Homebuilders Should Consider Multiple Perspectives in Home Sales

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Rick Heaston reminds homebuilders to pay attention to their own perspective and that of their customers when building a sales strategy.

October 01, 2007

I'm going to try to get you to think about your worldview of selling, and you might even change it.

What's the first thing that comes to mind when I say the word salesman? Or for that matter, what do you think when I say Mercedes, teacher or Apple computer? I'm sure your answers sounded something like "closer," "luxury," "underpaid" and "innovative."

You shared what Seth Godin would call your worldview. Everyone has one, and it represents the beliefs and biases that each of us bring to the table. Maybe a better way to describe a worldview is to describe it in terms of the story you tell yourself when you think about a topic. You likely had a story in mind when I mentioned the salesman just like you would have an association for about anything.

Do you agree with these statements?

  • Selling is selling no matter what product I'm selling or how much it costs.
  • My sales process is more about me than it is about my customer.
  • Qualifying is an effective way to determine if a visitor might be a potential customer.
  • If done properly, customers don't realize they are being qualified.
  • Creating rapport is one of the first things I want to do when my customer arrives.
  • It's important to discover and present to your customer's "hot buttons."
  • A feature-and-benefit presentation is a good way to build value in my product.
  • If done properly, my presentation will create urgency.
  • Objections are a sign of my customer's interest.
  • Trial closes allow me to see where I am with a customer.
  • I need to close early in the process, and I need to close often to be successful.
  • The more I close, the more I will sell.

Does your worldview help you or hurt you in today's market and with today's customer? Let me explain using the above examples.

Behind the Sale

A popular worldview would be "selling is selling," but new research has proved it to be false. Selling something that doesn't cost much is different than selling something that does.

Neil Rackham proved this to be true in his book "SPIN Selling." His 30-plus years of research show the selling process for an expensive product needs to be different than for an inexpensive product.

Rackham has traced his findings back to the way customers make decisions; when customers buy a product that doesn't cost much money, they follow a simple decision path. But on the flip side, when they buy a product that costs a lot of money, their decision path is exactly opposite.

If you are trying to sell real-estate and using a process that is designed to sell a product that doesn't cost much money, your sales will drastically suffer. Home building's worldview of selling matches that of most people: we're focused on needs-based sales strategies.

Needs-based sales is best described as "discover the hot button; present to the hot button; close to the hot button," which works if you're trying to sell low-ticket products. Most people believe that all selling is about presenting and closing. They believe if it works for one product, it works for all products.

Still not sure? Let me leave you with some questions to ponder:

  • Have you ever read about selling products that cost a lot of money?
  • What's it like when you're "presented to" and "closed" when making a big decision?
  • Could your capture rate be better and your discounts lower?

Your Customer's Perspective

"My sales process is more about me than it is about my customer" begs the question: have you ever thought about your process from your customer's point of view? If you haven't, it can be a sobering experience. It might seem safe, but is it really? Let's break it down:

MEET AND GREET IS THE FIRST PART OF THE PROCESS

Most experts would say that the goal of this part of the selling step is to build rapport. But there's still a problem: is this what your customer really wants or needs? Who needs or wants rapport when a customer arrives at your community: you or them? If your customer doesn't want rapport when they arrive you are probably putting your agenda ahead of theirs. And if you have a choice between sending business signals or non-business signals, which would your customer appreciate most?

QUALIFYING IS THE NEXT PART OF THE PROCESS

Qualifying, according to my research, is defined as the process of determining your customer's needs and financial ability. It seems like the right thing to do, especially if your agenda is to make a sale. But does your agenda match your customer's shopping agenda when they first arrive? What is your customer's agenda? If you said to eliminate you, you're wrong. With so many choices, they're looking for the few that most definitely stand out.

CUSTOMERS ARE THERE TO QUALIFY YOU

They want to see if you're worth more time and further investigation. So how smart is it for you to signal, "Whoa, wait a second. Before you qualify me, I need to qualify you first?"

DISCOVERY IS THE NEXT STEP IN THE TRADITIONAL SELLING PROCESS

In defining discovery, the industry teaches associates to discover their customer's hot buttons, offer a solution and conclude the transaction as soon as possible. Although it seems the right thing to do, who does it help most?

Think about needs-based selling. What are you trying to accomplish? Aren't you trying to discover your customer's needs, make a presentation based on those needs and then close the sale? Rackham discovered that the No. 1 mistake salespeople make is to solve the problem before they've fully developed a customer need or desire.

Why should a customer desperately want your product above all others and be willing to pay more for it — and want to immediately do the paper work? Would they want to do all of this just because you made a presentation that's based on their needs?

CLOSING THE SALE

Worldview and current philosophy declares that the more you close the more you sell. But guess what? Closing early and often really works if you're selling a low-ticket item. But if you're selling a product that costs a lot of money, the more you close the less you sell. Rackham has proved that, with a high-ticket sale, closing early and closing often causes a customer to say, "I need to think about it."

Selling a product that costs a lot of money requires a process that gets your customer to close themselves.

Where Do You Stand?

My answers may not be what you want to hear, but that's not what's important. What's important is that you think about selling from a different perspective — your customer's perspective. After all, you're the cost and they're the profit.


Author Information
Rick Heaston is president of R.A. Heaston and Co., a sales training and marketing firm. You can reach him at rick@touchpointselling.com. Read Rick's blog at www.probuilder.com/blogs.

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