“A close needs to be in person or over the phone.” With Mitch Russo & Kyle Klaus

I think 100% a close needs to be in person or over the phone. For the most part. However I have texted someone “I really think you should just get this place” or something of that nature. I actually think there are NO bad ways. It all comes down to how you FEEL about the […]

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I think 100% a close needs to be in person or over the phone. For the most part. However I have texted someone “I really think you should just get this place” or something of that nature. I actually think there are NO bad ways. It all comes down to how you FEEL about the situation. There are factors that come into this. If you have been working with the person for awhile, have built a rapport with them and they know, like, and trust you. Then there should be no problem texting them a “closing line” if they like that mode of communication. If you always believe in what you are saying, then you can’t go wrong. I think if people need better understanding then phone call, zoom meeting, or in person always better because they can read HOW you are saying something.

As a part of my series about how to be great at closing sales without seeming pushy, obnoxious, or salesy, I had the pleasure of interviewing Kyle Klaus.

Kyle Klaus is an actor and a successful entrepreneur. He opened his first business in 2012, Prestige Properties, a real estate firm in NJ, which now has multiple offices. He is also a partner in real estate developments in the area. In 2019, his team reached Platinum Level for sales volume in a single year in the state of NJ. Klaus is also the owner/founder of The North Pole, an online retail company. He is also a partner in a restaurant in Hoboken, NJ. While running these successful businesses, Klaus can also be seen on TV shows like The Blacklist, Billions, Homeland, Happy! And The Last O.G. to name a few.

Thank you for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to this career path?

During college I was confronted with the question “What do you want to do with the rest of your life?” I found this very uncomfortable. I felt like it was a life or death question. I did not want to live with any regrets, and gave this question a lot of thought. I knew I really wanted to become an actor.

But, even though I love acting so much, I’ve always been very realistic about the odds of succeeding in this field. I’ve always known it might take a while until I “make it” as an actor, and that helped me keep my feet on the ground. Meanwhile I wanted to be able to have a family, provide a good life for them, and be financially free. So that’s where I discovered real estate and investing. Most of the actors get jobs in the hospitality industry to pay for their bills until they get their big break. I chose a different path, and I’m really happy with my choice.

Can you share with our readers the most interesting or amusing story that occurred to you in your career so far? Can you share the lesson or take away you took out of that story?

I was an actor who became a real estate agent out of necessity. I ended up figuring out how to leverage myself to open my own brokerage to allow me to do more of what I love which was acting. In turn, one of my biggest acting roles was a Manhattanite who was looking for a real estate property to purchase in the show Happy!. My life experience helped me achieve my dreams. Funny how things work out.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

Yes, I actually started a YouTube channel during this Pandemic. I’ve always wanted to write a book and title it “How to Be a Millionaire While Doing What You Want”. I remember first starting out in acting post college and investing the first money I had into buying a rental property. It just made sense to me to start building up that passive income and equity. I felt that even if I didn’t become an “overnight sensation” and “instantly famous” I could go slow and steady and saw how I could become a millionaire “while doing what I wanted” which was acting. So lately instead of taking on the daunting task of writing a book, I decided to make a YouTube channel and break it up in smaller increments and also cover some of the latest investment and acting advice I could. I found a big skill that I have, especially recently, is my ability to make money and my knowledge of how to make money work for me. I’ve been helping out some actor friends privately with their finances and investments. Ironically, I’ve done a few videos that have become a hit, and went viral. I got monetized and started making some money on YouTube as well.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

While there are quite a few amazing people that I could say had a huge impact on my success,, everything I accomplished I did on my own. My dad played a huge part in my work ethic, drive, and point of view of the world. My mother had a huge part in showing me unconditional love and compassion. I think those traits and values have helped me to excel through life. I trained with some of the most wonderful acting coaches and I learned from some of the best real estate coaches and I’ll be forever grateful. I also learned alot through observation and seeing how others were succeeding. However, every chance I took or endeavor I pursued I didn’t have someone to give me a handout.. Figuring out how to grow, successful real estate career, figure out how to navigate an acting career, and start a business, was all through trial and error and and relentless stubbornness to never quit. I will attribute my parents for helping me along the way. Providing me with a good upbringing, instilling great values in me, an always encouraging me to follow my dreams making me believe I could do anything I set my mind to.

For the benefit of our readers, can you tell us a bit why you are an authority on the topic of sales?

Sure, I think the first and most important reason is because I always do what is right, and always look out for the best interest of my clients. I truthfully believe that clients can sense that and it makes them want to work with me. Second, I look at sales like a numbers game and a puzzle. You could say the same thing to two different people and get a completely different reaction. That’s why it never bothered me to just make it about the volume and numbers because nothing is personal. If someone tells you to “f off” it’s not me personally. They don’t know me. The next guy might love that I called and gave them that info. Third, I have sharpened my skills and have trained. There is so much I learned that is now just second nature and I don’t even think about it. Neuro-Linguistic Programming , (or NLP), is the way you talk to people and the tone and cadence. Honestly, it was something that I realized I naturally did, however, now I am even more aware of it. What you say is just as important as how you say it. Learning the things you say to not just get the people to do what you want them to, but what THEY ultimately want to do by making a decision.

