You can and should use ‘success letters’ in your commercial real estate business.
When you have a positive result in a sale or leasing situation, is worth sending a ‘success letter’ into your location and certainly so with the prominent investors, property owners and business leaders.
Use your positive results in your local real estate business as a marketing tool.
You want the local people to know that you have produced a positive result with a property that they are likely to know and perhaps see every day.
Use the local area as a base of marketing. Help them remember you and your success with the listing, they drive past it on the way to work or on their way doing business locally.
So what specifically is a letter of this type?
It is simply a traditional direct mail piece that is sent to the surrounding location property owners and business leaders. It is simple in format and usually contained on one single A4 page; the letter tells of a property result locally, you enclose your business card, and you invite general enquiry for more information.
When you send these letters out into the local area, you must follow them up; that is the way the processes really must happen. Here are some ideas to merge into this marketing strategy:
Reference the address of the property and or the building – Make sure that everyone knows that you are the person that listed the property, created the inspections, negotiated the deal, and resolved the property challenge for the client.
Talk about enquiry rates – Local property owners like to know that other enquiries are still unsatisfied; that may be enough reason for them to contact you for their property challenge.
Use case studies – You can put together a case study or series of case studies that talk to the property listing and result that you achieved. Over time you can compile a series of these special information sheets and merge them into your presentations, client discussions, and negotiations. Sometimes people just need that extra proof of an event to make the final decision to move on what you are saying or recommending.
Have a story to tell – Stories create interest. You can merge a number of stories into your property marketing and client contact processes. Stories should be local in relevance and proximity. You can put those stories into your canvassing letters.
Write editorials and blogs – A good story about local property results and trends can be put online via a blog and or into the local newspapers. If you did the sale or leasing deal, then you have a story to tell. As part of that process, ensure that you have the client’s approval to talk about things that they may consider ‘sensitive’ to their property sale, lease, or disposal.
Connect with your database – Whilst you should and will have a database, there are various ways you can connect into the people within the list. Email, letters, and telephone calls all work as part of a comprehensive property marketing campaign.
Integrate your social media platforms into your case studies and results – There are a few social media platforms that are useful in commercial real estate today. It is doubtful that you will directly attract and close on a listing though social media, but you should have the advantage there of staying in regular contact with the people that you know and have already reached out to.
So your success letter process can feed into your marketing methods both online and offline. Chart out your current marketing processes and look at how they can be improved with this process.
You will hear it frequently said that cold calling just has to be a part of a real estate prospecting model. Many agents and brokers struggle with the process and never really get it under control. That’s where the frustration is for many; they simply can’t get the skills under control or perhaps the focus is lacking.
One thing needs to be said here if your real estate business is important to you. The issue is that you must practice your skills at making calls and lots of them. There are plenty of people to reach out to and many ways to do that.
Focus Your Call Routine This Way
Here are some valuable ways to get things under control:
Best time of day – Choose the best time of day to make your calls. That will be the time when you can reliably get your calls done without disruption. Certainly you have to bend the rules sometimes when it comes to making calls because some deals and some client matters cannot be put off. Understand how you like to do your work and when you like to do that. Where can you get 2 or 3 hours per day to make your calls? The morning is perhaps the best time for most people.
Relevance in conversation – If you want people to listen to you, then you must have some relevant conversational facts to talk about. Those facts should be locally biased and interesting. Be prepared to talk about local property trends and changes. Be prepared to talk about identified changes that will bring interest and benefit to your prospect and client base.
Practice your words – Some words work considerably better than others when it comes to creating flow and interest in conversation. You can get some valuable books about ‘Words that Sell’, and ‘Phrases that Sell’. Merge some of those word concepts into your conversations and client contact methods. Practice will help you improve in that way.
Have a few stories to tell – Local stories about property issues and changes will always be valuable as you talk to many local people. Over the course of a year you can capture many good stories about property issues and changes. Choose the best stories. Master the art of storytelling; that’s what good salespeople do all the time.
Make lots of calls – Every day you need to make a reasonable volume of calls; that process will require research and a good database to track your progress. In a period of 3 hours you should be able to make 40 to 50 calls. If you are using the business telephone book to do that, the momentum you create will be valuable to the growth of your real estate business.
Track your progress as you make the calls – Make notes in your database of what people have said and what you decided to do for the people you have connected with. You can talk about call progress and previous comments when you next reach out to the same people. Familiarity will help you grow good levels of trust and respect in the people that matter.
Qualify the people in conversation – Good questions will help you know if you can be of help to the people that you call. Determine your relevance to them and when they will best benefit from your future advice. Tell them how you can help them and when you should be talking with them again. If you can see an immediate or pending need, create a meeting. The person to person contact process in commercial real estate is really important.
