Everything we do as agents to sell a home has become a commodity rather than a service. If sellers cannot discern the difference between us, they will naturally search for the lowest possible price.
Ironically, most agents counter this argument by insisting that their level of “service” is better than the others—all the while missing the fact that sellers don’t see the “services provided” as service at all. They are seeing the overall package provided by a listing agent as a commodity.
Although the standard “package of services” provided by any specific agent might vary from market to market across the country (property prep, staging, professional pictures, 3D tours, brochures, open houses, social media advertising and so on), at the end of the day, sellers still see the package as a commodity.
If this is true, if you wish to preserve your commission, the goal in a listing appointment is to demonstrate to the seller how you provide much more than a basic commodity. Here are our three recommendations:
1. Start with your value proposition
A value proposition is a concise statement that:
Clearly defines the differences between you and everyone else
Definitively states why they should do business with you
Many agents have a value proposition that states they provide the best service. The fundamental problem with “service” is it is largely intangible. Although a commodity is concrete—you can see it, touch it, measure it—service is difficult to measure. You know excellent service when you receive it, but how is it qualified or quantified?
Rather than focus on service, identify the typical pain points in transactions in your market, and state how you can uniquely alleviate the stress.
For example, have you ever tried waving down a New York City cab, only to feel frustrated while trying to communicate where you want to go and annoyed when the cab driver only takes cash?
Then Uber’s value proposition makes total sense: “Tap the app, get a ride. Uber is the smartest way to get around.”
Uber further clarifies how it diminishes typical taxi pain points, “One tap and a car comes directly to you. Your driver knows exactly where to go. And payment is completely cashless.” Regardless of how you view Uber, its value proposition is brilliant.
2. Follow up with stories
Everyone loves a great story. It is one reason online reviews are so valuable — they are past clients explaining, in short stories, why working with you was so awesome. That alone is the No. 1 reason you should be actively working to build as large a review base as possible. The larger the number of positive reviews you have, the greater the pool of stories available to tout your value proposition.
When a seller asks me why they shouldn’t just go with a discount broker, one of the stories I share is about a vacant listing targeted by our local homeless population. The seller, an elderly lady, had already relocated to a distant retirement home and could not be a meaningful part of the solution. Also, we were upgrading her functionally obsolescent house so it would sell for top dollar. If we were going to put the home on the market, we would have to resolve the issues.
Directly behind the property was a right-of-way that housed a homeless encampment whose occupants kept breaking in, stealing our improvements (including 20 existing solar panels), knocking holes in walls and so on. Our team developed a comprehensive strategy that included:
Working with the local police to have the encampment removed
Repeatedly repairing holes made in the back fence
Installing an alarm system
Moving a temporary occupant into the home
Negotiating an insurance payout to recoup damages
Overseeing cancellation of the solar lease because the roof-top equipment was stolen
Fronting the funds to facilitate our plan and to pay for the upgrades