The business of buying and selling commercial real estate requires excellent sales skills. Brokers negotiate complex deals worth millions of dollars, often in a competitive climate.
So you are an expert at sales and well versed in the details of closing lucrative deals for shopping centers, office complexes and industrial sites. That’s the good news.
The bad news is the very skills that make you such a good salesperson may work against you if you are called by the media for an interview on a news topic.
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Don’t get me wrong. It is great news if your local newspaper or TV or radio station calls and wants your perspective on topics related to real estate.
“…resist the urge to sell yourself…”
When they call, however, you must resist the urge to sell yourself or plug your business and instead give them useful information on the topic they are covering. The only exception would be if the reporter wants to feature some unique aspect of you or your business.
Think of your interview like a first date with someone you want to impress. Would you spend all the time over dinner talking about yourself? Not if you wanted to make a good impression. To do that, you would find out what your date was interested in and make engaging conversation around those topics.
As a commercial real estate broker, your point of contact with the media is most likely in their sales department. But reporters are entirely different animals. Most media outlets keep their sales and news staffs separate to assure the integrity of their news. That’s because reporters are not supposed to be influenced by how much money advertisers pay their station or newspaper.
There is an old saying; you pay for advertising, and you pray for PR. You must resist the urge to talk about your business unless the reporter asks you specifically about it. Even then, you must guard against coming across as too “salesy.” If not, you will not likely be called again for an interview.
That would be a shame because being featured in a news segment will give your company priceless free publicity and credibility with a wide audience.
“…you are selling yourself without appearing to sell yourself.”
Reporters want useful information and tips for their viewers, listeners and readers. If you can provide that, you position yourself as a trusted expert. The paradox is you are selling yourself without appearing to sell yourself.
If you want to see a great example of this concept, go to http://www.deangraziosi.com/wgn. Here you will see one of my clients, the popular and respected real estate investor and author Dean Graziosi, being interviewed on WGN.
Dean has worked 20 years in real estate and has written two New York Times Bestsellers. A master salesman and Internet marketing expert, he is known for his infomercials and sales programs. Yet he repeatedly resists plugging himself in the interview. This was no accident.
One of the services offered by my firm, Wasabi Publicity Inc., and many other PR companies is called media coaching. We sit down with a client and role play so they can come across as calm, collected and authoritative in media interviews. This is important in print and radio but especially on TV.
Coaching Dean, I told him to concentrate on being an expert and resist his natural urge to sell. Every time we would do a role play for the WGN interview, I would encourage him to present himself as an educator, and he would tweak his responses.
The end result, as you can see, is that a marketing expert dialed in to sell, sell, sell repeatedly resists selling himself. Instead he gives reporters the information they seek and shines as the expert he is.
In the interview and accompanying article, he focuses on his four essential tips for how to hang onto your home through the mortgage crisis. When he does mention his business or new book, it is in the context of providing helpful information.
“How does this apply to you”?
How does this apply to you, the commercial real estate professional? Just remember, when you talk to the media, you have to get out of your sales mode and into your education mode.
How can you position yourself as an expert the media will call when they have a question on the topic of commercial real estate? One way is to take advantage of free services, such as www.PitchRate.com, which connect reporters with expert sources. PitchRate allows you to list your areas of expertise so reporters can get in touch with you when they need an expert source.
There is a time and place for sales language, and it is not with the media. Follow these tips, and your reporter is most likely to ask you out for another “date” in the future.