Yesterday afternoon, I was engaged in deep conversation with a Realtor Association executive considering the merits of a course on the generations and their buying and selling tendencies. The never to be named exec believed the topic to be boring and not exactly “up with the times.”
What could be more relevant, I maintained, than a course designed to help salespeople deal with people? At a time when the age span of active buyers and sellers in this country is at its widest, what could be more needed? I suggested the REBAC (Real Estate Buyer’s Agent Council) course, GenerationBuy.
The course is based on the following concept: No two buyers are ever the same – regardless of generation. But, to arrive at individual needs and wants, it is beneficial to become familiar with groups and preferences. Generational groupings provide a unique framework from which to start.
Each of the four main home buying generations Millennials (Gen Y), Generation X, Baby Boomers and Matures are discussed in detail along with a myriad of skills, techniques and strategies usable by any agent with pretty much any person. Throughout the course, one concept kept popping up: comfort, making people comfortable.
In his book What Clients Love, Harry Beckwith asserts that in the end, what people really want, more than anything is to be comfortable. As a real estate agent, you comfort me with your knowledge, your service plan, your communication skills, your passion (yes, your passion) and your expertise (among other things). You also (and maybe this is the biggiest of the biggies) comfort me by treating me special because of who I am, where I’ve been, and where I am in my life today. This is where some generational expertise is of value.
A person in their twenties (over 60% of all first time buyers last year) is a very different animal than someone in their late thirties, mid forties or late fifties. Each must be treated as a unique individual in the sales process. They have different wants, needs and preferences when it comes to what they are seeking in a home purchase. More than that, however, they have differing ideas about what they perceive as value, how they’d like to be guided and educated and how they see the role of their Realtor. Without some guiding knowledge from which to leap, the agent may find themselves leaping off the cliff of ignorance into the canyon of discomfort and, in the end, clientlessness.
There are cookie cutter salespeople everywhere. Most don’t do so well. While this course paints from a pretty wide brush, I can’t help but to believe that learning some general concepts, techniques and strategies for working with the generations can’t help but aid an agent in customizing their approach to each client. And as I said earlier, this course is a good place to start.
Did I make the sale? We’ll see. Much like during the election, nothing was decided as a result of the debate.