Once you have attracted a global client, what are the do’s and don’ts to make sure that you not only close a deal with this client, but attract his or her referrals as well?
If you plan to work with global clients, a simple piece of advice is to "stay in curiosity." Ask about their culture and how things are done in their country. Being interested in them is a great way to start building a strong relationship that will generate ongoing referrals.
The guidelines below will help you to work more effectively with any client who was born outside the United States.
The four expectations global clients have
Working with global clients can be highly profitable. If you are working with a client who was born outside the U.S., there are four key expectations that they have.
First, they expect a low incidence of problems. If there is an issue, you must be on top of it immediately and keep them advised about what is happening. Second, they expect you to respect their cultural values. Third, they want an agent who is enthusiastic about working with them. Finally, it’s important that your manners are impeccable and that you also honor their cultural patterns.
For example, it may be inappropriate for you to open a car door for a female. The best way to discover many of these differences is to ask your clients to tell you how things are different in the U.S. as opposed to in their country.
Never discuss money
One of the most important taboos when it comes to working with global clients is to avoid discussing money. This includes asking your clients about how much they make and whether they will qualify to buy a home. This is true for people from the U.K. as well as most parts of Europe, not just Asia.
In terms of how to discuss price ranges, a simple way is to show them several examples of homes in various price ranges and ask which homes are the most attractive to them. In almost every case, you will find that they will be opting for a specific price range. Also, don’t be surprised if they are paying all cash. Many countries in the world do not have the flexibility to provide the kind of financing that we have in this country. Most global buyers will have their financing lined up before they ever contact an agent.
Recognizing buying signs on showings
A major challenge when working with clients who are not fluent in English is being able to recognize when they are interested in a property. In most cases, they will not tell you. Nevertheless, there are still certain buying signs that are common to all human beings.
First, if the buyers have been quiet during your showings and they start talking rapidly in their native language, that’s almost always a buying sign. Also, when they touch the walls, open the cabinets, or look at the brochure repeatedly, those are classic buying signs as well. Another potential buying sign occurs when they change their pace on showings. Generally they will slow down when they are interested in a property.
When you believe they are ready to be closed, ask: "Of the houses you have seen so far, which one is best suited for your needs?" Avoid asking them to write an offer. Most non-U.S. buyers respond poorly to direct pressure. They will let you know when they are ready to move forward.
Research their culture
Global buyers as a group tend to be very loyal when the agent takes the time to get to know them, honors their customs, and is willing to negotiate using the customs of their homeland.
For example, my Chinese buyers would almost always nix any address with the number 4 in it and were much more likely to purchase properties whose address had 8s in them. Consequently, I made a point of showing properties whose addresses had 8s and none that had 4s.
In fact, I sold six lots in a subdivision in Beverly Hills, Calif., just by paying attention to what the buyers were doing with the numerology. All the numbers in their offer had to add up to six. I told the developer to counter back with all the numbers totaling six and we put the transaction together for $1.5 million.
Avoid making these common mistakes
In many cultures, certain normal U.S. behaviors are taboo. For example, it may be inappropriate to touch a stranger or to touch in public. Consequently, be careful about shaking hands or making any other type of physical contact. Let your client take the lead. Better yet, search differences in their customs online so you can avoid the issue in the first place.
Also, never assume that you can call a client by his or her first name. Always use the person’s last name. Use his or her first name only if he or she asks you to do so.
Finally, no matter how weird it seems, do not get upset when a strange cultural issue costs you a deal. I once had an orange-clad monk nix a $950,000 deal because there was an evil spirit in the front tree. It was all I could do to keep smiling and to set up more showings.
The key point to remember is when you understand and honor the cultural values of your clients, you’ll receive referral after referral.
Are you ready to add global marketing to your arsenal for 2012? If so, it can be a major business for many years to come.