How to Overcome Home Buyer Objections in Today's Market
We all might want more sales than we are getting, or we might like the sales that we do work with to be free of their many contingencies and conditions, but transactions are happening — even in the most stubborn markets.
As for the objections our prospects raise, they really don’t differ that much from what many of us have heard in the past. They still can be grouped into the five basic categories — the home’s setting, financial reasons, design, buyer timing and fear — just like they were during the housing boom. And then, as now, most seasoned salespeople have been trained on how to overcome them.
Yet, when most new home salespeople hear the dreaded, “We want to think it over,” from their customers today, they simply fold up their tents.
So the fundamental impediment brought on by objections in today’s market, as difficult as it may be, may really be more about how we hear and interpret these objections, rather than the actual substance of them, and — even more importantly — how we allow these objections to become part of the selling and buying process.
Most of us have spent a good part of our sales career overcoming objections and were trained in how to do it effectively. We would listen, make sure we understood them, discuss them and provide well-rehearsed and planned answers — and then move on to the sale.
Our solutions may not have satisfied our clients’ needs or been what they wanted to hear, but our sales objective was to give our solutions or answers to their objections and move along as if nothing had happened.
That’s not a route we would even dare to take in today’s tough market.
Three Levels of Objections
Prospective buyers can raise objections to buying now because of everything from neighborhood schools, an inability to get a mortgage, a baby due in eight weeks and too low a ceiling in the family room to paying too high a price, home owners association fees, fear of working with the builder and more.
But no matter what the basis of the objection is, it generally falls into one of three levels of importance — major ones you can do nothing about; intermediate ones you can explain, answer or solve; and minor ones that are inconsequential and should be ignored.
Major objections are those that you can’t change, make go away or really do anything about. If there is a power line or water treatment plant nearby, for instance, you can’t miraculously make it disappear.
The best you can do in this circumstance is discuss the objection with your prospects and minimize its impact on the decision-making process by helping them understand that whatever it is that they object to really will not have an adverse impact on their lifestyle or investment.
The intermediate objections — the ones you can explain or answer — usually center around perceived room sizes, various aspects of their investment, having a current home to sell, fear of making a decision and the like.
These are the objections and issues that you were trained to overcome and can overcome. Your task is to actually make the objections disappear through specific actions, or to lessen their impact and make them seem reasonable enough to your prospects so that a buying decision is still possible.
The minor or inconsequential objections are those that are sometimes raised in passing. They may not even be objections but, instead, be merely off-the-cuff comments or observations about the paint, carpet color, model furnishings or something else incidental that really has nothing to do with the floor plan, how well it works for your customers or what they really feel about the home.
If you are ready and willing to act on these minor objections, you give them much more weight and importance than they deserve — and you could spend much too much time trying to solve them. The best plan of action with minor objections is to ignore them and let them fade away.
Determine If the Shopper Is Serious
While the nature of buyer objections has not really changed, in order to overcome objections in a down market, your first order of business should be to determine how serious your home shoppers are.
If they’re not serious, having a home to sell or worrying about getting their financing really doesn’t matter at all. If they’re not serious, they are not going to buy no matter how hard you work for them.
So, to determine how serious they are, I suggest asking them something like, “If your current home (or financing or other considerations they raised) was not a factor and everything was in place for you to do so, would you say ‘yes’ to owning this home right now?”
If they replied with anything other than an emphatic and enthusiastic “yes,” then they really haven’t raised an objection, they were just giving you an excuse. And there is no effective way to work with excuses, because as soon as you try to deal with one another one will pop up.
However, if selling a home or getting financing or whatever else that they brought up is a true objection and the buyer is truly serious, you have something to focus on and work with.
Once you’ve determined their seriousness, the next step is to determine how many obstacles need to be overcome. To do that, I’d ask a follow-up question like, “So, if selling your present home (or getting financing, etc.) was not a factor, are you comfortable going ahead and getting started with owning this home today?”
This approach helps to determine if the objection they raised initially was the only one you have to address of if there are other obstacles to making the sale. The approach enables you to discover what you really can and do need to work with — and what is just being offered as conversation.
So, before attempting to answer or work with what you think might be a true objection, confirm that it is a true objection and that it stands in the way of an immediate decision.
Once you made that determination, you can work with it to eliminate it as a barrier to the sale. Otherwise, you may be making the sales process longer and harder than it needs to be.
Steve Hoffacker, CAASH, CAPS, CGP, CMP, CSP, MCSP, MIRM, is the founder of Hoffacker Associates, a real estate sales and marketing consultant firm based in West Palm Beach, Fla. that focuses on helping builders and salespeople gain control of their sales process to become more profitable, effective and efficient. His company provides coaching, lead generation, sales techniques, marketing and business management services. For more information, call Hoffacker at 561-685-5555, or visit http://stevehoffacker.com.
This article originally appeared on the NAHB Sales and Marketing Channel.
Tax Credit Web Site Looks at Opportunity of a Lifetime
Builders and other industry professionals can help spur home sales by referring prospective first-time home buyers to www.federalhousingtaxcredit.com. The NAHB Web site provides detailed information on the $8,000 federal tax credit for first-time home buyers included in the economic stimulus legislation signed into law by President Obama.
Consumers can use the Web site to find information on the tax credit – including a detailed question and answer section. It also includes information about other housing-related and small business measures in the legislation and a number of home-buying resources for consumers.
Spanish Version Also Available Online
A Spanish version of this increasingly popular Web site is also available to provide detailed information on the tax credit to Spanish-speaking first-time home buyers.
Industry professionals are encouraged to highlight either tax credit Web site when marketing to their potential first-time home buyer market.
‘ValueMatch Selling for Home Builders’ Available at BuilderBooks.com
“ValueMatch Selling for Home Builders,” available through BuilderBooks.com, presents a selling process that focuses on selling feelings and appealing to prospective buyers’ emotional need to buy a new home in today’s market rather than product.
Learn how to build rapport with prospective home buyers, meet their needs, make powerful presentations that are focused on their values and go for the close.
To view or purchase this publication online, click here, or call 800-223-2665.
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