So there are some good things that you can do here with cold calling and commercial real estate prospecting. Are you up to the challenge of making the calls and providing the best property service for your local area? Show respect in your conversations with the people that will take your call and speak with you. Respect builds trust. That is how you can move ahead in your local area as a top agent.
In commercial property management today, there are many things to think about as you work with tenants, leases, rent, and maintenance. Some properties are more challenging than others. Some clients are more demanding or specific in property needs.
So how do you get to a positive result? You need a plan or approach to do that. I have broken down the Property Management process into 4 categories in this chart. It may give you some valuable ideas in focusing your business skills in property management.
It is easy to get overwhelmed with all the issues to action and implement in commercial real estate brokerage. The best way forward usually involves small incremental steps of improvement that you action every day.
The fact to understand here is that there will always be things happening each day that you do not expect or plan for.
You will only be able to control about 1/3rd of your day; everything else is a ‘juggle’.
So the process here is for you to control that 1/3rd of your day. If you do that consistently, you will get somewhere. It is interesting to note that most agents and brokers cannot or do not control even that 1/3rd; they let things happen and that casual approach to their business will lead them through the day and week. At the end of a month they are frustrated and they generally lack reasonable market activity and or listings.
So let’s look at how you can take small steps forward in your business model as a broker or agent:
Getting to know new people – You can never really know too many people. The fact is you must know lots of people at a reasonable level and they must remember you when they need property help. The only way to achieve that level of familiarity is to start a prospecting and database process that you drive towards new people every day.
Creating meetings – Just how many meetings do you create now each day with new people? A good target to work to is 2 meetings per day. The best way to get to that level of market interaction is through personal prospecting using a number of initiatives including cold calling, direct mail, email, website, social media, and referrals. Are you up to the challenge?
Building relationships – You will have to connect with most of your contacts on a regular basis and that will be at least once every 90 days or less. Over time the familiarity that you require will be built. Do the things that help your prospects and clients remember you.
Identifying VIP Clients and Prospects – Differentiate the good people in your database from the ordinary people. Segment your database into VIP’s and others. Spend a good degree of your contact processes reaching into your VIP database and growing the relationships.
Watch the property trends and listings locally – When you see something listed locally with your competitors, watch the results, marketing, and enquiry or inspections. Some quality listings with your competitors will create volumes of enquiry in any market. Try to attract the better listings towards yourself and your brokerage; that’s when you can build a profile of activity in your area. A good marketing profile and a strong listing base will pull in the business locally.
Put the deals together individually – Concentrate your commercial real estate efforts on your individual listings (and particularly the exclusive listings). Convert your listings exclusively most of the time, refresh them regularly, and market them deeply. Winning a listing is just the beginning of the equation. Results come from a singular focus on each listing and the client’s requirements.
So there are some good things to do here as you take small steps forward in commercial real estate brokerage. Create a plan to do that and push your plan forward at an individual level each day; only you can do that.
It is one thing to say that you are the best local property agent; it is another to prove it. There are far too many ‘ordinary’ agents out there, and clients can easily get confused as they try and solve their property challenge.
The clients in the property market today want the best agent or broker for the job, and that person has to commit to the listing and marketing processes. It’s not ‘rocket science’, if you know what I mean?
Ordinary agents take far too many ‘open listings’; top agents on the other hand convert ‘exclusive listings’ most of the time and then get a sale or a lease result.
Top Agents are Different
Top agents are special to the clients that they serve, and they get to that point of local area achievement through just two things; relevance and coverage. When they prove that to the client, they generally win the listing.
Listing conversion today is not about providing commission discounts, and free marketing. At the top of the property issue the client wants a result in a timely way, and most quality clients understand that discounts do not create the best results.
Provide the Bare Facts
Our industry is not an ‘experiment in marketing’; it is a skillful and deep specialized process. Are you up to the challenge? Can you sell yourself to the client as the ‘best agent for the job’?
Let’s be specific here. Show the client that you are the right person to help them today by answering these questions in the listing or presentation pitch:
How to find the right buyers for the listing?
How to find the right tenants for the property?
How to market a listing comprehensively?
How to get the best price?
How to get the best rent?
What are the other listings on the market?
Who is looking for a property now or soon?
What is the best time to sell or lease?
When should the listing be activated on the market?
Who is on the ‘short list’ to be shown the property immediately?
These are very special questions. They take deliberate study and dialogue with the client as part of the listing presentation. You cannot ‘fudge’ a listing conversion with this information.
