One of the forums I participate in had this question posed by one of the other members: "Do you consider yourself a real estate consultant or a real estate sales person? Which do you think is better and why? What is the difference in your mind?"
I thought it was a great question, and here's my answer.
From my perspective, I encourage clients to think of themselves as running a real estate consulting practice. Whether they bill themselves that way or not depends on the regulations in their area.
Why a Consulting Mindset Works Best
1. It reinforces that they are running a business. To me, a salesperson mentality too often leads an agent to feel like they have a job selling for their broker. To be truly successful, an agent has to feel like they're running a business and act like it, too. And, I've run into too many young people just entering the field who act as if they have a job because they have a desk in a broker's office. To survive, they need to get into the "I'm running my own business" mindset pretty quick!
2. The successful professionals I work with got that way using consultative selling skills. I have great respect for people who have good consultative selling skills. I've never met a consultant who didn't have either formal sales responsibilities (selling prospects on becoming clients) or the responsibility to "sell" clients on the best solution for their problem - or both. That means they need to be good at defining wants and needs and finding solutions that fit. To me, that's just how the most successful real estate professionals operate.
For example, when a listing agent is negotiating with the homeowner over the list price of the home, would we call that being a salesperson? The agent is selling to their customer? Seems like an odd way to look at it. As a consultant selling the client on the best solution for them, it makes sense.
3. A salesperson mentality can also lead an agent to feel like they're selling houses. And, I don't think that's what they're doing. Even as a listing agent, the most critical responsibility is to develop and implement a marketing plan to get the house sold, regardless of whether they're actually involved in the "sales" process as the buyer's agent.
To me, a salesperson represents the products of the person/company who is paying them a salary. Real estate professionals don't have products - they have clients. Even listing agents might not be involved in the real "sale" of the home. If agents thought of themselves as having products (homes for sale), then there would be no way to differentiate themselves in the marketplace. All the competitors would have the same products (homes on the MLS). An agent/broker who has the mindset that they are providing a set of consulting services to clients find it much easier to create a strong brand in their market.
Finally, I think that back when every agent was working for the homeowner, agents probably were successful in thinking of themselves as sales people; like a manufacturer's rep where that rep is responsible for moving their manufacturers' products. Today, with all the emphasis on transparency and explaining agency and so forth, I think the consultant mindset is the way to go.
What's Your Answer?