(This is an article I wrote for NAHB National Association of Home Builders for their Sales and Marketing Magazine published October 15, 2009.)
Selling in economically turbulent times is problematic especially when you are selling a big ticket item like real estate and most of our current economic challenges are with real estate. How do you close when you have FEAR? It’s not the falling Dow Jones, the S&P, Recessions, nor the price of oil that is the problem.
No, our fundamental problem lies in the resultant consumer confidence crisis. People are afraid to buy. The constant bad news has created a perfect storm of economic deadlock, leaving people frozen in place and uncertain what to do.
How do we and our sales team, address that fear?
The first thing to do is to assess and understand what the changing marketplace actually means to your buyer and consider the following:
What are the biggest challenge my target market is facing?
How can I overcome that challenge?
How can I reassure them?
How can I close them?
Companies that survive and thrive in tough times will be the companies that quickly adapt to changing circumstances.
With that in mind here are;
Four Universal Concepts that should prove useful to every sales person:
1) Overcome the obstacle whatever it is
Our current obstacle mentioned above can be a hard thing to get around but you can do it by examining the facts.
If people are afraid to buy because of timing then you need to prove that the timing is right for buying. Put yourself in their shoes, they are hearing so much in the media about recessions, depressions, job losses and such that they might be missing an opportune time to buy. It’s up to you to give the different, better perspective of the market and make them think about the once in a lifetime opportunity they may be missing by waiting.
For instance right now is a great time to buy because we have low prices and low rates, a very rare combination. It has been over thirty years since rates and prices have been this low. Rarely in history have we had both pricing and rates at all time lows.
Marketing-Prepare marketing materials that show now this the time to buy. Have historical charts that prove your points so you can hand them to potential buyers to review and calm their anxieties.
2) Highlight Benefits not features
In tough economic environments potential buyers really focus in on details like saving money, time and convenience.
Make it very clear how the Buyer will benefit from buying a home from you and in your community. Sell benefits verses features and you will appeal to a buyer’s senses. People want to know about what will save them time, money and effort.
Examples you can use to state your case can be
- Livable, open floor plans that have better flow and provide a better use of space. Having a great floor plan is an important benefit while you live in the home and more appealing when you sell.
- New energy efficiencies in your homes that save money.
- Qualities and additional benefits you offer over other competitors that will save them money out of pocket and over time.
- Conveniences of living in your community with shopping, employers, schools that will save time and money.
- Tax advantages of homeownership that result in real dollars.
- Benefits of buying verses renting which results in monthly savings.
- Benefits of buying new over buying resale or foreclosures result in time, efforts and money
- Marketing – Make the value and benefits of buying from you a key part of your marketing message and in all of your marketing materials.
3) Demonstrate You’re Builders Commitment to them and to quality
Uncertain economic times create anxiety in buyers. They hesitate to commit to any organization, particularly newer ones, because they do not know that in a month, six months or a year from now, that company will be there. This is a particularly pressing concern when issues of a home are involved because it is the biggest investment of people’s lives and will be a long term commitment. Important things to market in tough times are;
• Builders years in business and history
• Builders size and strength
• Builders awards and achievements
• Customer Service
Let buyers know you are in business for the long haul and that they can count on your company to be there after the sale. If your company has been around for a long time, let buyers know that. Sometimes the idea of a company with a long history is taken for granted but in uncertain times, that stability is sought out by more buyers.
Marketing-Use your marketing message to reinforce the concept that you’ve been there in the past and that you’re going to be there for the duration. Focus on the ongoing relationship aspect. Articulate how you keep in touch with your clients, your great customer service, commitment to excellence, quality of construction and your buyers.
4) Personal Guarantees from you the Expert!
Buyers are insecure. As an Agent, reassure them and make them feel better by promising to stand behind your product, pave the way for them and provide you’re one of a kind service. Stand by them throughout the process, answer it when there is a question and fix it when there’s a problem!
Sell yourself at the only one they go to on the topic of Real Estate. You are the person where the buck stops and whenever they need you, you are just a phone call away. A simple and often overlooked aspect of home sales is the way you perform when everything doesn’t go exactly as planned.
Marketing-Mention your personal guarantees and expertise in all your sales materials, business cards, on signage and especially when appropriate during conversations with your prospects. You are a key influence to a sale and should never underestimate your importance. Think of a great tag line that expresses your expertise and commitment and put it on your card and marketing materials. Your potential buyers want to know that you’re the expert that has all the answers and you are going to take great care and guide them through the process.
Here’s how to close in on consumer fear
There is a time for soft, suggestive selling and closing: Now is NOT that time. In the middle of a consumer confidence crisis is a time when you must overcome their fears and obstacles, adopt a leadership role, position yourself as the expert in your marketplace and the go-to resource who can provide more than product. You need to offer guidance, stability, and the assurance that the tough times will pass and that they will look back and be happy they purchased their home at the right time.
If you want to close a sale when the consumer is confused, then their strategic decision making needs your support, expertise, help and guidance. When you initiate these changes and apply them you will see those SOLD buttons start to appear on your board.