There can only be one cheapest agent.
What you think is the problem, isn't the problem, the way you think about the problem, that's the problem.
There can only be one agent that is the cheapest in every market; therefore if you're not aiming to be the cheapest, you must compete on brand. A brand is customer experience; customer experience is valuable. Where does the customer see the value? What value can you add to the service you provide? And what value should you strip out, because the customer doesn't find it valuable?
There are three types of customers you need to get close to. Existing customers of your firm - they know you, love you, chose you for a reason. Competitors customers - they chose the competitor for a reason, and have valuable insights into the way you present, that turned them away. Non-consumers - people who haven't yet consumed real estate services, yet still have valuable perceptions around who'd they choose and why.
The industry is so transactional in its nature that rarely does it stop for just a few moments to get close to these three customer types to understand what the customers find valuable.
How do you drive up value in the consumer's mind:
More jobs are done.
What's the job the customer needs to get done? If you think it's to get the house sold, you're wrong. It's one of the jobs, but there's far more to a successful transaction. They want to be sold, have successfully purchased, be moved, and getting on with life post the transactions. The more you can help to alleviate the things they will go through in the transaction the more valuable you become.
Most of what we do is forgettable, but there are moments that become remarkable. Like the moment when the agent turns up a day after you've bought or sold, to organise the mail redirection, provides quotes from suppliers like a removalist and organises the disconnection and connection of essential services.
While it seems simple, often agents only do these things if they notice their competitor is doing them. When you have a deep understanding of the customer, then you can serve.
Designing the customer journey is about identified low points (think pain, anxiety and stress), then placing a high point (moments of joy, wonder and amazement) right next to them. The closer the high is to the low, the less likely the consumer is to remember the low. Think price reduction, then 24 hours later there's a buyer appointment, and the buyer makes an offer.
Whenever you have to call a client and you're putting it off, hesitating, there's a real chance you're about to deliver a low, what can you do in the following 24 hours to engineer a high?
When you understand the customer journey, you can design the low and high points. Disneyland places an approximate wait time on all its rides. Then when you get to the head of the line, you turn to your partner and say 'wow, that was pretty quick'. You've just experienced an engineered customer experience. It's the moment when the customer realises they had unmet, unidentified and unsatisfied needs that were just met and exceeded. Those moments become remarkable, and those satisfied customers bring you your next customers.
Demonstrate understanding through case studies. Take being an executor of a will. What are the jobs the executor needs to get done and how can you demonstrate value? Here are some questions to ask:
- Have you been an executor before?
- Do all the beneficiaries get along?
- You've already got a full-time job, and now you've been given another one, how do you feel about the role and the sale?
- Do any of the family members want to buy the property?
- How much transparency is required in the sales process?
- Does the property hold sentimental value?
- If so, and the property is ripe for redevelopment how do you feel about selling the property to a developer?
Your role as an agent of value is to take the pressure and the stress off the client. You can help if required to negotiate with the beneficiaries, provide a transparent sales process and negotiate with family members etc.
At that moment in the transaction, the customer says, 'wow you get me and my situation, more than I get me and my situation'. That's called situational awareness.
The problem, we're heading into the same situations, almost as though it's the first time we've ever experienced them. We have low situational awareness and rarely train our teams around customer service standards.
Use unique language to position yourself as different. Every agent talks about styling when they should be talking about the benefit.
One buyer is going to walk through five homes this weekend, that one buyer is going to decide to buy one of those homes. The home that feels easy to live in and feels as though they don't have to do anything to is the one they'll buy. Your job as the agent is to make those two things happen. That's why you have a team of people around you - painters, furniture people etc., to achieve those two buyer values, to negotiate that one buyer up and get the buyers decision in favour of the sellers home.
The agent that makes it the easiest, the one that demonstrates true empathy for the situation, who can show how many of the jobs they get done that the customer didn't even know they had to do, to navigate a successful move, is the one that wins. There's only one answer to thriving business success - drop being competitor obsessed and be customer obsessed.
This article first appeared on Elite Agent: https://eliteagent.com/theres-only-ever-one-cheapest-agent-josh-phegan/