“If you try to act like a friend, and all you want to do is sell homes, that’s sleazy,” Gary Gold told an in-person audience at Inman Connect Las Vegas.

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It might seem hard to believe that the likes of Gary Gold and Tami Pardee — two superstars sellers of California luxury real estate — still work hard to sell their value proposition to clients.

But despite having achieved notable success, both Gold and Pardee continue to hone their approach to winning — and keeping — clients.

Judging by some of the stories they shared with fellow brokers and agents attending Luxury Connect Las Vegas Monday, neither have lost their competitive drive.

Whether it’s responding immediately to inquiries that come in at odd hours, or taking your shoes off if that’s the custom when entering a client’s home, both will go to great lengths to win listings.

But the good news for anyone who dreams of having similar success is that you don’t have to sell your soul. If there’s one thing both Gold and Pardee agree on, it’s that you should always be yourself.

For about the first 15 years he was in the business, Gold said, “I thought a salesman was sleazy, somebody who pulls wool over somebody’s eyes.”

Since then, Gold said, he’s come to understand that people love a salesman who is straight with them — rather than pretending to be their friend.

Gary Gold

“If you try to act like a friend, and all you want to do is sell homes, that’s sleazy,” Gold said. “When someone is trying to act like your buddy, people call bullshit on that.”

Today, he said, “I’m not uptight anymore working with people, no matter who they are.” When a client who once might have seemed intimidating gets into his car, he can disarm them by saying, “I gotta warn you, I’m an expensive guy to spend an afternoon with.”

Pardee’s long-term clients do sometimes come to see her as a friend, to the point that she’s been the first person a client calls when someone dies, gets divorced or has a baby that’s sick.

“I love to play, and I love connection,” Pardee said. “Everybody at our company (Venice, Calif.-based Pardee Properties) is a change warrior.”

Gold acknowledges that, “You have to market yourself to get your name out there.” But he warns that, “If you’re working on how you can create an authentic brand, it’s not authentic.”

More importantly than your marketing is “who you are and what you do,” Gold said. “You are one of 2 million agents out there. All of us are unnecessary unless we’re doing something extraordinary.”

You are your brand

That’s a sentiment Pardee can agree with.

“Find out what charges you up as a human being, and that’s your brand,” she said. “I think that everything comes from love.”

Tami Pardee

At Pardee Properties, “We have this saying in our office — we ‘GAAL them,’ ” Pardee said — meaning each client is treated with gratitude, acceptance, acknowledgement and love.

Which is not to say that clients don’t appreciate Pardee’s skills as a tough negotiator — in part, she said, because she is careful to make sure they see the work she does on their behalf.

“When I’m out with a client, I’m creating value for them,” she said. “I fight for them, and I talk them through everything.”

If she thinks the cost of a request for repairs is a little high, for example, she’ll offer to get another quote.

When she’s competing for listings, “It’s not just, ‘Here’s my marketing,’ but, ‘Here’s what we’re going to do when we get multiple offers.’ ”

Pardee is also sensitive to more subtle details. Walking through a prospective client’s house, she’ll find out as much as she can about the clients, looking for things that she can relate on.

“If they’re very conservative, I’m not going to go to a listing presentation in a rockstar outfit. But if they’re a rockstar, I will,” she said. “If they’re sitting a certain way, I’ll sit that way. I will repeat things back to them, I will take off my shoes,” if that’s the custom in her prospect’s home.

That kind of attention to her clients has helped Pardee build a business that’s about 70-percent repeat and referral business, she said.

Gold attributes much of his success to persistence.

Old school outreach

Although Gold says he does “quite a bit of social media,” he’s also a proponent of making phone calls, texting, and emailing. Which tool to use can depend on the client, and at what stage of the process he’s in with them, he said.

“My very best client, I tried to reach him on the phone 20 times,” with no luck. “I started emailing, and texting at different times of the day. I finally connected with a text at the right time of day, and he called me. Then he only wanted to talk on the phone, until we got to the deal, and all he wanted to do was email.”

Gold said there have been times he tried to reach prospects hundreds of times before connecting.

When he does get a prospect’s attention, “I never trip on people,” he said. “I always act like (the time they responded) was the first time I tried to reach them.”

Pardee is also big on the using the phone.

“At our company we have a 20 minute callback rule,” she said. “Usually I just pick up the phone” rather than letting it go to voicemail. “People say, ‘I can’t believe you actually answer your phone.’ I get on my agents if they don’t do that. I got into this business because I used to flip houses and agents wouldn’t call me back.”

Gold said he’s won business from “two stone cold world-famous celebrities just by responding at 1 a.m., because they were on a plane or in another country” when they reached out to him. “The average person gets an inquiry at 1 a.m., they respond the next morning. I’m talking to them in real time.”

In high-end luxury real estate, it’s important to be open to working with other agents, Gold said.

“When I was up for the Playboy Mansion, I didn’t think I was the person they’d pick — I didn’t have the track record,” he recalled.

“The board met, and they all wanted to work with Mauricio Umansky,” founder and CEO of The Agency. “They were blown away by his presentation. I said, ‘When it comes to presentation, there’s nobody better than The Agency and Mauricio.’ ”

But Gold said he ultimately ended up co-listing the Playboy Mansion by presenting statistics showing the success that his brokerage, Hilton & Hyland, had selling properties valued at $20 million or more. The team, which also included Hilton & Hyland agent Drew Fenton, sold the property for $100 million in 2016.

More recently, Gold said he collaborated with eight other agents on the $150 million sale of the Chartwell Estate.

“Four of us did the majority of the work,” he said. “Often I do negotiations and contracts. That time I also did the website and filming” of promotional videos.

“I do agree with bringing other people in,” when the situation calls for it, Pardee said.

“She referred me to a rock star — Stephen Stills,” Gold revealed.

Email Matt Carter

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