Our Sellers: Friends… Then Adversaries… ?


posted by on Working with Sellers

Had one of those oh-so-fun aha moments yesterday.

I’m currently negotiating a book deal with a NYC publishing house (sounds glamorous, doesn’t it?).

Here’s the background. A month or two ago, I was contacted by a senior editor, let’s call him Bob (cause that’s his name). He wanted to talk to me about writing another book and publishing it with his company. He schmoozed me, flattered me, rapport-ed me. He called when he said he’d call and responded promptly to my emails. Bob is one heck of a nice guy. I sure like Bob and I can tell Bob likes me too. I’m really looking forward to working with Bob.

Then, all of a sudden, we’re talking money. As in, advances, royalties and publicity. Suddenly Bob is not my friend. Suddenly, Bob is someone I’ve never met. Suddenly, Bob no longer makes an effort to schmooze me, no, his emails have taken on a much different tone, a tone… interestingly…. very much like a real estate agent negotiating his commission (or, for that matter, list price) …

carHere’s the thing. Assuming Bob and I agree on the financial terms of our relationship (e.g. my $50,000 advance and 40% royalty – HA!), our relationship doesn’t end. At that point, we have to work together – closely – after all, he will be my editor. We’ll need to get along and trust each other. It’s not like a car salesman/car buyer relationship where the salesperson schmoozes, negotiates and then pretty much drops out of the picture. No, poor Bob is in the position of winning my trust, then negotiating against me, then needing my trust again.

The parallel really smacked me in the head. We real estate agents pursue sellers with big smiles and hearty handshakes. We pet the dog, ooh and ahh over the wallpaper and listen sympathetically. Then… when the conversation turns to money, what appeared to be the beginning of a beautiful friendship … is suddenly adversarial.

We get haughty, we get huffy (not you or me of course, but everyone else). We’re offended if asked to justify our fee and annoyed when sellers don’t trust our CMA’s.

Talk about a buzz-kill.

If we are successful in our commission and pricing negotiations, we are hired to sell the home. And, we desperately need the trust and support of our seller to our job right.

See the problem?

In my current situation, I really wish that someone other than Bob was responsible for negotiating my contract. That way, Bob and I could have continued our budding friendship and worked together happily ever after. But now… it’s clear he’s on the other team and I need to protect myself. Bummer. I’ll probably never feel as warm and fuzzy toward him as I once did.

It’s the same in real estate negotiations. It sure would be nice if all that great rapport we create during the schmoozing process could flow smoothly into the marketing process. But no, it’s interrupted by all the unpleasantness of negotiating commission and arguing about¬†market value. And the relationship may never be quite the same.

Maybe this is just all part of the sales process, but it seems as if there oughta be a better way…

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