Home > Consumer Behavior > What do you do when the prospects aren't ready to buy?

What do you do when the prospects aren't ready to buy?

I've been watching and it looks like a lot of the people who call or visit our office are not ready to buy. They haven't talked with a lender, they don't know where they want to live, they can't describe the home they want, but they do want to see homes. ohn;

What should I do? - by Thomas
Hi Thomas...

I'm assuming you sell homes.

When people come into your office and haven't spoken with a lender, aren't sure of where they want to live, but do want to look at houses, treat them as though they have cash in their pocket and want to give it to you.

These people are your future customers, but you must make sure they will come to you when they are 'ready' to buy.

They are looking for a professional to guide them. They are looking for a professional to take a 'personal' interest in them. They are lost at this point, but they are interested in purchasing the most important thing they will ever buy in their lifetime...a home. You need to make yourself their 'lifeline.' You need to let them know they can trust you. You need to let them know you are the 'expert' they can count on.

This is the time you 'plant seeds' Thomas. You 'cultivate' these people like you would your garden. They may not buy for 6 months or a year, but if you show them you are honestly interested in helping them with every bit of knowledge you have, you ask them many questions about their lifestyle, and work to become a 'friend' who wants the best for them, you will be the only person they come to when they are 'ready.' I guarantee it.

When you 'plant enough seeds' there will come a time when you will suddenly wonder where all these buyers are coming from Thomas. Plant seeds with every potential buyer you speak with, whether they are ready to buy now or not. This is how you 'build' your business and 'explode' your income down the line.

It's not about you Thomas. It's not about the commission you will make. It's about forgetting your own EGO and taking a genuine interest in helping these people find the perfect home for their needs and desires. By treating these people like they were a family member or best friend they will 'sense' this and will trust you to help them.

If you spend the time necessary to show them homes you will increase their 'seriousness' about buying. They more cool homes they see the more they will want one of their own. Build value with these people. Give them all your skills and knowledge about the benefits of buying a home. Don't focus on the features of the homes, focus on the personal benefits that these features will bring into their lives.

For example, if the home has a beautiful deck don't emphasize how nice the deck looks and how well it was constructed. Paint a picture in their mind of how great it will be to entertain their family and friends on this deck with a barbecue on a beautiful day. Use this technique with all the features of the home.

If your office doesn't include financing you should contact a few lenders, meet with them, see if you can partner with these mortgage brokers, and make a 'business arrangement' with these people. You will refer your leads to them if they refer leads back to you. You work to build each others business. You form 'partnerships.' You become a 'full-service' realtor and guide your customer through the entire home buying process with your partners. You can also 'partner' with appraisers and home inspectors also.

I could go on and on, but to give you a quick idea of how to treat 'future' buyers, and build your 'future' business, I hope this short answer helps you. If you have more questions, bring them. I'm here to help you...Coach Doug - by Dougd55
The training I received said to be successful I needed to invest my time with people who where ready willing and able to buy now. I've spent time before with people who weren't ready to buy and then something changed and all of my time was wasted. annyd; - by Thomas
That time wasn't wasted if you gave everything you had to those people who didn't buy. And if you did this, they will never forget you. And even if they never buy from you, they will recommend their family and friends and co-workers who need a house to come see you if you gave them your all.

Thomas, what makes the most sense to you, personally? Do you think your initial training was all it takes to be successful in commission sales for the rest of your life? ...That won't happen.

Let's talk about your training first...

As a professional commission salesperson your training should never, ever stop. You must always continue to seek out many different avenues of sales and marketing training for the rest of your sales life. If you aren't continually learning new information you will never reach the top level of sales people in your field. And it's all up to you to make the decision to do this. You have to have the desire to excel and do this on your own. Most people don't. But if you do, you will surpass everyone in your company.

I sold real estate as a young man many years ago and went thru my brokers training program. They had me watch videos and read training manuals that were developed by the national headquarters of this company I joined. That was the extent of my training. I was given a desk, a phone extention, and left alone to 'get listings and sales.'

None of that "training' sunk in and meant 'squat' to me. I got no listings and no sales.

I left that company and went to work with a friend in real estate. She showed me what was really involved in the 'real world' of real estate and mentored me. I followed her during her day for several weeks. This was the most valuable training anyone could ever ask for. I watched how a professional earns a living selling real estate. No videos or manuals could even come close to the power of this type of training.

