The Salesman & The Real Estate Agent
It’s difficult for an old retired salesman to come to terms with his own mortality. A salesman’s lifeblood is to penetrate not only the ideals of whatever they’re selling, but to master what people need that attributes their own success.
It’s odd that over the past year I’ve had a plethora of real estate agents knocking at my door asking me what it would take to sell my commercial properties. They even suggested that with all the money I would be able to reallocate my business anywhere in Toronto. Many of these real estate agents made a good impression, some even became customers.
I know from experience that most real estate agents rely on advertising, internet, and other promotional materials in order to generate customer traffic through investment. Most of the time their services end up being the basis that establishes their professionalism, and that’s something I can respect.
Every month the old retired salesman comes to visit me. We have lunch at the same spot two doors down from my shop at an iconic pizza joint in the West End of Toronto. As luck would have it, I spotted this millennial kid. I always felt that these millennial kids were not only self-absorbed with their gadgets, but their own self-worth that mirrors their reflection with a quick snap of a selfie.
The kid simply looked at us, smiled, and came towards us. He slid a chair over and seated himself next to us without invite. We were both shocked at his decision to buy us beers. The kid blurted out, “What’s the best deal you guys have ever made?”
I felt it was a manifestation between two old salesmen and one young kid looking to prove his worth. My friend looked at him, “The best deal I ever made was knocking on doors. Kid you have to have a thick skin and willing to take rejection. The best part of selling is your damn face, it carries all the credentials you need in life, some people are going to like you, and some won’t.”
My friend continued, “If people see your face often enough in person it shows that you care and that you’re passionate about what you do. You may think the best part of selling is reaping the rewards, but the actual best reward you get are the relationships you establish over the years.”
I listened to my friend and looked over at the kid, “A Play-It-Again Sports at Yonge and Lawrence went out of business. I knocked at the door and the receiver told me to come back in a few hours as though my time meant nothing. I came back 30 minutes later and the receiver let me inside the store.”
I continued, “I asked the receiver how much the contents of the store would be worth. He told me $120,000. I had a fake two-headed quarter and told the receiver that I’d give him $2000 cash and that in 24 hours I’d have all the contents out of the store. He refused but I proceeded to flip the coin. If it’s tails I told the man I’d pay him $120,000, but if it’s heads I told him I’d give him $2000.”
“The receiver took the bait and I won the toss. I gave him the coin and he started to laugh. Then he told me that I had 24 hours to get rid of all the contents inside the store.”
The lesson here is that the hardest aspect of selling is perhaps selling the individual pitching the product or service itself. Some people may feel that this particular receiver made the worst decision of his life. However, the receiver was intuitive enough to call me whenever a deal in the future would come up because I was reliable even though I never received a deal like that again. The receiver and I built a relationship that would reap us both with many rewards for years to come.
Unfortunately the receiver’s company was bought out and he was let go from his position. He chose a different career path.
“Kid, in my opinion, you don’t have business if you don’t have real estate. Even Google should be viewed as real estate company, a place where you park your content and information, it’s a place that’s willing to fight for every square inch of intellectual content on a hierarchical revenue model.”
“Every business has to be viewed with a solid ground. It definitely goes without saying that every customer that walks through my door requires me to listen and find common ground even at the expense of margins. You have to accept rejection, meet new people, learn to work with them, and ultimately find common interests that attributes to each other’s success respectively,” I told the millennial.
The old retired salesman nodded his head, “It’s no different than having a wife or serious relationship that coincides with individual risk-taking. One deserves the highest return, the greatest value, and the least risk.”
The kid laughed, “I never thought of it that way.”
I put my beer down, “Even with the advance of technology and all these electronic gadgets, real estate is still based on relationships. Only the messages and channels of communication have changed with technology.”
I got up out of my seat and bought three more beers. I was slightly annoyed when I returned and saw the kid sitting in my chair. The old salesman told the kid, “If you’re willing to take a substantial cut on your commission then I’m willing to let you sell my property.”
Two months later the kid arrived at my business and told me he’d clean up the parking lot of all the shrubs. When I came out he indicated that he could double the value of my property by increasing the density of my commercial assets by proposing a redevelopment for higher density at my particular property. I asked the kid how much something like this would cost me. He said I wouldn’t have to pay a dime.
Now listen, I belong to the Bloor by the Park Business Improvement Area. I gave a speech at one of our meetings and told the property owners that if and when they decided to sell their properties that this kid would get the job done for them. I personally passed his card to each individual property owner. Out of the six properties that were sold in the Bloor by the Park, three bore his name, and he successfully managed to deliver.
The old salesman and I returned to our usual pizza spot. The kid dropped by one day and we both stood up to shake his hand. We escorted Patrick to a seat beside us and the old salesman gave him a souvenir. It was just a coin, but it used to belong to me.
I’d like to thank Michael Ambrozewicz for his contribution to this article.