What is differential demonstration—and why do you need it for selling new homes?
Let me put this in perspective. Would you start planning your wedding after the first date? For most people, the answer is a profound “no”. There’s a process to building a relationship to the point of making such a serious commitment.
Before you start the negotiation for a new home sale, the buyer must be committed to making that purchase happen. If they aren’t yet at that point, there’s nothing to negotiate.
Differential demonstration is a process for guiding a prospective buyer through a model home, with specific intent to maximize its appeal and value. You probably think that’s exactly what you already do.
Is it? How purposeful is your plan for presenting a home? How often do you let the buyer walk ahead and look around on their own? Do you finish the tour with a specific end in mind? Do you follow the floor plan or plan a specific route? Have you thought about how the flow of your presentation is building an impression in your buyer’s mind?
I’ve worked with new home sales professionals—individually and in teams—for decades. Some are extremely experienced and others are new to the business of selling new homes. It doesn’t seem to matter where they are in the career spectrum, because quite a few haven’t mastered the art of showing a new home to a potential buyer.
Let’s go back to the first date analogy. First impressions count. If you show up late, aren’t dressed properly, or have chosen a place to meet that isn’t inviting, what impression have you made on your date? You didn’t put a lot of thought into this meeting. Selling is not done without purpose. Random acts of demonstration just don’t cut it.
When you let your buyer wander through the home without providing a purposeful guide, you haven’t fully prepared for this “date”.
Here’s an example. The model’s sales office is in what would be the garage. It seems natural that you’d take your buyer through this space to the family entrance from the garage.
That’s your first mistake.
You should first guide them outside and down the driveway to the curb so that they can take in the full measure of the home’s exterior.
- Give them the floor plan’s name, square footage, and features.
- Talk about the curb appeal and the details of the architectural choices and how they enhance the home.
- Point out unique features like the solid wood door, sidelights, siding, number of windows, and any other features they should appreciate about this particular model.
After that build-up, escort your buyers up the front walk and into the foyer so that they experience the entrance from this perspective. They need to see how the home “greets” the guest. This is their first view. Make it count. Never let them experience it from the garage entrance! That’s like coming into a fine restaurant through the kitchen.
Speaking of the kitchen, it might seem reasonable to present this space while guiding your prospect through the main living area.
That’s the next mistake.
You have a big selling opportunity with the kitchen. But don’t serve it up too soon. Your buyers can see the area, but you should save the actual presentation for later. Just tell them, “This is a lovely kitchen and we’ll come back here and take a good look. But first, I want to take you through some other areas.”
Why wait to fully present the kitchen when you’re already there?
It’s all about anticipation. A quick glance is tempting. But the kitchen is an essential space and you should save the full demonstration till the end, so that you finish with a flourish.
Plan to make a difference.
When you’re selling a new home—in any market, but particularly a challenging one—you need to leverage every advantage. With differential demonstration, you give yourself that upper hand. You plan every step, not leaving it up to chance and not missing key details. Like the first date, you choose carefully—the location, time, ambience, what you wear, how you’re groomed, and what you say. You do it all to make a great impression and a lasting one.
Before you can negotiate, you have to have something that the other person wants. Increase the desire and you have greater bargaining power.
And remember, don’t jump right to incentives—even if your buyer starts the conversation that way. Price is irrelevant if the desire isn’t substantial enough.
In the process of writing the new edition of my book, “Secrets of New Home Sales Negotiation: How to Achieve ‘Yes!’ Every Time”, I realized that understanding differential demonstration is an important part of the negotiation process. I’m including an entire section that explains differential demonstration—the what, why, and how. The new edition is coming soon, so stay tuned!