My advice to you is find a highly successful agent who is selling several million dollars per year. Try to get to know them and begin to ask them questions. Let them know you are seeking help. Offer to take them to lunch to talk about THEIR success and how they do it.

Successful people have a tendency to help others when they see a person is truly dedicated and serious about learning what they have spent years learning. You may think they are unapproachable, but you're dead wrong. All the successful people I have encountered over the years understand this principle...the more people you help above you, and expecially below you, the more successful you will be.

Find a mentor or coach Thomas. Seek out the most successful in your company. Aggressively pursue their help on a personal basis. Offer to help them with anything they need. Successful realtors earn $250,000-$1,000,000+ per year and they always need some kind of help...be the one who fills this need.

Once you begin to work with a professional, a mentor or coach, your career will never be the same...and more importantly, YOU'RE mindset and your earnings will never be the same. - by Dougd55
This may seem counter-intuitive and will possibly garner some disagreement, but I have found great success with people who don't yet have a clue what they need.

I work with large companies as opposed to consumers, but when I have a chance to help create thier vision, educate them and become a valuable resource straight away, my closing percentage increases greatly and sales cycle is cut in half.

When the buyer already has all the information they need, you become a commodity. Outside of knowing they are "able" to buy, I'd much prefer a blank canvas to work with. It also allows me to set the bar by which others are measured.

Not sure if this helps,

Justyn - by Justyn
Hi Justyn:

I don't disagree with you at all. Your approach is additional valuable information for salespeople who encounter the type of customers you work with.

When you meet a customer who knows absolutely nothing about your product/service and you have a 'blank canvas' you have the opportunity to 'paint a picture' with your sales talents.

I particularly like your comment on 'creating the customer's vision' and 'educating them.' That is a valuable talent all salespeople should learn.

Good insights...Good awareness of your own skills... - by Dougd55
Thanks Doug. I think it's the turning point in a sales career when you gain the expertise to truly help create vision and educate. I know it was for me. Become a master in your field and you will become invaluable to your clients. - by Justyn
Thanks Doug. I think it's the turning point in a sales career when you gain the expertise to truly help create vision and educate. I know it was for me. Become a master in your field and you will become invaluable to your clients.
How does a salesperson help create the customer's vision? :cu - by Thomas
How does a salesperson help create the customer's vision? :cu
Many interpretations I'm sure. For me, a prospect might share thier ideas for how to achieve X. I can leverage experience and creativity to help them discover new/other ways to achieve X. Or achieve things they hadn't considered. Or to approach the problem in a way they hadn't thought of. My ultimate goal is to create a dependance on my thought-leadership and help the client discover new ways to excel. "Help them see the light, and they will follow you to it." - I don't know if that's a real quote, but I'm sure it's been said before ;) - by Justyn
Many interpretations I'm sure. For me, a prospect might share thier ideas for how to achieve X. I can leverage experience and creativity to help them discover new/other ways to achieve X. Or achieve things they hadn't considered. Or to approach the problem in a way they hadn't thought of. My ultimate goal is to create a dependance on my thought-leadership and help the client discover new ways to excel. "Help them see the light, and they will follow you to it." - I don't know if that's a real quote, but I'm sure it's been said before ;)
If I'm buying a car or a home for example how would this work? :cu - by Thomas
I would classify Cars and Homes commodities, and I don't have any experience in that area.

A few examples I can think of...Letting the clients know about a neighborhood that Starbucks just broke ground in (the sure sign of a developing area considering thier millions in market research). Recommending a creative offer to present the seller based on your knowledge of time-on-market, etc.

For cars, letting the customer know that the cash-back rebate is actually a better deal than the 0% percent financing. Helping them to fully understand the fine-print, whether or not Gap Insurance is necessary, etc.

I'm sure someone in either of these fields could present better examples.

Justyn - by Justyn
For cars, letting the customer know that the cash-back rebate is actually a better deal than the 0% percent financing. Helping them to fully understand the fine-print, whether or not Gap Insurance is necessary, etc.
Creating the customer's vision then is like full disclosure? - by Thomas
In that particular example that's the case, only because I don't know what else a car salesman might do to "consult" thier customers. Essentially creating vision can be replaced with "having the customers best interest in mind" in a commodity based sale. Which should be the case in any sale.

As always, just my opinion. - by Justyn
Essentially creating vision can be replaced with "having the customers best interest in mind" in a commodity based sale. Which should be the case in any sale.

