Overly-anxious buyers can be difficult buyers and unlikely to find it in their hearts to trust you
By BOB MIRMAN
There are many unexplainable mysteries and uncertainties in life. If people evolved from apes, why are there still apes? Why doesn’t glue stick to the bottle? Why are there interstate highways in Hawaii?
That being said, here is one absolute certainty: To some degree, EVERY SINGLE NEW HOME BUYER IS ANXIOUS ABOUT THE PURCHASE PROCESS. Am I choosing the right builder? Will I really be closing on the promised date? Will my home be completely finished at move-in? Is my loan rate really locked?
No ifs, ands, or buts about it, seriously anxious buyers can be difficult buyers; prone to insecurity, procrastination, and even anger. Most importantly, these buyers are unlikely to find it in their hearts to trust you.
And without trust, you will never receive a referral from this customer. Never.
In last month’s “God is Great, Beer is good, People are Crazy” (Part I, B&D December, 2017), I suggested that most of us like to be in control of the things happening around us, we NEED to know where we stand. When we are unable to look ahead and clearly see what will be happening, we get nervous, worried.
With that thought in mind, here are three ideas for delivering a purchase experience which provides the highest level of comfort to each buyer:
1. The Set-Up: As soon as the purchase contract is signed…
• Give each buyer a step-by-step preview of the journey ahead. Don’t assume your customer knows anything!
• Use visual aids and handouts which briefly describe the steps in the purchase process. Customers won’t remember much of what you say.
• Building a home is a complex process. Set realistic expectations for schedules, quality at move-in, and customer service. Lowered expectations give you a better chance of exceeding those expectations. Tell buyers to expect construction delays, schedule changes, and multiple documentation requests from the lender.
• Your goal is total and immediate transparency. All customers HATE surprises. Don’t you?
• (Eliant has created a list of “The 9-Key Expectations” you need to set for each buyer. Request a copy by emailing email@example.com.)
2. The Maintenance: Proactive Status Communication
• Mushrooms grow best in the dark. Homebuyers thrive in the brightness of communication, and not just responsiveness to buyers’ questions, but proactive information about construction progress and loan status… BEFORE the buyer has to call and ask.
• Our highest-rated builder clients send each buyer pictures of the home under construction at 3-5 milestones.
• Based on research at USC’s Marshall School of Business, it is clear that this proactive status communication is the #1 driver of customers’ willingness to refer their builder or lender to a friend or relative.
3. The Big Deal: Beat Every Promise
• Stop aiming to simply satisfy your customers. Satisfied buyers don’t go out and aggressively bring their friends to your sales office.
• Meeting your promises? No big deal. Not good enough. You need to delight them by BEATING your promises.
• Consider this: The primary purpose of every promise you make to a customer is to set expectations at a level you KNOW you can beat.
• Stop aiming to impress each buyer with your promises. Impress them with your actions.
• From the largest promise (i.e. projected closing date) to the smallest (“I’ll get you that information by 3:00 today”), beat those promises!
Uncertainty is the enemy of trust. Make it clear where the buyer is headed and you will create trust. The referral sales will follow.
(*With thanks to Billy Currington, Mercury Nashville Records.)
Bob Mirman is a psychologist and founder/CEO of 34-year old Eliant, the building industry’s largest firm specializing in managing the customer experience. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.