If you have chosen commercial real estate as your preferred career, you have likely done so for a reason. Perhaps someone has introduced you to the profession, or you have seen what some agents do and achieve in their career and you want to get similar results.
Many ‘Roads’ to Take in Commercial Property
Certainly there are many ‘roads’ of focus and activity to take in commercial real estate brokerage; all of those ‘roads’ are specialized in some way for both property type and location. All of those ‘roads’ involve client contact, personal performance, commissions, and listings.
You have to be a person that will focus personal effort into all of those things, and that is certainly the case if you want to get more or improved results from your industry and from your efforts over time.
You need a plan as an agent or broker, and that plan when started can be refined over time. The commissions come to those that work with professional skills that are improved over time. Are you that person?
Get More Real Estate Traction and Focus
Here are some ideas to help you get more traction in your career as an agent or broker, and attract better levels of commissions:
Specialist skills – choose the property types that you understand and can match your professional skills into. Boost your skills through practice. There is no point specializing in something that sells or leases in low volume. Look at the end result of what could happen in your property specialization. Improve your skills through deliberate effort.
Local area – choose the local area that shows the best possibilities for your efforts over time. Review the streets and precincts. Look at the buildings and investment properties in the chosen location.
Owners, Tenants and Business owners – you can work for clients in all 3 of these categories, but in saying that, each category requires understanding and unique qualities of service. Given your location, how much business could you extract from the segments? You could be an agent for landlords, tenants, buyers, or sellers; match your services into the segments that you prefer and then prospect the segments comprehensively in an ongoing way.
Referrals – when you know a customer or client with reasonable familiarity, the referral process gets a lot easier. Encourage your clients to tell you about other people that they know who may be interested in property investment.
Repeat business – some clients will transact commercial property in a number of different ways over time. That is especially so if they own multiple properties or a portfolio. Review your clients on that basis.
Quality properties – work with the better quality properties as they will attract more inquiry and that will lead to a better churn of listings and properties. As you work with more listings piggy back your listings and inquiries so you can move an inquiry from one property to another and eventually find the right solution for the buyer or tenant.
A quality database – review the database software that you use an understand its potential for you in finding the right people to transact real estate in some way. Spreadsheets don’t offer a complete level of coverage; the larger that they get, the more difficult it is in finding the right people to match into a property listing or inquiry.
There are some special things that you can do here with a listings and commissions focus. If commercial real estate is your career, then the elements mentioned here will be vital to the outcomes that you seek. Refine them and improve them over time. Top agents are created and shaped over time; luck has nothing to do with the process. Your career and its results are influenced by deliberate choices and refined actions.
Time is one of the most valuable resources that you have in commercial real estate brokerage. The way that you use your time will impact the results that you seek with clients, listings, inspections, and commissions.
Consider the events of the last week in your diary.
Could you have approach things more effectively?
Are there times where you could have focused your energy in different directions for better results?
Of course the answers to these questions are an affirmative yes in every respect. In hindsight we can all improve our results and our effectiveness in property brokerage. The trick here is to build that strategy into each and every working day.
Don’t waste your time on the things that really don’t matter. Understand your priorities as a broker or an agent. Get things done specifically and directly with a focus on new business and commissions.
Here is an audio recording by John Highman focusing on the importance of time management and task management in commercial real estate brokerage today.
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.
Talent in commercial real estate can be a number of things depending on the job specification, the local area, and the property type. The point is that you must hire people with ‘talent’ or ‘potential talent’ if you want a better brokerage and market share.
When you are employing people for real estate roles in sales, leasing, or property management, choose those people that match the demands of the role. Don’t employ someone that ‘thinks’ that they can do the work or is untested without applying a probation period. Employing the wrong person can waste a lot of time and money.
Real ‘talent’ in our industry will be specific to the role required and the person, but they generally have a set of ‘common denominators’. Here are some of those:
An ability to self-motivate under pressure
Real knowledge of the property type and the area locally
A willingness to learn new things and systems in real estate
Advanced communication and negotiation skills across all parts of the industry
Awareness of property strategies that apply in sales, leasing, and property management
Knows how to seek out new business and clients quickly and effectively
The ability to set personal goals and to then take steps to move towards them
A track record of achievement in the industry
A client base that is deep and proven for the local area
Someone that is personally committed to growing their business and can prove to you that they have a system to do so
Can you find a person with all of these ‘traits’? Yes they are out there; but they do take some finding. Question the candidates ‘track record’ in the industry and get some facts about their client base. Both issues will be important to the future of the role. Understand just where they have been and the achievements reached in doing so.
There are people that have some of these elements of ‘talent’, and a willingness to learn the rest. That’s where the full review process comes into importance and relevance. Through the job interview process understand just who you have before you and what they can bring to you. Skills, knowledge, and market experience all have value to the employment selection process. Make sure the person can prove that they are willing to learn and get evidence of how they have done that in other roles or brokerages.
As a final note here it is worth understanding that it takes a couple of interviews to really review a person considered for a sales position in commercial real estate. In the last interview you can ask them to do a presentation on ‘why they should be the best person for the role’. Don’t rush your choice or decision. Consider all the facts before you before accepting the candidate into your commercial real estate brokerage.
Every so often you will hear some agent or broker say that ‘cold calling doesn’t work’. They are of course giving themselves some reason to not make the calls and avoid the process.
It is a fact that the top agents of the market are not afraid to make lots of calls every day to new people. The important issue here is that they are talking to both new people and current contacts. They are growing relationships on a daily basis.
