Once a consumer has identified a need or a want they begin the next step, which is research. It has two components: internal and external information seeking. Internal sources of information are retrieved from past experiences (good and bad), personal knowledge regarding the purchase, and intuition. External sources include social groups, advertising, public information, and testing the product (an open house, for example).
A consumer will spend as much time researching a purchase as it relates to risk. Big ticket items such as cars and real estate will require more time than repetitive purchases. When you have a client who is reluctant to commit to a purchase offer, it’s likely because they haven’t done enough research or been provided with enough information. That’s not to say that someone will buy a home if they have every detail in hand; it just means that they will be able to make a decision they’re comfortable with.
A skilled promoter anticipates how the consumer will perceive the product. You can grow your skills by asking how your clients have engaged with external research: What did they do with that information? What meaning was applied? Which information sticks in their mind. These four talking points will help you uncover experience, motivation, engagement in the process, and readiness.
At this point, your client may be ready to engage the services of a sales representative: they are ready to begin making comparisons of agents and properties. Some people need to evaluate a large sample of options while others may require only a few. The promoter tries to create a ‘top-of-mind’ awareness with reminder advertising that attracts clients who are on the cusp of buying or selling.
The evaluation of potential agents and homes is directed by criteria, real or otherwise, and functional consequences, such as positive outcomes. A promotion that helps consumers understand consequences is powerful messaging. Helpful information from a reliable source creates a relationship with the promoter in the consumer’s mind.
Client attitudes are a manifestation of their experience and knowledge of a product or service. For example, seniors like quality condos, families like houses, and single people appreciate a good rental apartment. A promoter’s job is to identify attitudes and create advertising that reinforces positive feelings. This creates momentum in the sales process.
When the client is ready to buy or sell, the make a final decision based on how well their research integrates with reality. Some people will buy based on heuristics, or trial-and-error, and when this happens, they tend to move house regularly. Another decision process is a ‘best of breed’ choice: best condo, townhouse, new development, etc. A quantitative approach to marketing will help people match the best properties with their needs.
After the purchase, the client may want to engage with an evaluation process. A positive evaluation will become part of their internal research and shared with friends and family. A negative evaluation will form attitudes towards the salesperson, the brand, and the real estate industry. Every evaluation should ask for a satisfaction rating on a wide variety of subjects, such as ‘how happy are you with the location?’ and ‘do your children enjoy the neighbourhood?’. This allows the agent to create a score based on a number of factors, not just price, agent performance, or issues that may have come up during the sales process. If the deal-making scored a 7 but the neighbourhood scores a 10, the result is a evaluation score of 8.5.
The objective with this type of feedback request is to generate an overall feeling of satisfaction with the purchase. Satisfaction will be high when the purchase meets expectations. Cognitive dissonance may occur when the client must choose between two closely matched properties. How can they be sure their choice is the right one? Post-purchase communication can reinforce their decision, especially when they are shown positive consequences such as increased property values or references to satisfied peer groups.
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