Teach Agents to Create Buy-In

We defend what we create. If you want to avoid buyer regret at your brokerage, it’s vital to get clients fully invested in their choices.

August 5, 2015

My wife Shelly and I could not agree on one of our early home searches. When we found a townhouse that we both loved, I worked hard to convince her it was the best choice (despite her concern that the yard was too small). The excellent location far outweighed the disadvantages, I told her. I pushed the deal. Hard. Eventually, Shelly agreed — trusting my belief that she would be happy. But predictably, my approach backfired. Shelly had never bought into the decision and after time living there, her discontent grew steadily — creating more disappointment and frustration.

Agents sometimes do the same thing. They build a strong case against buyer objections rather than facilitating ownership of the decision. When buyers feel strong-armed into something they don’t fully believe in, they end up plagued by the nagging sense they didn’t make the right choice. On the other hand, when they feel invested in the decision, they will defend it. Teach agents these three steps to creating ownership with buyers:

1) Provide Customers With Three Choices

Rather than making them feel pressured, provide a brief list of options to help customers feel in control, especially when they’re struggling with a decision.

In our most recent home search, Shelly and I were again having a hard time finding a home with everything we wanted (a new build, a particular school district, and a large lot). We found one option that met the first two desires, but Shelly was again unsure about the smaller yard. Instead of disregarding Shelly’s concern, I recapped our three options, which leads to the next step:

2) Discuss Advantages and Disadvantages

When Shelly and I talked it out, we realized we could buy a new home on a smaller lot in the school district we wanted; we could buy an older home in the same district with a bigger yard; or we could live 30 minutes outside of town in a new home with a big lot. Once we got there, we were able to talk through the advantages and disadvantages of each choice, and the discussion prepared us to understand and accept the compromise.

3) Force the Decision

It’s not always easy to move on to the third step, but agents can say something like, “Now that you have identified the advantages and compromises of each choice, which is best for your family?”

Shelly realized she was set on a new home and buying in town, making the decision easy. New home with a small lot for the win!

Give agents a chance to apply these steps by using a role-play exercise to address a current customer’s objections (small bedrooms, location, price, lot size, and so on). Have them present the alternatives, their advantages and compromises, and the closing question, “These are three great choices, each with unique advantages. Which do you feel is best for you and your family?”

Like anyone, customers want to be empowered to make their own choices. The second time around with Shelly, I played the cards differently and achieved better results. We still chose a home with a smaller lot, but this time, she had buy-in. So much so that when her mom later objected to the small yard, it was Shelly who defended our choice. She shared the three options we decided among and said, “We are really happy here.”

Our experience goes to show that the gift of decision ownership lasts long after the deal closes.

Jason Forrest is a sales trainer, management coach, member of the National Speakers Association’s Million Dollar Speakers Group, and author of three books, including his latest, Leadership Sales Coaching. Learn more at  www.fpg.com.