One Profession, Two Jobs

Annette Bening in American Beauty

by Jay Zenner on August 3, 2009

The picture is of Annette Bening in the “glamorous” role of  a listing agent preparing for an open house in a vacant property in one of my favorite movies, American Beauty, where she starred with Kevin Spacey.

Almost everywhere, whether it is explicit or simply the practice, real estate agents represent either a buyer or a seller. Although there are many common elements of the real estate transaction that all agents must understand thoroughly, the services listing agents provide their clients and the optimal ways for them to attract business are quite a bit different than buyer agents.

Yet it is my impression most agents really haven’t spent much time thinking about the distinction or the consequences of approaching each role differently. In another post I mentioned that I had been involved with a company in the collectible figurine business. The “Place” or distribution system in the gift industry is dominated by “rep groups” which are companies that organize salespeople that take the product lines that the company lines up and service the gazillion gift shops and speciality stores across the landscape. This is something no small manufacturer could do by themselves. They use the marketing materials that the manufacturers provide and their skills are  primarily sales skills. They are often very successful and well paid.  But they are sales people and not marketers.

As mentioned, the companies that produce the gifts seldom deal directly with the stores that buy their products, much less the consumers that buy the figurines that we tell them to box up and store when their house goes on the market. The listing agent much more closely resembles the marketing director of the company or a hired gun from a marketing or advertising agency. They too can be very successful and make a lot of money.

My point is that they are two very different jobs. Agents that prefer being buyers’ agents may find an understanding of the 4 P’s of Marketing much less useful than a listing agent will. On the other hand, once they understand the principles, their preferance may actually change.

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