You’ve been working with your potential buyers for months, showing them property after property. A few times, they’ve acted as though they were almost ready to make an offer – but each time, something comes up that “isn’t quite right”, and the deal doesn’t come together. It seems like you’re at a dead end: you’ve invested a ton of time, effort, and energy into these clients, and you don’t want to walk away from your investment.
This common psychological phenomenon is known as the “sunk cost bias”. It means that we have the tendency to continue investing our time, money, or energy into something that we know is a losing proposition, simply because we have already incurred (or sunk) a cost that cannot be recouped.
The sunk bias is an entrepreneur’s second-worst enemy – the first being procrastination. The more we invest, the more determined we become to see it through.
So, what can you do? Should you drop the client? What if next week is the week they finally decide to buy? Well, they might – but more likely, they will keep finding reasons and excuses not to make a commitment on a property.
My recommendation: start exercising those high level qualifying skills. Start by asking graceful, yet direct questions that will give you the answers you need to decide whether or not to keep working with these clients:
- Would you like to buy this house?
- What is it about this house that makes it wrong for your family?
- If this house did have the extra parking space, would you make an offer to purchase?
- … even if it meant paying more money?
Listen carefully to your clients’ responses: if the answers are illogical or unreasonable, it is probably time to step back. Ask yourself this: “If I hadn’t already invested so much in these clients, would I want to work with them, knowing what I know now? What else could I be doing with the time I am spending with these clients?”
Don’t become victim of the sunk cost bias – instead, find the courage to let the clients go, focusing your time, energy, and money on activities that will help you build your business and enjoy your personal time.
Usually, the best option is to cut your losses and get back to doing the things that are essential to your business and your life.