Kendra, Alejandro and I were talking with Stephen Taber today. He is setting goals for the new year and one of the items that jumped out was the lopsided mix of anticipated buyer and seller sides. Stephen was planning on just 30% of his production being from buyer sides.
Of course, we all know why buyer sides are important. Truth is, we market like crazy for sellers so that we can dominate the listing inventory . . . because doing so will create a strong and steady stream of buyer leads. Yes, we make plenty of money selling our listings; but we generally make MORE working with buyers. Even Don Taylor said it: ‘People forget, but Help-U-Sell Real Estate was always about the buyer.’
By the way: Stephen’s lopsided mix of buyer to seller sides is not unusual. Almost every Help-U-Sell office is weighted toward seller sides. Often the imbalance is slight, but it is usually there. We strive for a 50/50 mix of buyer to seller sides, but usually fall a little shy of that goal because our marketing is so heavily weighted toward home sellers and it’s easy to spend all of your energy and effort there.
Stephen said, ‘I just like listing! I enjoy it. You never know with a buyer when they’re going to go somewhere else or drop out all together.’ What I heard was that listing is predictable; working with buyers is not. We know what to do when we are working on a listing. Conscious or not, we know step 1, step 2, step 3. We know our scripts and how to respond when the prospective seller voices a concern. In other words: when it comes to listing, we have a system. When it comes to buyers, well . . . not so much.
Of course, there is a very notable exception to that generalization: Jack Bailey’s Buyer Consultation system. Nobody does it better than Jack and as proof of that, his buyer to seller sides mix is usually weighted to the buyer side. He usually does more buyer sides in a year than he does seller sides! For Jack, working buyers is as easy and predictable as step 1, step 2, step 3, and he’s helped many Help-U-Sell Brokers and Agents get to the same comfort zone. But still there are a lot of folks out there essentially winging it when a buyer calls. I think it’s time we had a simple, systematic approach to buyers.
Today’s buyers can and usually want to do a lot of the home search process on their own. One of the ways we can establish our value to buyers is to help them do that. Maybe step one is to ask the buyer how they are currently searching for homes. They will probably say Zillow or Trulia . . . both of which we know are horribly flawed, with duplicate listings and dead listings and bad Zestimates of value.
Right now, you know of a superior home search tool focused on your local market. It might be your own Help-U-Sell office website. After all, it is updated from your local MLS every day and gives buyers the ability to search very much like an agent would. It might be your MLS’s own public home-search portal. Or it might be a 3rd party tool like Listingbook. Whatever the best site for searching in the local market, you need to know how to use it backwards and forwards.
Then when the buyer calls and you ask how they are searching, you can give them a better alternative. Stephen had the great idea of:
- Pointing out the limitations of their current search method (trust me: if they’re searching on Zillow, they are painfully aware of the limitations)
- Asking if they are in front of a computer and if so, emailing them a link to a free online meeting site like join.me*
- Once online together, showing the buyer how to search on the broker website or MLS public site or Listingbook or whatever the best local tool is
- Exploiting the opportunity further by showing them how to set up a ‘First to Know’ profile and so on.
In less than 1o minutes you will have established a comfortable rapport based on your desire to HELP them. What could be better.
I’m going to be looking into this whole issue of buyer step 1, step 2, step 3 and how we might have a simple system for working with these important customers going forward. In the mean time, if you are so inclined, perhaps you could begin to think about how you might make the process a little more predictable. I’d love to hear from you if you do! And Thanks, Stephen for the great brainstorm.
*join.me is a free GoToMeeting type of online meeting/screen sharing platform. What’s great about it is that you, the presenter, need to install a small piece of software, but the person you’re meeting need only go to a website – and you will be together. There is nothing for the attendee to install. Once in the meeting, you can share you screen and show the person how to search effectively. It is sooo coool.