As you enter the real estate world, you learn that everything starts when an agent takes a listing. Without listings, there is no market for you to work in. Hence, the mantra of “lead with listings” is born, reinforcing the importance of building a business on a strong foundation of listing acquisition.
Well, some of us don’t work as listing agents! That can leave some agents confused, and grasping for a direction as a Buyer’s Agent. They aren’t sure what their role is. Are they a lead generator? Open house specialist? Maybe they are a phone prospecting specialist during the day and a superhero Buyer’s Agent at night?
The answer to all of those questions can be “yes” depending on the structure of your business. However, this focus misses the mark for Buyer’s Agents. No matter what day-to-day business function you are participating in, your most important role as a buyer focused agent is as a long term trust builder.
"...your most important role as a buyer focused agent is as a long term trust builder."
Everything you do falls under this focus of building a lasting trust. As you perform your team’s lead generation activities, all activities are performed in light of building long term trust with your clients.
But wait, shouldn’t everyone focus on this same thing in our business? Isn’t a long term trust relationship vital to listing business as well? Yes, and no. Let’s examine what this means by looking at what a client is searching for as they look for an agent.
A cursory internet search will find several articles and studies on what people are looking for in a listing agent. As you browse through them, you’ll notice a common theme: sellers are looking for someone to expertly manage a business transaction. They want someone who can prepare the home well, sell the home quickly, and ultimately, put the most money in their pocket.
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On the buyer side, people commonly list responsiveness, an advisory role, and area expertise as important to them for their home search. In one study that covered both buyers and sellers, buyers listed responsiveness as their top requirement, while sellers listed it last! Simply put, clients demand a completely different experience for selling and buying.
During their home search, clients will spend much more time with you as their Buyer’s Agent than they will with a listing agent. They need to be comfortable with you to make the relationship work well. You want them to be comfortable around you because they’ll be more open with you during showings, helping you understand their desires better.
Here’s what I’ve observed in hundreds of buyers, and the key to why you must strive to earn a long term trust. Most clients will never tell you; buying a home is an exercise in heightened anxiety for them. They don’t want to admit that the fear of the unknown is hanging over their heads through the entire process. In most cases, they don’t realize this fear is affecting them. Every step of the way, they’re unsure of what questions to ask, what features to look at, what potential pitfalls or drawbacks a house or neighborhood might have, and a million other questions. It’s their comfort with you that will allow you to guide them to the right transaction for their situation.
In our role as Buyer’s Agents, it’s tempting to take the process of home buying for granted because we participate in it multiple times a month. Remember, most people only buy or sell a home every 6-9 years. That’s why your clients want you, they need you, to become a trusted advisor for their home purchase. Your expertise and professionalism put your clients at ease, which allows the trust built in YOU to overcome their fear of the unknown.
When you reach the end of a transaction where you’ve removed your client’s fear through trust, you have built the perfect foundation for a long term referral relationship. Ultimately, this is your value proposition to your team’s business. You’re not just there to deal with the annoyance of buyers! As a buyer’s agent, you are the primary spokesperson for your team’s business, as you spend more face-to-face time with clients than anyone else.
After all that, I know what you’re thinking...so what? None of that is practical to my day-to-day work! Let’s take it there.
First and foremost, you must recognize the difference in the products you are selling to listing and buying prospects. When selling to a listing prospect, you are selling your team’s process, communication, experience, business acumen, and marketing resources. Remember, listing prospects are looking for an effective business transaction. Ultimately, the discussions you’re leading will be focused on you, your team, and specifically how you can apply your business model to help them.
When selling to buyer clients, you have to work first with what the buyer wants. Isn’t that what you’re doing by helping them buy a home, getting them what they want? Initially, most clients usually want to simply see a home they’re interested in. Why not start your relationship by giving them what they want?
This is where I disagree with many popular real estate coaching programs. In the beginning of a buyer client relationship, many will emphasize the importance of always having a first meeting in the office with a prospect. Never show a home first. I think this rigid approach may be right for a certain type of business, but not for what suits me.
I enjoy a first meeting with a client at a home for many reasons. First, it’s much easier to set the appointment than selling them on coming into the office first. Are there scripts for that interaction? Sure, but to be frank, I like easy...why complicate things unnecessarily? Second, face-to-face communication is much more effective when discussing a working relationship. Not only do you get the chance to build rapport with the prospect while viewing the home, you get to converse with them about what they are looking for and why it’s important to them.
Scripting during these meetings is important, but you can't just memorize a chain of questions and statements. Good sales scripting is much more like improv than stage acting. The questions will vary depending on the situation. I list several below; notice that they are all focused on what the client wants. Don’t fall into the trap of asking leading questions that allow you to highlight your strengths. Prospects will see right through it and put up their defenses immediately.
These are the simple questions I use most frequently. As I noted earlier, I don’t write down scripts in a linear format. I prefer to have a collection of practiced questions to use. Not every one is appropriate for every situation; you must be able to flex and simply make conversation with your prospects.