In my last article I had written about the real estate buying cycle that most home buyers go through and how as an agent it is important to understand each phase. Let me talk about the importance of embracing reality. Most professionals in today’s world have to understand that the reality of the Internet as a legit source of business is here to stay.
At the current rate of growth it is safe to assume that almost all real estate buyers are going to use the Internet to help them in their property searches. As real estate professionals we can either accept that reality and make the most of it or we can decide to exit. The next step is to understand the Real Estate Buying Cycle thoroughly. As stated in my earlier article which you can read here, customers do not want us to be around them during the Phase 1 Period. We need to be in touch with our customers yes – but not be a pushy salesperson at this point. Our job as Real Estate Consultants at this phase is to be helpful and serve our customers without expecting or asking anything in return. At the Phase One period, we are simply there to make friends with our customers. Research and indeed common sense proves that home buyers will work with an agent that they like – personality-wise. Our job is to be that agent by ensuring that the client likes you during the crucial Phase 1 period.
As a rule of thumb, we at Gupta & Sen have a follow-up system in place that allows us to maintain contact with our ‘future’ customers for long. We keep it short and we keep it personal. We use both phone calls and emails in our communication with our clients. We believe that twenty to thirty words in a short email is better than mindless automated email campaigns. We all have received automated emails and we know that they are impersonal and spammy. I have seen many real estate agents especially in the US really ramp up their marketing efforts by hiring digital agencies etc. just to ensure that they do not get left out of the race. But one has to remember that even simple text emails do the trick of staying in touch with clients and prospects. Like I mentioned before 75% of home buyers will use the first agent they see and talk to and assuming that they can remember the name of the agent or the real estate agency. So I believe that we must stay in touch but also stay out of the way.
In the initial stages of my interaction with clients, my purpose is always to find a common ground and develop a good friendship. As the clients warm up over a period of time, the level of receptivity goes up as it should. At no time initially do I even try to set up an appointment, show houses, try to get them to talk to lenders or in any way try and make a traditional sales pitch. I simply begin to build the relationship. That’s always my sole purpose. I always allow the client to set the pace, choose the topics around which the conversations revolve etc.
I also believe that staying in touch is crucial. Like I said 75 % of all home buyers decide to work with the first real estate agent that they converse with. So unless you make the cardinal mistake of making a customer mad at you by being pushy, you already have a good chance of getting the business and making a commission on the sale.
The Home Buyer
In this business one should always determine what phase the home buyer is in the buying cycle of homes. If the buyer is in Phase One (Most Buyers are in Phase One 90% of the time), I use a hand-off and non-threatening approach. If the buyer thinks even for a moment that you are trying to influence his dream and manipulate him and sell him, then he will be gone. It’s as simple as that! I know this from experience!
How does the buyer disappear? Well normally he will leave in a very non-confrontational manner. He may just inform you that he has changed his plans and is not interested in buying a property anymore. He will stop taking your calls and not return your messages. He may even go so far as to classify your emails as “spam” so that your future emails simply disappear in his junk folder.
Some persistent agents may change their tactics at this point, like calling from a different phone number or using a different email account. But what does this communicate to the client? That the agent is desperate and pushy which is the main reason why the client stopped working with him in the first place!
A buyer in Phase One must always be approached with sensitivity. He can be easily turned off. And one only gets one chance to make an impression on an Internet buyer because buyers who are researching on the Internet want to be aloof and “out of touch” until he is ready to move on to the Phase Two Phase.
Some people who sell for a living or those who have sold other products and services before entering into the Business of Real Estate might say that this advice goes against everything that he has ever known and applied. As salespeople, most people were taught the golden dictum “ABC – Always be closing”!
But in my own experience as a Real Estate Broker in two continents I can say this will conviction – If you employ traditional sales approaches on Phase One leads, you will become frustrated which will make you assume that all Internet leads are bad! I approach a Phase 1 lead not with the goal of getting an appointment to show him some homes but rather to ensure that he likes me. My best definition of success with a home buyer in Phase 1 is when he takes my next call.
Home Buyers in the Phase Two Period on the other hand want to work with a real estate consultant. At this phase one can be direct and pull out all stops. If one doesn’t fire on all cylinders at this phase, the chances of losing the buyer to a more aggressive and skillful agent is very high.
So how does one know which phase a home buyer is in?
According to me, it is always safe to assume that a buyer is in Phase One and use a good customer service approach. If he wants to run fast and work in a speedier fashion, let him inform you. It is better to be safe than to be sorry. There is not much risk in assuming that a Phase Two buyer is in Phase Two. The worst that can happen is that the buyer might end up surprising you and wants to meet sooner than expected.
But there is a big risk in assuming that a Phase One buyer is in Phase Two! The risk of alienating the lead is high and the chance of working with the client and closing a sale can be lost forever!
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