An interview with Adrian Künzi, CRO and Co-founder of properti

An interview with Adrian Künzi, CRO and Co-founder of properti

This is an edited transcript of an interview with Adrian Künzi, CRO and Co-founder of properti

Firstly, could you introduce yourself and tell us where you work?

I’m Adrian. I'm 34 years old and I've been in real estate and in sales for ten years. My brother and I founded Properti, a proptech business, five years ago in November 2019. That was just before COVID so not the easiest start!

How did you get into the world of sales and technology?

Sales was not my original plan! I studied international affairs in St Gallen and planned to become a diplomat. My father was in this field and it looked really interesting, especially being able to travel the world and experience lot of cultures.

It was by chance I got into sales. My first sales job was selling franchising licenses in Germany for Century 21, one of the biggest real estate companies. I travelled all around the country by car or by train and knocked on the doors of brokers. In the beginning I had a very hard time. For three months I didn't get any sales. My boss questioned whether sales was really for me.That questioning and doubt fired me up and made me want to prove him wrong. The sales started coming in.

In the meantime, my brother was working in real estate in Switzerland. It was going well so he suggested I leave Germany and join him in Switzerland. That’s when I started to sell and rent real estate.

 I was very successful. I sold and rented properties all over Switzerland. I had a lot of very rich clients with big portfolios, but I also rented out normal properties. That was an intentional choice as I think it's important as a salesperson to have a finger on the pulse of the market. To feel the market, know what's going on in all areas so you can serve all clients, not just a very small segment. The more you serve, the more sustainable a business model you have. I did that for over five years

Then my brother and I decided we want to start our own company and to change the world of real estate.

What did you want to change with your company?

We had been working in an old-fashioned real estate business. It was all about hardcore sales, the handshake and manual paperwork with very little technology enabling the process. The sales model was very old, very slow and very transactional. Most customers would use you once, twice if you were lucky.

We wanted to build a more sustainable model where customers come to us multiple times, moving from a very transactional based model to a relationship-based business, supported by technology which benefits everyone. That’s how and why properti was born.

What advice would you give your younger sales self?

Start selling early. Last Sunday I saw a child selling wood to fire up the chimney. I stopped and bought all the wood. I don’t have a fireplace, so I told him to keep the wood and to sell it for a higher price as it was too cheap. I wished someone had given me advice like this. That child is going to be doing great things when he is older!

And I’d say sell more. I would tell myself to try and sell as many things as possible because the more products you have sold, the more experience you have with different customers, the better salesperson you will be, whatever the industry. Sell more and don’t be afraid of the no.

Today I look for the no. Back then I looked for the yes. Look for the people who are sceptical and not into your product or you. These are the best people you can learn from.

What do you think makes you a great salesperson?

People trust me very quickly. And as soon as they trust me, they really start to give me the information I need to understand what the right thing for them is.

How do you build trust in hours when it takes others months?

The customer must understand that you are there for them and not just for yourself. People can tell if you have a façade. If you have a different point of view, then share it. Don’t pretend. Once people trust that you’re being authentic and are really there for there for them, they really start to trust you and open up.

Have you had a mentor throughout your career?

I have had different mentors who have given me a lot of good advice. Mentors of all ages, young ones but also people who have been doing sales for more than 40 years. That’s important as those tenured salespeople taught me the importance of thinking longer-term sales wise and to avoid the quick buck mentality which damages the reputation of salespeople in many industries.

You work now with a lot of junior sales talent. What are the big mistakes you see them make when they want to boost their sales career?

Many people come into sales thinking they can pick up the phone once and earn 20 or 30k like that. They often want to run at everything at 140kph and think they know how to do it without listening to those with more experience. That approach doesn’t work the majority of the time. They need to learn how to sell. It’s why many crash into the wall, get a black eye, and only then ask what they need to differently.

Also, some salespeople earlier in their career don’t spot the bigger opportunities or think longer term. Sometimes what you’re selling today is not what the customer needs. They may need something much bigger, which in the end will also be great for you. But if you don't listen to them and just try and sell a particular piece today, then you will never discover that opportunity.

A good salesperson needs to listen what is being said to them but  to listen out for what is not being said. When you listen to what they're not saying, you really discover their desires and fears. If you really listen,you can serve the people the right product, not just any product.

What do you think the biggest myths are about sales careers?

That you can sit with your feet up on the table doing very little and earn a lot of money. A big one in real estate is that we fool and cheat people out of their money and that we are only out for ourselves.

For people that want to boost their sales career or break into a sales career, what skills do you recommend they invest in?

Communication is key. A lot of people don't know how to communicate. You need to learn how to really listen, to hear between the lines.

Speaking different languages can also really help you stand out. The trust level is automatically a lot higher when you talk somebody's language.

And read a lot. To build a relationship with a customer it really helps to be able to talk about what they like to talk about. I read everything from philosophy to psychology to business to romance! I always have a book right next to me wherever I go.

But reading sales books isn’t enough. You need to put it into practice. Look at Usain Bolt. He practiced for months and months just to run for 9 seconds. It’s the same with sales. If you want to be a top sales performer in sales, you cannot underestimate the importance of training and practice. You can’t just rock up and try to sell something. If you haven't practiced, then you won't be very good when you need to perform,

Is there anything else that you want to share with people that are aspiring to build a great career in sales?

Ask yourself why you want to be in sales. Sales is one of the hardest jobs in the world. When you're on day 132 and you feel like everything is awful and nothing is working well, then you must remember why you started. It might be because you want a life full of luxurious things, or a life where you are completely free, or a life where you can help your family. The reason doesn't really matter. The reason is important to you, not to anybody else. All the salespeople that success constantly remember why they started.