If you've seen Bravo's Million Dollar Listing, you've probably heard of Fredrik Eklund. For the past 11 years, Eklund has been the most successful residential real estate agent in New York, selling more than $2 billion worth. How did he become such a successful salesman?
In Eklund's 2015 New York Times best-selling book, The Sell: The Secrets of Selling Anything to Anyone, he explains his secret to success. In the chapter "Pitch Perfect," he even outlines the four steps he uses to set up a sale.
Create urgency while saying positive things
Instill confidence in a dialogue, not a monologue
Establish a friendly dream while creating a little more urgency
However, his meta-analysis of his techniques doesn't fully explain why the pitches work. To truly understand Eklund's mastery of the sales pitch, I consulted Robert Cialdini's groundbreaking book on the principles of persuasion, Influence, and his follow-up bestseller, Pre-Suasion.
Below, I break down Eklund's steps to understand how he uses the principles of persuasion to get people to buy real estate before they even see the property.
1. Establish credibility.
Before Eklund ever meets a client in person, he develops the right conditions for pre-suasion. Pre-suasion is what Cialdini considers setting up the right conditions so that someone will say yes to your request.
When a client emails about a certain property, Eklund responds by saying he will call them to discuss--but keeps them waiting. By taking his time to call back, Eklund encourages the idea of scarcity in the client.
According to Cialdini, scarcity language increases the importance of an object and makes us want it more. Fredrik's unavailability for a few minutes makes the client feel that Eklund's attention is important.
Meanwhile, Eklund sets the stage for the client to trust him as an expert. According to Cialdini, we trust the opinions and advice of people we consider authorities. Eklund's email signature includes this testimonial: "The number one agent in New York by The Real Deal magazine."
Before Eklund even talks to the client, he has pre-suaded the client that his time is an important resource and that he is an expert in real estate.
2. Create urgency while saying positive things.
Next, Eklund establishes trust with the client by getting the client to like him. According to the principle of liking, Cialdini says, we trust people that we like--and who say they like us.
Eklund gets clients to like him by finding common ground in the first phone conversation and by complimenting the person for being so smart about real estate. Moreover, he goes a step further and tells the potential buyer, "I like you."
By building this rapport, Eklund has gained the client's trust before they even meet in person or the client has visited the property.
3. Instill confidence in a dialogue, not a monologue.
When Eklund meets the client the next day to see a property, he uses the principle of social proof to convince the buyer of the value of the property before they even step foot in the door.
Social proof, according to Cialdini, is a shortcut for the decision-making process. If many people are doing the same thing, we are likely to think that action is a good choice. This is why we buy books from bestseller lists and pay attention to Rotten Tomatoes scores. In Pre-Suasion, Cialdini notes that restaurants that identify the most popular dishes on the menu see increases in the ordering of those dishes by up to 20 percent.
Eklund establishes social proof by informing the client how many sales he has done recently and how many people are buying property these days. Having social proof, the client is more likely to believe buying real estate from Eklund is an acceptable decision to make.
4. Establish a friendly dream while creating a little more urgency.
Finally, while showing the property, Eklund returns to the principles of liking and scarcity to solidify trust in his advice and to create more urgency for the sale. First, Eklund talks about the good qualities of the place, but emphasizes the property is so nice the seller might change their mind (giving the message: Buy now, before the seller changes their mind).
While he details the many qualities of the property, Eklund also continues to emphasize the principle of liking to keep the trust of the buyer. He asks the buyer lots of questions, showing interest in their life and what they do.
By the time the property viewing is over, the buyer not only likes and trusts Eklund, but the buyer also desires the property more, seeing it as a scarce resource.
Eklund's techniques are not new or unique, but if you follow his method of presentation you can pre-suade your own clients to say yes before they even see a product.