How to Set Yourself Apart From the Competition in 30 Seconds or Less

J Philip Faranda January 22, 2009

My last post mentioned the importance of having a Unique Selling Proposition, or a characteristic that sets you apart from the competition. Having a USP that you can explain in under a minute is more effective than a 30 minute listing presentation with all the bells and whistles. One of the comments stated that having a USP is not easy for some of us. Perhaps, but it isn’t as hard as you might think, even if you aren’t a high producer.  

First, in any given listing presentation, your competition is not the thousands of licensees in your market, but the 2 or 3 other agents that the prospects are considering. Your prospective clients aren’t interviewing your whole board. So that narrows it down a bit. Let’s say that you just need to beat out 2 other agents to get the listing. Let us also presume that your middle name is Average. There is nothing exceptional about you. You are vanilla. You carry fewer than 10 listings, you made $45,000 in 2008, and you stutter. You aren’t great at anything. What can you possibly offer that makes you the man or woman for the job ahead of the 2 other agents they interview?

The answer, my friend, may be easier to find than you think. I’ll give you 2 quick ways to be Joe USP Excellence.

  1. Call your past clients. Just ask them what it was that made them choose to do business with you.  Whatever their answer is, that is a key component, if not the actual USP itself, right there on a silver platter.
  2. When you first sit down at a listing presentation, tell the people before you begin that you appreciate the chance to do business with them and that you are big on market research. Ask what it is about you that made them consider giving you an interview. Again, their answer will contain at a minimum the seeds of your USP.

Let’s suppose that the answer you get is underwhelming. “You seemed like a nice young man.” “You struck us as energetic” “We walked into the office and there you were.”

Those are USPs? They may not seem like it, but they can be. Let’s take them one at a time, and I’ll tell you what I would coach one of my agents to say in response:

  • “You seemed like a nice young man/lady.” That is very kind, Mr/Mrs. Prospect. I think I’ve been blessed with an honest face, and I am often told by buyers that they feel at ease when they are with me. Since buying a home is such a huge stressful decision it is important that the people considering your house feel as comfortable as possible. I think that’s the key to my success.
  • “You seemed energetic.” I appreciate that you noticed. Real estate is hard work, and does require energy, and enthusiasm is contagious. I only take listings like yours that I genuinely feel I can sell. I think that plays into how people perceive my listings- they hear it in my voice, and if the house is right for them they seem easier to sign on. That’s how I sell houses.
  • “We walked into the office and you were the first person we spoke to.” That wasn’t an accident, Mr and Mrs. Prospect. Selling real estate isn’t for people who hide in cubicles, it is for people who know how to work hard, follow up, and hustle. I don’t quit until the job gets done.  People tell me that I seem ubiquitous, but that is only because I hustle to get my listings sold.

Of course, some people may give you better material, but bear in mind that you don’t have to be the top seller in your marketplace or own a particular farm area to have a USP. You simply have to possess something that the others you are directly competing with do not. For instance, if you sell only 5 homes a year, it could be that you treat each client individually and that you pick only a few clients a year for extremely personal service. That could give you an advantage over a high volume guy who walks in very impressed with himself.

People do business with people they like and feel comfortable with. All you need to do is give them the rationale to justify that. When you ask them why you made the short list, you are then given the facts you need to transform your meeting from an ad hominem bragfest (which listing presentations often are) to something far more powerful. If people choose to at least interview you, them telling you WHY they gave you a chance is revealing a compliment you should leverage to your advantage. People will choose you for their own reasons, not yours, so make them right!

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