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In a special feature of Breaking Ground, we sat down with Dan Elzer, one of the industry’s top coaches.

Dan gave his take on how to master the art of asking the right questions to uncover the true wants and needs of high-net-worth clients. Plus, why developers and sales teams should engage in a bilateral interview process to ensure a collaborative approach to selling, allowing sales professionals to present properties in a way that resonates with potential buyers’ specific desires. Here’s what Dan had to say.

But before we dive in, we encourage you to enjoy the full interview here:

Q: Welcome to DASH’s Breaking Ground, Dan. It’s fantastic to have you with us. Your career in real estate seems extensive and varied. To set the stage, could you share an overview of your experiences and journey in real estate?

Dan Elzer: Thank you, Len. It’s an honor to be here. Starting in 1987, I stepped into the real estate business, which was quite challenging at that time, much tougher than today. I transitioned from law enforcement to entrepreneurship. I sold everything I owned, wrote a business plan, and got backed by angel investors to start a company. After getting my real estate license and broker’s license in quick succession, I opened my own company in just over a year. While the company’s eventual success is well-documented, the journey was far from smooth. My first 18 months were particularly rocky, with near bankruptcy and significant learning curves.

Q: Can you delve deeper into the challenges and failures you encountered at the beginning of your career?

Dan Elzer: Despite the eventual success of my first company, my initial foray into real estate was fraught with challenges. I nearly went bankrupt around the 19th month, facing potential closure from my investors. Reflecting on those times, I attribute my initial failures to three key reasons.

First was the ‘that’s not me’ syndrome, where I dismissed advice that didn’t resonate with my preconceived notions.

Second, being my own boss was tougher than expected. I didn’t fully grasp the responsibility that came with it and often avoided tough tasks.

Third, I lacked mastery in any specific area of the business, which is crucial for consistent success. These experiences were humbling but invaluable for my growth.

Q: How did you transition from these early struggles to consulting and executive coaching?

Dan Elzer: After navigating through these early challenges, I managed to build a highly successful and profitable company, which we eventually sold. That experience paved the way for my transition into consulting, executive coaching, and content development. I also spent 13 years as an infill multifamily developer and custom homebuilder, and ran a green screen broadcast studio. Throughout these ventures, my core passion remained in real estate, whether it involved development, commercial, or residential aspects.

Q: Let’s talk about the psychology of selling, especially in high-end real estate markets. What’s your approach?

Dan Elzer: Selling in the high-end market is unique, as it often involves catering to wants rather than needs. These clients don’t necessarily need another property, but they desire it. The challenge lies in understanding and aligning with these wants. It’s about diagnosing the client’s true desires and making them see the value in what’s being offered. This requires a deep understanding of the client and the ability to position the property in a way that resonates with their specific aspirations and lifestyle choices.

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Q: In today’s real estate landscape, how important is the role of content and the presentation of sales centers, particularly in South Florida’s high-end market?

Dan Elzer: The content and presentation in sales centers are critically important. However, it’s more about how these tools are used to engage the client. Understanding the client’s background and interests is crucial. The challenge for agents and sales centers is to not just showcase properties but to understand the individual buyer’s motivations and tailor their approach accordingly. This involves a deep and nuanced understanding of each client, which should inform the sales strategy.

Q: In the process of securing a sale, especially in new development projects, how important is it to understand the developers’ perspective?

Dan Elzer: Understanding the developer is crucial in the sales process. It’s about knowing their vision and motivations, which helps in effectively communicating the unique aspects of the project. However, there’s also a need for sales teams to have a bilateral understanding with developers. This ensures that the sales approach is not just about pushing the developer’s vision but also about aligning it with the potential buyer’s desires and needs.

Q: What are some common pitfalls in professional selling within the real estate industry, particularly in high-end markets?

Dan Elzer: A significant pitfall in professional selling is the lack of proper discovery and diagnosis. Many agents rush into presenting features without truly understanding the client’s needs and desires. This approach often leads to missed opportunities and unsatisfactory client experiences. High-end real estate selling demands a more nuanced and client-focused approach, where understanding and addressing the unique motivations of each client is paramount.

Q: Considering platforms like DASH, how do you see the role of technology in enhancing transparency and efficiency in the real estate industry?

Dan Elzer: Platforms like DASH play a crucial role in enhancing transparency in the industry. They provide accurate and up-to-date information, which is essential for both agents and clients. This level of transparency ensures that all parties have access to the necessary information, leading to more informed decisions and a level playing field in the industry.

Q: Have you observed a decline in professional selling skills in the real estate industry?

Dan Elzer: Unfortunately, there does seem to be a decline in professional selling skills in the industry. This can be attributed to various factors, including the rapid pace of the industry and an over-reliance on technology. The personal touch and deeper understanding of clients’ needs have been somewhat lost in the process, leading to less effective selling practices.

Q: What are your predictions for the real estate market in South Florida, considering the changing market dynamics?

Dan Elzer: I am optimistic about the South Florida market. I predict a significant upturn by the second half of next year. Companies should start preparing now to align their strategies with these evolving market demands. The market dynamics suggest a favorable environment for high-end real estate, especially in regions like South Florida.

Q: Lastly, Dan, can you share a personal experience or principle that guides your response to challenges?

Dan Elzer: Certainly. One key lesson I’ve learned is the importance of responding thoughtfully to challenges, rather than reacting impulsively. Over the years, I’ve developed personal laws of behavior, which guide my responses and actions. These laws ensure that I maintain professionalism and effectiveness, even in challenging situations.

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