"I got a referral from a colleague to help an NFL player who was moving to Detroit," he says. "I later learned that the average homeowner moves once every seven years -- the average athlete, however, moves five times in nine years. I decided to find a way to receive more of those leads."
Almost eight years later, he's sold dozens of homes to clients like Derrick Morgan of the NFL's Tennessee Titans and Greivis Vasquez of the NBA's New Orleans Hornets. His jet-setting work as sports realtor is the subject of HGTV's new reality show .
Abrams shares five tips for getting and keeping high-profile clients :
1. Know the 'in.' When selling a product or service to an athlete or celebrity, Abrams says it's all about referrals. "You won't get far going directly to the client," he says. "Instead, you need to build relationships with trusted sources of the client. For example, find a way to connect with an agent or financial advisor. If you can get these people sold on you, you have a much better chance of getting a referral."
2. Get around the gatekeeper. To approach a client's trusted sources, you have to find a way in. Abrams says social media makes it easier than ever to find connections, but he believes in the power of a phone call.
"When I first started, it was all about cold calls," he says. "The trick is to beat the receptionist to the office. One of my secrets was to make early morning phone calls, before the office opened. If the company has a dial-by-name directory, you can often catch the person you want to reach at their desk, especially if their name is on the door. You'd be amazed at who picks up the phone at 5:30 a.m."
3. Stand out. When you're selling a commodity such as real estate, you're working with the same inventory as every other realtor, says Abram. That means your value comes from standing out.
"No matter what your industry, work on developing your qualifications and personality," he says. "Have an excellent commitment to client, and find a niche and exploit it."
4. Say a memorable ‘thank you.' Abrams says his success came from two thank yous. After selling his first property to the Detroit Lions football player, he went to North Carolina and California to personally thank the player's financial advisor and agent.
"The financial advisor couldn't believe someone flew out to say thank you," he says. "I didn't make it past the agent's receptionist, but he called me later and told me he thought it was amazing that I flew all the way from Detroit. I got my next two referrals from those thank yous."
5. Have a higher mission. Abrams says having a genuine concern for his clients has been vital for his business. "I discovered that 79 to 83 percent of NFL players file bankruptcy within five years of leaving the league," he says.
"That doesn't just affect the player, it affects their family and their children. I decided to reduce that percentage by giving my clients good financial advice."
While it's cost him clients and commission, he advises that rookies rent for the first year. "For me, it isn't just a sale. It's about becoming a trusted part of their team."