The psychology of selling
Why do people want to buy a property or move home? On the face of it, there are a number of answers; the most obvious one is ‘to have somewhere to live’. But, scratch away at the original question a little bit and you find yourself revealing more questions; why do they want somewhere to live? Why do they feel the need to own it? The answers to the questions, in turn, ask their own questions. The same is true of pretty much everything else we, as humans, do in the world every day from brushing our teeth to buying a home; there is always a reason and, to understand that persons reason, you need to understand ‘why’.
To understand why an individual does something is to give oneself an immediate advantage in being able to help them (or take advantage, if you are one of the slime-balls of this world). Whilst I have no psychology training whatsoever, I have read up a little on the subject and my life experiences have taught me much about why people behave and act in certain ways and under certain conditions.
So why ‘do’ people do anything. In simple terms because they either feel they need, want or, have to. According to Abraham Maslow, an American psychologist in the early mid part of the last Century, people function on a hierarchy of needs ranging from the very basic essentials to perceived needs; desires if you will.
To put this in the context of my first question in this article; people need a place to live to give them shelter – survival, if you will. After the basic elements of survival have been sorted, we then move into the needs that most buyers, sellers and estate agents deal with every day; aspirational purchases. Be this a spare bedroom for the family to stay in when they visit, to a luxury coastal property to show to the world that you’ve made it.
Although the title of this article is the psychology of selling it is, self-evidently, impossible to sell something unless you have a buyer. This is true in all life, even in situations you may not regard as ‘sales’. When was the last time you had to ‘sell’ the idea of a night out or a new item of clothing to your partner for example? Remember how you justified this? Justifying something, then, is just another word for selling an idea or an action to your ‘buyer’.
To make a successful sale, is to understand what it is that the buyer actually ‘needs’ (or believes they need). A buyer may say they need 3 bedrooms and a garden. As an agent, this should be easy; give them all the properties that match that description. You may get lucky, you might achieve a sale. But, take the time to get to know the person and ask a few questions and you may just find out why they say they need three bedrooms and a garden. It may be that they actually only ‘need’ two bedrooms but ‘need’ an extra room for a home office. All of a sudden, that two bedroom property with a summer-house that’s too big for the garden that no-one has looked at for months might just get a hot viewing.
The psychology of sales isn’t a black art and, whilst whole books have been written on the subject, it is a relatively straightforward principle of sales that is simple good practice. Take the time to understand why people say they want what they say they want and what motivates them. Ask questions about why someone needs to move quickly, ‘absolutely must’ have a large garden or, is in no rush at all. In doing so, you will achieve a number of very important goals. You will develop a better understanding of just what property would suit this buyer, how quickly they are actually able to move and how likely they are to actually complete on the transaction; all key information to help you find them the right property, negotiate the best price and advise your customer, the seller, when an offer is made. With that achievement will also come the added benefit that the buyer will almost certainly regard you as a very helpful and professional agent who they are more likely to recommend to their friends and, when they come to move again, to come back to.
Think about it; ask any good agent what their favourite sale in their career was and, most likely, it wont be the largest commission they ever made, they will tell you about the sale where the buyer bought a property they were absolutely delighted with that bore no relation to the property they first described when they walked into the office. Why? Because they know they took the time to actually find out what the buyer really wanted, understood their needs and matched those needs to the perfect property; in fact, they didn’t do any ‘selling’ at all. I know mine is.
About Chris Wood: Chris is an estate agent with over 25 years of property experience. His business, PDQ Estates Ltd is based in Penzance and Helston, West Cornwall and was included in the Daily Telegraphs’ list of the UK’s top 20 best small estate agents “who go above and beyond to help their customers” in 2013.
He has worked with all sizes and types of businesses from single office independents to the management team and board of RBS and Tesco.
A former President Elect of the NAEA and board member of NFoPP until he resigned in 2009, Chris has always championed the highest professional standards forestate agents in the UK.
No stranger to the media, he has appeared on various programs including BBC, News 24, ITV, independent and BBC radio and is a regular contributor to trade journals, local and national Newspapers. Chris is on KloutLinkedIn Ecademy Facebook and Twitter
Chris has previously competed in the National Laser sailing championships and, as a Sabreur with a top 300 UK ranking in fencing. A long-standing member of the Territorial Army; in 2010 he mobilised for a tour of duty in Afghanistan with 1 Rifles as part of 3 Commando Brigade but was medically evacuated back to the UK before deploying to his forward base with his unit and is now medically discharged from the army.