What are your clients really looking for?

“PODCAST – EPISODE 26,” Where I talk about What Your Clients Are Really Looking For

Glenn: Good morning, and welcome to my Success Series Podcast. Today I’m going to be talking about what buyers and sellers really want from a real estate agent.

I’ve been to many courses where people will tell you, “You have to do this for buyers and sellers.” Imagine – you could almost close your eyes right now. These are probably the typical six or seven things that you’re probably saying on a listing presentation, and most agents are saying, too:

“One of the reasons you’re going to hire me is because I’m a great negotiator.”

“I’ll stage your home and get the most money possible.”

“My marketing, my website, my feature sheets are better than everyone else.”

“I’ll hold public Open Houses to increase the activity.”

“I’ll distribute your listing to a target market of potential buyers, builders, other realtors in my office, thousands of websites.”

“We’ll hold offers to build an auction for your house.”

“I have my own buyers’ database that I’m going to be sending out all of your listing details to.”

I think all of those are great points, and if you really think about those seven points, it’s probably, I would say, at least 80-90% of the skeleton of your listing presentation. But I think we have to evolve now. We have to really move away from telling and selling to listening and consulting. Because here’s the truth. Your customer is asking themselves these three questions about you as you’re talking or as they’re dialoguing with you:

  1. Do you care about me?
  2. Can I trust you?
  3. Can you help me?

Now, what if we were to change our presentations to really address the naked self-interests of our consumers? And one of the best places to get the research of what buyers and sellers really want is to go to the National Association of Realtors, which is a U.S.-based realtor membership site. And they poll between 50,000-100,000 buyers and sellers every year, and then they release their report in October. So you can Google this report if you want. So it’s “NAR 2016 Home Buyer and Seller Profiles.” And when you Google it, you’ll get a whole bunch of links back to NAR, but if you just keep scrolling down, you’re going to find that you can get the report for free, because someone’s posted it on their blog. Or you can pay $170 to NAR if you wish. But let me share just some of those insights with you so you can really understand what’s going on in the market. And I want you just to open your mind in a way, because many of you may be thinking, “Oh, well that’s an American-based survey. We’re in Canada” or “Many of our listeners are American.” I just want you to suspend that thought for a second, and understand that people are people. And when you’re polling that many people (and I’ve been tracking NAR’s stats for 20 years), I’m going to tell you, in my own research, I think that they’re very similar to the Canadian stats. The unfortunate thing is our Canadian Real Estate Association doesn’t do this type of polling, so you can only use what you can use. But here’s the deal. Here are just some of the highlights from their report:

  1. First-time buyers made up 35% of all home buyers (which is an increase up about 4% from last year).
  2. The typical buyer was 44 years old (again, for the third straight year).
  3. The median household was around $88,500.
  4. The first-time buyer was 33 years old.
  5. Buyers of new homes made up about 14%.
  6. Buyers of previously owned homes made up 86%.
  7. When we look at what the buyer is really looking for in an agent, or how they start their search, 44% of recent buyers, the first step they took in the home-buying process was to look online at properties for sale (only 17% of them actually just picked up a phone or met or reached out to an agent). They all start their search online.
  8. 77% of recent buyers found their agent to be a very useful information source.
  9. Online websites were seen as the most useful at 86%.
  10. Buyers typically searched for 10 weeks and looked at a median of about 10 homes.
  11. The typical buyer who did not use the Internet during their home search spent only four weeks searching and visited four homes.

So I think that’s really interesting. If you have people who aren’t as tech savvy, who don’t go on the Internet to search, they end up buying a little bit quicker. But let’s look at the bigger market. The bigger market are usually people who know how to use the Internet. And understand that they’re slowly creeping in the background looking for homes over 10 weeks. So it might even be a couple of weeks before they even start their search. But they’re out there researching, just like you do, for any other product that you’re trying to buy.

  1. 88% of buyers purchased their home through a real estate agent, and 6% purchased directly from a builder or a builder’s agent.
  2. 42% of buyers used an agent that was referred to them by a friend, neighbour or relative, and 11% used an agent that they worked with in the past to buy or sell the home.

And I think what’s really interesting here is how many agents buyers interview before they commit to working with one, and this stat has really remained stable over the last 10 years:

  1. 7 in 10 buyers interviewed only one real estate agent during their home search.

So that means that if you just show up, prepared, you have a 70% chance of closing that buyer, or working with that buyer. Isn’t it interesting, though, that the industry says stuff like, “Oh, buyers are liars, and sellers are even worse” when, if you actually look at the research, it’s really about just getting in front of people. If you have a buyer consultation set up, or you’re meeting someone for a coffee to talk about real estate, you have a 7 out of 10 chance of working with that person. And remember, what they’re thinking as you’re talking is, “ Do you care about me? Can I trust you? Are you the one to help me?” So just remember that theme, because at the end of this podcast today, I’m going to change the dialogue on how we actually present to buyers and sellers.

