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Do agents need to reevaluate their approach to the business?


Real estate professionals could stand to take a few tips from drug dealers.

OK, I know that sounds strange, but it's true. I'll explain, but before we get there, let's review our relationship with consumers.

As agents we're constantly thinking about what we can do to promote our services and our own personal brand. We refine and tweak our Unique Selling Proposition. Our coaches and brokers have us rehearsing elevator speeches and rapport-building techniques. At BreakthroughBroker.com we've even fallen into this rhetoric in our business planning materials at times. As agents we say to ourselves, “If only I had that tag line to make buyers and sellers want me."

For the trainers, brokers, and agents, who can blame us? This is the legacy that has been passed down from the earliest of salesmen and saleswomen. Imagine if you had a dollar for every time you heard the phrase, "...Know you, like you, and trust you". 

The issue is that consumers don't care. You may think they care, and your broker may think they care, and you may even be able to trick consumers into thinking they care, but they don't. You know what they care about?

Houses.

That's what your consumers really care about. They want to move (literally), and how it happens is secondary to them. You're reading this and thinking, "Yeah, but the consumer wants a professional, they want a shiny process, they want websites and fancy tag lines, they want to work with a brand that cares, and they want to have a deep connection with their agent!"

They don't want these things. They expect these things. These are not sought-after features of buying or selling a home, but rather a byproduct. These are the basic expectations, because for years that's what consumers have been told to expect from real estate professionals.

What the hell does this have to do with drug dealers? Well, I don't have a lot of experience with drug dealers, but I can make some assumptions, so here goes nothing. Drug dealers don't care what you think of them. They don't obsess about making the process more comfortable for the buyer. They don't have fancy packaging or taglines. They don't go out of their way to accommodate your every need. They don't really care if you know them, like them, or trust them. You know what they have, and they have a product that people want, plain and simple. They know their product inside and out. They know what it costs and where it came from. They know when their product is good and when it is crap. 

So what can agents learn from this? Focus on the product. Focus on homes and focus on the market. Talk more about homes and neighborhoods, and less about the crap that people don't need, like fancy offices.

So how do you do this? Well, it's pretty simple. You need to know at least one or two active listings in every area of the market you work. You need to know details on available homes in all price ranges in your market. You should know the amenities and benefits of every major neighborhood. You should know the location and specialty of every school and what makes it unique. You should tour every school and meet every principal--trust me, they want your recommendation--then blog about it. You should know where the parks are, where the best shopping is, and who has the best pizza. Get the point?

Here is how I know this matters: In my experience of managing offices for just eight years, the top producers were the agents who could chat up any person about where they lived, where the kids went to school, and who owned the pizza joint. I had one agent who, if you told her an address, she could tell you the details of the last home that sold in that neighborhood. She studied the market diligently. My business partner (another top producer) was a former police officer. If your kids went to a school he knew the location, the type of curriculum, and who the staff were. 

The point is to be an expert in real estate before you become an expert in "Look at me!" That's what consumers care about. Now go sell!