As always, just my opinion.
Having the customer's best interest in mind is good. ;sm - by Thomas
I've been watching and it looks like a lot of the people who call or visit our office are not ready to buy. They haven't talked with a lender, they don't know where they want to live, they can't describe the home they want, but they do want to see homes. ohn;

What should I do?
Sharon Drew Morgen's "Buying Facilitation" would help you with this. Your prospects say they don't know where they want to live but that really isn't true and you can test it. Next time someone says they don't know where they want to live ask them if they would live in the ghetto. If they say 'no' then you know they do have criteria but they might need help identifying, clarifying and verbalizing that criteria. - by Houston
Great post Doug. - by Wanderer
Hello Thomas,
Great thread starter,
I personally would continue to follow up the client. I think that other sales staff out there that might be competing against you might feel as though they are a lost client or not worth following up. HOwever if you are the last thing on the clients mind when they go to bed because of the fact that you gave that final phone call as a courtesy to make sure you have covered everything with them and to let them know to contact you if they need anything further then you willbe the first thing on their mind in the morning.

All the best. - by Snowboy
The training I received said to be successful I needed to invest my time with people who where ready willing and able to buy now. I've spent time before with people who weren't ready to buy and then something changed and all of my time was wasted.
I agree.

Thomas' wording (above) could be a direct quote from our Real Estate Sales Training course. We do not cite logical rationale to support that strategy. We rely on facts rather than theory.

Statistical analyses prove that it works best, most often, for a large number of highly successful Realtors. - by JacquesWerth
I agree.

Thomas' wording (above) could be a direct quote from our Real Estate Sales Training course. We do not cite logical rationale to support that strategy. We rely on facts rather than theory.

Statistical analyses prove that it works best, most often, for a large number of highly successful Realtors.
What should I do with these prospects? :dun - by Thomas
What should I do with these prospects?
Turn low probability prospects over to another agent in return for a split of the commission - in the unlikely event that they buy. - by JacquesWerth
Turn low probability prospects over to another agent in return for a split of the commission - in the unlikely event that they buy.
Perfect answer. :thup - by Houston
Turn low probability prospects over to another agent in return for a split of the commission - in the unlikely event that they buy.
Thanks Jacques. Half a loaf is better than no loaf and I don 't have to put in the sweat. thmbp2; - by Thomas
Turn low probability prospects over to another agent in return for a split of the commission - in the unlikely event that they buy.
Jacques, I agree, but with one caveat...

If one can determine when the prospect will be ready to buy (next month, next week, next year, etc.), then you still have a 'high probability prospect', . . . they're just not going to buy today. In that case, I would recommend continuing to work with the prospect, but in a different manner than I would work with a prospect who was ready to buy right now.

The best to you! - by Skip Anderson
Jacques, I agree, but with one caveat...

If one can determine when the prospect will be ready to buy (next month, next week, next year, etc.), then you still have a 'high probability prospect', . . . they're just not going to buy today. In that case, I would recommend continuing to work with the prospect, but in a different manner than I would work with a prospect who was ready to buy right now.

The best to you!
That is correct.
However, rather than "continuing to work with the prospect" we would continue to call them with prospecting offers until they are ready to do business. - by JacquesWerth
Thomas, I would like to approach this as a home buyer myself.

When I bought my first home, I did the same thing. I walked into a realtors office and said here I am do something with me I want my dream house. Buying a house (as you know) is overwhelming to most people.

My realtor asked me a few questions and realized quickly that I didn't have financing yet or even a budget of what I wanted to spend. I saved for a down payment and thought the rest would fall into place. She was wonderful, she set me up with a couple of reputable mortgage companies. Then she explained in 10 minutes how the process would work. Before I left she gave me a packet that helped me organize the process. Inside the packet was a questionaire I was to fill out and bing back to her regarding what I wanted in my new home and what I needed no matter what. Also a budget planner.
Also, there was information inside regarding 1st time home buyers programs.

After all this.....who do you think I bought my last two homes from?

All this preplanning took her 15 minutes and made her thousands. - by staceylee
Stacey did your realtor show you homes the day you first came in? - by Thomas
She gave me a small list of homes available in different styles with listing websites, to bring back with the packet. She asked me to let her know which ones I liked and which ones I didn't so she could get an idea of the styles I might be leaning toward.

She explained to me that she didn't want to waste my time showing me a bunch of houses that weren't to my liking.

(Funny I bought one of the houses I didn't like outside, but loved inside.) I guess this satisfied me because what i really wanted to know was what was out there.