Our industry is based on relationships. Get to know many property investors, tenants, business owners, and property developers. Keep in contact with them for the long term. Trust is a big issue when it comes to attracting new listings to your agency or brokerage. It can take months if not years for some prospects and clients to be in a position to move on a property matter.
So here are some detailed cold calling tips to help you grow your real estate business:
Determine your market area and targets. The market area is likely to be a part of a town or city and that should be determined by boundaries. Stay within your boundaries and get to know all the properties and property owners inside the zone. The targeted properties are likely to be by type and size. On that basis travel the streets in your sales and leasing territory. Find the quality properties and network the property owners and or landlords.
Call times should be set that work for your business and the people that you should be talking to. Ideally you should be making calls for 2 or 3 hours every day. That will take some discipline in your diary. Don’t let others interfere with your prospecting plans and efforts.
Record your numbers relating to calls out, calls connected, meetings arranged, and listings created. Over time you will see those numbers improve. The improvement can be fast tracked through practice each morning when you first arise.
A conversational approach works better in prospecting. Don’t pitch in any way; you really have no idea of the needs of the other person, so a conversation will get you further into understanding future opportunity.
Get a good database to track your call results. Simplicity and flexibility are important with a database. Protect your data and keep it up to date.
If you want more listing and commission business in commercial real estate brokerage, you will get there a lot faster with a professional approach to cold calling. Understand that most brokers avoid the process, and on that basis it can be a major source of leads and new business for you. Remain confident and make more calls.
In the commercial real estate brokerage today, the classic sales letter will always create opportunity for an agent or broker if the process is put in place successfully and consistently. It is necessary to understand the logic behind the process, the timing of the letters, and the requirement to do it regularly.
It is a fact that the e-mail prospecting process has taken over a large section of the real estate industry. For this very reason, the traditional sales letter sent through the Post Office System will create a major point of difference in marketing when it comes to the prospecting activities of an agent or a broker.
If you want to stand out from the crowd when it comes to your marketing efforts, merge the sales letter process into your personal marketing efforts. Here are some rules to help you:
The sending of letters needs to occur regularly. Send your letters to groups of prospects on a monthly or bimonthly process. Given that each letter is specifically written for the target market of property owners or tenants, it is quite easy to group your prospects into segments. At different times of the month you can send your letters to selected segments.
So a key factor here is to write letters specifically to the targets within each group. You can are groups for landlords, tenants, business owners, investors, and developers. Specific letters are used in each case.
As a general rule, and wherever possible, take the time to follow-up each letter with a telephone call. If you know the telephone number of the person concerned, make the call. Many letters will help you convert more meetings.
It is preferable that the letter process is simple and select. Three or four paragraphs on a single page will get the message across. Sign your letters individually and ensure that they are personally addressed to the people concerned. Enclose your business card with every letter. You are marketing yourself and your contact details; that is what the letter and the message must do.
Given that this is a prospecting process, the letter is designed to connect with the person you are sending it to, so that you can get more meetings and opportunities. On that basis the message and the letter needs to be simply designed. Do not fill the envelope with bulky marketing material that will confuse the central message. Marketing letters are best left to a different approach and a generic mail system.
Make it easy for people to contact you as part of the mail out. Some people will call you as a direct result of getting the letters regularly. That is why you enclose your business card as part of the process. It is quite likely that the receiver of the correspondence will keep your business card for future reference.
So the direct mail process is a real and important part of the commercial real estate brokers marketing system. Make it an important part of your regular marketing efforts.
In commercial real estate prospecting some people will want to do business with you and others will avoid any real connection. You will get the feeling that some people really do not care for a connection or information. Look for the ‘signs’, and understand what is going on (or not going on).
You can spend far too much time in chasing people that are ‘not interested’. Whilst it is great to have a good degree of professional persistence in prospecting, the fact of the matter is that you must protect your time. If someone is not receptive to your genuine approaches and communication you should remove them from your contact process and simple move on to talking to others.
In any town or city, there are plenty of people to talk to. Momentum is really important when it comes to growing your market share and your contact database. In most towns or cities you will have several thousand business owners and property investors to talk to. Finding them remains the challenge; however diligence will get you there over time.
Here are some guidelines to help you with a system for prospect and client communication:
Set some daily prospecting goals that you can relate to and believe in. That will usually involve a mixture of outbound calls, personal meetings, and property inspections. From that contact process you will find the people that really want to talk to you and build a relationship.
If you are at the beginning of your career and prospecting activity, start with some achievable numbers so that you can grow your momentum easily and effectively. Ultimately you should be prospecting for 3 hours every day. In that time you should be making 40 to 50 outbound calls. That can be a daunting target for many people. If you are at the early stages of your professional career and prospecting is a developing habit, then make 15 outbound calls every day until that becomes an achievable habit and target. From that point onwards, you can grow the numbers at five extra calls per day to reach the level of 50 calls. When you reach the level of 40 to 50 outbound calls, your prospecting time will be saturated with activity and meeting opportunities. At that level you can sustain reasonable activity and attract new business. From 40 or so calls you should be able to connect with 15 people. From that connection you should get 2 meetings per day. That is how you build your prospect list.
Practice your dialogue so that you can improve your connections and conversations progressively. In approaching a new person for the first time, the conversations should be based on trust and information. There is no point in pitching your professional services or pushing for a listing opportunity over the telephone; that can occur when you meet with the person and truly understand their needs in property today. Help the person trust you by providing valuable market intelligence and genuine property solutions.
So the key message here is for you to establish a contact and prospecting cycle based on trust; understand the necessity for filtering out the people that will not do business with you over the long term. Read the signs in any conversation, and avoid time wasting people. When you look at your sales territory and property speciality, there are likely to be many more people for you to research and connect with.