Rules for CORE Agents #4: Be a Giver, Not a Taker

What do you think is the greatest force for driving sales in any business?  If I were to ask you that question, you’d probably say something like marketing, or making cold calls, or developing a sphere, or whatever you just heard about at your last sales conference.

They’re all fine answers, but they’re all wrong.  The most important force for driving sales is giving.  The more you give, the more you get.  Why?  Because when people give you something, you develop an almost irresistible impulse to give them something back.

It’s called the principle of reciprocation: you scratch my back, and I’ll scratch yours.  This kind of cooperation is hard wired into our DNA.  It’s part of our evolution from the times when you had to help each other if you wanted to survive. You know what happened to the cavemen who didn’t evolve to reciprocate favors for each other?  They all died.  We are all the descendants of the cavemen who figured out that they had to cooperate to survive.

You’ve all experienced it.  Someone does you a favor, and you feel compelled to do them a favor in return.  They have you over for dinner, you must then have them over for dinner. They buy you a gift, you buy them a gift.  Indeed, reciprocation is such an irresistible force that our only defense is actually to refuse the favor.  You know that if you accept the favor, you’ll feel compelled to return it, so the only escape is to reject the favor in the first place. That’s why so many women back in my single days refused my kind, selfless offer to buy them a drink – they knew that if they accepted the drink, they’d have to actually talk to me.

So you need to be a giver in your business: the more you give, the more you’ll get.  If you want the opportunity to pitch a FSBO or an Expired, send them a CMA on spec with an invitation to call you. If you want to cultivate your sphere, send them information on the market. Your whole orientation in real estate should be to just give, give, and give some more.

But recognize that people are going to be suspicious, because they’ve been subject to sales manipulation using reciprocation before. We’ve all been on vacation and promised free massages if we’ll go visit the timeshare office for a “free” presentation. We’ve all seen those ubiquitous real estate ads promising a “Free CMA!”, which everyone knows is just a thinly-veiled invitation for a sales pitch.

So you’re going to have to overcome the built-in resistance that people have for accepting your giving.  Give anyway.  Just keep giving. Over time, you’ll prove yourself as someone who is legitimately and honestly interested in actually helping people and providing services to them.  And that’s when they’ll want to work with you.


This post is part of a series of what I call the “36-1/2 Rules for Client-Oriented Real Estate Agents,” a collection of short takes on the CORE concept that I’ve developed over the years of discussing and teaching the system.  We’ll count up to the 36th rule over the next few months, and then the 1/2 rule.  You can get the full list of rules by clicking on the “36-1/2 Rules for CORE Agents” category on the blog – scroll from the bottom if you want to read them in order.