Scott’s Thoughts: Not Knowing it All


“Doubt comes in at the window when inquiry is denied at the door.”

- Benjamin Jowett, (1817 Р1893), theologian and translator.

Question marks.

It feels good to know the answers. When you’re trying to win a listing or meeting with a client about the marketing plan for their home, there’s tremendous satisfaction in possessing the ability to smoothly and confidently answer each inquiry your client presents, no matter how small.

Yet there are bound to be times when you simply won’t have the answers at hand. How you handle not knowing an answer is just as important as how you respond when you do, though. While there are legal, tax and other accounting questions you may not feel are legally within your purview, there will be occasions when a client asks you something you should know.

What do you do when you’re drawing a blank?

Many inexperienced agents will attempt to bluster their way through, but this is the most dangerous path to take. Coming up short on information is a great time to demonstrate your prudence and trustworthiness as an agent. Instead of covering, try this method instead:

1. Restate the question for clarity. “That’s a good question. Let me make sure I understand what you’re asking…” Sometimes there really will be a simple miscommunication.

2. Once you’re certain you understand the question (and you still don’t know the answer), get it out in the open right away: “You know, I am not 100% certain, and I don’t want to mislead you. I will gladly find out and follow-up with you.” Make a note to follow-up later.

3. Follow-up later, no matter how small the issue! Even if you’re unlikely to win the listing or don’t think the answer will matter later, prove your professionalism with a courteous and timely response.

It’s vastly preferable to follow-up with the right answer than it is to correct a wrong answer later. Clients can only assume you will represent them the way you represent yourself. Show them you’re cautious, honest, and diligent.

Remember: Know-it-alls can easily become lose-it-alls.

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