I want to discuss the most helpful job any creator can do before picking up a camera—working in sales. Luckily for all you real estate agents, you’re already doing that. But you might be wondering, what does that have to do with creating content? Well, let me tell you a story about how selling used cars helped me create better videos.

If we go back to 2013, 2014, I had gotten my first official job at a used car dealership. I wanted to be good at it. I thought it’d be fun. Wolf of Wall Street had just come out, and I was ready and hungry to go out there and make sales. I still did some video on the side, and it was always my passion to get into film and acting. But sales were going to pay the bills. 

And, as it turns out, I learned more about creating videos while selling cars than I ever did in any of my time at film school.

I walked in one day, I answered a classified ad, and they said, “Here’s your desk. We’ll see you come quota time.” I immediately thought, “What do I do now?” 

And I quickly learned through the crucible of cold calling precisely what you do now. Here’s everything I learned, starting with lesson one. 

#1 Be More Resilient 

Be more resilient when it comes to feedback, especially from people you are presenting your product to for the first time. This helped guide my video production in the future. And what better way to build that resilience than with cold calling?

The Importance of Cold Calling 

Cold calling is the number one thing that every video creator should do for at least three months at some point in their life before they ever pick up a camera. 

Most of you real estate agents already make (or have made) cold calls. And all that sales experience can help you make better videos. I’ll break it down below. 

There will be days when you spend a lot of time creating the best video ever, putting all this effort into it and making it as good as possible. And then you put it out there, and it’ll get no views. Or somebody will leave a troll comment that this is the shittiest video they’ve ever seen in their entire life. And it’ll discourage you from making videos because you didn’t spend time cold calling. 

And yes, two scenarios tie together in a meaningful way. 

Don’t Take Anything Personally

The number one guy at the dealership that I worked at, and he was the number one guy for the entire almost two years that I worked there by a large margin, and he, made more calls than anybody else. But not every call he made was to somebody happy that he was calling them on a random Tuesday afternoon about getting them to buy something. 

Never once did this discourage him. He never took this personally—and I’m sure you’ve heard and seen some awful things when making calls.  The reason he never took it personally  is that he could separate himself from the work that was happening. See, if you spend all that time making a video and you think it’s going to be the best video ever and it gets no views, and then you get discouraged, how much closer are you to making a video that will pop off, that will convert? 

Because at the end of the day, whether you are selling cars or homes, the end goal is to have somebody buy into something that they’ve never heard of, interacted with only briefly, and get them to become a fan, a client, or whatever your conversion metric is. 

Video, especially at a high level, is made for something other than fun. It’s made to get people to feel something, so much so that they interact with the product in a way that the video creator had initially intended. 

Only some people will like your video, and only some videos you make will be the best. If you just keep making videos, you will only get to where more people interact with your videos positively and convert in the way you want. Keep going and separate yourself from the work that you’re creating. So number one, every video creator should make cold calls before they pick up a camera. 

#2 Tell Your Story 

The second thing I learned about selling used cars that helped me create better videos was that it helped me tell a better story. 

For agents, that means you need to master video storytelling. 

And that’s not to say you should lie to anybody, but there are two distinct ways of presenting information to people to get them on your side with something. There’s a very famous lecture from Matt Parker and Trey Stone, who created South Park, and they’re giving a presentation. 

The critical takeaway of what they said was there are two distinct ways to present information. If we each have the same story. I say, this happened, and then this happened. It’s boring. You understand the information was presented sequentially. There isn’t much context or stakes given to the viewer or prospective client, and it’s just very surface-level in terms of what is being shown and presented. 

The other person could have the same story, script, and video, and they’ll be able to craft a narrative without lying or making anything up; this happened because this happened. They explained more eloquently. But overall, they were trying to present the information in a way that gives context and builds stakes. So treating every video view like a cold call, like a client interaction where you have a product to sell, where you have a conversion that you’re trying to achieve, and crafting that narrative in a way that has never been seen, done, or explained to the viewer before, that’s just storytelling at its base. But it is such an overlooked skill. 

I see so many video creators who invest time in getting really good at After Effects, or they’re spending time buying new lenses. But the videos they create using all these things and secondary support skills could be better because they need to learn how to craft a narrative. 

A great example of this is if you watch Ryan Trahan videos on YouTube. They are the best version of simplistic storytelling without a lot of flash. They also continuously get buy-in from the viewers precisely because of how he presents the information, tells the story, and gets you on his  side.

#3 Pull Inspirations from Your Idols 

The final example I’ll give of why storytelling is such a significant muscle to build doing sales reps or making videos is by thinking about your favorite movie directors. 

Certain directors have a very distinct style. If you watch their movie, you know it’s them. And that style makes up for a lack of storytelling. If you watch a Wes Anderson movie, you know it’s a Wes Anderson movie, and many of the pop, colors, and symmetry make you want to watch. The  story is fine, but you’re so distracted by everything else. 

But a true storyteller, and the reason he’s so popular, is somebody like Steven Spielberg. It’s crazy that the same guy who made Jaws also made Indiana Jones, Jurassic Park, Saving Private Ryan, Schindler’s List, War of the Worlds, and Minority Report. None of these movies have anything to do with each other thematically. Still, the person behind the camera can look at the information in front of them and assemble it in a way that is so compelling that you cannot help but keep watching, regardless of the subject matter.

For creating real estate content, pulling inspiration from other popular users on social media can help you create unlimited pieces of content. 

For many great salespeople, if they can sell cars, they can sell houses and insurance. It is that interpersonal storytelling bedrock that keeps people going. And for the best video creators out there, whether it’s people working for brands, people working to create  YouTube videos on their own, or people working at the highest level, the key to their success isn’t their camera or budget. They can tell stories. 

So I learned that making cold calls helps you galvanize yourself against rejection in both sales and making videos. I knew that being in a setting where you’re working interpersonally in a business with that client base helps you become a better storyteller. And the final thing I learned selling used cars is that working in sales teaches you to work for yourself. 

Working in sales helps you build the discipline that nothing happens and you don’t get paid if you don’t do well. Working in video teaches you that, even if I make a video, it might not perform well. 

So, use your sales and cold calling experience to your advantage. Take from it the storytelling strategies you’ve learned, the way you’ve dealt with criticism and feedback, and the discipline to follow through with your daily tasks—and apply that to your video creation.

And remember, becoming the best video creator possible has nothing to do with your lens or your light, your mic, or your camera. It has everything to do with you.

To learn more about the tactical side of video editing, check out my courses in BAMx.