If you have someone come in wanting to look at a particular house but aren't ready to buy, why not offer to email them some pictures first and call them later to see if they are still interested. This might help satisfy curiosity and save you time. - by staceylee
She gave me a small list of homes available in different styles with listing websites, to bring back with the packet. She asked me to let her know which ones I liked and which ones I didn't so she could get an idea of the styles I might be leaning toward.

She explained to me that she didn't want to waste my time showing me a bunch of houses that weren't to my liking.

(Funny I bought one of the houses I didn't like outside, but loved inside.) I guess this satisfied me because what i really wanted to know was what was out there.

If you have someone come in wanting to look at a particular house but aren't ready to buy, why not offer to email them some pictures first and call them later to see if they are still interested. This might help satisfy curiosity and save you time.
Sounds like you had an experienced agent. In real estate, as well as any field, you respect someone who has done their homework. It saves time, gets objections out of the way and gives way to realitive questions (too many times, I have seen in everything, that customers ask question because they have nothing else to do - if they are armed before hand, they suddenly are on a mission) . - by Ed Callais
If you have someone come in wanting to look at a particular house but aren't ready to buy, why not offer to email them some pictures first and call them later to see if they are still interested. This might help satisfy curiosity and save you time.
I tried this last week and it didn't end well. The guy said he was already here and just wanted to see that home. I showed the home and haven't heard from him since. :sa - by Thomas
I tried this last week and it didn't end well. The guy said he was already here and just wanted to see that home. I showed the home and haven't heard from him since. :sa
You can only do what you can do. Some prospects will demand that you do things a certain way, and at that point you have to either give in or run the risk of upsetting them. - by Skip Anderson
You can only do what you can do. Some prospects will demand that you do things a certain way, and at that point you have to either give in or run the risk of upsetting them.
Most salespeople are very afraid of losing what they do not have. That kind of desperation is a result of scarcity.

Therefore, they are afraid to "run the risk of upsetting" low probability prospects - prospects they should not waste their time on.

The solution is to be able to find an abundance of high probability prospects. - by JacquesWerth
I tried this last week and it didn't end well. The guy said he was already here and just wanted to see that home. I showed the home and haven't heard from him since. :sa
Thomas, are you at liberty to run the show as you wish?

Can you sit down with this people and run through a qualifying phase with them?

If they are not qualified and ready to make the commitment with you TODAY, I would use one of the two suggestions offered to you already. 1. Pass them on to another agent for a split commission or 2. Continue to call them with offers until they are ready to commit.

You have to run the show.

You showed this person a property and haven't heard from him since. That will never make you a dime.

In my line of work, if the person isn't ready to do business with me today, I politely and professionally get rid of them. They are a waste of my time.

However, in order to do this, you have to have a multitude of prospects to work with throughout your day, everyday.

Believe me when I tell ya, you'll never deal with those tire kickers again and you'll get paid. - by bluenote
Thomas, are you at liberty to run the show as you wish?
Not like I want. I am suppose to ask qualifying questions and I do but some people don't it. They just want to see the homes. Yesterday a woman said she didn't know why I was making things so hard. Hard? Gee whiz lady all I was doing is trying to help. :un - by Thomas
Not like I want. I am suppose to ask qualifying questions and I do but some people don't it. They just want to see the homes. Yesterday a woman said she didn't know why I was making things so hard. Hard? Gee whiz lady all I was doing is trying to help. :un
Bluenote told you what works most of the time for experienced sales pros. And, you repeated the complaint that when you did something other than what he (and I) suggested, it didn't work. But, you seem to think that you can't do anything else.

Does that make any sense? What am I missing?
Am I reading this correctly, or am I totally confused? - by JacquesWerth
Bluenote told you what works most of the time for experienced sales pros. And, you repeated the complaint that when you did something other than what he (and I) suggested, it didn't work. But, you seem to think that you can't do anything else.

