Episode #62: Creating Urgency in New Home Sales

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Have you ever spent the time with a prospect-and thought you have it in the bag?  The home is perfect for them, the homesite meets all of their expectations they even told you where all of their furniture will go, financing works, timing works but then when it’s time to sign on the dotted line they say: We like it and we know that it’s the right decision for us, just not right now. If you hear the not right now excuse, this happens for one of two reasons-you either failed to establish enough value or you didn’t create enough urgency.  We talked about the importance of creating value in episode #59 titled Overcoming Objections in New Home Sales.  If you want to go back to it and check it out.

Establishing urgency gives your customers a reason to act now.  If you fail to establish enough urgency there is no reason or motivation for your prospects to move forward. Their instinct is to take their time and think about the decision. But by throwing urgency into the mix, you’re eliminating the customer’s ability to stall or wait too long to buy.

It’s rare that there is something going on in your clients lives that is so urgent that they must buy now.  It happens on occasion and we all love when it does, because there is no better motivator for someone to buy a house than when they are homeless.

I still remember a trip I took a few years back to mid-west to a tiny town in the middle of nowhere in Ohio.  I drove 2 hours from the airport to my hotel and had an early morning presentation the next day.  When I unpacked my bag I realized that I forgot to pack a pair of hills to go with my suit.  I was wearing a pair of running shoes for my flight and other than that and a pair of flip flops, I had nothing.

Now this was one of those places that you have to drive at least 45 minutes to the nearest mall, time was running out and I had to act fast.  I googled my options and it was between Kmart and one very fancy shoe place downtown that specialized in imported Italian hand made shoes.  Nothing against Kmart but I don’t buy a lot of shoes-but when I do- I buy quality shoes, especially standing up on a stage for an hour, there is nothing worse than wearing uncomfortable shoes.  So naturally it was the fancy Italian place is where I ended up.

Let me tell you-I have spent some money on shoes in the past-but not this kind of money!  Shoes were gorgeous and fit my foot like a glove, but they were also north of $500 bucks!  As much as I loved the shoes and as great as they looked and felt-there was no way I was going to spend that kind of money on a pair of shoes!  I would never spend that much on a pair of hills-except for that day.  I had no shoes to wear to see my client the next day and I couldn’t show up wearing a pair of running shoes. 

So I am happy to report that I made a sales guy very happy and that I wore the heck out of those shoes until my husky Rhaegar decided to use one of them as a chew toy.  I cried.

But my point is that I had a very urgent reason why I needed to buy that pair of shoes.      

When there is no real urgency for your client to move, you’ll need to create that urgency.  But creating that sense of urgency isn’t always easy. Urgency cannot come at the end of your sales presentation when it’s time to close the deal.  It’s too late to create urgency at that point, because it will feel sleezy and will only push your customer away.  Urgency needs to come at the beginning and all throughout your sales presentation. 

It needs to feel natural and believable.  It cannot be desperate-clients can smell desperation from a mile away.  It cannot feel pushy as it will only push away your clients.  You need to find ways to create natural urgency and reinforce that urgency through every step of the way so when it’s time to close-it feel very natural and organic and not forced.

Now that you understand the need to create urgency, let’s talk about some of the best ways to do so. 

First, get your head right.  For someone to get into their car and to show up at your model home on the weekend, instead of spending that time with their friends or family-there has to be a strong enough reason for them to move.  I mean come on-who wants to spend their time out looking for a home unless they’re ready to move?  Sure, their answer to you is going to be “oh we’re just looking!”.  I want you to never believe that answer!  There is no way someone would get into their car, drive all the way to your model if they’re just looking. 

The best way to create natural urgency is by understanding your clients needs and by pointing out their pain points and what their life would look like if they don’t take any action.  Your job is to figure out the real why.  What is the real reason that they decided to deal with a salesperson and to come into a model home today?  You’ll need to dig deep and use open ended questions to figure out why they’re really there.   

It is your job to help your prospects realize that they need to move and that they need to move now!

Your prospects can’t benefit from moving into your community without acknowledging that they need to move — so get them to see either the pain that they are experiencing or what they’re missing out on by staying in their current situation. 

Your biggest competition in new home sales in not another home, it’s their current home.  The easiest decision is not making a decision at all and staying put. 

When you help them recognize their needs, you will create natural urgency and increase the likelihood that they’ll take action.  For example you can say something like: “Wow I can’t even imagine having an hour commute to work.  How does that affect your quality of life?  How will this affect your family if this continues much longer?  

You can create a sense of urgency by understanding, from the customer’s point of view, why they need to move now and you’ll need to vocalize it.  Even better if you can get them to say it.

The less you sell/pitch, the more you’ll command the attention of your prospects. Of course, you will ultimately be trying to demonstrate your value, but the key to a successful conversation is simply lending an ear. Making the conversation primarily about them, as opposed to what you’re selling, will keep your prospect engaged — and you may be surprised at the urgency you can create by allowing your prospect to come to their own conclusions, as opposed to berating them with sales speak.