Going back to buyers:

  1. 88% of buyers would use their agent again, or recommend their agent to others.

That’s a pretty good success criteria, so kudos to most of those agents working there.

Let’s look at home sellers:

  1. Typical home seller was 54 years old.
  2. For all sellers, the most commonly cited reason for selling their home was it was too small (18%), followed by a desire to move closer to friends and family (15%), job relocation was 14%.
  3. Sellers typically lived in their home for 10 years before selling, which was an increase from nine years in the last report – so staying a little bit longer.
  4. 89% of home sellers worked with a real estate agent to sell their home.
  5. (And what I find really interesting is) 64% of sellers found their real estate agent through a referral from a friend, neighbour, or relative, or used an agent they had worked with before.

So let’s break that down even more. So of sellers, 39% were referred by a friend, neighbour, or relative, so that’s 4 out of 10. 25% used their agent previously, so 2.5 out of 10 (or, if we combine those numbers, that’s 64% of sellers). So all the listings that are available in the market, you either had to be referred to them, or you had to have helped them previously.

  1. 4% of sellers chose their agent from personal contact with the agent (which I would imagine would be like a phone call or door-knocking).

So 4% – 4 out of 100. So for every 100 sales or signs you see go up in a community, only 4 actually selected their agent from the personal contact of that agent.

  1. 4% found their agent from websites.
  2. 4% met their agent at an Open House (which is down from 7%. It’s really interesting).
  3. 2% from the Open House sign that they had called on.
  4. 2% were relocated using a relocation company.
  5. 2% from direct mail.

So isn’t it interesting that our industry has been teaching this two or three hours of cold prospecting every day as your way to build your business. Now, I’m not saying that you can’t do it or that it’s not being done. I’m saying you should only do it if that’s where your natural skillset is. Because that’s a whole lot of effort (15 to 18 hours a week – sometimes that would be probably 70 hours a month). Your potential market is out of 100 people who are thinking about selling this year, in your community, or this month. Out of the 100 people, only 6 of them will actually choose you through a direct result of your prospecting efforts, which means 94% of them will choose you if they met you at an Open House or called off your sign. The website’s only 4%. Isn’t it interesting how many people spend all this money on killer websites when only 4% of sellers actually choose their agent that way. The big majority here is 64%. And here’s another stat:

  1. 16% of the sellers sold their home with the agent who they just bought the home with.

So it’s almost like if you’re working with them as a buyer, and you found them a house, you’ve automatically got your backup. When we take the 16% plus the 25% plus the 39% (I know these are a lot of numbers for you), that means 81% of sellers chose the agent they worked with because they were either referred by a friend, neighbour, or relative, they used the agent previously, or that was the agent who helped them buy their new home.

So isn’t it crazy that our whole industry tells you one thing, when the truth is your local sphere of influence is 80% of the reason why a seller is going to choose you? That’s a big stat. And this is why I really am so passionate about you creating your niche, whether it be a niche geographic farm, a niche demographic farm, a niche psychographic farm (like helping young families move into the right school district, helping people through a divorce, helping seniors downsize, helping women build wealth, helping lawyers buy investment properties, helping accountants buy investment properties). There’s so much business out there, and so many niche markets, that I’m still amazed at how many people will resist this whole idea of niche markets as the guarantee of your future. I mean, let’s be honest. With so many agents right now in our industry, a lot of agents I’ve talked to recently are a little fearful of their future. They’re like, “Am I really going to be around in the next five years to build the wealth for me and my family with all of this competition?” And that’s why I’m so passionate. That’s why I wrote the book. It’s why I’m doing my two-day seminar June 19-20. (And please go to Eventbrite. Just Google “The McQueenie Method Eventbrite” if you want to register), because this is the agent survival guide of the future. It’s not trying to be everything to everyone. It’s not telling and selling. It’s actually listening and understanding. And what I find curious is, when NAR polled sellers and buyers on the characteristics they were looking for with their agent, being trustworthy, honest, and having integrity outpolled every other criteria, including top agent in the neighbourhood and being the great negotiator (although that was pretty high on the rank).

So what if we changed the game a little bit from now on? Instead of going through the seven things I talked about at the beginning of the call, like, “I’m a great negotiator,” “I’m going to bring in my stagers,” “I’m going to put you on a million websites,” what if we were just to slow it down, and really just change the game? Instead of me telling and selling you, why don’t I really listen and consult with you? So you can be a teller-seller, or you can be a listening consultant. And I really believe the rule of thumb for any consultation you have with anyone is that you’re only allowed to talk 25% of the time. And when you follow that rule, you’ll be amazed at how people will actually start to really tell you what’s important to them. And that begins with you asking them, “What are some of your dangers? What are some of your fears right now that you’re thinking about during this process?” And just let them talk. “Oh, I don’t know if I’ll get the most money for my house.” “I don’t know. Should I buy a home first or should I sell first?” The typical stuff. “Will I be able to move down and still put money in the bank?” This is when they’re telling you what their true fears and motivations are.

