Part 1: God Is Great, Beer Is Good, and People Are Crazy*

Anxious buyers are more likely to challenge value propositions and hold off on decisions, but they can be soothed

By BOB MIRMAN

“Investors have never felt less secure, even though we are eight years into a bull market.”

— Mark H. Haefele,
Chief Investment Officer, UBS Bank

Over a couple of pops at a local watering hole, a good friend of mine mentioned that he had recently visited a doctor who specialized in the condition with which he had been afflicted for the past few months. In typical, good-buddy fashion, I asked if this doctor was a veterinarian. I expected his normal laugh.

My buddy didn’t even smile. Therein lies the problem.

The doctor he is seeing is a psychiatrist who specializes in anxiety disorders. His practice is booming. And, by the way, I also know this shrink very well—I play golf with him occasionally. I’d play with him more often, but he is the wackiest guy I know. Seriously. Cheats on the course and exhibits embarrassingly poor taste in his golfing attire, which is a lot to say in a sport where it’s perfectly acceptable to wear orange striped shorts with a blue plaid shirt.

To be honest, this psychiatrist makes me anxious…

Anyway, due to the magic of antipsychotic meds, my buddy’s anxieties are only mildly debilitating. My diagnosis: It all stems from his fairly rational fear that he has diminishing control over the events swirling around him. His legal firm’s office politics, this crazy state of California, events in North Korea and China, and the daily political turmoil emanating from Washington. Mix in the randomness and unimaginable madness of the recent spate of mass shootings and we add a dark realism to these fears.

My buddy is fearful, but I don’t believe he’s all that unusual. Wouldn’t we all prefer a firm grasp on the things happening in our immediate surroundings? Don’t most of us relish having a say in the outcomes of these events?

Personally, I would rather drive a motorcycle than be a passenger. My singular homage to paranoia is to make sure I sit in an aisle seat on every airplane. In a terrorist event, I want to be able to exert some level of impact on the situation. No window seats for me. Climbing over the middle and aisle seats to be able to stab the terrorist with my Mont Blanc doesn’t seem to be a reasonable option.

Control over one’s destiny…it’s a driving force for most of us. It’s just that over the past few years, the pace of change has accelerated, and recent research indicates that more people are perceiving a “loss of personal control.”

Since we are all getting a bit antsy these days, it shouldn’t surprise you that our prospective homebuyers are feeling increasingly anxious as well. The unpredictability and potential negative impact of world events on our stock market, incomes, savings, and home prices is palatable.

Anxious buyers are a fearful lot; afraid to make a decision; likely to procrastinate; less patient; prone to anger; more likely to challenge the value propositions you have long held close to your heart.

We can’t change the world situation, but we can certainly change the way we deal with our customers. In fact, there are three primary steps you can take to make your home buyers more comfortable, less likely to cancel, and more likely to report that they enjoyed their purchase experience.

Those three steps will be covered next month in Part 2: God Is Great, Beer Is Good, and And People Are Crazy.

(*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 bob@eliant.com.

 

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