Imagine being one of the top brokers in your city. What would that look like? What would it mean for your business, your reputation, and your income? And how could you get to that level?
Marketing and business mastermind Seth Godin offers a useful place to start. He says:
“Focus on creating a reputation and a work product that others believe is worth more. The mistake we make is in not telling stories that create more value, in not doing the hard work of building something unique and worth seeking out."
Seth’s advice is geared to businesses in general, but let’s apply it to commercial real estate specifically. Here’s what you can do:
1. Tell a story that creates more value.
Let’s say that you have a prospect on the phone, or even right in front of you. What kind of conversation are you going to have?
If you’re like many brokers, you’re going to try to create value by telling the prospect something they don’t yet know. You might offer a few interesting market insights, a tip about a new opportunity, or perhaps some advice on an upcoming deal.
That all sounds good, right? But according to Godin, you’d be missing a valuable opportunity:
“The best stories don’t teach people anything new. Instead, the best stories agree with what the audience already believes and makes the members of the audience feels smart and secure when reminded how right they were in the first place."
Godin’s advice may not sound logical, but it’s perfectly in sync with human nature.
Of course, your prospect or client may indeed want to learn from your expertise, insights, and advice. But what they want even more than that is to feel as if somebody has actually heard them, understands them, and is looking at the world from exactly the same angle.
If you need ideas for how to turn a typical conversation into a story that truly creates more value, check out The biggest prospecting mistake brokers make, and how to avoid it.
We also recommend doubling down on how much (and how well) you listen. It’s the best way to make sure that your conversations don’t just illuminate the way forward, but reflect back to the other person those things that matter most to them.
2. Build something unique.
You’re great at what you do. There’s just one problem: so is every other broker in your city. After all, it takes a special kind of person to survive that crucial first year as a new broker, and those who do have rightfully earned their place as your toughest competitors.
But it's hard to become the best in a crowd of achievers. Everyone’s trying to do more—make more phone calls, set up more meetings, get more deals done.
But be warned: you could find yourself doing more and more forever. That is, until you finally decide to do something different.
People like different. Different is valuable, unique, and worth seeking out. So instead of being the broker who does more things, why not become the broker who does things differently? Why not have fun? Why not take a risk? Why not try something others aren’t willing to do?
Don’t worry—you don’t have to come up with a completely radical idea to set you apart. You can do something as simple as pay attention to details others overlook. Kevin Vandenboss, for example, puts extra care into marketing each client’s listing, no matter how small. It’s something most other brokers aren’t willing to do, and it’s exactly what makes him unique.
3. Create a business worth seeking out.
You can (and should) follow the usual success strategies, like making sure you’re prospecting enough, following up regularly, and keeping your pipeline full. These strategies will bring you a measure of success based on pure math, if nothing else. That’s because more calls = more meetings = more clients.
But brokerage is only one part science. The rest is more of an art. And brokers who understand this essential truth are the ones who build businesses that people are thrilled to seek out.
What are these artful elements? According to Godin, it all comes down to being human, being generous, taking a risk, creating change, and fostering a connection. These are the things that can transform your business from something merely transactional to something more human.
Your business becomes more valuable—and more human—every time you put your clients above yourself, make people feel valued, respond to problems with curiosity rather than defensiveness, and create a genuine connection. In other words, you build a better business when you become a better human.