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The nation’s #1 real estate broker and charismatic costar of Bravo’s Million Dollar Listing New York shares his secrets on how to be successful.
In the ten years since moving from Sweden to New York City, with no experience in real estate and no contacts, Fredrik Eklund has transformed himself into the best seller in the most competitive real estate market on the planet.
In The Sell, Eklund leverages his years of experience to create the go-to manual for self-promotion and sales. At the core of the book are chapters tied to Eklund’s 10-step program for “selling anything to everyone,” sharing his secrets on everything from personal authenticity and looking your very best to crafting the perfect sales pitch, negotiating with savvy, and closing deals promptly and efficiently . . . lest they slip away. The Sell imparts helpful wisdom and tips on wooing new customers, getting them to like and trust you, and persuading them that whatever it is you’re offering them is precisely what they want and need most. Whether you’re just starting a job as a sales rep at Verizon, navigating your career as an executive or entrepreneur, or hitting your stride closing big transactions as a banker at Goldman Sachs, The Sell will show you how to improve your game, step up the deals you’re making, and radically increase the money you’re bringing home.
The Sell is a vital go-to book for anyone who wants to have an impact in his or her personal and professional life, with a razor-sharp focus on selling: selling yourself—or your brand—no matter what your background is.
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Fredrik Eklund leads the #1 real estate team in the nation and is a member of Douglas Elliman’s senior management team in Manhattan. Originally from Stockholm, Sweden, he is active in the Real Estate Board of New York and is involved with several charities.
Bruce Littlefield is a TV personality and bestselling author of numerous books, including Airstream Living and Garage Sale America; and is the coauthor of many bestsellers, including Zach Wahls’s My Two Moms and Barbara Corcoran’s Use What You’ve Got. Originally from South Carolina, he lives in New York City.
AN IMPORTANT MESSAGE FROM YOUR AUTHOR
My journey from small-town Sweden to the very top of the most competitive sales market in the world inspired me to write the book you’re holding, and doing so has been an incredible experience. Within these pages I’ve included my tricks, gimmicks, aces up my sleeves, and sales secrets, but I feel it’s important to underline something before you get started. Success takes hard work, research, knowledge, and commitment, but the real victory comes through honesty, transparency, and being true to your word. That’s what makes a truly successful person.
The subtitle of this book is The Secrets of Selling Anything to Anyone, but I want to point out that some things in life are not for sale: your loved ones, your children, your pets, your values, your integrity, your beliefs, your spirituality. It’s not only that they are priceless. They are sacred. As a super salesman, it’s important to remind myself that not even I can sell certain things, especially my soul. Everything else is negotiable.
The first time I met Fredrik Eklund was poolside atop the SLS Hotel in Beverly Hills. I was in Hollywood shooting an episode of ABC’s Shark Tank, and Fredrik was on the roof attracting attention. I can spot a great salesperson from across the street and certainly from across the pool. Fredrik has magnetism that’s impossible to miss. At the time, I didn’t know who he was (it was before Million Dollar Listing New York), but I did know one thing: He was a success. Fredrik Eklund has that killer instinct.
When I started my NYC real estate firm in 1973 with a $1,000 loan from a boyfriend, I had no experience in sales and no doubt that I’d be successful. Back then there weren’t any female-owned real estate firms in the city. It was a business worked by women and owned by men. I wasn’t welcome, but I certainly got noticed. From wearing my short skirts and bright colors to calling my sales team the “Power Brokers,” I created my reality—that I was the best seller in the city. And what happened? In 1999, the Corcoran Group became the number one residential real estate company in New York City.
Fredrik, a Swede with no contacts and no real estate license, came to America, and, in less than a dozen years, leads the number one real estate sales team in the nation. Now that’s the American dream. How’d he do it? He knew that perception creates reality, and he had the courage to spot and seize opportunity.
The number one trait I always looked for when I was hiring someone for my company and what I look for now when I’m investing in entrepreneurs on Shark Tank is passion, a need to succeed. Someone who’d rather die than not be the best. That’s Fredrik, and after reading this book, that will be you, too.
Like any great salesperson, Fredrik is very persuasive. For example, bragging about him in this foreword wasn’t enough. He even talked me into giving you my five personal beliefs about becoming a success, all of which are included in his secrets to selling anything:
1. People want to do business with someone they like. Don’t ever be fooled into thinking that a job is only about the product. It’s not. Business is all about the people. If people like you, they’re going to want to work with you. And if they don’t, you’re going to have an almost insurmountable obstacle to overcome. Your job is to make them like you.
