Asking for the Sale the Key to Successful Selling
When it comes to selling homes, the sale is yours for the asking, according to panelists at last month’s International Builders’ Show in Orlando discussing the art of closing new home sales.
“If there is just one piece of advice I can dispense, it is always, always ask for the sale,” said Roland Nairnsey, vice president of training and development for Bob Schultz and The New Home Specialists in Boca Raton, Fla.
Myers Barnes, president of Myers Barnes Associates Inc. in Kitty Hawk, N.C., reiterated that point.
“For those of you who are hesitant to ask for fear of appearing like a hard-sell, high-pressure salesperson, you must bear in mind that asking is the fundamental quality of the top sales professionals,” said Barnes. “So the critical closing instruction is to ask for the sale. Ask enthusiastically. Ask confidently. And continue to ask until your invitation to own is accepted.”
Using a biblical analogy, Barnes added: “Ask and you shall receive. This doesn’t mean to register the prospect and call back later.”
Noting that selling is a numbers games, Barnes said that home sales people need to become “happy losers.”
“A batter that hits 300 means you get a hit three out of 10 times. You lose seven out of 10 times. These guys are happy losers,” he said.
“If you are a 10% closer, you are a 90% loser. But if you do that, you will be rich,” Barnes said.
To further emphasize this point, Barnes quoted hockey great Wayne Gretzky: “You miss 100% of the shots you do not take.”
It is important to make customers believe that they will lose out if they don’t buy now, said Nairnsey.
To create a sense of urgency, sales offices should shows signs of activity, with “sold” signs prominently displayed on lots and maps marked up with sold sites.
“Perception is reality. Make people think homes are selling and they will jump in,” he said.
A Smart Time to Buy
“People buy because other people buy,” echoed John Palumbo, marketing director of The Sterling Learning Group in Jacksonville, Fla. “You need to give buyers a sense of urgency — other people will take the home if they don’t buy it.”
Nairnsey also said that while there is no better time to buy than now, sales personnel need to convey that this is also a smart time to buy.
With mortgage rates hovering not far from record lows, Nairnsey said builders should show their customers how much money they would lose over a seven-year period if they waited to buy and interest rates increased by one percentage point.
“Show them that a modest 3% appreciation rate on a $400,000 homes means they will gain $90,000 over seven years,” he added.
Part of the selling process is negotiating, but builders need to be able to negotiate on their own terms, while also making buyers feel like “they have won.”
When Negotiating — Don’t Focus on Price
“Negotiating is a buying signal,” said Nairnsey. “Customers negotiate out of a sense of emotion and pride. They want to win. Create a win-win situation by making them feel like they have won something.”
If you must negotiate on price, Nairnsey said that it is important to start out high and to stay high.
“If you are asking $300,000 and the buyer counters with a $250,000 offer, come down to $299,000,” he said. “There’s no reason to meet them half way. And if they see you are not budging, they will come up quickly.”
Rather than focusing on price, builders should be willing to negotiate on other selling points, such as amenities.
It is important to find out if customers are pre-approved for financing, because this can be used in the negotiating process.
“This can be another negotiating tool,” Nairnsey said. “Tell them, if you can close sooner, we’ll offer X amount, or if you can make it a non-contingent sale, we can offer Y amount.”
Finally, once the sale is made, Barnes said that builders need to go through a process that will enable them to obtain referrals.
“This is what separates professionals from amateurs,” he said. “When customers offer a referral, they are in essence conveying two messages: first, I like the way you do business. Please treat my friends the same way you treated me. Second, I’m going to loan you my reputation.”
If a sale is going to fall apart, it is apt to be within the first 24 hours, Barnes said. To anticipate a cancellation, he said a builder should contact a buyer twice within 24 hours after the paperwork is signed and tell them how they operate and explain their commitment to customer care. After the first call, tell the buyer you will call them later that day to see if they have any questions regarding the sale.
If the home will take weeks or months to finish, the builder should schedule a weekly customer service phone call to provide regular updates to the customer and take bi-weekly digital photos of their home in progress.
On the day of the move-in, deliver lunch to the buyer and give a gift subscription to the local daily newspaper.
All of these steps will help build a solid relationship with the customer, and lead to a successful referral process, said Barnes.
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