This goes back to understanding your customers’ needs, which you need to know to sell anything to them. You need to get to the bottom of what makes your customers tick and what their pain points are. Then you can focus on your new community as the right solution for them.  When you can offer a way to solve their problems because you really understand their situation, they’ll be more likely to trust you and to buy from you. Prospects respond favorably to a personalized attention to detail, which will help you have more meaningful conversations that ultimately shorten your sales cycle.  This means you have to go beyond a typical salesperson and you need to have some uncomfortable conversations with your prospects to break through.

I will never forget this woman who bought a house from me the same day I met her because we bonded over her husband who recently passed away.  She said that she’s been to a couple of new home communities earlier that day and not a single salesperson asked her about her husband and how she was dealing with being on her own.  I went beyond her initial answer of “I need to downsize” and uncovered the real reason why she can’t stand to live another moment in that house where every inch reminded her of the time shared with her husband.  She needed a fresh start to help her move on.    

Creating natural urgency through discovering your customer’s needs is the best way to create urgency, however there are some ways you can create additional urgency.  And one of the ways to do this is through take aways.   

As humans, we tend to avoid negative consequences no matter what. The idea of loss aversion—that, to an irrational degree, individuals avoid losses more than they pursue gains. This “loss aversion” means we’ll do whatever it takes to avoid losing something. In fact, the desire not to lose is much greater than the desire to gain. Research has found that the average person is willing to risk a potential loss only if he or she stands to gain at least double that amount.

In sales, focusing on the consequences of not buying can have a great effect on a prospect’s decision to buy. You may choose to show how much money the prospect could lose if they don’t move forward today.

The best way to accomplish this is through price increases.  For example for every house that sells, the price automatically increases by X amount.  So your prospects will know that if they don’t buy today, they will loose current pricing and will have to pay more if they wait.

You can use a special promotion or included features as a take away-for limited time only for example.

Showing an effect of a rising interest rate is another effective way to demonstrate this point, ever more challenging in our current falling interest rate environment.

Pricing and promotions is just scratching a surface-this is an artificial way to create urgency but it can be very effective.  If you don’t have the ability to offer a special promotion on their first visit that will no longer be available if they don’t act on it now, you can come up with other creative ways to use takeaways.  I actually prefer these methods over the special promotion because they typically feel much more real and not so artificially created by corporate.  

This is where it goes back to knowing your clients.  Is it the last available walkout homesite in your community-which is a must have for them?  Is it the last home facing East? Is it a combination of delivery time and a homesite size that they want? What happens if they don’t move forward today?  Are they okay with loosing that?  You need to vocalize the consequences of them not moving forward today.  Do this naturally as a matter of making them aware so they can make the best decision for them-don’t force this.   

As your homework I want you to walk your homesites and create a unique selling proposition for each homesite in your community.  What is different about it? This can be delivery dates, size, walkout condition, grading, privacy, etc.  You need to be able to narrow down your client to one perfect homesite based on your conversation.  Even if you have 100 lots available, no two are the same-it is your job as a sales person to know what is unique about each and to be able to point that out to your client based on uncovering their needs.

This is also called scarcity. The more there is of an item, the less motivated we are to go out and get it. But if that item is scarce (or perceived as scarce), its value increases. How can you create scarcity?  It can be tough when the sales are slow and sometimes you’ll need to be creative. 

One of the ways you can create artificial scarcity that creates urgency in your prospects is my scheduling your appointments back to back and a little too close to each other.  That way as you propsects come and go, they see each other and have to potentially wait a few minutes for you to finish with the previous customer.

 When people see other people take action it motivates them to do the same.  It’s kind of like dating.  If somebody is too available they are less desirable vs someone who you have to chase after, it’s just a human nature.  That goes the same for you and the way you are with your time. If you make yourself too available-say when a prospect says I’ll stop by sometime on Thursday and you replay okay, great I’ll be here 11-6 it gives your prospect automatic power over you.  But if you say, okay I have a few appointments and my calendar is filling up fast, can you make it either at 1 pm or 4 pm, which is better for you? You take control by making your time scarce and your community seems to be in demand even if it’s not. 

If your community is dead and traffic is super low.  I used to have a friend stop by in the middle of my appointments to leave a deposit on one of the few remaining homesites.  You can ask a friend to keep calling your phone and leave a message on a machine saying they want to move forward and when can they come in. 

To close any deal you need to create enough value and urgency.  If there is enough value created, it still doesn’t guarantee a sale because they still need to make a decision to move forward.  You need to give them a reason to act now.  Without urgency there is no reason to act.

Not today excuse comes up because there is a lack of urgency.

If you fail to create enough urgency they will not move forward even if they know it’s the right thing for them.

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