Let me start by telling you what this isn’t. This is not an attack on sales
people, or the sales industry. What this is, is a look at what exactly your REALTOR is, what they do for you, and whether or not that makes them a salesperson, or something else entirely. I believe a REALTOR is not a salesperson, but a facilitator.
First, let’s look at public perception of “sales people”. It’s a fact that the public at
large does not have a very forgiving picture of anyone called a “salesperson”. In studies
about trusted professions, sales professions scored very low on the trust scale.
REALTORs included. People hear “sales” and immediately see a man (or woman) in a
cheap suit, with a slimy smile on their face, looking to make a quick buck by swindling
the next person lucky enough to walk through the door. Whether this is a fair
assessment or not in most sales industries is up for debate. However, I feel it’s even
less fair in the world of Real Estate sales. Wait a minute, you say, I’m biased. Yes, I am. But I believe what I’m going to say here will back up that bias. Are there bad REALTORs? Of course. Just like there are bad car-sales people. But there are also good ones. So, lets focus on how the industry SHOULD be.
Now, let’s look at the actual definition of these words, as given by Merriam Webster.
Salesperson: A person whose job it is it sell things.
Facilitator: To help (something) run more smoothy and effectively.
Two very different definitions, to be sure. But how does this apply to your
REALTOR, as compared to other “sales” industries? To figure that out, we need to look
a little deeper at these two terms. A salesperson sells things. They are stationary. Car
sales people sell cars. You go to the dealership, looking for a car, which is “owned” by
the dealership. They sell you their product. You go to the mall to buy clothes. Walk into
the store, the salespeople help you find the right product that THEY are selling. These
people get paid to sell their own products. A good one will still do a good job getting
you what you need. not what they want you buy. But in the end, they are selling their
own thing, and want you to buy it from them, not someone else.
It may seem like a subtle difference, but stick with me here, as we now take a
look at what your REALTOR will do for you. You can’t just go to the REALTOR’s office
and view their product. You have to actively go out and look at various homes, with your
REALTOR’s help. The product is not (generally) OWNED by the REALTOR. They are
not selling their own product. They are HELPING you find a product, owned by
someone else, and HELPING to make the sales process run more smoothly and
effectively. In so many ways. Helping you with the paperwork. Connecting you with the
other businesses you’ll work with. Working in YOUR best interest. Sounds a lot more
like the definition of Facilitator than Salesperson!
You can even look at how we get paid, as compared to other sales. Yes, I know that many other sales positions are paid on commission, and therefore are directly tied to the amount you spend. But it’s not too many other industries where, if the agent is doing his job properly, when working with a buyer will actively TRY to make LESS
money, by getting the client (not customer! Another small, but important difference) a
lower price on the product. While on the selling side, it is true that the more you get for the home, the more the REALTOR will get paid. But at the same time, if they convince you to price to high, that your home doesn’t sell, they’ve hurt themselves even worse, because you will now give a bad review. They still work for your best interest, not their own, and they still help to connect you with all the serivces you’ll need.
Please do not read this as an indictment of salespeople, or sales industries at
large. I, personally, have had many great experiences with sales people that are
wonderful people, and really went out of their way for me.
My point is only that REALTORs are not salespeople, they are in a different
industry. A facilitating industry. And really, when it comes to what is likely the biggest, most important purchase you will ever make, wouldn’t you like to have someone like that on your side?