There are seven distinct buying stages through which buyers must travel en route to the sale, and they must hit each stage in succession, if only briefly. Those stages are:
- The buyers’ first uneasy feeling that they need a new home.
- The buyers begin to look at new homes.
- The buyers begin to relate the needs of their family to a home or homes they’ve seen in the marketplace.
- The buyers find a logical fit or fits (one home or several homes).
- The buyers’ emotional desires heat up and they want the home.
- The buyers work out their problems and buy.
- The buyers get buyers’ remorse and want to cancel!
Why is it beneficial to qualify for buying stage? Because if you know what stage the prospects are in, you know precisely how to handle them. For example, if they are in Stage 2 or 3, you know they are early on in their house hunting, and you expect they will want to visit other communities before making a final decision.
National surveys used to tell us that buyers visit 14 different communities and return 4.3 times to the location of the home they eventually purchase. With the advent of the Internet, that statistic has changed dramatically. It is now eight communities or resale products with a 3.2 incidence of return visits.
Do not make the mistake of thinking you can’t take the prospects through all stages in one afternoon. You most assuredly can, though this will be the exception, not the rule. In this case, they have probably done the bulk of their shopping on the Internet.
Now, if you get lucky and snag one that’s well up in the buying stages, say Stage 4 or 5, you have a walking contract in front of you. All you have to do is convince them that your home (the logical fit) satisfies their needs better than the ones seen elsewhere. When you do this, you have a sale. But beware; you must nurture this sale carefully after the deposit goes down to prevent buyers’ remorse and a possible cancellation. Logic converts to emotional euphoria as the buyers commit to purchase.
In how much depth should you close a prospect in these stages? As long as you revert to heart selling, not hard selling and use the close – ease off – close – ease off principle, you can keep closing. If they throw out nine objections and you counter with ten, you’ll get the sale.
Remember the exception is the internet-driven buyer who will buy fast. One of the first questions you should ask is, “Have you visited our website?”