Want to reduce the cancellation rate?

1. The honeymoon ends for the buyer right after signing.

Buyers want us most right before the contract. After that, their eyes naturally start to wander. The first step in preventing cancellations happens before the customer signs. You have to get them to build loyalty with you and with the home because immediately after they sign, it’s normal for buyers to want us a little less. Making sure your buyers are emotionally committed to the home is about selling them on the life they’ll live there more than it is the structure itself. If you want them to stick around, you can’t just get them excited about incentives, interest rates, and flooring options. Such circumstantial motivators have a place in the selling process, but more importantly, you have to get them to fall in love with your home and believe that it is the best one for them.

If your home is the one they picture raising their kids in and your lot is the one they envision entertaining friends and family on, their commitment will go beyond logic and into their heart. This puts you in a better position. It is important to make sure that the emotional connection is there before contract, but it doesn’t’ stop there. We need to recognize that the moment a prospect signs is the moment when their home reaches its all-time peak in the buyer’s perceived value.

Unlike other types of sales, new home buyers don’t walk away with product in hand; they sign on the dotted line and then sometimes wait months to physically move in. Since their commitment is mostly mental (with only earnest money on the line if they change their minds), it is important to keep contracted buyers mentally engaged by continuing to talk about where they’re going to put their furniture, who they’ll have over, and the memories they’ll make. As long as they continue to own the home mentally, they’ll be more likely to follow through with the final steps and commitment to own the home physically.

2. The honeymoon ends for salespeople right after the buyer signs.

The buyers aren’t the only ones guilty of losing interest. We also need to take a good, hard look at ourselves and acknowledge that the moment a prospect signs is the moment their value reaches its peak in for us. We don’t do it intentionally, but after they sign, we just don’t look at them with the same sparkle as we did when they first walked through our door. When they are still prospective buyers, we are motivated and greet them with energy and enthusiasm. We do the “be-back” dance (the “They like me! They really, really like me!” dance) every time they show up. And it’s a far cry from the “Oh crap, what do they need this time?” shuffle that often happens after they’ve signed. Even though these are the ones who have committed to buying our homes, we somehow appreciate them the least. Yikes.

Whether you think they do or not, your customers can sense that you just aren’t as interested in them since they signed. So stop it! Be excited. Remember that these are the folks paying next month’s bills and referring future business. Treat them that way! As long as they feel just as wanted after they’ve contracted, you’ll fend off the buyer’s remorse and the sense that, if they went back over to your competitor, they’d have a better experience. (And you know your competitor is just waiting for the opportunity to prove that suspicion right.)

3&4: For both buyers and competitors, the pursuit is still on.

Just because they have some earnest money on the line, the buyer doesn’t stop shopping. If they find something they think is better than what they’ve committed to with you, they will certainly consider breaking up and moving on to the next best thing. Your competitors know this too.

The fact that the customer doesn’t stop shopping and the other salespeople don’t stop selling adds up to the perfect storm for unfaithful relationships (cancellations). It’s a wonder anyone gets to the finish line!

Fortunately, there is a solution. It’s contrary to our nature and it isn’t easy, but it does work. Joe Girard, called the “World’s Greatest Salesman” by Guinness Book of World Records, says that the true sale begins when the customer buys. Let’s be honest here. Is that how you treat your buyers? Can you honestly say you break out in the “be-back” dance when a buyer under contract walks through your door? Or when a homeowner calls you with a warranty question? Joe Girard made over a million dollars in annual commissions as a car salesman. He didn’t sell fleets. He just sold well. And he kept selling long after the customer drove off the lot

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