The Key to Buyers? Engagement!
If you read my recent Zebra Report series on open houses, you know that great open houses can generate so many opportunities. I’m thrilled to tell you that I’m starting a new Zebra Report series, dedicated to helping you adopt the concepts from the open house series to create a successful buyer business.
Are you finding the success you want when it comes to working with buyers? Or are you so frustrated with buyers that you’re seriously considering working exclusively with sellers? If you choose not to work with buyers, you are walking away from 50% of the opportunities that exist in the market! If you love the business you have and don’t need one more penny of income, then by all means focus on sellers and forget about buyers.
I personally believe that having a strong buyer business can be an extremely lucrative and fulfilling experience! But you need a strategic plan to be really successful working with buyers. Over the course of the next three Zebra Reports I’m going to give you everything you need to wow buyers.
Let’s start by talking about the most important piece of the buyer puzzle – engagement. It’s the cultivation of relationships that ultimately leads to an increase in business, and a more profitable bottom line.
Many of you are having challenges with buyers because you are not engaging effectively with buyers. Are you showing buyers home after home after home … but they never buy? Or do they make offers that are never accepted? Perhaps they write offers that are accepted … but they bail out of the transaction before closing for reasons that don’t appear valid?
While it’s easy to label these as buyer problems, they are also agent problems! In order to have an effective buyer business you need to seriously sharpen your buyer-client skills.
Let’s look at three critical pieces of the buyer experience: communication, the pace of the home search, and negotiation.
Communication: Often an agent will tell me about a problem they’re having with a buyer … and it immediately becomes clear that the problem is communication. What do I mean? It’s not just whether you talk to buyer clients on a regular basis. It’s also how you talk to them, what you’re saying, and whether the method you are using to communicate mirrors their preferences. Here’s an example: Let’s say you have a buyer named Mike who communicates with you primarily via email and text. You, on the other hand, prefer to pick up the phone and chat, or meet face-to-face. Because you’re obviously not communicating in the manner that Mike needs, he’s going to get frustrated with you. When his frustration gets to the point where he just can’t stand it, he’ll likely find another agent who does understand his preferences. Or maybe your favorite way to communicate is via email and text, but your new buyer Claire rarely responds to your email messages. Is she not interested in buying? No! She is giving you a clue that perhaps email is not high on her list of communication methods. If you want to create great buyer relationships, ask your client how they prefer to communicate. And remember – listen for the clues, then honor and respect those wishes.
The pace of the home search: Let’s say you’ve found, after many years of experience, that most buyers can’t remember the details of more than three homes in any one showing. Based on that assumption, you always limit showings to no more than three homes in one buyer appointment. However, you’ve just shown Jim and Diane three homes. You’re heading back to your office with them, and you realize that they’re ready to look at many more houses. Obviously, Jim and Diane don’t fit your preconceptions about buyers! Now they want to keep looking, but you haven’t made arrangements to do that. So they’re disappointed … and they’re probably feeling you aren’t showing them “enough” homes. Making assumptions about how buyers like to search for homes is a common mistake, but it’s one that is easy to correct. All you have to do is open the lines of communication! Ask buyers whether they like to look at lots of homes at once, or if they prefer to view just a few on each outing. Then, listen and watch for more clues.
A great way to handle the home search is to start by taking buyers on a “driving tour”, which helps you learn a lot about your buyers fairly quickly. Based on their parameters, create a tour to show them neighborhoods or communities that they prefer. While on the driving tour, ask your buyers to identify the homes that they would like to take a closer look at. These tours allow you to cover a lot of ground up-front, and ultimately shorten the buying cycle. Just remember to match the clues they give you with the pace they are going. If you drive buyers past 20 homes and they seem overwhelmed, that’s a clue. If you take them by eight and they seem bored, that’s another clue. Pay attention to all the clues!
One last thought on the home search process. If you’re sending buyers bundles of listing information via email and they’re not responding to you, it could be that you’re simply overwhelming them and they don’t know where to start. It’s also a clue that perhaps you should slow down the process and talk to them face-to-face again. If, on the other hand, your buyers are contacting you regularly to ask about listings you have not sent information on, or called them about, you need to pick up the pace and become much more proactive. Again … watch for the clues.
Negotiations: Every buyer has a negotiation style that is most comfortable for them. You need to determine what that style is, and how to effectively manage it. Some buyers are always going to want to write a low offer on reasonably-priced homes because they want room to negotiate. Other buyers will offer exactly what they can pay, and not a penny more. Some will offer full price – because they and their agent have done their homework and they know the home is priced correctly. Regardless of your buyer’s style, it’s critical that you spend time talking to your buyer clients about “win-win” negotiating. Show buyers exactly what that looks like. Explain to them why it’s important to bring a fair offer to the table. Before you get to the offer-writing stage, have an honest discussion with your buyers about their negotiating style and how you can work together to make it work within a win-win scenario.
Remember – the key to building an amazing buyer business is engagement. It’s listening and watching for clues and adapting your style to mirror your buyer’s style. Engagement is making sure that your communication, home search, and negotiation styles match the preferences of your buyers. If you take care of these three critical areas, you’ll build strong, long-lasting relationships with your buyers … and ultimately build a profitable, sustainable business.
Next week I’ll be talking about the “buyer presentation” and the “buyer tour”. Whether or not you have a buyer presentation – or have a truly memorable buyer tour – watch for next week’s Zebra Report, when I’ll be sharing some of the secrets I used for many years to create a very lucrative buyer business.
By Denise Lones CSP, M.I.R.M., CDEI - The founding partner of The Lones Group, Denise Lones, brings over two decades of experience in the real estate industry. With expertise in strategic marketing, business analysis, branding, new home project planning, product development, and agent/broker training, Denise is nationally recognized as the source for all things “real estate”. With a passion for improvement, Denise has helped thousands of real estate agents, brokers, and managers build their business to unprecedented levels of success, while helping them maintain balance and quality of life.