One of the most important lessons I learned while selling residential real estate was to let go of unproductive prospects. They were buyers who weren’t ready to purchase a home. They were the buyers to whom I became Sunday afternoon’s entertainment. They were buyers that didn’t have anything better to do so they called a real estate agent and said, “we’d like to see some houses, can you show us something”.
While driving them around showing them homes I was hoping they’d buy something. I didn’t always know if they were ever going to buy. As a result, I missed out on spending time with buyers that were ready to buy. If I had truly understood buyer qualification, I would have spent less time with unqualified buyers and more time with those that were ready to move forward.
When you spend time with unproductive Prospects it means you’re not spending time with those that might progress to a closed sale
A Tale of an Unproductive Home Buyer
One fateful summer, between Memorial Day and Labor Day, I took this one couple out each Sunday to look at homes. The conversation was good and we shared a few common interests. I liked their dog which they often brought with them. OK I’ll admit it: I like them a lot too.
They would pick a few homes to see and let me know early in the week what they wanted to look at. I would schedule the showings in sequence to see them in the most efficient way possible. I would carefully map out the route and determine the time it might take to travel between homes. Allowing for some time at each home, I would have a schedule. It was a lot of work to coordinate.
It reached a crescendo one Sunday after they had seen their 10th home that day. They had finally found one – after about literally 100 showings – a home they wanted to write a contract upon. So, they finally called a lender to whom I referred them. He called me on Monday to reluctantly tell me that they were un-lendable. You see, they had been paying cash for large purchases according to the lender and for whatever reason had no loan repayment history – none, zip, nada, nope, zero. The lender said they weren’t even in any of the credit rating systems. You know the ones – Equifax, Experian, TransUnion.
After the call from the lender, I was suspicious but never said anything to the buyers. I didn’t really want to know. Perhaps they were hiding something, perhaps not. I was like ugh, what a waste of my time. Later that week they called me to tell me that they wouldn’t be going forward with a purchase and wanted to look at rentals. I told them to find another real estate agent to help them.
After all that I felt like I wasted a summer of Sundays. All because I failed to properly qualify them after taking them out the first time. It wasn’t their fault, it was mine. I should have insisted on them getting pre-qualified with a lender. Of course, I had encouraged them to do so on several occasions, but I was a nice guy and kept investing in them hoping they would turn out to be a ready, willing and able buyer (ALERT: that’s qualification criteria). I had spent an untold amount on gasoline driving them around (of course back then gas wasn’t nearly as expensive as it is today – but still!). I missed out on scheduling time with productive buyers. It was exhausting. But I liked them, I really liked them.
In hindsight, there was one good thing that came from all that time I spent looking at inventory with them: I knew the inventory very well at that point. I had shown them almost every home in the county that came to the market that summer. So, when other buyers were interested in a particular home, I had probably already seen it and could tell them all about it and let them know right up front if it had the features or the location they were looking for.
Compelling Events and Perfect Timing
Buyer motivation is driven by compelling events. Buying motives are a million times more powerful than selling skills.
In real estate there are life events that trigger a move: motivation. If I could predict them, I could show up just when someone needs a real estate agent. I would have perfect timing and be there when they were ready to make a move. I always said that if I could predict births, deaths, marriages, divorces, job losses, job changes, retirement, I could sell a lot more homes.
In business there are compelling events too. These are events like mergers, acquisitions, market growth, technology shifts, layoffs, hiring events, and the like. And like in real estate, I if I could predict them, I could show up just when a company needed the product or service I represented, perfect timing.
But alias I am a hard worker not a mind reader. Nor do I have a crystal ball.
Determining Which Prospects Are Wasting Your Time
How often have you spent time with a prospect that turned out to be no prospect at all? Time is a salesperson’s most valuable asset. The sooner you validate the prospects intentions, the sooner you can determine if they ready, willing, and able buyers. Or, just wasting you time.
Utilizing qualifying criteria is one way to validate buyers’ intentions. Budget, Authority, Need and Timing – better known as BANT – is simple and powerful criteria for evaluating prospects. BANT (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qualified_prospect) is the oldest and most widely used qualification criteria and was developed by IBM in the 1950s. BANT is just one of many strategies that include SPIN Selling, Challenger Approach, Value Selling, Solution Selling, and more.
Don’t Let Unqualified Buyers Sabotage Your Sales Success
When you spend time with unqualified prospects, you are sabotaging your own success. Hone your skills in determining who is a qualified buyer and increase your success.
Letting Go of Unproductive Prospects
Breaking up is so hard to do. I learned that after letting go of an unproductive buyer there was almost always another productive buyer waiting to fill their spot.
Why do we worry about it? Because we’re afraid that there won’t ever be another buyer to fill that spot. Most salespeople know that is an irrational fear, but they believe it anyway. Learning how and when to move on frees up time to work with those buyers that are ready, willing and able.
About the Author
Stephen Howell is a multifaceted expert with a wealth of experience in technology, business management, and development. He is the innovative mind behind the cutting-edge Chatbot ChatGPT plugin for WordPress. Utilizing the robust capabilities of OpenAI's API, this conversational chatbot can dramatically enhance your website's user engagement. Visit Chatbot ChatGPT to explore how to elevate your visitors' experience, and stay connected with his latest advancements and offerings in the WordPress community.