Shorten The Buying Cycle: Ask for The Return Appointment

Ask for The Return Appointment

You Need To Ask For The Return Appointment 

As a sales trainer for Shore Consulting, I often get asked the question, “What’s the secret to selling more homes?” It’s a great question. Care to know the answer?  

The good news is the answer it this question is not complex. The secret to selling more homes is… (long dramatic pause for effect)… there is no secret!   

What? Not the awe-inspiring answer you were looking for? Yeah, it seldom is. But even though I didn’t knock your socks off with my wise wisdom, I’ll still share some solid advice that I wish someone had shared with me early on in my sales career. And if you take this advice and implement it every time you are in conversation with a prospective buyer (whether in person or during follow-up) it will, without a doubt, shorten the buying cycle and lead you to more sales and happier buyers.  

As a new home sales professional, our goal is to keep the sale progressing forward until that sale is made. We know this. The best way for us to accomplish our goal is to invite our prospective buyers to do what they came in to do. In other words, we must ask for the sale.   

Why Asking for the Sale Matters  

But wait! Let’s be honest, sometimes we’re just not in a position or situation where we can ask for the sale. That’s certainly the case if our prospective buyers haven’t picked the “one” – the one right home, right? Perhaps they are still contemplating between two different floorplans.   

It’s a tug of war – the husband wants the Jackson for its three-car garage, and the wife wants the Jefferson for its incredible gourmet kitchen. Or maybe their kids just reached their limit. They were hungry and cranky, so we didn’t have the time or opportunity to find the right home site for their new home to be built on, or they have lingering questions that still need to be answered before they can confidently move forward with a purchase. You get the idea.   

Or, maybe we did take the sale as far as it could possibly go. Maybe we did invite them to move forward with a purchase, but they just weren’t ready to buy. Now what?   

Ask for the Return Appointment.

The process seems simple enough, and it is. But all too often, salespeople make the mistake of ending the sales experience or conversation with phrases like:  

“Here’s my card. Feel free to call me if you have any questions.”  

“Let me know what you decide.”  

“I’ll call you sometime next week.”  

Can you relate?   

So, what’s the problem with this strategy? The problem is – this is no strategy!   

Alas, I confess, early on in my sales career, I too handed my prospective buyers my card and said something along the lines of, “Jennifer, I really enjoyed our time and I’m so glad you liked our Stratford model. I’ll circle back with you sometime next week. But in the meantime, here’s my card, call me if you need anything.”  

The result of my actions or inaction? I often found myself waiting for my prospective buyers to take the next step. Which often led to me waiting, waiting, and more waiting. And it most definitely led to my disappointment and lack of sales. The problem was I was stopping the sale from progressing by not asking for the return appointment.   

Sigh – it’s a rookie mistake. The problem is that it’s a mistake being made by both rookie and veteran salespeople alike.  

The Perfect Moment to Ask for the Sale  

You made a great connection with your prospective buyers. They liked you; you liked them. They had a need, you met that need, and now it’s just a matter of time before they buy, right? Wrong! Time is not our friend, it’s your foe. We like to think because we made a great connection, our client will continue to think of us in our absence – sadly, we are mistaken.   

The reality is that the moment they walk out our door or hang up the phone, they start to forget about us. Their emotional altitude starts to wane. Emotional altitude is the level of positive emotional connection a buyer has towards us and our offering.   

So, why does this happen? Well, life. Life happens. And let’s be honest, our attention spans aren’t what they used to be. Everyone is distracted by life, our buyers and us included. We lose focus by thinking about what’s for dinner or getting the kids off to football or cheerleading practice, the dry cleaning that needs to be picked up, the hair appointment that so desperately needs to be made, and our secret pleasure – the Golden Bachelor or Married at First Sight.   

The Missing Link in Closing Sales  

Our prospective buyers are the most interested and most excited at that very moment. That’s why you’ll garner the most success and agreement if you ask right then and there. You have to ask for the appointment NOW.   

Besides, asking the customer to initiate the next step is just plain rude. It’s asking them to do your job for you. Don’t put the onus and burden on our prospective buyers to move the sale forward. As sales professionals, we are in charge of the next steps. Always end a conversation by explaining what comes next – what’s the next step in the sales process and inviting them to take it.   

Asking for the return appointment is a critical component to progressing the sale forward.   

Mindset and Skillset Challenges  

So, let’s explore why salespeople don’t ask for a return appointment. Here are some of the many reasons that have been shared with me:  

  1. “I forget to ask.”   
  2. “I don’t want to lose the relationship I worked so hard to establish.”  
  3. “I don’t want to be pushy.”  
  4. “I don’t know how.”  

Each reason is either a mindset or skillset issue.   

Reason #1 – Skillset issue. You forget to ask because it’s not a habit, it’s not a skill that you have mastered. The solution? Practice. Practice asking for the return appointment over and over again until you develop a habit. Armchair quarterback yourself after every appointment or interaction – did you ask for the return appointment?  

Reason #2 – Mindset issue. I promise you, that you won’t lose the relationship by asking for a return appointment. You are inviting your prospective buyer to continue moving forward towards their goal. Every buyer is on a mission to improve their life. Asking for the return appointment brings them one step closer to achieving what they set out to do.   

Reason #3 – Mindset issue. Are you on board to help your prospective buyers reach their goals? If you answered, “Yes”, you are not being pushy.  

Reason # 4 – Skillset issue. Nothing that you can’t master with some practice.  

Crafting the Perfect Request  

Let’s look at two examples:  

Example 1: Dennis and Rachel, I really enjoyed our time together today. I’m so glad that our Jefferson model exceeded your expectations! Our next step is to pick your homesite. My weekend is booking up quickly so I want to reserve time for you so you can get your first choice. I have Saturday at 10 am or Sunday at 3 pm. Which day/time works better for you?  

Example 2: Dennis and Rachel, I enjoyed our time together today. What’s your schedule like next week? When do you think you can come back?  

I think we would all agree that example #1 is the better option. But why?  

In the first example, we shared with Dennis and Rachel the why behind the appointment request. “Our next step is to pick your homesite.” If a buyer understands the why, they are more likely to agree to the request. After all, it’s a necessary step to accomplishing their goal.  

A sense of urgency was created. “My weekend is booking up quickly…” indicates other buyers are vying for my attention. And, “so you can get your first choice” would indicate that if they wait, it may mean they’ll be settling for their second choice.   

Notice how in example #1 an either-or scenario was presented to the buyers. “I have Saturday at 10 am or Sunday at 3 pm. Which works better for you?” This is a much easier question for a prospective buyer to answer and make a decision than “What’s your schedule like next week? (or) When do you think you can come back?”   

Let’s be honest – if I asked you those questions, what would your answer likely be? I am going to venture to guess it would be something along the lines of “I’m not sure. Let me get back to you.” Our prospective buyers are no different. And the problem with “Let me get back to you” is that they won’t get back to you. Increase your chance of success by providing your buyer with an either-or scenario. This makes it much easier for them to answer you. And if your either-or scenario doesn’t work for them, they will often reply with something along the lines of, “I can’t do that, but I could probably do X.”  

Your Path to Success in Home Sales  

Asking for the return appointment keeps the sale moving forward and brings your prospective buyers one step closer to achieving their goal, home ownership – ultimately fulfilling their mission to improve their lives.   

So, dare to be different. Ask for the appointment and you may just change your customer’s world! 

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About the Author: Michelle Bendien

With over two decades of diverse experience in the new home building industry, Michelle Bendien brings her intellect, world-class communication skills and passion for real estate to help sales teams across the country to achieve mastery level selling skills.