Overall, there are eight things you must accomplish during the course of the initial interview:
1. Establish rapport. Your clients must like you and begin seeing you as a human being who cares about their interests, not just a salesperson only interested in yourself and trying to sell them something. This is the foundation.
2. Be sure prospects understand the “life concept” of your community
Why was it created, the purpose it serves, the type of people who are attracted to it.
3. Establish the integrity and financial stability of the developer or builder. Have pictures on the wall of the developer, builder, family members, and the entire development team. Display background information (awards won, etc.) to establish credibility. Humanize the developer or builder. Create belief (if it is true) that this developer under-promises and over-delivers. If there is little or no debt on the property, that must be emphasized. It lets your prospects know that their hard-earned money is protected.
4. Establish value in the mind of the prospect. Give prices of properties purchased, description of various amenities, quality of construction, clubhouse, location, shopping availability, schools, parks, lakes.
5. Establish financial ability to qualify. Make sure you are spending your time with genuine prospects.
6. Entice prospective buyers with stories and third-party testimonials from owners.
7. Create an aura of activity with stories of others who came in with no intention of buying, but found what fit them. They are now happy, active owners. This needs to be done verbally but can also be done visually using a community directory of current owners or a welcome board with names of your newest owners or members.
If sales are strong, have a six-month running list of owners showing who purchased in each month. This could include their first initial and last name, hometown, state, the property purchased, and price. The list should be updated each month, adding the month just ended and dropping the oldest information of the six months shown. Create that sense of success, the bandwagon that everyone wants to hop on and ride.
8. Narrow down the areas. If your community is large, or if you sell in multiple communities, then through the use of well-thought-out questions, various areas will need to be eliminated. You must start narrowing down the areas of the community, the price ranges, and types of properties you are going to focus on. One of the biggest mistakes made by salespeople is showing too much and confusing the prospect.
Remember: a confused prospect never buys.
All eight of these steps need to work together to accomplish the primary objective for the initial interview. The objective is to move the prospect emotionally from being curious to being interested.
Two mistakes are commonly made in this important part of the sale. The first is that it is given too little time. A little rapport is built, a little information is given, and then the prospects are ushered into a car and toured around. The second mistake is to give it too much time, so that the prospects get bored, or they feel like they have enough information and don’t need to look at the property. Good judgment and a good balance must be maintained.
A proper foundation is necessary for building a good house and a proper diagnosis is needed for accurately prescribing medical treatment. Likewise a good, thorough interview of your prospect, as well as a proper overview of your community, is absolutely essential for you to maximize your sales.
Editor’s Note: Terry Weaver authored “Secrets of Selling from Real Estate Masters – What Top Producers Know That Others Don’t.” This is truly a must read for master-planned community sales professionals.
About Terry Weaver: Terry Weaver is founder and President of Marketing & Sales Institute, Inc, which provides guidance and resources to developers, managers, and sales executives of luxury communities.