By Ron & Alexandra Seigel, Partners--Napa Consultants, International

Specialized Knowledge is Power

How many times have you heard the phrase "knowledge is power"? In the field of luxury real estate, we say, specialized knowledge is power--earning power!

Building a high volume luxury real estate practice begins by acquiring specialized knowledge. Mastery of the fundamentals of real estate sales, negotiation skills and personal integrity is merely the price of admission to the luxury arena. The key to becoming the standout in your market area comes down to your ability to easily and rapidly connect with wealthy individuals. You need to speak their language and comfortably converse on topics that interest them. That's where specialized knowledge converts to earning power.

People like doing business with people like themselves. The more common ground you establish with wealthy individuals the quicker they will be impressed with you and trust you. People also like to talk about what interests them. If you are interested in their interests you can rapidly develop a rapport and create a strong bond.

Many wealthy people have embarked upon "the quest for the best". That is, the best of everything that money can buy. For example, do you know what is considered the best Champagne in the world? If you came up with Dom Perignon or Crystal, which can be purchased for about $120-$200 per bottle you are close. [As an aside, you might impress Dom Perignon lovers with the fact that Costco sells more of that Champagne than any other retail outlet].

The answer is Salon. It distinguishes itself as the only champagne in the world that is bottled to order.

The House of Salon Champagne makes only one wine, the vintage tete-de-cuvee Blanc de Blancs. And, it is only produced in the years when the grapes are at their peak. Since its existence in 1921, it has only made 30 vintages. Salon uses the first pressing from hand selected grapes to assure the highest acidity, aroma, finesse, ripeness and quality. The grapes come from the original 12 acre estate, as well as selected vineyards in three distinct microclimates in Le Mesnil-sur Oger. The distinct difference between Salon and other Champagnes is that Salon does not put its wine through the process of malolactic fermentation. That process involves introducing desirable bacteria that prevents undesirable bacterial strains from producing off-flavors. Instead, eight to ten years of cellaring are required to achieve the perfect balance between fruit and acid.

Salon is kept on its yeasts in deep limestone cellars until a specific order is received. Only then is the yeast removed by hand for each order, with the cellar master inspecting the bouquet of each bottle. The latest 1996 vintage retails for $304. Salon can continue to age for an additional 15-20 years or longer and will develop increased complexity.

Specialized knowledge about subjects such as the making of champagne empowers you to stand out from the crowd. It differentiates you from your competitors. It shows that you have depth. It allows you to confidently engage in conversation on topics other than real estate.

When potential clients discover that you are interested in what interests them (Champagne in this case) they will often invite you to special events such as wine tastings or dinner parties where Champagne is served. Here you will meet others with similar interests.

Be sure to get the contact information from everyone one you meet. In your contact management program (Outlook, Act, Top Producer, etc) make a note about who has what special interest. Build rapport by sending them new discoveries that you make on your personal quest for the best, on this subject. For example, if a certain local restaurant has a particularly good wine list that includes a new Champagne, jot your new contacts a note about it and let them know how well the wine paired with the meal you ordered.

A good place to start learning about Champagne is on This is an excellent resource for the luxury realm. Or, go out and buy a bottle. Put it on ice, Invite some friends over. And, celebrate your personal quest for the best, as you embark on your career as a luxury real estate expert.

How do you start building a luxury real estate practice?

Make a commitment to become a perpetual student, someone who continuously acquires specialized knowledge such as the process of making Champagne;

Become passionate about the "quest for the best", yourself.

Become more interested than interesting.

The luxury arena is the realm of relationships. It is just as easy to acquire specialized knowledge about the finer things in life as any other subjects. Your personal quest for the best is the route to building a high volume luxury real estate practice. It can be enlightening, enriching and very much fun!