2. Selling is nothing more than playing up the good and playing down the bad. If knowing how to do this comes naturally to you, you’ve got a head start. If you don’t, you can learn. When I worked in a diner, I was up against another waitress to attract customers. All the men wanted to sit with her because she had big breasts. And, well, I don’t. It was my mom who gave me my best sales (and life) advice. She told me to forget about what I didn’t have, and use what I did have—a nice personality, a great smile, and the gift of gab—to get customers to want to sit in my section. I packed them in! Maximize the positive; minimize the negative.
3. Every successful person knows how to fail well. Successful people get knocked down like everyone else, but they take less time getting back up and back out there. Did you know the lowest rate of suicide is among commission salespeople? Why? Because they deal with so many rejections on a daily basis, they are more adept at handling life’s hard knocks.
4. Everybody wants what everybody wants. This is the basic psychology of sales. Your task is to figure out how to make people think that what you’ve got to offer is the best thing since hot dogs and baseball. Two things to remember: More than one buyer creates urgency, and when people are told they can’t have something, they want it all the more.
5. The most successful people believe their success is only temporary. Top producers end each year convinced they’ll never have another year as good. Their own track record becomes their biggest competition. In great successes, fear breeds accomplishment.
For twenty-five years I managed New York’s top sellers, and I know how hard successful people work to keep their trade secrets. So, why would you give it all away when you’re number one? Why would you create thousands of new successful high-kickers? Let it be known: I think Fredrik is nuts for sharing his secrets, but I suppose a real success isn’t afraid of competition. He thrives on it.
I leave you in good hands . . . and on the road to making millions.
Bestselling author of Shark Tales: How I Turned $1,000 into a Billion Dollar Business
Make ’Em Want What You’ve Got
I became a salesman when I was seven years old. I was living in Stockholm, where I was born, and I signed up with a company I heard about through school to sell Christmas calendars and books. Those who sold the most each week would win a waterproof, yellow Sony Walkman. (Remember those?) I decided I didn’t just want to sell a lot; I wanted to be the number one seller among the thousands of kids selling Christmas calendars in Sweden. I was going to sell more than anyone!
My goal made me obsessed. I went to bed every night, and, like a prisoner counting the days on his jail-cell wall, I charted on the wallpaper of my room a matrix-like plan to world-calendar-sales domination. When my dad came across my scribbles, he was arg! (That’s Swedish for angry!) But it was too late! The writing was literally on the wall: I was on my way to becoming the biggest seller.
Every morning, I put on my favorite sweater my grandmother had hand-knitted for me, with two reindeers on the front, loaded all the catalogs on a sled, and went knocking door-to-door, schlepping my wares through the snow into Akalla, a suburb north of Stockholm. I knew the market because it was my neighborhood. A million homes were built there during the 1970s, and many retired people had moved in. The old ladies were my favorite targets, a captive audience for a friendly kid with a selling smile. I’d knock on their doors and take a step back so that when they answered, I’d be perfectly positioned to look up at them so they could notice my cute sweater. I’d say, “Hi. It’s me, Fredrik. It’s nice to see you again.” Almost always, they’d invite me in. I became the grandson who was finally visiting. I sat with them and talked, talked, talked and sold, sold, sold. I made them want to buy a calendar from me.
The result? I drank a lot of green tea that winter, listened to more than my fair share of World War II stories, and broke all records for the calendar company. And I really mean all records. I even got a letter from the president of the company asking what my secret was. (But I kept the secrets for this book and am sending him a signed copy as my answer, exactly thirty years later!) I also won so many Walkmans that I sold them, too—to my classmates at school!
Today I use the same technique I used on the Swedish grannies when I’m showing million-dollar properties to Jennifer Lopez, Cameron Diaz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Justin Timberlake, Daniel Craig, or a family from the Upper West Side, and convincing them the time to buy is now—from me.
But you don’t have to work on commission to benefit from my selling strategies. Because let me tell you something: You’ve been in sales your whole life, even if you haven’t realized it. Have you been on a date where you dressed your best and turned on the charm? You were selling. Have you asked someone to take out the trash because you were tired and didn’t want to? You were selling. Have you interviewed for a job? You were selling. That’s why The Sell is for everyone. It describes all of the sales each of us make every day, even if our job title isn’t “salesperson.” Regardless of the industry you’re in—Christmas calendars, Internet, real estate, baking, motherhood—understand this right here, right now: It’s all the same. If you know how to sell you, you know how to sell anything. Whether you’re selling medical equipment to a doctor or an early bedtime to your third grader, The Sell is a daily event in everyone’s life.
