Go with me here: You’re a salesperson. You could be selling anything: real estate, cars, vacuum cleaners, watches, timeshares, ideas, projects, anything. For our purposes let’s say it’s watches. You’ve had some moderate success in your career, some wins you’re proud of, and some tough sales that you got over the finish line.
But when you write down your five or 10-year plans, your real goal is to make major deals. You don’t want to spend the rest of your career convincing someone to spend money they may not have to buy a product they may not need. No, you want to work with whales—the big clients, the big spenders, people who definitely have the money and even more definitely don’t need what they’re buying. Because these people already have everything they need and more. You don’t want clients who just read SUCCESS, you want clients who are on the cover.
Daymond John isn’t just going to call you one day and ask you to sell him a new watch… right?
Probably not. But just imagine he did. He wants to meet somewhere next week to discuss a new watch purchase. He says, “I’ve heard you’re the best damn watch salesperson in the world.”
Thoughts race through your head, Did he call the wrong number? Who told him I’m the best salesperson in the world? Why me?
You take a deep breath and say, “Yep, that’s me. I’ll see you next week.” You hang up and immediately start panicking.
You’ve got a week to prepare for the biggest sale of your life. You look down at your department store slacks and your wrinkled shirt and your $100 watch. You think about John in his custom suits, silk pocket squares, and $25,000 watches.
There’s a major difference between the two of you. He would never want to buy a fancy watch from you, even though you’ve got experience and you know your stuff better than anyone. You don’t look like wealth. Daymond John looks like hundreds of millions of dollars.
So do you immediately go and max out your credit card on a new Armani suit? Order five different fake Rolexes to figure out which one looks the most realistic? Do you call every dentist in town to get a laser whitening appointment?
These are all natural things to think about, of course, but they are completely wrong.
Time Over Money
Ryan Serhant, the host of Million Dollar Listing New York on Bravo and owner of SERHANT, his own real estate firm, has made a career of selling ridiculously expensive properties to ridiculously rich people.
His latest book, Big Money Energy, addresses this exact topic. You might not get a random call from Daymond John asking you to sell him a watch, but Serhant actually lived a very similar situation that resulted in his first major deal. He was a mid-level real estate broker who got a call one day from a wealthy Chinese woman who wanted him to sell her a $2 million apartment in New York City. Many of the same thoughts coursed through Serhant’s head as he prepared for the client’s arrival. Long story short, he nailed the sale and it jumpstarted his real estate career. But it wasn’t the new clothes he bought that impressed his client; in fact the client was so jet-lagged that she slept most of the time in between property viewings. It was the knowledge he possessed that made the best use of her short time in America.
“The greatest asset wealthy people have is not their money, it’s their time,” Serhant says. “If you save them time, they will appreciate you far more than if you save them money.”
Besides upgrading his look, he’d spent all of his time researching the neighborhoods and buildings the client might be interested in. That was far more valuable than any new suit or nice haircut.
You’re never going to impress Daymond John with your clothes. He’s spent more money on his clothes than you’ve ever spent on anything in your life. Don’t go into credit card debt trying to impress a guy who can’t be impressed. Spend that time researching everything you could ever want to know about luxury watches. Which brands are on the rise? Which hold their value the most? What’s rare or unique that could make John stand out the next time he’s on a yacht with Robert Herjavec? Price isn’t going to be an object. What John wants is someone who can tell him everything he needs to know succinctly and with authority. He wants someone who can answer his questions without pulling out their phone and Googling the answer.
“A lot of people think you need to pretend to be wealthy to assimilate with the wealthy. The opposite is true. The wealthy are wealthy and they know they are,” Serhant says. “You don’t need to be flying private jets or buying Rolexes to appear to be successful, because it won’t be authentic.”
Authenticity is key when it comes to selling to the rich. Whales are often surrounded all day by people pretending to be wealthy, pretending to be smart, and, sometimes, pretending to be their friend. When someone is real, it stands out and makes an impression.
Be Who You Want to Be
We would be remiss not to mention that, you should absolutely be presentable. Wear nice clothes that make you feel more confident and sure of yourself.
Serhant’s book emphasizes his ability to project a future, more successful version of himself onto the current version to achieve his goals. Part of that is the clothes he chooses to wear—his “confidence costume.” When he was an up-and-coming salesman, he tried to imagine what the future, rich, version of himself might be like. He called this eventual persona Big Ryan.
“I had a fake Rolex and it made me feel good. But it made my wrist turn green,” Serhant says. “It was like my vision board for my wrist. I knew one day I would sell enough where I could afford to buy the real thing. Having this fake ridiculous watch on my wrist, that I would hide most of the time because I knew it looked fake, made me feel like it was possible. But I didn’t show it to rich people, that would have been a disaster.”
Projecting this Big Money Energy and envisioning the future version of yourself is not the well-worn “fake it ’til you make it” idea. Instead it’s about making yourself into the person you want to be each day.
“Fake it ’til you make it is Bull—- Money Energy,” Serhant says. “It’s faking a personality that you may or may not have one day. For me, Big Money Energy is about projecting that image of the future you and being that person today.”
Remember, when Daymond John gives you that call, he’s not calling because he wants to see how nice your clothes are, or so you can fake your own wealth in front of him. He’s calling because you know your stuff, you won’t waste his time, and you’re going to sell him the best watch in existence.
Why you? Because you’re the best damn watch salesperson in the world.
This article originally appeared in the July/August 2021 issue of SUCCESS magazine.
Feature image by Jacob Lund/Shutterstock
Scott Bedgood is a freelance writer and the author of Lessons from Legends: 12 Hall of Fame Coaches on Leadership, Life, and Leaving a Legacy. He lives in Dallas, Texas, with his wife Sami.