Ask most agents how they're different or better than their agent colleagues or competitors, and get ready to hear either a whole lot of hemming and hawing or a lineup of platitudes about how they care more, work harder, make clients happier, whatever.
What you'll rarely hear is a summary of how the REALTOR® is statistically more effective than other agents or how that statistical advantage translates into a strong position in the overall market and a dominant position in a particular market niche.
If you don't know how you stack up against your competitors or how your performance is different or better than average, take comfort in the fact that you're certainly not alone. It amazes me how even very successful agents often can't define their competitive positions.
In a sentence, your competitive position defines how your real estate practice is better than all others in some unique and meaningful way. It might be that you're dominant when it comes to selling ranch-style spreads. It may be that you excel in high-end or low-end properties or properties in a certain neighborhood or design category.
In all cases, your competitive position must be real and defensible, which means it must be based on statistics.
The best agents - the most powerful, experienced, high-volume agents - share a single advantage: They know the statistics of their market, their own performance statistics, and their statistical position in the overall marketplace or in a particular niche market area.
I was on a coaching call with a powerful agent in the San Diego marketplace. Her business was going great, but she was looking to the future and planning how to grow to an even higher level.
She had compiled her sales statistics, and we took some time to analyze her performance, define her position, and create a marketing strategy to build upon her competitive advantage:
Performance: In 2005, 56 homes were listed and sold in one of her market niches. Of those, 17 (or more than 30 percent) were her listings; her nearest competitor listed two. By listings alone, she was 8.5 times more successful than any other agent in her competitive sphere. She also sold more homes in her niche than anyone else. Her closest competitor was a company of 75 agents that listed and sold five homes.
Position: It didn't take long for the numbers to prove that she owns a dominant position in her market niche. She knew she was strong, but until she did the math, she didn't realize just how strong a position she'd staked out. By the end of our call, she had the facts she needed to position herself as the Emerald Heights real estate expert.
Marketing Strategy: Emerald Heights includes 700 homes. Annually it sees an ownership turnover of 8 percent, which means that somewhere between 50 and 70 homes are bought and sold each year almost as predictably as clockwork. To increase her income, my client knew she couldn't just convince more people to sell. Her revenue growth would need to result from winning a greater portion of the existing business in the market, and that's what she's prepared to do. She plans to grow her slice of the pie (which is called "market share") by taking listings and sales from other agents. By presenting herself as the regional expert - with the indisputable statistics to back the claim - she's ready to attract an even greater number of qualified leads and convince an ever-growing number of clients to select her services based upon the proven advantage she offers.
If you're a newer agent, it's likely that you don't yet have the stats to stake your competitive position. However, if you selected your real estate company well, your company likely does. Work with your broker to learn how your company excels in the marketplace and present your company's advantage while you build your own success story.