What do sellers do? They persuade, influence, and convince someone to give them something in exchange for what they’ve got. How is that different from trying to convince your boss to support your idea? Or trying to talk your husband into going on a vacation to Tahiti when he’d rather go to Tokyo? Anytime we want someone to do something, we are putting The Sell into action. We sell a smile to get the better table in a restaurant, a kind remark to get our way with customer service, and sincerity to form long-lasting friendships. That is selling. Whether it is a car buyer’s money, a coworker’s help, your teenager’s attention, or a best friend’s guidance, realizing how to motivate someone into taking action is The Sell.
Are people buying what you’re selling?
Are they buying you?
· · ·
A decade ago, I moved to New York City from Sweden with a pair of sneakers and a dream: to make it to the top in the city that never sleeps. I didn’t have a clue then as to how I’d actually make that happen or even what my career path would be, but I absolutely believed I would be the best. I believed in the only product I had: me. In my fairy tale, I knew that one day, regardless of the industry I chose, I’d be the king of New York. I visualized headlines, glamour, and a wallet stuffed with hundred-dollar bills. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy in the most cutthroat city in the world, but I was ready for the battle.
My story began in the suburbs of Stockholm, Sweden. That’s Sveeeeden, wedged between Norway and Finland in Northern Europe and far away from big and glitzy Manhattan. Yes, it’s very cold and dark in the winters, and, no, it is not Switzerland. (I’ve discovered a lot of Americans confuse the two.) And there are no ice bears (I’m told you call them polar bears) roaming around the streets, just a bunch of tall, blond people with blue eyes who love vodka, dancing the frog dance on Midsummer’s Eve (intoxicated by the former), building safe cars, designing low-cost furniture that you put together yourself, rolling out stores with inexpensive clothes all over the world, and writing catchy pop music you love to hate (or hate to love).
We didn’t have a lot of money when I was young, but my parents always made sure we got to travel. When I was ten years old, my father, Klas Eklund, a Swedish economist, unknowingly changed the course of my life. He had been invited to give a speech in New York City and exchanged the first-class ticket he had received for three economy tickets and brought my older brother, Sigge, and me with him.
Even as I am writing this, I still remember the yellow cab picking us up outside JFK Airport, the reggae music on the radio, the almost tropical heat as I rolled the window down in the backseat and dropped my head outside to see the approaching skyline.
I am sitting there again now, ten years old, and you are sitting next to me. Are you with me?
Feel the hot vinyl seat; roll down the window; smell that humid, sweet, and hopeful autumn air of 1987 New York. We are on this journey together, you and me.
The city’s energy, excitement, and vertical living instantly hooked me. There was also a dark side to Gotham that I loved. I could smell the danger. At dusk, the cab took us through Times Square with its neon fireworks, and my jaw dropped. I could see the poor, the rich, and the gaps in between. The thousands of tourists with cameras signaled that this was the center of the universe. I believe there are certain impressions in life that are so strong they are etched into the neurons of your brain forever and actually change that chemical soup permanently. This was one of those moments. The second was my first commission check. The third was falling in love, and I hope seeing the face of my newborn daughter will someday be one, too.
My father, Sigge, and I climbed to the top of the Statue of Liberty, and I got to see her perspective of the glimmering city across the water, a beehive of excitement. There is a photo of me up in her crown, looking out, and you can see in my eyes how awestruck I was. I had the vision of my liberation. I decided right then and there that I would become one with the city. I would become very successful, but more important, someone who was following his dreams.
I often think that until this moment, our family had been my little solar system. My brother and I were the planets orbiting the sun, our family home back in Stockholm. But suddenly the laws of gravitation were bent, perhaps because I saw another sun through the windows of the Statue of Liberty: New York. This sun symbolized a new goal: freedom, success, and the ultimate sell.
As we ferried back to shore, the rain came down hard and we had to run without cover from the boat in the Financial District just south of the Twin Towers to hide in a steakhouse with red leather seats and cigarette smoke. Just like the movies, I thought. I will come back here. I will live here one day! I will create my own life.
Fifteen years later, when I realized that dream and moved to Manhattan, I instantly felt at home and that anything was possible. New York was magical to me, and it still is. Just walking down Fifth Avenue in the heat of the summer makes my heart race with excitement. It is empowering to look up at the skyscrapers, watching them defy gravity and reaching—like all the dreamers in this city—higher and higher.
I moved with a few Swedish friends into a one-bedroom rental apartment on Thirty-Seventh Street in midtown across from Macy’s. I didn’t know anyone in New York, but we Swedes felt a certain companionship in our proud but naive attempt to leave Sweden and not look back. I did miss my family, but my drive to make it in my new hometown was stronger. I kept thinking that the only time to create my future self was now. Not tomorrow. Not next month or next year. Now.
I got a job ...
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