Let’s shift a bit to what is happening today in the broader world. Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the COVID-19 pandemic have understandably heightened a sense of uncertainty and loneliness. From your experience, what are a few ideas that we can use to effectively offer support to our families and loved ones who are feeling anxious? Can you explain?

The only certain thing in this life is change. This too will pass. However, we all need to remain calm. Focus on data and not opinion. Do what we can. Adapt and Pivot our business and lifestyle. No one said it would be easy, but it will be OK. In fact, I believe most of the things we are adapting with now will catapult us to new advancements that will greatly improve how we do things in the future. Embrace technology, discover new passions, and learn to live with more financial responsibility so that you are better prepared for emergencies.

Ok. Thanks for all that. Let’s now jump to the main core of our interview. As you know, nearly any business a person will enter, will involve some form of sales. At the same time, most people have never received any formal education about how to be effective at selling. Why do you think our education system teaches nearly every other arcane subject, but sales, one of the most useful and versatile topics, is totally ignored?

From what I have realized is that most of the educational system is flawed. It is a necessary part of our society and there are great people in the educational system. My sister is a very passionate teacher. Her time and funding is so limited that it is really hard for her to accomplish what she wants to do. I can only imagine that changing the whole structure of the educational system is even that much more impossible. “Selling” still has a bad stigma in the American society. It is looked upon as slimy and pushy, instead of how it should be looked at as being an expert in a particular field and presenting it eloquently.

This discussion, entitled, “How To Be Great At Sales Without Seeming Salesey”, is making an assumption that seeming salesy or pushy is something to be avoided. Do you agree with this assumption? Whether yes, or no, can you articulate why you feel the way you do?

100%. The client can ALWAYS sense what your true intentions are. When I first started out in real estate, I can remember thinking about money and how much money I was going to make as I was showing a client a particular property. This did two horrible things: 1) It skewed my judgement in what I said to people and how I said it. 2) It made me feel like I LOST the money when that client never closed. This created a bad feeling that would have gotten the best of me. Instead, I learned a few things early on. 1) I started looking at how many deals I needed to do a month. This made it easy for numbers’ game. If my quota was 4 deals, then just saying to myself that I lost 1 deal and had to make it up was much easier than thinking “I just lost $15,000”. 2) I tried to think of it more like a puzzle I needed to solve. That person needed me and my help. I just assisted in helping them the best I could — and putting the puzzle together.

The seven stages of a sales cycle are usually broken down to versions of Prospecting, Preparation, Approach, Presentation, Handling objections, Closing, and Follow-up. Which stage do you feel that you are best at? What is your unique approach, your “secret sauce”, to that particular skill? Can you explain or give a story?

The two biggest stages for me are PROSPECTING and FOLLOW-UP. I’m the best at Prospecting. I will hit my daily numbers NO MATTER WHAT. Even if I have to work until midnight because something came up. I won’t stop until I reach my number of people I need to talk to. That includes new people, follow ups, sphere of influence, buyers, lesse, and lessor’s. FOLLOW UP is the second most important. I live by the motto “buy or die”, so I will stay on someone until they either tell me to stop contacting them or they decide they didn’t want to buy anymore…. Maybe even in that case I might ask how long til they want me to contact them again.

Lead generation, or prospecting, is one of the basic steps of the sales cycle. Obviously every industry will be different, but can you share some of the fundamental strategies you use to generate good, qualified leads?

Sure. I use 3 different sources for new leads. For Sale By Owner, Expired, and Circle Prospecting. Basically people that are trying to sell on their own (FSBO) is about 90% my listing business. Honestly, I feel like I am helping them out now more than ever because it is almost impossible for them to sell on their own. Expired — people that have already succumbed to working with an agent but that agent didn’t do their job properly. Circle Prospecting is people that are colder, but you just touch base with them. Provide them with info. I feel leads are a numbers game. The more you talk to, the more you qualify, the more you find the ones that will be all the difference in your business.

In my experience, I think the final stages of Handling Objections, Closing, and Follow-up, are the most difficult parts for many people. Why do you think ‘Handling Objections’ is so hard for people? What would you recommend for one to do, to be better at ‘Handling Objections’?

I would recommend getting training in scripts on How to Handle Objections. That’s what I did. You start learning so much that eventually becomes ingrained in you. Second nature. I think it’s so hard for people because they don’t like confrontation. They don’t know what to say back and even more so do not believe in it.

‘Closing’ is of course the proverbial Holy Grail. Can you suggest 5 things one can do to successfully close a sale without being perceived as pushy? If you can, please share a story or example, ideally from your experience, for each.

