By Susan Doran
Jerry Bresser, a grandfather eight times over, has been coaching real estate agents across North America for a whopping half century. At the height of his success in the mid 1970s into the ’90s, he was top dog. He travelled to and from engagements constantly, bought a plane and learned how to fly it, owned a big boat, wrote a couple of books and burned many bridges to open up a real estate brokerage so that he could practice what he preached.
Along the way, he made some decisions that turned out badly, he admits.
“I lost everything.”
Goodbye plane. So long brokerage, boat and house.
But he persevered. Apparently it’s hard to keep a legend down. A quick check online indicates that to this day, Bresser, now in his mid 80s, is considered to have developed some of the most lasting real estate techniques in the coaching business.
His first book, List More, Sell More, is still described as the Rosetta Stone of real estate sales training. It’s out of print, and at one point various sales reps were said to be offering over $600 online for a hard copy. Bresser is working on a new version.
Based in New Haven, Michigan, Bresser continues in various ways to offer his expertise to the real estate world, notably via online courses. He was well into the process of founding the Listing Solution Institute, a virtual school for real estate professionals in the U.S. and Canada offering a certified listing expert program.
Then COVID-19 hit, causing unanticipated delays.
Meanwhile, among other things, work proceeds on Bresser’s “Win Big Strategy,” a prototype online platform, complete with sample dialogues for sales reps to use with potential clients. (Bresser is so enthusiastic about these that he convinced this writer to participate in a dialogue with him. I’m hoping this doesn’t somehow mean I just bought another house.)
Bresser has always been a proponent of precise language. That’s his hallmark.
“Every word counts,” he says.
“The single greatest reason new agents fail and experienced agents do not reach the higher levels of listings they deserve is that they are not taught what to say. It takes some verbal skills to get listings…The secret to success is that everything you say should be memorized and rehearsed – a selection of pre-memorized language.”
He’s appalled when brokers advise agents to speak off the cuff when prospecting or giving listing presentations. “Why would you do that?”
Bresser recognized the need for specific, targeted language in real estate sales back when he was helping his father with the family business, selling the Bresser’s Directory. Street addresses and phone numbers could be cross referenced in the directory for marketing purposes, which made it useful for prospecting. As a result, real estate agents were often among those Bresser found himself addressing in presentations.
“Someone raised their hand and asked what to do when the door opened,” recalls Bresser. “I said, ‘I don’t know. I’m in the directory business.’”
Afterwards Bresser called a Realtor he knew to get an answer. “I had to buy him breakfast. It cost me $3.83.”
But the next time Bresser presented to real estate agents, someone in the audience had an even better answer to the question of what to say once a front door was answered – namely, “If I could find a qualified buyer willing to pay a price acceptable to you, would you accept an offer from our company?”
Perfection, in Bresser’s opinion.
He subsequently went to countless real estate offices pretending to have a house for sale and was stunned by the inadequacy of the responses. He realized there was a real need in the industry for sales training.
He found himself increasingly coaching agents, and his research expanded, with Bresser picking the brains of the best salespeople he could find.
“I found a guy with a yacht. I asked him, ‘How do you afford a yacht like this?’ He said he actually had two. I bought him some drinks. He said, ‘Jerry, selling is the best thing in the world. There is no limit.’ After that I had my eye on a 50-foot boat,” says Bresser.
By 1971 he had founded Jerry Bresser Training, offering his coaching services to real estate agents across North America.
Every seller wants the most money, the quickest sale, and the fewest problems; agents only deserve the listing if they have a strategy to achieve that, in Bresser’s opinion.
“Being a relative or friend of the buyer, none of that counts. There is too much money at risk.”
About 15 years ago Bresser had a mini stroke, from which he has recovered. He feels though that with advancing age, his speaking skills – while still good – are not what they once were.
Not that age stops him from jumping in where technology is concerned. “I get help from my grandchildren,” he laughs.
“People are distracted by technology,” he says. “It can help get you organized, but it will not get a listing. It’s what you say – the old school stuff – that gets you into a house.”