Do your customers understand what you are selling?

Some business models are a bit complicated.  Take real estate services.  We are in a business where we service customers that don’t actually pay us.  In fact we are paid by the people that we set them up with and we negotiate against (yes, yes, our clients are “paying” us as part of their lease).  Sometimes I still have to sit back and think about that but usually it makes sense enough to me.

But what are our clients buying?  Really paying for?  To find them buildings?  No, they could do that through CoStar.  To negotiate a great deal?  No, they could get that from just about anyone.  To keep them from making a bad decision?  Getting warmer.  But if this is the case we really are in the risk management business.

Or it could be that they are buying our “expertise” (that great and grand vague topic of “we know stuff”).  Getting even closer.

At the end of the day I believe we are in the risk management business.  Our product isn’t real estate deals, it’s generating a clean transaction that follows our clients requirements while keeping them out of “the bad spots” that don’t align with their business.  We measure future risk of the deal through financial analysis, advise them on their real space needs, present them with options that others have considered or completed, and ultimately keep them from needing to have our expertise on staff.  It just so happens we get paid a tad unconventionally.

So, do your customers understand what you are REALLY selling?  Do you?

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