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Mark Richardson: Help your potential clients feel more confident

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Leadership

Mark Richardson: Help your potential clients feel more confident

Confidence. Such a simple word but also a word that may have more to do with your success or failure than any other.


By Mark Richardson, CR, Contributing Editor April 2, 2013
This article first appeared in the CB March 2013 issue of Custom Builder.

Confidence. Such a simple word but also a word that may have more to do with your success or failure than any other. Confidence moves individuals, markets, and countries. Confidence allows us to focus on the future rather than just the here and now. Over the last five to seven years, most of our worlds have been turned upside down. Everything from the stock market, to the weather and our seasonal work flow are not as predictable as in the past. Our homes, which were once not only our greatest asset but also a wonderful place to invest money, don’t appreciate 3 to 8 percent annually. These factors have really shaken our confidence. 

As most of you in the remodeling or construction business know, consumer confidence is one of the most important leading indicators of future remodeling activity. As a writer and speaker, I  use such metaphors to describe this confidence gap from a consumer standpoint as ‘holding patterns’ or ‘standing on the sidelines,’ fearful of flipping the switch to proceed. While these analogies may be useful for understanding the current sentiment, they don’t move clients in the direction of building a new custom home. If you sell projects by helping customers feel more confident, not only will sales increase but you will also help your clients experience the joy of a new custom home. 
 
If you begin to see your role as more of a tour guide and less of a product peddler, then your close rates and success will rise. As you begin this process, you must first begin to change your own mindset and actions. Did you build your own home and invest in it to the degree you would like to see your clients do so? Are you investing energy in the longer-term master plans or are you mainly focused on maintaining the here and now? I say these things not as way to judge, but more as a way to say that you should not expect your clients to believe in building a home if you do not believe and are not confident with these decisions. You can begin with some self-talk and rational thinking. Consider the following and try to be the voice of reason for your clients and prospective clients.
 
I. Have you ever had a client say, “I am sorry I built this new home?” in any economic condition during the last 30 years? After working on hundreds of projects with clients, I never heard one person express regrets. The only regret some customers had was not doing the project sooner when their mother was still alive, or while their kids were young enough to enjoy it.
 
II. If I gave you a bucket of money today, would you immediately invest it in the stock market? I have put these questions to large audiences and less than 1 percent raise their hands. What is interesting today is that homeowners have three times the savings that they had in the go-go times of 2005, when their paper wealth was much greater than today. Today a new home is a wonderful place to park some of this money when the CD interest rates are so low. If only those potential clients had a sage (you) to guide them.
 
The housing market today is more complex. More home product options are available now than ever before, so guiding building clients on a new-home building journey is an enormous service. The desire to build a new home will continue to be strong because it is the one element in Americans’ lives that gives them control of their lifestyle. 
 
If you begin to make a list of all the rational reasons why it makes sense to feel confident about building a new home, you will have what you need to be a better adviser and also see more sales. It has been said, “Knowledge instills confidence, confidence creates enthusiasm, and enthusiasm sells.” 
 
Now it is up to you, not the market. 

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