When a property owner decides that they require a real estate agent to sell their home or manage their investment property, they are looking for a professional they can trust, who will add value, provide excellent customer service and communicate effectively every step of the way.
Selecting the right agent creates challenges, concerns and sometimes fear in the mind of the potential client. How will they select their agent? They have probably heard some horror stories from friends and family; what if they choose the wrong agent? What are the key attributes they look for and how will they seek evidence of past success?
Every potential client is not the same. Every client will have different needs, different concerns and may require different service offerings. You must understand their pain points they want resolved; you must understand their view of the world and how they make decisions – what is important to them, not you.
The key is to ask questions to obtain a greater understanding of their needs before you deliver any form of presentation. As the late Dr Stephen Covey says, “First understand, then be understood”.
As real estate professionals, we are no longer the gatekeeper of information. It is easy for the potential client to complete research prior to deciding which agents they will take the time to call, or who they will arrange to meet to discuss their real estate requirements.
The challenge is how are you going to separate yourself from the competition? What will be your compelling and stand-out points of difference that will make it a simple decision for the potential client to choose you?
Most agents, in sales and property management, have trouble when asked this direct question. Let’s face facts: very few potential clients are going to ask you straight out, ‘Why should I choose you?’ or ‘What is your point of difference over your competitors that we will be interviewing?’ We all know, however, that this is what they are thinking; this is how most clients will choose their agent. There is the requirement to show professionalism, build rapport and trust, but your points of difference will be the key focus of most clients.
If you were asked to describe your points of difference, how would you answer it? Is your answer always at the ready, easy to communicate with clarity and does it flow with absolute certainty and authenticity, or is it not clear? What are the compelling reasons why a potential seller or landlord should choose you and your brand?
You must ensure that all your points will have a direct impact on the client’s desires and results. The clients don’t care if you have been in business for 160 years or two years; they care about the results you can achieve for them. You may work for an independent boutique business or be part of a large franchise group, but can you categorically prove to the client that this is of benefit to them and the result they will obtain? A brand can only take you so far; it may assist in getting you in the door, but the most important person in any real estate negotiation is the person directly involved with delivering the result for the client.
People remember things in threes. Here are the key elements to base your three key points of difference on:
- Managing buyers/tenants
- Why you do what you do
Communication, or lack of communication, is the number one frustration experienced by most sellers and landlords. This may be a perception or reality in your market, but most complaints made by real estate clients are based on lack of communication. The communication process and how you will communicate with your client should be outlined in detail. This is an area which is often overlooked yet critical in the mind of the client.
Managing buyers and tenants – can you demonstrate how you manage buyers and tenants? Most agents refer to their database of buyers: ‘We have more buyers than others’, and so on. That may be of benefit to some potential clients, but how you manage your buyers, how you communicate with them and how you build relationships with them is more important. Remember, the potential clients you are presenting to have more than likely had interactions with real estate agents in the past as buyers, where the communication and service levels may not have been as expected. You must be able to prove that you work closely with buyers or potential tenants and that enables you to be a stronger negotiator.
The final key difference is your why. This enables you to discuss your key purpose and driver for why you do what you do. Now if you are in the business for a quick commission, firstly you are in the wrong profession and, secondly, the client will see it a mile away. Show your authenticity and vulnerability; show the potential client you are human and you really do care. The best way to do this is with story. Describe a situation that moved you based on the result you achieved for your client, their reaction and the way it made you feel. As Simon Sinek says, “People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it”.
Brainstorm with your entire office and identify your absolute stand-out points of difference that separate you from the competition. Remember, this is not the same as what your competition delivers ‘but we do it better’; I am talking about three key differentiators that solve the client’s problems and make them say, ‘Wow – I don’t think we can afford not to choose you’.