3 Friction Points Hindering Buyers From Making Decisions

Hindering Buyers From Making Decisions

Why Homebuyers Struggle to Make Decisions   

You’re working with a new prospect; we’ll call him Marcus. Good guy. A generally agreeable sort with a deliberate and cautious personality. Maybe too cautious. Marcus wants what he wants, and he does his research, so it takes a long time for him to make a purchase decision.  

Marcus needs a new home. Why? Meet Naomi, Marcus’s fiancé. She’s a free spirit and spontaneous sort. When she sees something she likes, she buys it. No regrets and no looking back.  

The evidence suggests that Marcus makes better decisions, but that Naomi is happier with the decisions she makes. In a sales arena, Naomi decides with more with her heart; Marcus more with his head.  

To make matters far more complicated, this is the second marriage for both Marcus and Naomi AND they each bring two children into the relationship. They each now live in three-bedroom homes, and that won’t work for their new and expanded family.  

So here come Naomi and Marcus to your community. Naomi loves your five-bedroom home; but Marcus is not convinced. Naomi loves the space; Marcus hates the price. Naomi loves the expanded great room, big enough for a large family. Marcus hates the fact that he missed out on three percent interest rates.  

And this is where you come in – the superhero that saves the day. I mean, really. What does a superhero do? A superhero flies in, sizes up the situation, saves the day, and leaves the scene to help yet another person in distress. Sounds like a sales professional to me.   

Dealing with Conflicting Buying Styles  

So how to make the decision process easy for two people with very different decision-making styles. How do you persuade people to do what is in their best interest? By first understanding the factors that get in the way of their decision.  

There are things that motivate a customer to move forward – think of those things as fuel. But there are things that hold a buyer back – think of those things as friction.  

It starts by understanding just what goes into any given value judgement. We would like to think that buyers like Marcus are perfectly rationale creatures, making fact-based decisions based solely on the data and evidence in front of them.  

Hardly. There are countless unseen factors that can all serve to blur the facts. All of these factors add mental complexity to the decision-making process.  

Easy = Right  

There is a principle we’ve taught at Shore Consulting for years: Easy = Right. The easier something seems to us the “righter” it feels to us. The converse is also true: complex just feels wrong. So when a customer gets confused the tendency is to say “no.”  

So let’s unpack that friction – the mental barriers that exist in a buyers mind that can cause confusion and stagnation.  

3 Friction Points Hindering Buyers From Making Decisions

Let me put it this way. In the absence of any faulty thinking, the decision process should be easy, yes? The facts are the facts and they stand for themselves. But we need to understand that there are mental factors that serve as limitations to the decision process. There are forces making it difficult for buyers to think in a completely rational way. Let’s talk about three such forces.  

Friction Point 1: Brain Strain 

We’ll start with the problem of overload – brain strain, if you will. These are mental barriers that get in the way of making a sensible decision. The brain is so often clogged up with stuff that adds complexity to the decision-making process.   

Marcus might like the home but he is feeling confused, and that might limit his ability to keep things straight in his head. Or perhaps he is holding on to erroneous perceptions that clog up the brain. 

Maybe Marcus has a limitation to his thinking because of other negative stimuli – a news report, or a relative with a strong opinion about buying homes today. Or is it possible that Marcus is just decision-fatigued? (Ever hear your spouse say, “Whatever. You decide.”) He is overwhelmed with the number of choices to be made and feeling mentally tired.  

All of those different scenarios lead to the same thing: brain strain. A foggy brain that makes it difficult to see the right decision on the other side.   

Friction Point 2: Biases  

Brain cramps speak to what is happening in the moment, but there is something happening much deeper in the brain that is far more difficult for us to notice when we are in decision-making mode. I’m talking about mental biases and pre-conceived ideas. That’s the second of the issues we need to address here.  

The fact is that we approach purchase decision with any number of long-held mental biases, and these predispositions will often skew the facts.   

Ironically, those biases act like mental shortcuts that make it easier to make a decision – either to purchase or not purchase, for example – but that doesn’t mean it will be the right decision.  

Let me give you an example. A friend of yours informs you of her desire to vacation in…Cleveland. Now maybe you’ve been to Cleveland and maybe you haven’t, but in either case you probably have at least some very vague notion of what it would be like to vacation there. And that notion is based upon your pre-conceptions.  

Suppose I say the name: Donald Trump. Before I say anything else I would guess there has been some sort of internal reaction. (Very few people are neutral in their feelings for Donald Trump.) Whatever I say next will have to pass through the filters of your pre-conceptions about Trump.  

