Have you ever ran all over town in the rain, in your car, with your gas, only to find out later that your new client just made an offer with another agent? Was it a waste of time? Yes, of course it was. How can you prevent it from ever happening again?
Many clients are like children - they need to be told how to behave.
Believe it or not, the average person getting into your car may not know how you get paid. Now, if you add that ignorance to the fact that people can generally manage to justify anything in their mind if they want to, you can see how you can get duped into wasting an afternoon (or two). In other words, they either don't know how commission sales work or they have some understanding, but choose to pretend that you are also getting paid a salary, so it's OK to suck up your time and gas.
I have been selling real estate for more than 25 years. Here's what I do. I get them in the car or have them follow me to see something if I sense they are worth it. I don't lay a bunch of hard questions on them at the get-go because that's not a way to make an initial connection.
Next (either at the first house or in the car on the way) I gently tell them how real estate sales work. I make sure they understand that I don't make any money unless they buy through me. I give them all the standard reasons why they want to work with just me. Finally, I ask them if they are working with anyone else. Sure, if they give me some indication before we get in the car, I'll flat out (but nicely) ask them if they are working with anyone else.
Should you NEVER work with a client who works with other agents?
I have a client who works with other agents. He has always worked with other agents. He is one of the best clients I have ever had. He's been my client for more than 25 years. Some years, I have sold him 5 to 7 residential and commercial properties. What is the KEY to our relationship?
From the beginning, he's been honest. He's an investor. He has relationships with about 20 other real estate agents in our valley. Which ever agent brings him a potential deal, that's the agent he works that deal with. He has never varied from this.
The above example is completely different from the client who lets you run them around.
Unlike the client who lets you run them around and then buys with another agent (sometimes the very property you showed them) my client gave me loyalty by the deal, but I had to bring the deal to him. I have been able to sell him so much property because his system would cause me to look for deals that fit what he liked to buy.
My investor is the only client I have had out of probably a thousand clients, who had such a system. IF you think your client is trying to use a similar system, write a one page simple contract that clearly states the rules of the game. Carefully look the investor straight in the eye. IF you can trust them, go ahead and find something to sell to them. If not, tear up the contract and say good bye. Clients who waste your time can ruin your career.