When you lease a commercial or retail property today, it pays to set some rules to the process so you can correctly match the tenant to the property for the fullest of available advantages.
Investment property leasing is where all the important decisions are made to find the best tenants for the investment performance. Each tenant is different, each landlord can be quite special, and between both of those stakeholders you have a property and its occupancy opportunities.
Establish Your Commercial Property Leasing System
Are you ready to specialize in leasing and investment property performance?
Know who you are talking to and always get their contact details first – When an inquiry comes in from a tenant, ensure that you are talking to the right person who you believe is in control of the business. Before you disclose too much about the property, write down the important contact details of the person and the role that they play in property selections and choices. Don’t be too eager to talk about the property without the fullest of contact details from the person you are engaged with in conversation.
What do they really want in leasing new premises? – There will be a main motivator(s) behind a tenant in changing properties. Questions will always get you to a few important points to understand. Of the few factors of importance in finding new premises to lease, a couple of factors will be high on the tenant’s agenda. Get to those facts fast and directly. Delve into location issues, and then improvement requirements in any property to be leased.
What can they afford? – Is it a tenant’s market or a landlord’s market in your location currently? There are differences to watch for, and those differences will impact your negotiations with rents and lease terms. Some tenants have little understanding of the current property market conditions, and the same can be said for the landlords that you serve. Be prepared to quote real market evidence from recent lease deals to occupancy arrangements, lease negotiations and market rentals. Tell the tenants and landlords that you work for how they are positioned in the current property market and how realistic their expectations may be in changing property today.
What property improvements do they need? – Every business will have challenges of placement when it comes to fitting into a new property. Your job is to bring ends to meet together across the void of a leasing negotiation. Your client is the priority above everything else. What are the targets of your client in the lease negotiation?
Factors of supply and demand will impact your negotiation – Always track the vacancy factors in your location. Those vacancy factors will be impacted by supply and demand for the location and the property type. Higher vacancy factors push up lease incentives. A volatile leasing market will drive greater elements of risk for landlords, and that is where a tenant retention plan will help you with the overall income stability for your clients. Become a specialist in tenant retention, lease negotiation, tenant sourcing, and lease marketing. There are plenty of leasing advantages to be had from an active property market with tenants and landlords.
In commercial real estate brokerage, you must know where your new business is derived from and where the best commissions are likely to come from into the future. Some new property business can be much more lucrative for you over time. Understand what that new business looks like and how you can find it. Focus into the segment that works for you.
Your opportunities will come from your local property market. The way to find that business is to specialize and improve your services accordingly. Top agents are very good at just one or two things, and then they drive themselves into that or those segment(s).
Where then are you likely to find the best business in both listings and commissions into the future? When you know your skills and knowledge, you can do something with growth and market share. You can also practice and improve your skills on the things that really matter. That’s how you generate more commissions and listings in a relevant and real way.
Your special market segments?
Consider the special market segments below and how you can select the right category of business activity. Ultimately strive to grow and shape your market share as a broker or agent over time. Plan your way forward:
Sellers agent – If you are a seller’s agent (or want to be) then you must know how to pitch and present your listing services competitively and directly to the people that matter. This is the ‘pointy end’ of our craft; pitching and presenting is something that will always vary based on the property and the client. Ultimately you will need a good database of clients to focus on so you are there to help them at the right time when they need a property solution.
Leasing agent – Three are always businesses looking to relocate locally. Spend some time looking into the business community and what they want from a property and improvement perspective.
Property management specialist – The management services to be offered today to the owners of any quality investment property can be quite unique and comprehensive. Your fee structures should be as comprehensive as your services offered.
Property performance improvement – Can you improve a property and its performance? Ultimately if your fee in property management is based on a percentage of passing income, then you can improve your fees through improved property rental cash flow. When the landlord wins, you also win.
Lease negotiations – Every lease negotiated deserves a reasonable fee. The value of a lease into the future is sustained as long as the lease is structured with due care.
And so the list goes on. Can you see the opportunity here? Specialization works in commercial real estate brokerage.
Look at your location, your client segments, the levels of professional services offered by your competition, and then understand exactly how you will pull in your commission and what your professional services provide your clients. You will never have a big problem in setting your professional fees if you and your services are regarded as the best available for the client and their property challenge.
Here are some other valuable service alternatives for you to open up into as a real estate agent for your location:
Tenancy mix strategies
Your ability to earn money as commission and to convert listings will be based largely on your skills and knowledge. Practice what you do and learn as much as you can. That is what our business is all about.
