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Is there value in your service or product?

The Value and Cost of Almond Butter

I’m a huge fan of Jonathan Fields. In a recent post about measuring delight, he wrote about trying to convince his sister than Trader Joe’s almond butter was just as good as the brand she buys at three times the savings. Once she tasted the TJ brand, she wasn’t convinced. To her, the brand she bought was worth what she paid for it.

He expounds further about how he was measuring the value based on how much she could save, but that wasn’t her metric for determining the value of the brand she buys. To her, it only cost an extra $10.00 per jar and was worth it and she delighted in every spoonful.

What does this mean for your business?

The challenge was, how do we determine or deliver value for our service or product; more importantly, does our client see the value? Are we measuring delight based on our perceived value or based on the metric our client perceives as value?

As I digested the meaning of this story about almond butter, I wondered, How does my client perceive value? What metric is most important to them?

The traditional real estate mantra of, I’m the best, we sell the most, #1 producer, top brokerage, etc. is just an exercise in building ego, IF our client doesn’t experience value. The challenge occurs when what we offer may not be what our client values.

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Value Proposition

Our value proposition can often be a set of metrics determined by what we have seen or heard others do, or what we were told by our brokerage. I wonder how our clients perception of value would differ from our own.  What’s most relevant to them?

Do they care if their home is all over the internet? Some people don’t.

Do they want fliers? or a personal website for their property?

Open houses? Most of us have determined there is not much value in open houses and I actually have many clients who agree with me, but what about the one who doesn’t?

Communication. Have we become so entrenched in our form of communication; whether it be email, text, twitter or voice mail, that we fail to meet our clients expectation.

Just today I printed out 48 pages of the HOA documents for a client who doesn’t like email. She is 65 and prefers to hold it when she reads. This is the very type of person who is not comfortable with DocUSign.

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Cost of service or value of service?

We often hear our profession is overpaid. Could it be we have devalued our service based on our criteria? What if we ask our clients? Would their story be different?

How do you create value? What do you do to guarantee your client experiences delight and you create a raving fan who values your service and knowledge?

In today’s world where new technology has entrenched almost every area of service, how do we deliver service on a personal basis? I would love to hear your thoughts.

Written By

Paula is team leader for The "Home to Indy" Team in Indianapolis . She is passionate about education and client care and believes an empowered client is better prepared to make good decisions for themselves. You'll find her online at Agent Genius,Twitter and sharing her insights about her local real estate market at Home To Indy.



  1. Jeffrey Douglass

    October 2, 2010 at 1:43 pm


    Price is one thing, value another.

    Technology should be a wonderful tool to allow us more time with our Clients. When I first start a Client relationship we determine how they prefer to work, not how I work.

    In my mind, the technology that will really change things is software or tools that are collaborative in nature and are cloud based. Having a two way conversation when each participant has the time is invaluable.

    Your post offers excellent advice, we should first listen to our Clients expectations, and then do everything possible to meet them. Thanks.

    • Paula Henry

      October 3, 2010 at 6:30 am

      Jeffrey –

      True – but everything cost either time or money, so it should have value.

      It looks like (from your site) you have a good working knowledge of cloud based technology. I would assume you attract the client who values the ease technology brings to their life.

      Meeting and exceeding our clients expectation s what sets us apart. Thanks much for your valuable input!

  2. Michael @ Project Center

    October 2, 2010 at 2:30 pm


    Well thought out and to the point – these principles hold true for any business. As a service provider customer service still rules and while finding out the communication preferences isn’t “truly” customer service it translates into the correlation between what our customers perceive as value.

    You mention the 65 year old who prefers to hold paper in her hand. Other generations/individuals may prefer email vs paper.

    If you take the time to garner that information up front when working with someone – while a rather small gesture – it will probably go a long way towards increasing the likelyhood that person refers you to a friend of theirs…and, after all, isn’t that the best type of business? The ones that are referred to us?