And then I would ask them, “What are some of the opportunities? What’s getting you excited about making the move?” And now they’re going to tell you about their aspirations. They’re going to tell you about how “I want to move closer to being next to the grandchildren” or “We want to get our kids into a great school” or “I just want to stop all the muss and fuss of taking care of a house and get into a condo so I can travel more.” And that’s why the first question is about dangers and fears, and the second’s about opportunities for the future (what’s getting you excited). And then you finish your consultation with, “What are some of the strengths of your existing home that you can share with me (you’re the one who’s lived here for 10 years or 20 years), so that when I’m actually talking to people at the Open House or doing my prospecting or whatever, I can really get the essence of why you loved to live in this area so much.

So I think the big theme of today’s call is just: let’s switch away from being the salesperson (tell/sell) to the consultant (listen, ask great questions). But base it not around what you think the market wants, but on what the real research is telling us. And the research is telling us that the primary, core needs of buyers and sellers are:

Do you care about me?

Can I trust you?

Can you help me?

And if you got asked this question, “Well why should I pick you?” – instead of you going on and talking about the seven things that every other agent’s going to talk about, what if you were to just say, “You know, one of the reasons you want to pick me is if you talk to all my past clients, they’re going to tell you that I deeply care about them, they trust me completely, that I helped them immensely, and I guided them safely through the journey of buying and selling a home. And they say this because of my honesty – I’m very transparent. I’m going to protect you. I’m going to tell you the truth. I have very high integrity. And on top of that, I have the skillset and the experience in order to help you out.”

What if we just changed the conversation? Because that’s what the consumer really, really wants. The consumer doesn’t want just to know the logical reasons why they’d pick you, because logic’s going to make them think. But what makes them connect with you are the emotional reasons. And the emotional reasons are basically: they want to be safe and they want to be guided through this transaction. They don’t want you to cause any major disruption in their life. They just want to get on with their life. And the more they can feel that great trust and faith in you, then this is how you build your tribe. And if you look at most of the top agents – and I’m talking about the hidden agents, like the really successful agents in your office that don’t seem to do that much marketing – if you really look at what the core of their business is, I will argue that 90% of them are referral and sphere of influence-based. And that holds them to a really high standard. What most people don’t understand is a referral is really sending someone you care about to someone you trust. It’s not doing them a favour. It’s like, “I want to send you a referral to my friend, because I think you’re going to keep them safe.” And selfishly, for them, it gives them status, because they’ve got more connections in the community. But that’s really the way you build a great real estate practice. You look at these top, high-achieving agents who’ve done it historically (not one-offs who just got their license) – I’m talking about historically great agents who built a great business – and I bet you if you did a poll of their clients and said, “Did this agent care about you?” They’re going to say yes. “Could you trust this agent?” They’re going to say yes. And “Was this agent super helpful, and not only offered a great product to you, but offered a great service standard?”

So that’s the essence of today’s call. Last week we talked about riding two horses of lead generation and lead conversion. And I think this time we’re going a little bit deeper just onto the lead conversion, and then the building a massive business around your niche, because you’re bringing your natural strengths and your unique abilities to a target market of people who you like, trust, and respect, and they like, trust, and respect you. So that’s my thought for the week. Have a great week and I look forward to sending my podcast out next week to you.

Remember, just again, I’m going to do a shameful plug here, but I’d love to see you at my McQueenie Method seminar. It’s only $299 for two days of great fun. We’re going to do a DISC profile of you, but really go deep on that to understand what your natural strengths are. That’s on the Monday morning, I believe. So “Who are you?” is the Monday morning. The Monday afternoon is, “Who’s your target?” How do you then create a unique process to target market, and I’m talking about marketing to your target market. On the Tuesday morning, we spend more time on finishing your 12-month marketing blueprint plan for your tribe. And it’s one thing to get tons of people coming to you, but the rest of the morning we really spend on creating the unique experience that each and every one of your customers is going to go through so that you can really build the tribe of raving fans, which is what we’re really finishing off on on Tuesday afternoon. So really simple seminar – helps you find your niche, then shows you how to market to them, then shows you how to serve them, and you walk away with a 12-month blueprint. So just go to Eventbrite. “McQueenie Method.” June 19-20 in Toronto, and look forward to seeing you. Have a great week! Bye!

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