what your process is for finding the right buyer and getting to your seller's outcome.

The other option is for you to just go into the easy street, and that's capitulation.

Capitulation is the weakness. I'll tell you the one thing bad estate agents do really, really well: they sell low value brilliantly, right? They go into the place of low negotiation, which means they can't negotiate people up. They sell the bottom line, their own included.

Risks of discount estate agents

We do need to be aware of the pressures on people who are looking to sell their houses. The first question I had recently from a client was this: “Look, we've just been offered 0.85% by another estate agent, Matt, and you're nearly £2,500 higher.

“Well”, I said to the client, “do you trust me?” And they said yes. Then I said:

"Look, I totally understand why you'd bring that question to me today. It's really important to you to focus on getting the most amount of money in your back pocket at the end of this transaction. But who do you feel the most confident in? What's been the strategy that this other agent's shown you?"

The client said, “We haven't really got a strategy.” Okay. Then I asked, “What's the plan that they've presented to you? What's the goal and the outcome that you're looking to achieve? What have they gone through with you?”

To this the client said, “Well, they haven't really gone through any of that with me. They've just talked about a price and they've quoted me a fee.” So then I asked them this question: “Did they come down on their first fee?” Unsurprisingly, the answer was yes – they’d come down by about half a percent.

That’s when I pointed out that they’d negotiated more than a 30% discount on their own service, and asked: “What are they going to discount with your equity? What are they going to give away to the next buyer for your home without your permission?”

You know that if they discount themselves, they’ll discount the client’s equity because if you can't back yourself, how the hell are you going to back your ability to negotiate for someone else, right? This is the problem in estate agency land.

Great estate agents accept the challenge

We slip into ease, slip into comfort zone conversations instead of taking on the challenge. The challenge is that basically the client's just saying show me your value. They're not saying they don't want to use you at your fee. They're just saying give me a reason why I should come to you, why I should use you.

And don't forget, most of us estate agents are performance only fee-based agents, which means it's at the end of the transaction that the client rewards you for your hard work.

Attract the right clients

Instead of discounting your fee, make it clear to the client that they won’t be paying if you don’t deliver. I said to this client, “So, there's no fee until we reach your goal. There's no fee until I get you to your outcome. What's the risk for you if we achieve your outcome and you follow me through my plan that we've agreed? How do you feel about that?”

The client said, “Matt, I just thought I'd ask. Let's just stick to what we had agreed from the outset.”

Guys, he wasn't a bad fit client. He was a good fit client, and that for me is the key – if you don't understand your value, you're not going to attract the right clients.

If you come across one of the other clients, the ones that just want to fight you down and who don't back or believe in what you're trying to achieve just say what I said earlier: “I just don't think we're going to fit. I don't think we're the right agency for you.”

You’ll actually find that most clients will ask you why, and they'll want to come with you on the journey of confidence. They’ll want to come with you to get them to their outcome.

Say no and attract the right people

So look, you've just seen how to say no to bad fit clients. You’ve also seen how to really find and attract the right clients through education of value and belief. That's what I want you to do, guys, out there in the field.

I want you to go out there and believe in what you do. You've got to feel your worth a lot more because you can do a lot more for those clients that need you right now in this market. If you like this post, make sure you bookmark my blog page. Drop me a message if there’s anything in particular you’d like to see here.

If you’re looking for more great training and advice, head over to my YouTube channel. While you’re there, make sure you subscribe so you can get more content because I'm going to be putting more out there for you guys.

Thanks for reading and being a part of this community. I am with you on this journey 100% of the way. Let's keep working together. Let's keep making estate agency great, which it really is when it's done this way.

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