    • Paula Henry

      October 4, 2010 at 9:13 pm

      Michael –

      I also have clients who prefer everything by email and their files are as complete as mine.
      While each client is different, if we can provide value, based on our clients metric of value – we will have succeeded in gaining a client for life and their referrals.

      And, yes, referrals are the best clients.

      Thanks for your wonderful comments!

  3. Eric Mieles

    October 2, 2010 at 8:05 pm

    I truly believe today’s consumer is more concerned about your core beliefs and the STAND you take, not necessarily the value proposition you created in your business. Value propositions seem to work to keep the internal team aware of what’s most important in their business. However consumers are more aware with the POSITION you seem to take. Your views on a certain WORLD VIEW and how you’re able to STAND UP in a crowded marketplace and convey those views, positions and beliefs.

    Right now what’s more important than anything is LEADERSHIP. Leaders who go out on the edge and galvanize a group of people who also share or believe in that same message. Hence why community building, social interactions and all the other things we see forming right in front of us do so well.

    We should focus on gathering a group of people together who can share in the message we believe in. Who convey that message to others every chance they get because they BELIEVE it too. Your job as the leader is to continue to connect, share, speak and convey your biggest beliefs and how they will help accomplish the community’s goal.

    AS Simon Sinek said in his brilliant speech “Martin Luther King gave an I had a dream speech, not an I have a plan speech.” We believed him we didn’t necessarily focus on what value he would give us!!

    • Paula Henry

      October 3, 2010 at 6:40 am

      Eric –

      I’m not really talking about value proposition as much as value itself. Your core beliefs do not have to necessarily be independent of the value you bring to someone’s life or the community, whether or not it is business related.

      I do believe we need great leaders and yes, with the ability to find out almost anything about anyone in a matter of seconds, people will know if the stand you take is the way you live and work.

      Thanks for your great message!

    • Fred Romano

      October 3, 2010 at 12:07 pm

      Eric – Are you running for public office or running a real estate business? This sounds like a bunch of political fluff to me. I agree with Paula’s post – it’s all about VALUE and the way you convey that (your proposition). Great article Paula!

  4. gwen banta

    October 3, 2010 at 12:56 am

    This kind of thinking is obviously what has made you so successful, Paula. Yes, each client needs something different…and it doesn’t matter how many properties they have bought or sold. The secret is LISTEN, OBSERVE, OFFER, PERFORM = “Loop.” And if we agents do that, the cycle will LOOP back. We’ll get happy clients who return, as well as those whom they refer.

    • Paula Henry

      October 3, 2010 at 6:53 am

      Gwen – Thank You! Yes, the cycle does loop back – with new and referred clients; each with their own needs. Bringing value to people’s life is it’s own reward!

  5. Sheila Rasak

    October 3, 2010 at 8:37 am

    I must agree with Gwen Banta. LOOP – Listen Observe Offer Perform does work as like seeks like. I always adapt my communication style to that of my client not because I’m a people pleaser, more that I want my client to feel a comfort zone and my respect for their needs. Providing them that comfort zone allows the conversation to begin so that they can determine your value.

    That being said, the Internet allows the experienced Realtor a platform in which they can communicate their core beliefs. Again, like seeking and believing in like with value being the end result.

    Getting the message to the public is a time consuming and constant project. I not only utilize the media, I use the Internet and sponsor local seminars on foreclosure prevention. These few avenues allow me to attract like minded people that I would actually prefer to work with and who will prefer to work with me as they’ve already read, seen, heard who I am and what I believe is of value and how it can benefit them.

    • Paula Henry

      October 4, 2010 at 7:19 am

      Sheila – Meeting people in their comfort zone is key to continuing relationships and business. So often, people work one way only without regard to the particular client.

      I have to say, there is nothing better than working with like minded people. Thanks for sharing what is working for you.

  6. Kelsey Teel

    October 3, 2010 at 2:26 pm

    Great article, Paula! I think it is very important to mold your protocol to specific clients in order to bring them the value they desire. While an elder client may not want to communicate through email, a younger client may solely prefer to communicate through email or text message.