1) Pre-Qualify — whatever you are trying to “sell” them on it doesn’t matter. You just need to make sure that person is in need of your services and is going to buy whatever it is you are selling.

2) Be an expert in your field and relay your knowledge to them of why they should use you. Sell yourself.

3) Customer Service. Just go above and beyond for them. Have your clients interest first and foremost during the time you are working with them and they will acknowledge that.

4) ABC — Always Be Closing. While you are working with them and giving them amazing customer service. Really listen to them and their needs. Always be working toward giving them exactly what they want so their only option is to close with you.

5) Go for the close. Call to Action. Etc. I will give an example — When I first got into the real estate game I worked with showing people apartments for rent. It was a much quicker process and harder/faster close than the sales process of buying and selling real estate, but I would follow this same technique. There were times when I did all 4 of those steps, which are NEVER pushy. It’s always helping the client and being of assistance and giving them what they need. However, the number 5 would always be just pushing them to make up their OWN mind. Not selling them on closing. For instance I’ve used lines like this after I knew that I just showed them the PERFECT property for them “Are you ready to make an offer? I could keep showing you apartments, but I don’t want to waste any more of your OR my time. If I knew of something better, that fit your needs I would show you it. This is absolutely the best property for what you need. What can you tell me that you would need or want differently than this?” Something like that is getting all of the objections out of the way, and making them come to the decision themselves. It also helps if you really believe what you are saying. Would this be the best option for your client if you were in their shoes? It’s not using pushy salesman lines like “You need to get this property, it’s the best deal trust me!” That would NEVER work.

Finally, what are your thoughts about ‘Follow up’? Many businesses get leads who might be interested but things never seem to close. What are some good tips for a business leader to successfully follow up and bring things to a conclusion, without appearing overly pushy or overeager?

So when I first got into the business I didn’t have many clients and it was easy. I put everyone on an excel spreadsheet and the date I would need to contact them. For example, I rented a landlords apartment for 12 months. In the follow up column I wrote the follow up date — say, 9 months later. Then I called and basically said “Hey Sir, I know your tenants lease term is coming up, and I was just wondering if he was staying or you needed me to help you rent it out again?” That landlord was so impressed I’ve been working with him for over 10 years now and he became a friend. He’s bought and sold property with me and even introduced me to his brother and friends who had just bought a 2.3 million dollar property through me.

I was able to work with this excel sheet for a few years, until my business started growing. Then I switched to a CRM program, which is what I highly recommend everyone to do when their businesses ramp up. I personally use Contactually. It just takes all of the guesswork out of it. Never rely on your brain to remember anything. I always put things in my schedule or in my CRM of when to follow up. If you have a client that is a hot lead — you might put them in a “bucket” to follow up every day and they will appreciate that. If they cool off — then you might put them on notice to follow up once a week. You can always tailor your follow up, but the worst is NOT following up and realizing you forgot and that client closed with your competition. Even if follow up is just “Hey, how are you? Just checking in. How is the family during the scary time? Hope all is well-“ That shows you care and keeps you top of mind.

As you know there are so many modes of communication today. For example, In-person, phone calls, video calls, emails, and text messages. In your opinion, which of these communication methods should be avoided when attempting to close a sale or follow up? Which are the best ones? Can you explain or give a story?

I think 100% a close needs to be in person or over the phone. For the most part. However I have texted someone “I really think you should just get this place” or something of that nature. I actually think there are NO bad ways. It all comes down to how you FEEL about the situation. There are factors that come into this. If you have been working with the person for awhile, have built a rapport with them and they know, like, and trust you. Then there should be no problem texting them a “closing line” if they like that mode of communication. If you always believe in what you are saying, then you can’t go wrong. I think if people need better understanding then phone call, zoom meeting, or in person always better because they can read HOW you are saying something.

Ok, we are nearly done. Here is our final “meaty” question. You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the greatest amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Financial education and knowledge so that you can start realizing and understanding how money works and how you can make it work for you. I believe one of the biggest problems in life and actually what is going on right now is the disproportion of wealth in our society. I don’t think there is ANYONE right now really speaking to the inner city and lower income community about this. If you come from an affluent neighborhood or household you kind of grow up with this from your parents. I had to learn it on my own, but I feel that the people I surrounded myself with as I got older started to rub off on me and got me thinking. If you are stuck in poverty you never learn. Poverty is one of the biggest causes for crime. There’s no differentiation between crime statistics among different ethnicities if they are in poverty. Poverty is the main cause. I believe if you can teach people how to get out, and start saving, and live more abundant lives and are able to change their mindsets a bit, we will see a lot of improvement in their areas and across the board.

How can our readers follow you online?

Sure. They can follow me on Instagram and Twitter: Instagram @KyleKlaus, Twitter @KyleKlaus. And check out my YouTube page

Thank you for the interview. We wish you only continued success!

Thank you so much for having me!

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