Adapt Or Die: Selling Into A Falling Market

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selling down market

Einstein said insanity is:

…doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

In business, though, there’s a part two to this definition.

Insanity is also doing the same thing over and over while the market is changing and expecting the same result.

Let me give you an example.

Over the weekend, we went to an open house. Now, we’ve been to over 100 of these in the last two years, so we know how they work. You show up within the appointed window of time, walk around a house, while a bunch of others meander through, too.

At some point, you usually sign in and chat for a moment with the realtor running the open house, who does a mini-sell. Then, in the next few days, the offers would roll in, a short bidding war would ensue, then the home would be sold to the highest bidder.

At least, that’s what used to happen…

In the same two years that we’ve been going to open houses, the real estate market has swung dramatically from a seller’s delight to a buyer’s giggle-fest. Lenders are in shambles and requirements for mortgages have seriously tightened. The economy is teetering and, as of last weekend, the buying season was pretty much over until the fall.

Depending where you live, the market has either crumbled or, at best begun to slant evermore strongly to the buyer’s favor with each passing second.

All of which made the way this one broker handled the open house we went to pretty much...insane.

Walking in to a property that was (a) already overpriced in a declining market and (b) just being listed as the season was ending, the realtor should have been gushing with thanks for each prospect and allowing each person to drink in the house in whatever way worked best for them. Instead, she told each person who walked in to essentially take a number, sit quietly on the couch and wait their turn to be walked through an extensive guided presentation of the house.

Bad, bad business!

The single most precious asset these day is time. It’s valued more than money.  Many folks would give up $10 long before they’d give you 10 minutes of their time. So, forcing people to wait on a couch for 10, 20 or 30 minutes for their chance to view something you are trying to sell may have worked when each of those people were desperate for a chance to buy.

But those days are over.

Sales tactics that disrespect peoples’ time are always, in the end, not the way to do business. But, when the market was hot and sales people had “hand,” it became a common practice. Problem is, times have changed. What may have worked a few years ago when their were 10 buyers for every house won’t work today. Because…

Realtors no longer have “hand.”

So, treating potential buyers the same way you’ve been treating them in a strong seller’s market and expecting the same result long after the market has shifted strongly to a buyer’s market is…insanity.

In business and in sales, if you do not adapt to a market that shifts leverage to the buyer, you lose.

So, my question is…as the worldwide market for nearly everything tightens, is your business or career strategy evolving to capitalize on the new market dynamics?

Are you adapting your strategies to allow the greatest opportunity for growth?

And, if you are not…why not?

Look at the following factors to determine whether it’s time to make a change:

  • Has there been a material change in price that would affect demand for what you sell?
  • Has there been a material change in the supply of what you sell?
  • Has there been a material change in the demand for what you sell?
  • Has there been a shift in the “psychology” of the market or the “perception” of supply or demand that is affecting prospects’ wiling to buy or assessment of value?
  • How unique is your product or service from it’s competition?
  • Are you affected by seasonality and, if so, what does the next season/year look like?
  • How are your competitors responding to these same changes in market forces?

If the answer to these questions reveals a strongly changing market, especially one that transfers leverage from you to your buyers and prospects…

It may be time to consider making some changes:

  • Changing the way you position yourself, your product or service,
  • Changing what you sell and/or how you sell it,
  • Changing pricing and marketing strategies, and potentially even…
  • Exploring bigger picture business evolution strategies designed not only to meet, but benefit from a change in market climate.

Is this an easy process? No way.

But, when the alternative is the demise of your living…

I’ll take hard over dead any day.

So, agree or disagree? What other questions are really important to ask that I may have missed? And what other changes might you explore making?

Let’s discuss…

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10 responses

10 responses to “Adapt Or Die: Selling Into A Falling Market”

  1. Adapting to the seasons and environmental changes is what has enabled our species to survive.

    Businesses who adapt to the needs and trends will survive in any economy. Those who don’t won’t.

    My service is all about helping folks learn to love themselves and make choices that lead to their happiness. With technology I have many ways to share my “product” but I, too, have to adapt to marketing techniques that reflect the changing ways people seek help.

  2. JunglesWife says:

    I’m wondering how the agent managed to have several couples show up at the same time. We’re lucky to get one nosy neighbor.

    I also read your previous post. Perhaps we should serve coffee to potential buyers.

  3. […] Go to the author’s original blog: Adapt Or Die: Selling Into A Falling Market […]

  4. The only constant is change. A trend starts, picks up momentum and goes right past balance. Next, it turns around and does the same thing in reverse.

    Stability is not the absence of change but rather the ability to maintain balance in a changing world. As individuals the challenge is to keep our balance while developing the life skills that allow us to experience personal growth no matter which way the wind blows.

    I love your blog by the way.

  5. rcox says:

    my guess is the realtor was just trying out a new tactic based on scarcity after many failed attempts to get rid of the house… if people think it’s a house in high demand you may be able to capture a higher price in the market (eg. why you wait a few days before you call a girl after a first date). It’s probably dumb as you suggest, but it’s also just desperation and maybe it worked on a sucker or two.

  6. Gina says:

    As a bodywork therapist (my services and gas to get to my office can be seen as a luxury during this time) I’m totally looking at how I can “reposition”.. offer my take on health and well-being through other outlets rather than hands-on work. Interestingly, the intention and focus of my practice is all about cultivating adaptability.. how utterly appropriate right now!

  7. Another problem is that all real estate agents may be using the same methods you’re advocating: gushing with thanks, letting them meander at their leisure.

    What if this agent was taking a different tack, trying to make the home seem more exclusive? People who were in the market to buy could potentially be saying, “Wow, this house must be something special because she should be gushing with thanks that we’re even here.”

    People respond differently to certain influences. This agent’s next open house for this particular property may be run completely different.

  8. Laurie says:

    I market to schools. I bring my inflatable canyon to their school and do a program on erosion and deposition. It targets the state standards and hits the area that kids score the lowest on with their state testing. These tests determine the school’s accountability rating so my program could help them get their rating up. Not only that but it teaches in a very unique and engaging way. There is nothing else out there like it. My canyon rocks! he he get it?

  9. Jonathan Fields says:

    Hey guys,

    Great thoughts, as always, caught up writing today, so a little late back to the game. Some more facts to add a bit of clarity…

    From the outside looking in, it seemed pretty clear, this realtor was not trying something new, but rather doing the same thing she’d done for decades.

    I am all for trying new things, but if you’re gonna try something new, you’ve gotta have the goods and you need to be able to get behind it. This time, neither were in place. The house was in a less than appealing location, a basic knowledge of comps let anyone see it was overpriced, it is pretty common knowledge that the market goes dead at the end of August for a few months and anyone who’s been awake in the US knows that the market is just in bad shape.

    So, just pretending you still have hand doesn’t actually “give” you hand. Be bold, change the rules, innovate…but be able to stand behind it.

    @ Laurie – got pictures???

  10. Laurie says:

    I’ll send you some soon. We are going out this weekend to get some new pictures.