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By Kim Ades

RISMEDIA, April 27, 2007-Winter in Toronto can be a cold, grey place, so I decided to spend New Year's in the Bahamas.

While wandering around a local flea market, I eyed a display of funky jewelry. The woman there said, "Hi, beautiful. Do you like that?" I was stunned. I am not used to being called beautiful-particularly by other women.

My guard was instantly dissolved and I began to look at her jewelry with greater interest. I bought a silver and onyx ring and moved on to another stall a few feet away and heard the same greeting: "Hi, beautiful; do you want to buy that?"

The high I felt minutes earlier started to diminish. I realized that it was a sales tactic.

The very same thing happens to vendors who are trying to sell their products and services to the real estate industry using similar language, similar benefits, and similar pricing models-agents and brokers tune out.

Differentiation is key-differentiation, that is, by demonstrating your understanding of buyer's needs and their areas of pain. People buy from people who understand them and that kind of differentiation is rare.

So how do you differentiate yourself? Here are some suggestions:

1. After giving a brief overview of what you do, hold back the rest of your pitch and start asking questions about how they currently handle the issue that your product or service addresses.

2. With your questions, help them to describe where their source of pain lies. (i.e. what is too costly, what is time-consuming and inefficient, what's not generating results).

3. Reiterate their pain and outline the implications of maintaining status quo.

4. Paint a picture of an ideal world for them that addresses their areas of pain (the world they would have if they used your product or service).

5. Ask them if they would be interested in learning more about what you have to offer.

Ultimately, a conversation that reflects your understanding of their needs is the differentiation that will capture their attention. It's important to listen to clients before you start to sound like everyone else-the infinite appreciation and increased revenues that you will receive from this small change in approach will convert you forever. RE