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Buyer loyalty in today’s market can feel a little impossible for a lot of agents. How do you ask for it? What can you offer to buyers to encourage them to commit to you versus the for-sale-by-owner (FSBO) down the street or the listing agent behind the open house balloons?
If you’re a new agent looking to cultivate trust and commitment (or even a more experienced agent who’s having trouble building lasting relationships with buyers), here are five secret ingredients you need to keep in mind.
1. Believe in yourself
The first secret to earning buyer loyalty lies within your own belief that you deserve it. That’s on you.
If you don’t believe in your heart and in your head that you truly provide a service and benefit to a buyer and that you’re their best bet for finding the house of their dreams, getting their offer accepted, and ensuring that their best interests are protected in the negotiations — then you’ve got to start with a mindset reset.
That starts with taking a good long look at what you bring to the table and a consistent commitment to professional growth, which means being a lifelong learner and developing those skills.
Start with this bottom-line truth: Whatever buyers think they know or don’t know — just by virtue of the fact that you’ve taken a bazillion hours (or your state’s equivalent) of course work to be licensed means you’ve got a leg up on the buyer’s ability to secure their best deal.
2. Know the difference between client and customer
Real estate is the only sales profession I know of where common sense is often thrown out the window when it comes to handling customers.
Imagine going to a car dealership to buy a car and not seeing anything you like and asking the salesperson to jump in their car and drive you around to other dealerships until you find something. Nope. That’s not how it works.
It is what most agents do though, right? They get a call from a buyer lead and before you know it, they’ve sent 36 emails with listings, addresses, pricing and buyer tools, and then jump in the car and show them everything on the market — before ever getting a commitment from that buyer to work exclusively with them.
Do yourself and your business a favor and stop. A buyer lead is a customer. Before you start pulling out all the stops and spending a hundred hours serving them, you need to convert them to a client. Which brings us to …
3. Get a buyer’s agency agreement signed
“But they don’t want to.” I get it, but if you want loyalty, you need to ask for it and expect it. Consider your service industry counterparts for just a second. When someone hires an attorney, for example, they draw up an agreement to secure representation.
You should be doing the same. For every buyer you “represent,” get an agreement. That changes the relationship from customer to a client, provides clarity, and cultivates commitment and loyalty.
The best way to start is to arrange a face-to-face meeting — even if that meeting has to take place via Zoom or a virtual app. This is where you will establish your credentials, value and credibility, walk them through your buying process, and get your agreement signed.
Buyers who are skeptical or unwilling to sign a buyer agency agreement are telling you, upfront, that they won’t be loyal to you. When this happens, you have three choices:
- Walk away. Save yourself time and money on a “looker” rather than serious buyer.
- Treat them as a customer. This means no preferential treatment, no scoops on new listings, no meeting them at 14 different properties.
- Reestablish your value. The best way to differentiate yourself from your competitors is to stop talking about what you can do for them and start talking about what you (or any agent) can’t do for them. Without an agreement, you can’t advise them on what price to offer, negotiate the best price for them, represent them in a multioffer situation, allow preferred access to new and upcoming listings, or serve as their advocate in legal proceedings. When people see what they are losing, they often more easily see the value in what you’re offering.
4. Give buyers the tools to stay loyal
Once your buyer is a client, give them everything they need and every reason to loop you in on the process. Give your buyers a simple “buyer’s agency certificate” that states they are working with a licensed agent that includes your name, contact information and credentials.
Now, every time they are out and about and see a property or open house, they are armed with a tool that makes it clear they have representation. I liken it a little to having a wedding ring! So, when that listing agents starts to move in to get both sides of the transaction, your buyer can hold it up and say, “Sorry, I’m taken!”
5. Have a system in place
Top agents don’t rely on memory or chance when it comes to client care and follow up. They put systems in place. They establish a process and follow it through. Whether that is using a CRM (preferred), a checklist, or a team, making sure nothing falls through the cracks will help you provide next-level service, which will fuel a positive reputation, repeat referrals — and that ever-elusive loyalty.
Put these five ingredients in place for every buyer lead you receive, and you’ll succeed with more ease, fewer headaches and a lot more to smile about.