Last month, I attended NAHB’s midyear meeting in Miami and had the pleasure of sitting in on a presentation by Daniel Swift, president and CEO of Des Moines-based architecture group BSB Design.
What should you do about a cancelled customer - simply move on or maintain an ongoing relationship? Several sales people provide their perspective.
Nationally about 1 in 5 customers will cancel their home sale before closing. While that's not an enjoyable situation for either the customer or the new home sales professional, what should you do about a cancelled customer; simply move on or should you maintain an ongoing relationship?
Large builder in Florida
Annual sales - $18,000,000; 36 units
I think what sets me apart as a new home sales professional is to be empathetic with a customer who has cancelled. Let's face it, this is not an ideal situation for either the customer or the sales agent, but it happens. If you can listen to the homeowner, understand why it has happen, and let them know that you are important to them, then you can maintain an ongoing relationship with them in the months after the cancellation. I send my cancelled customers e-mails, cards, letters and pick up the phone and let them know what has happened in the community since they cancelled. More often than you think, their situation will change and you want them to know they are welcome to come back and become a buyer again in your community.
Large Builder in California
Annual sales - $20,000,000; 65 units
Cancelled customers are a wonderful opportunity for future sales. Let's face it, you have invested a lot of time getting to know them. You know their needs, you know their priorities. But you may not know why they cancelled. It is often a very personal situation; an illness, the loss of a job, you don't always know. They often continue to want the home they have selected in your community.
I keep a log book of cancelled customers for purposes of follow-up. I spend a few minutes each month to catch up with them, keep that personal touch, let them know we'd still like to have them as a customer. When you do get a customer that is ready to come back to your community, it tends to be a really easy sale and you end up with a really happy customer because they know you went the extra mile to make them a homeowner.
Medium-sized builder in Georgia
Annual sales - $14,000,000; 46 units
It is part of the business, one in five buyers will fall out before closing. The responsibility for the sales associate is to maintain a relationship with the customer in the months following the cancellation. It is important to realize that even if the cancelled customer never buys a home from you, they are an ideal candidate for referrals. Often they feel bad that they put the sales agent through all the hassle for no commission and are happy to see if they can help you in other ways.
I actually had a customer that cancelled twice. Both times, he could not make a decision and felt the timing was not right. Not only did he purchase and close on a new home in my new community this year, but he has also referred several customers to me who have also bought homes. I feel he did this because I continued to let him know that when the timing was right for him, we'd be happy to make him a homebuyer. It all about going the extra mile.