“Selling Is Just Dating,” and Other Wisdom from Ryan Serhant

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Ryan Serhant
Bravo’s “Million Dollar Listing New York” star Ryan Serhant drew a large crowd Saturday at his Dallas appearance at Barnes & Noble-Lincoln Park.

He may have drawn a large crowd at Barnes & Noble-Lincoln Park Saturday afternoon, but Ryan Serhant said that his first three years in the real estate business were actually a big struggle.

“This business is so hard,” he told the eager crowd who came to hear him talk about his new book, “Sell It Like Serhant.” “I didn’t make any money the first three years. It sucked.”

In fact, later in the afternoon, when an audience member said he was about to graduate college and go into real estate, Serhant advised him to prepare for that eventuality, saying that the “first three years after undergrad, that should be grad school in your head.”

“Set the expectation that you will make zero dollars for three years,” he said. “Anything you make is because you’re doing a good job.”

After a family emergency for CandysDirt.com publisher Candy Evans, reporter Shelby Skrhak stepped in as interviewer.

Serhant said he intentionally wanted to avoid a self-help book. “I didn’t want to write a fluffy reality television book,” he said.

“There are other people that do that,” he added, then grinned and paused, “maybe even somebody on my show.”

Serhant admits that real estate was not the initial reason he set New York in his sights. He came with the intention of becoming an actor, and even spent time as Evan Walsh on the CBS soap “The Young and the Restless” until “they killed me off.”

He said he “worked my ass off,” in New York, spent time as a hand model as well, and eventually decided to get into real estate, starting his first day the same day that Lehman Brothers collapsed and the Great Recession began.

But even before real estate, Serhant said he had established a work ethic that has served him well in his highly-successful real estate endeavors, too.

“There is so much that is completely out of your control,” he said, but added that with discipline, you can create an atmosphere where you can succeed regardless.

“It comes down to discipline,” he said.

And that discipline and organization can ultimately provide the framework that allows anyone in sales to not only help existing clients, but make sure they’re looking for new business, too.

“Being a great salesperson is somebody who can generate new leads and new business,” he explained. “You have to be able to generate new leads every day.”

Serhant said that in his latest Bravo show, also called “Sell It By Serhant,” he spends time helping people in sales hone their technique, and he’s learned quite a bit about common mistakes, too.

“The biggest mistake I saw was the minute a potential customer would come to them, they’d go from normal person to salesperson,” he said. “The worst thing you can do is try to make someone a customer and a client.”

“Selling is just dating,” Serhant continued. “You don’t go to a bar, tap someone on the shoulder, and say, ‘Can I help you with something? Do you need anything? I’ll be right over there if you do.’”

As the audience chuckled, he said, “That would be weird.”

Instead, he recommended organically creating relationships that will create repeat customers.

Serhant took several questions from the audience, including queries about holding successful open houses, and using leverage to grow your team.

Serhant also told the crowd — much to their amusement — that “Sell It Like Serhant” was not the original title for his book.
“The original title was ‘Balls Up,’” he explained as the audience giggled. And while his publisher, Hachette, was very enthusiastic about the book, they gently let him down about his title in the first meeting.

“I talk a lot throughout the book about having balls in the air,” he said. “I talk about balls a lot in the book — not like testicles, but like balls in the air.”

With hit TV shows, a book, a new baby on the way and a book tour, if anyone is a master at keeping all those balls in the air, it’s probably Ryan Serhant.

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Bethany Erickson

Bethany Erickson lives in a 1961 Fox and Jacobs home with her husband, a second-grader, and Conrad Bain the dog. If she won the lottery, she'd by an E. Faye Jones home. She's taken home a few awards for her writing, including a Gold award for Best Series at the 2018 National Association of Real Estate Editors journalism awards, a 2018 Hugh Aynesworth Award for Editorial Opinion from the Dallas Press Club, and a 2019 award from NAREE for a piece linking Medicaid expansion with housing insecurity. She is a member of the Online News Association, the Education Writers Association, the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences, and the Society of Professional Journalists. She doesn't like lima beans or the word moist.

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