    There is an extremely wide array of clients in the Real Estate business, and unless you have perfected a niche (which is extremely difficult), there isn’t really one target market to aim for. You must please them all if you want to achieve extreme success.

    Gwen, I have never heard the LOOP acronym, but I love it! That is the perfect way to describe the Real Estate communication process.

    Paula, I think it is great that you are bringing such important issues to light!

    • Paula Henry

      October 4, 2010 at 8:06 am

      Thanks Kelsey! Every client is different and reaching each one at a level of trust and value based on their metrics is imperative to success.

  7. Aaron Catt

    October 3, 2010 at 6:50 pm

    If you’ve ever entered into a real estate relationship with either a buyer or a seller, you’ll certainly know that each has different expectations and perceptions of value. I’d go as far to say that this perception will ultimately determine whether they will work with your or work with your competition.

    The fact you’re even meeting with clients lends some credibility to the idea that they ‘need’ your service for one reason or another. And, since you, hopefully, function full time as an agent, you can bring something to the table that they weren’t even aware of.

    To the owner who finds no value in Open Houses might be surprised to learn that Open Houses are becoming more and more effective if employed correctly.

    Many consumers who haven’t been involved in a real estate transaction will come to the table with past experiences, experiences of their neighbors, family and colleagues. I think that getting these perceptions out on the table helps us as agents share some of the changes, truths and new opportunities of service that we can provide. Some consumers may or may not find value in a lot of what you offer, but others may. Either way, without expressing and communicating the opportunities and value you might be missing out on the chance to create a client for life.

    Personally, I have found more success in identifying my niche and becoming the expert in that area. While many buyers and sellers have found the web useful for a lot of self educating, they many times become overwhelmed at the amount of information available, most of which has nothing to do with their circumstances, community or niche. As an expert in their area, they certainly find value knowing that I understand and identify with their specific challenges and opportunities alike.

    • Paula Henry

      October 4, 2010 at 12:35 pm

      Many consumers who haven’t been involved in a real estate transaction will come to the table with past experiences, experiences of their neighbors, family and colleagues

      – and many come to the table with preconceived ideas based on their past transactions. It’s up to us to seek and explore what is most important to them, so we can best provide service, based on their needs. If we do, hopefully, we have added value to their
      experience and life.

      Congratulations on finding a specific niche that works for you.

      • Aaron Catt

        October 4, 2010 at 10:42 pm


        “If you’ve ever entered into a real estate relationship with either a buyer or a seller, you’ll certainly know that each has different expectations and perceptions of value.”

  8. Greg Lyles

    October 4, 2010 at 4:14 pm

    Value is a funny thing. It only exists in the mind of the client. We can say that we are providing value, but if we do not solve the clients problem to their satisfaction have we really delivered value? Did we sell his or her home faster than they had expected? Or was it sold too fast? Did we get them the maximum price the market would yield or did we overprice it to get the listing and then make excuses for repeated price reductions that resulted in a lower price than could have been achieved under a better managed scenario?

    Value is a lot like perception. In the mind of the client, perception is their reality. So is value.

    • Paula Henry

      October 4, 2010 at 9:05 pm

      Greg –

      I agree – value is a funny thing and indeed, much like perception. If we take the time to discover what is most important to our client and set the expectations up front, we have a great chance of providing the value they seek.

      Thanks for great insight!

  9. Michael | My Single Property Websites

    October 4, 2010 at 7:30 pm

    It sounds basic, but one of the best ways for me to discover my value proposition is to simply ask potential clients what they value. I started doing this with a “new buyer interview” I made, where I’d ask things like if they’re comfortable with text messaging, etc.

    • Paula Henry

      October 4, 2010 at 9:23 pm

      Michael –

      Basic – yes, but a very good way to start the process of discovering what your client wants. I find the buyer interview is a nice relaxing way to generate ideas, get to know my clients goals, dreams and ideas.I let them know they are free to ask their own questions as well and it really begins the *relationship*.

      I get a good idea of what they value and they have a chance to find out more about me.

      Thanks for stopping by!

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