Negotiating should be part of the whole sales process, not just something that happens after the ‘sale’ has taken place.
Some people are unable to identify where ‘marketing’ starts and ‘sales’ begin but it seems that there is a more costly confusion by salespeople failing to differentiate between ‘negotiating’ and ‘sales’. Many salespeople involved in selling homes, appear to feel that the ‘sale’ comes first and the ‘negotiation’ comes second.
Asking questions to qualify a suspect from a prospect is important but what astounds me is when there are no questions aimed at finding out about motives for buying, personal position (not just financial) and general likes and dislikes.
By not doing this, salespeople are much reducing the negotiables that they have once a prospect agrees to purchase. It normally leaves them with only one thing to discuss – money. And in one direction to go – downwards!
Perhaps a new strategy is required to gain the best price – and leave the purchaser really pleased with the deal.
An Integrated Process
From the outset, the whole selling cycle must be viewed as an integrated, collaborative exercise, not a competitive one. If viewed by the salesperson as the latter then it is a Win:Lose situation and because of this, the only thing that is at stake is money. If it is the former then the negotiating process runs beside the selling one, in order to get to a mutually agreeable settlement.
Do salespeople position their product correctly from the start, in order to gain the maximum advantage? During many visits to Show Homes, I have never heard any statements positioning properties, or developments themselves, that caused me to think that any particular one was in some ways different, or that it had a cachet that justified the asking price. I was left with a view that one property was much like another – and so price became one of the major factors.
Whilst qualifying the prospect, start to find out about them, their reasons for buying, their motivation for looking at your Show House, or what they like and dislike about other properties they have seen. Continue asking open questions to gain information that will help you later. Keep the spotlight on them, not on you or the property – and be seen to be genuinely interested in them
The Power of Information
Find out their ‘needs’. Everyone who buys a house ‘wants’ it but salespeople must find out why they ‘need’ it. For instance, no-one ‘wants’ a training course, they ‘need it’ to help them get on in their job so that they earn more money and be seen to be successful, or to save them from getting the sack. If the property is seen to meet the buyers’ needs in such a way that they feel that it is the only one that does so, why should even think about starting to negotiate the price?
Manage the information you get and that which you have. So many site salespeople think that they are selling the property during the show-round and so talk through every last feature and benefit. If you have found out about someone’s ‘needs’, then you should major on anything that will satisfy those. If, say, a lady says that she wants a bigger house due to a growing family, you may find out that her real need is for privacy. It might therefore be that the house must offer a room for the children to watch TV and play – but away from them. So why would you spend much time on selling them the features of an en-suite bathroom?
Once there is a real buying signal, doing all of the above will gain a lot of information usable for the actual sales negotiation.
Think of the various ‘negotiables’ that you have at your fingertips – and not just price related ones. Are there things that you could offer that actually mean little in terms of cost for you but could mean a lot to them. A change in colour in a room, for computer experts some extra wiring in the house, for someone who has to move with a job, a quicker completion date. Without having found out about this early on, how can you make these offers at such a late stage?
Too many salespeople, when met with the least resistance from a prospective purchaser, immediately offer a reduction in price, or extras at no cost. Usually this is because they perceive that they have nothing else with which to bargain. It also usually indicates a salesperson who has not put in enough effort early on to gain information, or who has not listened. Fortunately, there are training courses that can help all business sectors to improve their sales patter.
Reluctance! If I was a prospective purchaser and said ‘I would like Amtico flooring throughout the ground floor in place of the thermoplastic tiles’ and, thinking it would close the sale, you immediately said ‘OK’ – what might I think? Perhaps that it couldn’t be much of a concession for you, otherwise you might have had to think about it for a while. Or, worse still, that you are a bit of a push-over and so we’ll try for something else!
Lastly, a concession needs to have something given in return, particularly some commitment. So, ‘If we can agree to your wish for Amtico flooring, do I take it that we can go ahead and reserve the property today?’.
Competition today is fierce and we are just not able to sit back and hope that with some regular sales training, there will be an incremental increase in the results achieved. What we have to do is look at how we can make some real breakthroughs by adopting fresh processes that make a step change in the levels of revenue.
Learning and using better ways of negotiating professionally will increase profits but also can affect the contentment of our purchasers in feeling that they have made the right choice.