As a business professional, you may know “chunking” without even realizing it. Basically, it’s a method of breaking down complex or difficult tasks into smaller, more manageable pieces, not only making the multi-step process of home sales more manageable, but actually helping to increase your numbers.
The concept has been around since the 1950s when psychologist George A. Miller wrote a paper on how short-term memory is generally limited to holding seven bits of information, plus or minus two. “I first heard about chunking as it applies to psychology,” says Roland Nairnsey, president of New Home Sales Plus, in Miami. “But then I thought, why not use it in terms of listening skills, to repeat back and reflect the important moments during complex interactions with clients?”
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The Home Sales Process: A Play in Three Acts
Taken as a whole, the process of home sales can be overwhelming. Added to the usual moving parts (financing, home and neighborhood selection, and design and renovation, to name a few) is the more recent supply shortage, resulting in homes becoming increasingly expensive to buy. “It’s almost too much to absorb at once, especially today,” Nairnsey says. A sales coach and trainer with more than three decades of experience, he developed a three-act “sales path” that breaks the home sales process down into easily understandable segments … or chunks.
Home Sales Act 1: Discovery
Act 1: Discovery, the initial client meeting. In addition to getting an overview of the customer’s needs, discovery consists of asking six questions:
- How did you hear about the property?
- What about the property/website attracted your attention?
- When you find what you like, when will you be moving in?
- What total or monthly investment do you have in mind?
- Within that value range, what, specifically, are you looking for?
- What other features are important to you?
Once the questions are answered,” Nairnsey says, the salesperson then “chunks” the information back to the client at the end of the meeting or interaction. This practice also has the advantage of focusing on the customer’s needs and catching any missed or incorrect information early in the homebuying process.
And, rather than being a negative, he adds, objections are actually an opportunity because the customer is sharing their concerns rather than simply agreeing with everything you say. “It’s a chance to offer a solution,” he points out.
Home Sales Act 2: Demonstration
Act 2: Demonstration, or leading the customer through the property, whether virtually or on site. After describing the key features and benefits and getting initial feedback from the buyers, the sales professional “chunks back” what the client liked or disliked about particulars of the home or floor plan and what needs to be changed or resolved.
Home Sales Act 3: Closing
Act 3: Closing, or recapping the transaction and finalizing the sale. If the first two acts are done properly, this should be the least complicated of the three acts in the home sales process, Nairnsey says. “Most of the objections or issues should have been taken care of during the first two steps, so it’s simply a matter of making sure all of the information is correct.”
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The ‘Four Cs’ of Chunking a Home Sale
To further break it down, Nairnsey recommends adhering to the “Four Cs” of chunking:
- Confirm you heard it correctly
- Correct any possible misinformation
- Connect with the buyer, instead of “selling” to them, listen and show concern
- Close. All things being equal, whatever you learned in the beginning should work in the close
“These principles give the customer the sense that you are really hearing what they have to say,” he adds.
When Chunking Equals Cha-Ching in Selling Homes
Tom Daddario, a new-home sales counselor with Providence Homes, in Jacksonville, Fla., uses chunking to enable him to do a deeper dive into his customers’ needs.
“I start out with a general question: ‘What’s important to you?’” he says. “If the answer is ‘privacy,’ I then ask the customer what they mean,” which could be anything from a fenced-in backyard to a full-blown security system to a panic room. “The important thing is to work with the client to discover what they really want.”
Daddario sees the homebuying process as a funnel. The top of the funnel could be choosing an area with good schools. He then “chunks” his way down through several options, such as neighborhood walkability and local school programs for gifted or athletic students, depending on the family’s requirements. It truly is a process of discovery, he says, because sometimes people don’t know what they actually want or need until they encounter it directly or find something that suits them better while searching for another particular.
“At the very end of the process or during the close, everyone should be in agreement,” Daddario says. “It’s what I call irrefutable logic,” as in, this is exactly what the customer wanted in a home, therefore they will purchase.
Of course, sometimes things do go wrong, mistakes occur, and people have unexpected, last-minute requests that upset the apple cart. “When that happens, I go back to the original chunk and remind them about what they were looking for,” Nairnsey says, which helps customers refocus and, if necessary, recalibrate their goals. “Chunking will help catch errors and make sure you have accurate information every step of the way,” of the thousand-mile journey of purchasing and owning a home.
Sandra Gurvis is a freelance writer and author in Bradenton, Fla.