Detroit ‘Legend’ Shares Secrets

By Donald “Jerry” McKeon, vice president of Max Broock Inc., REALTORS®, Birmingham, Mich.

Although we arrived on the Detroit area real estate scene about the same time, and I live and work less than 10 miles from Ralph Roberts’ real estate office, our paths seldom cross. Roberts’ book, Walk Like a Giant, Sell Like a Madman (written with John Gallagher; Harper Business, 1997), recounts much of what I’ve heard about this legend both in local circles and on the national scene.

Superstars often possess fair-sized egos, and Roberts is no exception. You quickly pick up on this as he unabashedly boasts of his record-setting accomplishments. Even though much of what’s in the book is Real Estate 101, there are still some good tips on building a successful business.

Roberts credits the growth of his business to farming. He started with an area of only a few hundred homes but now mails information to more than 60,000 households. His book covers much of the how-to in setting up a farm and the ongoing maintenance required for the best results.

Roberts didn’t become one of America’s top salespeople without some good ideas, and his chapters on prospecting and marketing illustrate that fact best. With an annual marketing budget of $100,000, he has tried just about everything and shares all with you.

An advocate of self-promotion, Roberts endorses the use of personal brochures and believes your personal photo should be on all promotional material. He says a successful program will yield many press opportunities, and he offers several suggestions on how to turn positive press into more business.

There’s also an entire chapter devoted to personal assistants, and you’ll find a number of down-to-earth tips on how to keep assistants happy. Roberts should know, since he has nearly 50 assistants on his payroll.

Walk Like a Giant, Sell Like a Madman falls far short of being a literary masterpiece. It seems as though the book had been written between appointments. But it does inspire. Who wouldn’t be motivated by a practitioner who acquired 300 properties after losing to foreclosure the one home he owned when he entered the business?

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This post was contributed exclusively for REALTOR® Magazine.

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