Your goal in professional selling is to determine each homebuyer’s needs and financial ability, offer solutions and conclude the transaction as soon as possible. However, before you are able to lead your potential customer from presentation to close, it is essential to qualify the prospect.
In fact, sales research reflects that as many as two-thirds of today’s presentations by salespeople are wasted on individuals who are not qualified to purchase. Considering this, is it surprising that sales can be so frustrating at times?
The fact is that you simply cannot conclude a sale in your neighborhood with an unqualified individual or family. You may complete the paperwork, but you won’t complete the sale. Your prospect must like the new home/homesite, your community, its location, as well as have the money, desire, credit history and authority to purchase.
WHY SHOULD YOU GO THROUGH THE PROCESS OF DISCOVERY?
DISCOVERY determines wants, needs and desires. A major part of your job is to uncover their true agenda, emotional and otherwise, and to focus on true reality, not the prospects’ (or your) perception of reality.
DISCOVERY provides you with the prospect’s financial status. If financial resources are not adequate, then truly there is no reason to waste their time or yours.
DISCOVERY provides you with the prospect’s financial parameters. If you present a $40,000 interior homesite to a $150,000 golf fairway customer, you will frustrate the prospect and probably lose the sale. Conversely, if you present a half-million-dollar home to a customer whose financial ability is a quarter of a million, you risk alienating the prospect and losing the sale.
DISCOVERY determines which parties are involved in the decision to own. If all parties are not available, then realize you may first be giving an overview, and then rescheduling your presentation for a time that better suits everyone’s needs.
DISCOVERY determines time frame. Determine whether he wants to purchase today, next week, a month or a year from now.
DISCOVERY reveals your competition. It allows you to structure your presentation with your competitors’ amenities, homes, and prices in mind.
DISCOVERY helps eliminate objections before they appear. If you question skillfully and listen attentively, prospective purchasers will tell you everything you need to know to help them with their home-buying decision.
Controlling the Fear of Discovery
Even though the process of discovery is very important, most salespeople avoid it. Why? Beyond fearing the process of discovery itself, the average salesperson perceives he or she will be viewed as an intruder, probing into the prospect’s personal territory, which encompasses their wants, needs, desires, financial resources, and authority to purchase. The reality is that you cannot help potential homebuyers with the most significant emotional and financial decision of their lives until you fully understand their needs and financial status.
The discovery part of the Sales Process is simply a sharing of knowledge. In essence, you are saying to the prospect, “I know all about the community and these new homes and homesites. You know all about you. When we combine this information, we will have enough knowledge on which to make a solid decision that will be in your best interest. Now, you go first. Then I will be better equipped to match my property with your preferences.”
The Five Categories Of Discovery
The number-one consideration your prospect will have while shopping for a home in a new neighborhood is the area. Regardless of how dazzling your presentation is and how glorious your community and its homes are, customers will not own in a geographic area that does not fit their values and emotional agenda.
When selling new homes, you must sell from the outside in. Outside-in selling has the salesperson comprehending that people don’t just live in homes. They live in a particular area, within the confines of the neighborhood in which their homes are located. Consider the following:
For year-round communities, the distance to work, school districts, a church or synagogue, medical facilities, and shopping areas is the top priority in the prospect’s mind.
In resort/retirement communities, the challenge may magnify. You must first determine if your state is right for them, and their preference for the mountains, the coast, or being inland.
II. TIME FRAME
How urgent is the need? How soon can the appropriate person take advantage of your offering? The time frame is critical. It determines the sales presentation, urgency and follow-up procedures, when you can close the sale, and when you will be paid.
III. FINANCIAL RESOURCES (MONEY)
Your prospects may want or need your offering, but if your neighborhood and homes are not within their financial parameters, start searching for a qualified prospect.
A new homesite or home will usually require bank financing, so you may need to qualify your prospect in two separate categories:
Down payment or initial investment: When financial terms are offered, banks or financial institutions may require the customer to have a position of equity.
Monthly payment or monthly investment: Banks require a customer to meet specific debt ratios in proportion to income. In other words, banks will only allow a certain amount of debt to be incurred by the customer.
Determining who will be responsible for the purchase decision is vitally important. Will you be able to follow up, secure and deliver your presentation to all persons involved in the decision to purchase? Don’t delude yourself. In the case of a couple buying a home, there are always two people involved in the decision-both husband and wife or both partners.
V. WANTS, NEEDS AND DESIRES
Qualifying has an intimidating, even judgmental tone associated to it. Nevertheless your entire goal, through the process of discovery, is to get to know your customers before showing homes and homesites in order that they might assess your neighborhood in terms of how it will satisfy their living standards.
A Doctor of Sales
Doctors always diagnose before they prescribe. Prescription prior to diagnosis would be malpractice. As a salesperson, you must also diagnose (determine the condition of your prospect) before you prescribe (offer a remedy). Presentation before qualification is malpractice. Invest 10 to 30 minutes of your time in discovery first, and eliminate wasting hours, days, or possibly months delivering presentations and attempting to close sales with those who cannot, or will not, purchase from you.
One Final Thought
There are signposts along the road of life. When one has deceived you, do you lengthen your stride or look for a place to sit down?
Sometimes a prospect will deceive you. When this happens, do you become discouraged and want to sit the next one out, or do you try harder to find the truth the next time around? Adversity of any kind can break you or cause you to break records. You can’t control everything that happens to you, but you can control your reactions.
Next installment: Demonstration — Selling the Sizzle
Myers Barnes Associates, Inc.