Does that make any sense? What am I missing?
Am I reading this correctly, or am I totally confused?
I can give an example. Sometimes I work by myself in a sales office in one of the communities. Signs on the street advertise that homes are for sale. People come in off the street and want to see what's for sale. The boss for that site says anyone who comes in should be treated like a buyer. I don't like showing people who aren't ready, willing and able so I ask about what kind of home they want, what price range, how soon. Those kinds of questions. Some of the people don't like that and say they just want to see what's for sale. I've had people who didn't qualify or didn't want to answer my questions complain to the boss that I wouldn't show them homes and that I wasn't very helpful. This week the boss told me for now on I'm supposed to show everyone that comes in any home they want to see. - by Thomas
I can give an example. Sometimes I work by myself in a sales office in one of the communities. Signs on the street advertise that homes are for sale. People come in off the street and want to see what's for sale. The boss for that site says anyone who comes in should be treated like a buyer. I don't like showing people who aren't ready, willing and able so I ask about what kind of home they want, what price range, how soon. Those kinds of questions. Some of the people don't like that and say they just want to see what's for sale. I've had people who didn't qualify or didn't want to answer my questions complain to the boss that I wouldn't show them homes and that I wasn't very helpful. This week the boss told me for now on I'm supposed to show everyone that comes in any home they want to see.
Thanks for the explanation.
What would you be doing if you weren't wasting time with those Lookie-Lous? - by JacquesWerth
Thanks for the explanation.
What would you be doing if you weren't wasting time with those Lookie-Lous?
Whatever I want as long as I don't leave the office. There isn't any other work I'm supposed to be doing. - by Thomas
I would suggest using your "whatever you want time" to set up a superior marketing program.

In order to make those regular multi thousand dollar paychecks, you absolutely have to do this. - by bluenote
I can give an example. Sometimes I work by myself in a sales office in one of the communities. Signs on the street advertise that homes are for sale. People come in off the street and want to see what's for sale. The boss for that site says anyone who comes in should be treated like a buyer. I don't like showing people who aren't ready, willing and able so I ask about what kind of home they want, what price range, how soon. Those kinds of questions. Some of the people don't like that and say they just want to see what's for sale. I've had people who didn't qualify or didn't want to answer my questions complain to the boss that I wouldn't show them homes and that I wasn't very helpful. This week the boss told me for now on I'm supposed to show everyone that comes in any home they want to see.
Thomas, you sound frustrated.

I think your post points out one of the challenges with limiting oneself to the "only sell to those who are ready, willing, and able" mindset that is so heavily promoted in this forum. "Sell only to those who are ready, willing, and able to buy" works great for prospecting (and I contend that virtually every salesperson does this naturally when prospecting anyway because it's common sense), but for sales professionals who sell in an environment like you do (and there are a boatload of people who do, including retail, showroom sales, in-home selling with preset appointments, etc), you can't go about it that way. You're on call for a certain period of time and you need to serve people who come in to see what you have to offer because that's how your company is set up.

When my wife and I bought our current house seven years ago, we drove by the property and stopped at an open house (we both love houses and design and architecture at that time went to quite a few open houses every year). We had no intention of buying a home. But when we saw the home, we both loved it and eventually purchased it. If the agent had pre-qualified us to death (or disqualified us), and then refused to show us the home because we weren't "ready, willing, and able" to buy, we wouldn't have purchased our home from the agent, so I think in selling (as opposed to prospecting) a salesperson has to be very careful about the "disqualify your prospects" thing.

That doesn't mean you can't be an effective salesperson when prospects do come in. I'm wondering if setting aside the "sell only to those who are ready, willing, and able" mindset might help relieve the pressure on your prospects??? Instead, focus on the prospect. Have a "welcome them" mindset, not a "disqualify them" mindset. DO ask questions - ask lots of them if they'll let you, but focus on building a relaxed, trusting atmosphere.

Be likable, be engaging, be real, and use your persuasion skills to try to get prospects to sit down with you for a minute (or ten or twenty) to chat before you show them around (some might be shocked that I would suggest using persuasion, but persuasiveness is one of the qualities of top-performers, and no, persuasiveness is not the same as aggressiveness). Do you have a "registration card" or something they fill out before they see the property so you can get their information?

Of course, if none of this works and your prospect distances himself from you, you just have to smile and go with the flow and show them what you have while not spending a lot of time with them (unless you see the prospect is becoming interested in your product as you show it to them). And I would certainly recommend seeking referrals from these people ("can you give me the names of two or three of your friends or family or colleagues that you think may be looking for...".

I know I don't understand all the intricacies of your particular situation, so perhaps some of my suggestions don't fit or don't make sense. If they don't, ignore them.

I hope that is helpful, Thomas.

I also agree with bluenote that you should develop your own marketing program to bring in qualified prospects rather than just random people off the street.

The best to you! - by Skip Anderson
I would suggest using your "whatever you want time" to set up a superior marketing program.
What do you recommend? - by Thomas
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