A terrific buyer business will have several key components – client engagement, a powerful presentation, and a “concierge-level” buyer tour. But even with the right tools, you will never solidify your buyer business until you are able to write offers that close and create a follow-up plan that builds long-term relationships.
Do you have buyers making offers that are never accepted? Or maybe you have buyers who write offers that are accepted, but they bail out of the transaction before closing. While buyers do sometimes make the decision to bail for the “right” reasons, you can mitigate the chances of that happening on a regular basis by providing sound advice long before you and your buyers are ready to write a contract.
As part of your overall buyer presentation, talk about the negotiating process in detail. Determine what your buyer’s style is, and how you will best work with that style. Explain what “win-win” negotiating looks like. Take the time to discuss the negotiating process upfront, long before you get to the negotiating table. Just taking that simple step will often save a great deal of time (and grief!).
How do you explain “win-win” negotiating to your buyers? Here are some tips:
- Remind buyers that negotiations which become confrontational or highly stressful rarely lead to a good resolution.
- The best way to “win” is to look at the offer from the seller’s perspective. Explore what they may be feeling or experiencing during negotiations. Based on the realities of your current market, help your buyers see inside the mind of sellers.
- Use a simple diagram that outlines what win-win negotiating looks like, and how to get there.
- Use scenarios to reinforce your advice. In my long career of working with buyers, I often started by saying, “If this was your house and you had it on the market for $250,000, a full-price offer would seem fair. Correct?” Then, I’d move them down the price scale until they felt the offer was no longer fair. When I used this tactic, it didn’t take long for my buyers to understand how sellers would perceive offers at different price points.
- Provide ways for your buyers to find balance between what they feel is fair, and what the sellers will find fair. Negotiating is like a tennis match, where each side has a chance to hit the ball back across the net to the other side. If someone hits the ball outside the lines too many times, the match is over.
When you take the time to outline successful negotiating strategies, the opportunities for writing an offer that you know will close goes up, as does the opportunity to earn substantially more commission income.
The final, and crucial, piece of the buyer puzzle is to make certain that you have a follow-up system for your buyers who are not ready to buy today. Too often I talk to agents who are shocked and hurt that “their” buyers recently purchased a home with another agent. I also hear from buyers who tell me, “Once my agent learned my timeframe wasn’t right now, they quickly lost interest in staying in touch with me.” In both cases agents have dropped the ball – and the client dropped them!
You already know this: your “now” buyers need care and attention right now. But the rest of your buyers (regardless of whether their timeframe is three, six, or even twelve months out) need care and attention as well. Do you have a follow-up system that cultivates their business?
The right follow-up system will include a variety of communication and engagement tools, based on the timeframes and need for market information that each buyer has. Because it may be many months, or even years, before your buyer is ready to jump into the market, you need a system that helps you keep them engaged.
When you build a follow-up system with many layers, you can quickly step up your communication if a buyer suddenly seems more interested in the market, or scale it back if it’s clear their timeframe has moved out a few months. If you’re sending regular communications and staying in touch with them via phone or in person, you’ll quickly know if and when their timeframe shifts.
A good follow-up system will target buyers with a wide range of timeframes and should include communication pieces such as:
- Area information
- Monthly market information
- Community information
- What’s selling right now, and at what price(s)
- Year-to-year sales statistics (what’s selling now compared to last year at this time)
- Appreciation / depreciation rates
- Articles about real estate
- Articles about home ownership
- Annual market reports
- Updates on new construction neighborhoods
All buyers want to know what’s happening in their market, regardless of their timeframe. They need information, details, and dialog with you. If one of your buyers is three months out, they need market information. Share with them what’s pending now, what’s sold, and what prices are doing in their favorite neighborhoods. If your buyers have a longer timeframe, you have an opportunity to really educate them about the market long before they jump in. Although we all want “now” business, imagine the expertise you provide buyers when you have time to really educate them!
Regardless of whether you currently work with buyers, want to work with buyers in the future, or want to rebuild a lagging buyer business, incorporating the ideas from my Zebra Report series on buyers will help you build strong, long-lasting relationships … and a profitable, sustainable business.