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Rebounding from Rejection - How to Turn a Lost Client Into a Learning Opportunity

Jun 01, 2023

Fewer things are more painful for real estate agents than losing the business of family, friends and previous clients. It’s a tough pill to swallow, and one that often results in anger, discouragement, and deeply hurt feelings.

Having been in real estate for over a decade, I’ve lost a few clients that truly baffled me. I just lost a listing the other day that confuses me to no end. I’d helped this client (and long-time friend) two previous times; both with great results and high praise. Knowing they were preparing to sell, I had been in contact with them – helping them identify a reasonable market value, and talking through other details. You’ll imagine my surprise when my wife found out the client had listed with a different agent.  I was confused and felt betrayed. After all, I had spent time helping these friends, and they’d said nothing to me before going in another direction.

Ultimately, we hashed it out. They had their reasons, and we remain friends. It still stings, and though I think it could have been handled a little differently on their side, I get it. The let-down was a good reminder for me to practice what I preach when it comes to rejection. 

Here are three things I recommend doing when you face a similar situation:

1. Acknowledge the Pain of Rejection and Process Your Emotions.

Don’t try to convince yourself that it’s “no big deal.” It is a big deal. It hurts, and burying the emotion will do no good. It’s okay to be angry and confused. Let yourself grieve lost opportunity – and embrace the pain it causes. Feel it.

2. Reach out for Clarity and Feedback - Have the Awkward Conversation.

You can wonder all day why you lost a listing, or why a client chose to work with another agent. Or… you can address the issue head-on and ask questions in a heart-felt conversation, or kind email. Consider simply expressing disappointment that you didn’t have the opportunity to help them with their purchase or sale. Let them know that you absolutely respect their decision to go another direction, but that you would appreciate any thoughts or feedback they can provide that would help you be considered to help in the future. I’ve used this approach several times, and it has been very helpful in understanding their perspective and thought process. In almost every situation, I’ve learned that the buyer or seller had reasons that, at least on some level, made sense. This conversation also helps avoid awkward interaction down the road should you run into each other.

3. Take Accountability for What You Could Learn from Every Lost Deal.

Without exception, you can walk away from rejection with at least one lesson learned. Chances are, these learned lessons will come from your time acknowledging the pain or having the awkward conversation. The conversation, especially, can be insightful. In most cases, I’ve learned that most lost deals stem from the fact that another agent has had more frequent and recent interaction with the buyer or seller. Maybe the client’s social circle has changed – and they feel obligated to work with someone else. That always prods me to be more in touch with clients – and to not just assume my acquaintances will use me to help. They may not.

So… feel the pain, have the awkward conversation, and learn a lesson (or two) from every lost client. You grow when you are successful in the real estate world – and you get better at what you do when times are tough. Losing clients is a very difficult aspect of the real estate business. It will happen. The goal is to do all you can to take excellent care of your existing clients while staying in the flow with your sphere of influence. You can’t control the decisions of others, but you can control your own actions, response and determination to grow through it all.

Keep at it! And if you've recently been rejected, know I'm right there with you. 



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