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By Dr. Cliff Baird

RISMEDIA, Jan. 11, 2008-Sam Walton, founder of Wal-Mart, wrote the following: “The secret of successful retailing is to give your customers what they want. And really, if you think about it from the point of view of the customer, you want everything: a wide assortment of good quality merchandise; the lowest possible prices; guaranteed satisfaction with what you buy; friendly, knowledgeable service; convenient hours; free parking; a pleasant shopping experience.

“You love it when you visit a store that somehow exceeds your expectations, and you hate it when a store inconveniences you, or gives you a hard time, or pretends you’re invisible.”

Is it any wonder that Wal-Mart is the largest and perhaps the most dominant company in history? Even more profound is that they accomplished all of this by focusing on the most basic needs of the consumer. What an amazing story.

In an attempt to uncover what those basic needs are for real estate clients, we interviewed several agents who stated astonishingly similar thoughts. So similar, in fact, that we have chosen to merge the ideas of two insightful Realtors-Mary Calvert and Jane Foster-not so much to educate, but to demonstrate how obvious it should be to us all. This article explains how you, too, can achieve “Wal-Mart” status in your world by consistently doing for others what you would want to be done for you.

Mary Calvert has had 12 extraordinarily productive years in Colorado Springs real estate sales. As a result of her dedication Mary Calvert & Co now enjoys a great reputation for competence, integrity, and for providing their clients with a high level of service.

Jane Foster works for RE/MAX Distinctive Properties in Del Mar, California and is a Luxury Home Buyer’s Agent specializing in Rancho Santa Fe, Del Mar, La Jolla, Carmel Valley and in ocean view homes along the San Diego Pacific Coast. To her great credit she sees these client needs very succinctly.

Here’s what they’ve uncovered:

What do you think are some of the things that sellers are looking for in terms of service?

1. They need to know that we have experience and knowledge of their neighborhood because they want to be confident in their decision of choosing us. Most sellers will be looking for an agent who not only has knowledge of the seller’s market place but also has a strategy for selling the home along with the marketing capabilities it takes to make sure that anyone seeking a home similar to the seller’s will be sure to find it.

2. Sellers expect to be educated on the contractual aspects of selling their home and the processes that are likely to occur from listing through closing.

3. Sellers want to feel that their agent is on top of their situation in terms of pricing and that their agent is not just sitting back waiting for something to happen. A review of the pricing strategy periodically shows the seller that the agent is involved with taking actions that will enhance the probability of selling their home.

4. They need constant communication from us because it reduces their fear and worry when they hear from us often and get their calls returned quickly. An agent who has their operation set up so that a seller can go to a Web site at any time and can review the latest showing feedback is well ahead of the competition. It creates an impression in the seller’s mind that someone cares because they are taking the time to provide information that the seller deems critical.

5. They need to be confident of our honesty because they want to trust us. They need to know that we will be strong and negotiate with integrity on their behalf with the potential buyers.

What do you think are some of the things that buyers are looking for in terms of service?

1. Buyers are looking for a guide who will listen and help them through the process of finding the right home in the best neighborhood for them, including schools, commute considerations with the lifestyle they are seeking. They are not really seeking a salesperson; they want someone to lead them.

2. Buyers want to know that their agent is going to protect them from making a mistake in their home purchase. If the agent takes charge and educates the buyer on the process that will occur in their home purchase, the buyer will be relaxed and will be able to focus on finding a home that will not create the insecure feeling of prolonged buyer’s remorse.

3. Just like sellers, buyers expect to be educated on the contractual aspects of buying a home and the processes that are likely to occur from the time they go under contract through closing.

4. Buyers cannot be provided with too much information. They want to feel they have access to everything that might affect their future happiness even though they usually never take advantage of all the information that’s provided.

5. Buyers like to feel that they have a special relationship with their agent and that if things go wrong the agent will still be there to help them.

What do you think are some of the things that past clients are looking for?

1. Past clients like to hear from their agent on things related to them and their home investment. This would included such items as changes in the local housing market, opportunities for investment and any items that have changed since their last real estate transaction.

2. Past clients like to know that if they need advice or counsel with regard to a future real estate transaction they can ask and get the information at no cost.

3. Past clients like to be remembered and small gifts of appreciation for their business and referrals are one way to insure that the Law of Reciprocity is empowered.

Sam Walton and those who followed his wisdom built an empire that will last for many generations. “The secret of success is to give your clients what they want.” Doesn’t that have the ring of authenticity?

Cliff Baird, MBA, PhD is a business therapist and real estate sales management coach, helping agents and managers for over 25 years. He is the developer of The RealSTAR Online Recruiting System which frees managers from the pressure of recruiting and trains them to then use the total system to select and coach their agents to phenomenal success. Cliff can also be reached at