Targeting homebuyers requires a different process than targeting real estate salespeople and brokers.
Unfortunately, there isn’t an easy, direct way to keep the sales funnel full of prospective homebuyers who are interested in home inspection services. This forces you to be more reactive than proactive with respect to prospecting. With homebuyers, the transaction often is done over the phone, usually in a single conversation that takes place when the homebuyer calls you.
The homebuyer is a highly qualified lead. You know the person is looking for a home inspection because they have called you. Because 90 percent of the work is done, all you need to do is take them on the last 10 percent of their journey.
They’ve already made a choice about you—they may have picked your name from a list their agent supplied, visited your website, or saw your name in an ad or article. It’s also possible that they may be planning to call several home inspection companies. You should always assume that homebuyers who call you also have been speaking to several other inspectors unless you know otherwise.
A homebuyer’s needs are different from a real estate professional’s needs. The homebuyer may just be calling to book the inspection; in cases like this, the sales process has been done for you by the real estate professional or by a previously satisfied client. You are now an order taker, not a salesperson.
Approaching the Homebuyer
Most often, there is no “approach”—the homebuyer simply calls and initiates the presentation. For example, they call and say, “I need a home inspection. Can you tell me about your company and what I get with my inspection?” They have just done the approach for you.
However, sometimes an approach is necessary. The agent may ask you to call the client to set up an inspection. (This does happen, albeit occasionally.) In this case, you would say something like, “My name is Bob Green of Green Inspection Services. June Smith asked me to call you to set up an inspection at 23 Brown Street. May I get some details from you?” This approach assumes a close and generally, it gets one.
When a prospective client calls, they sometimes do so in an adversarial way. For example, “My agent suggested I call you…but your prices are $50 more than Head-to-Toe Inspections.” In this case, your approach is a simple matter of asking permission to sell to them. This approach does two things: It defuses the caller and it sets up your presentation. You could say to the caller, “That’s a good point. We are more expensive than Head-to-Toe. May I tell you why?”
One of the best ways to answer the “too expensive” objection, regardless of the product or service, is to do the following:
- Agree that your service is more expensive than others, but not that it’s too expensive. By agreeing, you make the prospect more comfortable.
- Follow up by telling them about the great value and the benefits of using your inspection service.
Another strategy in overcoming price objection is to uncover the reason the person feels you are “expensive” in the first place:
- You could say, “I know price is very important to you. May I ask why you feel we are too expensive?” or “Is price your only concern?”
- Once you know the reason for the objection, you can focus on the reasons why your service will satisfy the client’s need.
No matter what approach you use, remember that, from your customer’s perspective, the value of your service must exceed the price. It won’t do you any good to be defensive about trying to justify your price. You should be proud of what you charge; in fact, most home inspectors don’t charge enough for the value of the service they provide. Most people do not base a decision to purchase a service solely on the price. For example, did you choose your physician or dentist according to price? As home inspectors, we are not selling a commodity; instead, we are offering a professional service that can easily be differentiated from your competitors’ services.
Closing the Deal with the Homebuyer
With homebuyers, the close is often done for you. The homebuyer will be satisfied with the information that you have provided and may book an inspection on the spot. If they don’t, you can do a few things to close the deal. If the homebuyer asks you for information, but appears ready to move on to call someone else, you should initiate a close. Say, “Can we set up an inspection time that is convenient for you?”
If the answer is “yes,” then book it! If the answer is “no,” then ask, “What additional information do you need before setting up the inspection?” Try to draw out the objections so that you can overcome them. Very often, even if the homebuyer was not planning to book an inspection immediately, he or she may just go ahead and book it if you suggest it. It’s a simple technique and it is amazing how often it works.
Remember, the person who goes to the effort of calling you wants to be convinced that you are the right inspector or inspection company. Especially when buying a home, people want to make this decision and move on to other things. Make it easy for them. Assume they want to hire you. End the search for them. Make the decision for them. Relieve them of the chore of selecting a home inspector. If you let them call someone else, chances are they won’t call you back.
Carson Dunlop - Consulting engineering firm devoted to home inspection since 1978. www.carsondunlop.com