If you haven’t worked it out yet, online marketing is taking over commercial real estate advertising and property promotion. Every year there are new things to do and learn as part of property promotion in both sales and leasing. It is regrettable that many agents and brokers just do the ‘ordinary stuff’ in commercial real estate marketing. They don’t ‘step out of the box’ when it comes to property promotion.
If you want to rise to the top of your local property market, you will have to get your property marketing under control and drive it comprehensively online. Only you can do that. A system of marketing is required. Have you got one now?
Here is a challenge for you. Factor up your online marketing and drive a solid marketing strategy online with all your exclusive listings (open listings really don’t deserve the extra effort). Penetrate your online marketing activities across your location and property specialty. Here are some specifics to help you with that:
Frequency – The search engines love ‘frequency’ and that means doing something every day online. The thing or things that you do must be tuned to specific keywords relevant to your location and your property type. Put your name behind and into everything that you do online. You are part of the promotion, so remember that key element and make it work for you.
Blog – Every agent and broker should have a property blog that they professionally write and service. Each day that agent should be posting something about their location or property activity. Make it interesting and put some good facts into your blogging activity; talk about your town or city, and how property facts are changing and shaping. You have plenty to talk about when you really think about things.
Branding – Your branding online may be something to do with your brokerage, but you should also be promoting yourself online. People do business with those agents that they remember and trust. Your branding and personal marketing has to position you in that way. It’s a personal thing.
Images – Always use good quality images to pull in the eye and interest of the reader. Take plenty of photographs locally and keep them for placement in your blog and or articles online. A good image will help your brokerage brand. First class marketing solutions always include excellent quality images.
Advertising Copy – You can get quite good at writing advertising copy and property editorials. There are some good books available that provide marketing ideas to attract readers, words that sell, and phrases that sell. Get away from the ‘ordinary stuff’ in your property advertising online. Use words and phrases that pull in the reader’s interest.
Headline – A good headline is 50% of the equation in pulling in the reader to any property article or advertisement. Look at how newspapers and magazines use headlines in this way. You can get plenty of ideas from those sources to help you with headlines.
Keywords – You are a broker or agent working in a location and with a property type(s). From those 2 factors you can use specific keywords in all of your marketing and articles online. Search engines look for keywords when matching property inquiry to search results.
Social media – I have deliberately put social media last on the list. That is because you should not start your social media activities in commercial real estate unless you have all the other issues underway and under control. You can link all of your social media efforts back to your articles, blogs, listings, and noteworthy helpful hints.
From these ideas you can now see how you can and should build your online marketing presence as a commercial real estate agent or broker. When you do that comprehensively you can penetrate your property market online and put your personal brand forward as the ‘agent of choice’ for the location. This is not a random process; it is very specific.
When you ask the right questions in commercial real estate brokerage you can get the facts, and more importantly, show the client or prospect that you really know what you are talking about.
The Best Questions Get Results
The right questions will highlight your knowledge and your relevance as an agent. The clients that we serve like to work with top agents for the location. Is that you? How can you improve your real estate profile and business? You can ask quality questions.
When you think about the separate sections of the industry and the different property types, there are plenty of focus points that you can delve into as part of that specialization process. For example, you can look at the topic mixes between:
Investment ownership and property sales
Investment performance and leasing
Property management strategies and leasing or cash flow management
In asking these deeper questions you should understand these things:
What are the conditions of the local property market? – Things always change in commercial property so keep abreast of those things and where the pressures are occurring. You are the problem solver so be prepared to build your real estate business in that way.
What is a prospect or client to you? – When you know what a client or prospect is you can match your prospecting efforts and questions. You will understand what to say and when to say it.
How should you qualify a prospect? – When you know what a prospect looks like, where they come from, and what they are looking for, you will understand the best ways to drill down in your questioning and qualify them for your business and services.
What does a prospect or client want from you? – Delve into the client’s situation so you know what they need by way of property assistance. Sometimes you will know the complexity of the property challenge more than the client.
What are the pressures of the local property market today? – You are a solution provider, so you should know where the local property pressures are and how you can help with that.
When do they need your help? – They say that commercial real estate is a service industry, but timing has a lot to do with the conversions of property listings and clients. There are good times to solve property problems, and difficult times. Do a full market assessment to get those issues under control.
What can you do that is special? – There is no point in being ordinary in commercial real estate brokerage. Develop your relevance so you can stand out in your property market as the ‘Agent of Choice’.
In simple terms you can drill down into issues and match your questions to the property and the client or prospect situation. I go back to the point here that the right questions will help you get a lot closer to the issues that can convert a listing.
Questions in commercial real estate are always there to be asked and actioned. Ask better questions and match your services as a broker or agent to the answers that you get back.