How to win clients naked

<span style="font-style: italic;">For starters, hand them a puppy, says one agent</span>

Brian Podnos, a residential and commercial sales associate at Ben & Company, is back this month with some tips for winning over clients and holding onto a job. Use with caution.

Last week I set a new record for deals slipping through my fingers at the real estate firm where I work. I had a rental application with a deposit in my hands at 9:00 am. By 9:18, the deal had fallen through.

But I wasn’t upset. I was shocked that I could accomplish such a quick turn of events. So were my coworkers, who congratulated me with laughter. To celebrate, I decided to take myself out to a nearby bar.

Later, I got another application with a similar deposit on the same apartment. I went back to the office and laughed in the faces of my coworkers and the principal. I called the owner of the rental and laughed at him. I picked up the office cat and laughed at her. Then the client called and said she couldn’t take the apartment because there weren’t enough Chipotle restaurants in the area. I stopped laughing and went back to the bar. The bartender laughed at me.

I was drinking quite heavily, despite the early hour, and I got into a conversation with a fellow next to me. He was in real estate, too, or at least he had been before losing his job because he wasn’t making enough to keep his desk. Now no brokerage would take him.

I felt bad for him. As bad as my day at work was, it was still better than having no job at all. Still, as he was telling me about his trouble paying bills, buying groceries and dodging loan sharks, all I could think was, “Not enough Chipotles in the area? Are you kidding?”

Leaving the bar, I thought about how things have changed since 2006, when we were treated like kings and queens and clients carried us from appointment to appointment on sedan chairs. No one throws rose petals at our feet as we walk now. The sky does not rain green presidents anymore.

Back at the office, I started to panic. My job probably isn’t safe either. In fact, I know it’s not safe. How could I have missed the signs? When did my principal grow out that pencil mustache, the one he’s stroking and playing with as he glares at me? Since when did he walk around petting the fat office cat? And where did that laugh, “Muhahaha,” come from? When did he start wearing that cape?

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It was time to take action and come up with ways to generate clients. Here are my new rules; feel free to use them.

First, advertise, but no Craigslist. No newspaper postings. You have to be different from everyone else, like the naked cowboy in Times Square. People notice that guy. So if you see the naked real estate agent handing out business cards in Midtown, say “Hi,” because I haven’t been arrested yet.

Next, send gifts to your clients. Lots of them. This can be costly, and I’ve taken that into consideration. What you have to do is buy a present that has a lot of items in it, like a buildable chair. Send them one piece a day. Or a box of crayons. The importance is quantity, not quality.

If you prefer to give only one present to a client, make sure it is dramatic. I prefer things that are alive. A cute puppy is good. Nothing ugly now, this isn’t amateur hour. Remember to poke holes in the box; I learned the hard way how important that is.

But what if these brilliant techniques don’t work? What if I lose my job? What would I do? I don’t think I could handle the straight nine-hours-a-day-at-a-desk gig. I’d end up playing Tetris all day. All of you with regular day jobs: Don’t act like you’ve never done that before.

No, I think I would choose a career that’s more stable, like acting, because I’ve always been good at lying. But how would I get auditions? I’d have to hand out business cards to managers and agents, naked, of course.
This kind of thinking was depressing me. After all, I still have my desk; I just needed to earn it. So I went back to the bar. After a few rounds of shots I went out on the street and asked people walking by if they needed an apartment. This didn’t work, so I started demanding they take an apartment.

After I got out of jail, I got a call from a client who needed an apartment and I knew just the one to show them. But I wasn’t going to let these people make a fool of me, too, so after my hangover wore off, I got naked, gave them a baby seal, and left a trail of French fries to a contract.

What a shock: The clients signed the lease and I ended up renting the same apartment I had lost two times that morning.

Since that day I’ve stopped worrying about losing my job and started focusing on how to get the job done. I’ve also started playing a lot of Tetris, just in case.