The Seven Buying Stages

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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:

  1. The buyers’ first uneasy feeling that they need a new home.
  2. The buyers begin to look at new homes.
  3. The buyers begin to relate the needs of their family to a home or homes they’ve seen in the marketplace.
  4. The buyers find a logical fit or fits (one home or several homes).
  5. The buyers’ emotional desires heat up and they want the home.
  6. The buyers work out their problems and buy.
  7. 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?”

Complacency in your office?

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“Of all the dangerous traits of celebrated leaders, one stands out: complacency, the idolization of things that have been accomplished – like alcohol it numbs their senses, blurs their vision, and makes them lose sight of the ‘Big Picture,’ the grand goals, the big dreams, and aspirations of the people they lead. In a rapidly changing world, leaders cannot afford to be complacent even if they are doing extremely well. They must always have the urgency of crisis and prepare themselves for the unexpected.” (Panos

Has complacency taken up residence in your office, among your staff and sales management? Are you succumbing to the view that low sales are due to the economy? Are you resting on the laurels of past accomplishments thinking things will turn around and be back to normal?

Wake up people! Our normal has changed! The selling environment we have today is different from yesterday and if we don’t adapt, we will be left in history’s dust. Too many of our comrades in the housing industry could not adapt to the new world and are no longer in the housing business.

Sales managers, you need to be in the field conducting Planned Encounters with your sales staff. You need to be training them how to discover the buyer’s agenda, how to handle objections and negotiations, how to properly present the housing product, how to follow-up with prospects. if you don’t know how to train these skills into your people, you cannot expect them to do it.

Evaluate yourself against this standard. Do you:

  • Have Planned Encounters with the sales people at least weekly?
  • Motivate to keep raising the expertise of your sales people?
  • Set goals, monitor results?
  • Insure that adequate time is available for Planned Encounters in the field?
  • Resist loading up the your job description with sidebar tasks?
  • Provide leadership by knowing when to empower and when to direct?
  • Insist that training is a continuing discipline?
  • Emphasize customer service in all transactions?
  • Constantly evaluate the talent and performance of the sales people?
  • Know when and how to exercise probation?
  • Have a termination exit plan that is litigation proof?

Sales people, you need to be honing your presentation skills your social skills via discovery and questioning. You need to be fluent in objections handling, dealing with negotiating prospects, and skilled in all the financing aspects of a sale.

Take the following quiz to determine your level of expertise:

  • Did I have a  planned presentation?
  • Did I take command with sensitivity?
  • Did I conduct a tour of the model and/or home of the prospects’ preference?
  • Did I take prospects into inventory?
  • Did I close in inventory?
  • Did I do a financing set up?
  • Were sales aids used effectively during the presentation?
  • Was I well-informed on location, community, product, financing, and competition?
  • Did the presentation close?
  • Would I buy a home from myself?
  • If yes, why?
  • If no, why not?

Only the strong survive. Only the great thrive!

How would you like to be a millionaire?

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A while ago, Money Magazine did a survey about people who became millionaires. Here’s what they found in order of importance:

Number 1: 95% – Hard work
Number 2: 83% – Smart investing
Number 3: 81% – Frugality
Number 4: 67% – Risk taking
Number 5: 47% – Luck

Other tidbits: 90% are college grads, average price of car is $31,400, and they save or invest $39,300 a year.

What does this mean for the sales professional in the housing industry besides you wanting to be one? Look at what the Number 1 reason is – hard work. Do you think you can be even half a millionaire without hard work? How much time are you spending every week on perfecting your salesmanship? Did you notice that 90% of the millionaires are college grads? How much time and money are you investing in your education? Are you increasing your financing knowledge? How about your closing prowess?

If you are not a better salesperson, sales manager, builder, developer, or executive today than you were yesterday, then you mostly likely will not be in the millionaire’s club.

What are the personality/character traits of a millionaire? Here are a few:

  1. First and foremost, they believe in themselves and have faith that they will succeed
  2. Bold, unafraid to take action
  3. Able to step out of their comfort zone
  4. Positive attitude – can see the good in a situation no matter how bad it is
  5. Patient, persistent
  6. Has a solid business plan
  7. Loves what they do
  8. Creative, can come up with good ideas
  9. Has a burning desire to succeed
  10. Discipline and good work ethic
  11. Good social skills
  12. Powerful determination
  13. Hard working and committed
  14. Can efficiently manage their time
  15. Takes 100% responsibility for their actions

You may not have all these traits, but the ones you don’t have, you can work towards. Whether you actually become a millionaire by incorporating these characteristics into your life may or may not happen. But, what I can tell you is that you will experience success in your career.

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