The Journey from “First Contact” to a “Forever, Dream Client” – 5 Critical Steps to Get You there

If you asked me 18 years ago what was the ultimate goal for my buyers’ presentation, I would probably tell you it was to add another sale on the board, no matter what it took. Today, although adding a sale on the board remains important to me, my professional priorities have changed over time.  Building on my expertise over the years, I’ve raised the expectations of my service quality and time management. Consequently, I have also raised the expectations of my clients. Some lessons I have learned along the way are not taught in a training class. For example, I learned that there’s a right way to sign a Buyer Representation Agreement (B.R.A) and a wrong way. Signing a B.R.A is a two way relationship, there has to be an understanding and a common fit on the service level both you and your client expect and what you’re prepared and able to offer.  

Let’s take a common analogy we can all relate to… you’re traveling on a plane when low cabin pressure triggers the drop of the oxygen masks. Your child is sitting next to you. We all know who gets the mask first; you… not your child. Why? If you pass out from lack of oxygen, you won’t be able to take care of yourself or your child. Setting expectations on the quality of your business and the people you choose to work with, runs on a similar principle. If you and your business are not well taken care of first, there is no way you’ll be able to take care of your clients. It starts by developing a well-oiled and efficient business process that offers the best outcome for your clients while helping you stay effective at what you do.  Not only does this create a professional, mutually respectful environment, but it avoids unnecessary running around allowing you to offer more laser-focused, value-added service that your clients are looking for.   

The other benefit of this approach is that you’ll have a more balanced life since time management plays a big role in this line of thinking. It is your responsibility to keep a high level of service expectation and it starts by laying down the foundation at your buyers’ presentation. You must clearly state that it’s the only way you work. You purposely want to weed out the shortcut takers and build a professional clientele. 

Here are a few tips to help you take a first buyer contact on the rewarding journey of becoming a forever, dream client.

Step One

Design goals for buyers’ presentation: When taking a first contact to becoming a forever, dream client, the first step is to design an effective buyers’ presentation. The goal is that you don’t just get a new contract signed, but you deliver a presentation that takes your potential clients from ‘cold’ to ‘trust’ with you in the driver’s seat. You want a presentation that sets the expectation of your prospect should they become a client, and also qualifies their level of commitment to your business process.  It is important that you plant the seed from the minute you meet and make it clear that for their best interest, you won’t settle for less.  

So you have taken the first step in developing a great home buyer’s process that saves both you and your client, time, money and stress. Now it’s time to put it to good use and show it off at the kitchen table presentation! 

Step Two

Build trust by understanding your target audience: You can only build trust with a potential client when you fully understand how they feel. Throw away the scripts and really try to understand their pain points. It makes no difference how you make first contact with a potential buyer; whether over the phone, in an open house, through a referral or directly in person. It is important you master the ‘getting them to yes’ conversion to the kitchen table and the ability to earn your prospect’s trust once you get there. What better way than to understand their pain points so you can genuinely connect! First-time buyers have different service needs and concerns compared to an empty nester, just like investors have different goals than someone looking to upsize. You need to design a persona catalog of potential buyers and learn their pain points, motivations and how they differ from one another. Know your target personas inside and out, because each one will require a custom home buyer’s process. The sooner they feel you understand them, the more open they will become at accepting you and moving along to the next stage. Your first step on first contact is to determine where they fit in; then speak to their needs from that point on and throughout your buyer’s presentation.

Step Three

Plant the seed of expectation: Lay out your expectation of yourself and more importantly, your clients, from the start. They need to know that you’ve designed a well-oiled machine that has their best interest at heart. It’s also important that they know you intend to interview them too. With a rock solid presentation, you’ll find most buyers will love your professional, proactive style of business.

My opening statement at the kitchen table:

“First of all, I want to thank you for the opportunity of meeting you to discuss your real estate goals. I’m at a point in my career where I feel it’s just as important for me to interview a potential buyer as it is for them to interview me. I’ve set clear expectations for both myself and my clients to ensure the best service results for my clients. So, today I’m here for the same reasons you are; to get to know you better to see if there’s a common fit in us choosing to work with one another.  Is that fair enough? Great, I would love to hear your story….

Then listen…

Step Four

Qualify your prospect: Let me clarify; I’m not talk about getting a mortgage pre-approval, although that plays an important role in the process. I’ve seen it far too often—unprepared buyers getting semi pre-approved and they are off to the races! Weeks, if not months of searching for a home, just to later find out they can’t do it or they just weren’t ready. Run the numbers inside and out; discuss access to funds, the commitment involved, their goals and their financial readiness well ahead of time. If they feel well equipped to move forward, then and only then should they consider getting pre-approved. This stage builds trust with your potential buyer and avoids unnecessary time on the road. More importantly, with preliminary housekeeping done upfront, your clients are able to better focus on the task at hand of finding their dream home with a clear head. They will love you for the peace of mind you bring. Besides, I would rather invest hours of efficient “getting to know you” discovery time with a prospect than waste time on the road.

Step Five

Show them why: My 2-minute buyer’s role play. Many buyers are coachable but don’t truly understand the importance or the advantage of being an organized buyer that’s ready to outrun other buyers.  So I help them by taking them into the future for a moment, getting them to imagine they found their dream home and we are submitting an offer. The challenge is, they’re not the only buyers on the table. I get them to envision me presenting their offer on their behalf to the sellers and the selling Realtor® the right way! I role play how we check off every concern the seller and seller’s agent have, for example, proof of mortgage approval, deposits ready to go, buyer’s letter to seller, inspector’s contact information so they know it’s not uncle Bob doing the inspection, and so on. They begin to appreciate the value-added service I bring to the table and the importance in being an organized buyer. They are often extremely excited to work my way! Sell the team and the weak link! “Mr. and Mrs. Buyer, I work as a team with my clients and I can’t do this without you. If there’s a weak link in our team, this can’t work. So, my question to you is, are you ready to work like a professional buyer?” 9 out of 10 times, they’re in! For the buyers who aren’t, I prefer to walk away from their business.

If you decide to work together, explain your relationships and the B.R.A. in full detail ahead of time! Explain each scenario that may arise. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how fair and understanding buyers are when you are transparent and upfront about everything. The sooner you put it in writing, the sooner you’ll be able to work as a team. Explain the next step and enjoy the journey as an organized, professional home buying team.

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