Marcus’ purchase decision is subject to scores of biases that affect his decision-making. To name just a few:  

  • Recency bias: That which is freshest in our mind is more prominent in importance – because I see or hear about it, well, it must be true. Marcus hearing non-stop about high interest rates, for example.  
  • Or the anchoring bias: what you first adopt is what you tend to hold on to. So when a customer sees a “Home of the Week” white board with a screaming deal, the deal is what they fixate on. Not the home – the deal.  
  • It could be a bias against salespeople in general. Marcus may have had bad experiences that now cause him to look with suspicion at salespeople.  
  • Or maybe Marcus carries a pre-conceived assumption that your company cannot be trusted, based on one bad online review.  

The bottom line: We are both guided by and victims of our own biases.  

Friction Point 3: Biology 

Okay, so you have brain cramps and you have biases. Those factors are psychological in nature. But there is one other category of factors that are actually biological. We’re talking about brain structure – the way we are hard-wired.  

Simple example: If I say, “Please hold this snake” there is an automatic reaction on a visceral, physiological level. A tiny, almond-size gland at the base of your skull called the amygdala just triggered a caution in your brain. Many of you just experienced a tiny bit of cortisol release. That stress hormone triggers a flight instinct.  

Now add on top of that the effects of your long-term memory that reside in your pre-frontal cortex. Most people have long-held memories about snakes.  

Collectively, your brain is working without you giving it permission. Your reaction is involuntary. (The irony, by the way, is that I was just telling you to hold my plumber’s drain snake while I pick up a wrench.)  

Our hormonal structure, our memories, our trained synapses – all play a part in our decision-making. That’s the brain structure piece – the biology.  

Let’s recap: we have rationality limitations, we have pre-conceived ideas, and we have brain structure. Brain strain, biases and biology. All of these things complexify the decision-making process. Seems pretty clear that there is way more here than meets the eye.  

So what do we do with all that? How can we be more influential?  

The Remedy: Simplify!  

As it turns out there is one strategy that applies to each of the categories listed above. The answer: Simplify. When we simplify the presentation of both the problem and the solution we make it far easier to process – on all levels.  

Two quick thoughts as it relates to talking to your buyers. I shared earlier in the past a mental shortcut that people carry around in their brain: easy = right. The easier something seems to me, the righter it feels to me.  

Want an interesting little hack on that idea that easy = right? Try using the word “easy” in your presentation more frequently. It’s a word that is pleasant to the ear. We all crave easy. So if I say to a customer, “We make it really easy for you to…” Or, “How easy would it be to bake in this kitchen?” Or, “The answer to that question is…”  

But what you really have to do is ask questions that are easy for your customer to answer. “What’s your time frame?” is not a question that is easy to answer. Nor is, “How can I help you?”, or “What are you hoping to accomplish today?” These questions cause too much brain strain on your buyers right out of the gate.  

Make Your Answers Simple

Let me challenge you with a short but very powerful assignment: Think about the most common questions you ask of your buyers and write down a top ten list. Then ask yourself, “What would this sound like if it were easy?” How do you know? The easiest questions are the easiest to answer. 

For example, instead of “What’s your time frame?”, you can ask, “We have one home that can be ready in about 60 days or we can build one for you and it will take around six months. Which works better for you?” I’ve given the buyer a simple A or B choice. That’s easy.  

Instead of, “What are you looking for?”, try, “Tell me just one or two things on your must-have list.” “What are you looking for?” is so open-ended as to be difficult to answer. “One or two things” makes it all easy.  

Finally, think specifically about how you are asking for the sale. “Would you like to take this home off the market?” is not an easy question to answer from the customer’s perspective. Why? Because it can easily be misinterpreted. “You mean, put it on hold while I look around a bit more”?  

Or the question, “So what do you think?” That’s not a final closing question and it’s not easy. It forces the customer to tell you that they want to purchase.  

Talk to your peers about what they are doing to make things easy. Look for those moments when your customer seem confused and make a note of those instances. Then spend some time simplifying whatever it is that you had previously said.

Learn To Make The Process Easy

Ultimately, you need to understand and respect that there is a whole lot going on in your buyer’s brain. Take the time to appreciate and understand those mental constraints. Then you can make it very easy for the buyer to do what they wanted to do anyway – buy your beautiful new home.  

Sales and marketing leaders, learn how to simplify your entire customer-facing presentation with a particular emphasis on maximizing revenue, all at our Sales and Marketing Summit. Embrace the future of sales and marketing by leveraging new technology to accelerate and simplify your sales process. In this rapidly evolving digital age, the ability to integrate cutting-edge technologies into your sales strategy is not just an advantage; it’s a necessity. This summit will provide you with a unique opportunity to explore the latest tools and techniques that make selling homes faster, easier, and more effective. 

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About the Author: Jeff Shore

Jeff Shore is the Founder and CEO of Shore Consulting, Inc. a company specializing in psychology-based sales training programs. Using these modern, game-changing techniques, Jeff Shore’s clients delivered over 145,000 new homes generating $54 billion in revenue last year.