The best agents in commercial real estate know how to communicate effectively and control their transactions from start to finish. They do not lose control of the deal momentum. They stay with their listings and negotiation positions to the very end. Those focus points are quite important.
Things will change, and momentum will shift in any sale or lease, so expect that. Understanding the momentum of the parties and their negotiation targets will help you effectively convert and control the transaction. Set your rules to all the communication processes across listings, inspections, and negotiations.
Comprehensive Communication with Listing Control
Stay with the transaction and the involved people from the very beginning.
Here are some ideas to help with that transaction control:
Know who your client is in the transaction, and don’t lose that awareness as the elements of the deal move and change. The client is the person that needs your help and will be the one that is paying the commission at the point of success.
Make sure your appointment to act in the sale or property transaction is accurately compiled and legally correct. You don’t want any disagreements about commission at a later time.
Get full property detail and title ownership correctly compiled for the transaction and the negotiations that may follow. Be prepared for questions and negotiation elements between the parties.
Follow the client’s instructions to completion. Keep the client fully briefed as matters shift and change. Information helps with negotiations.
Take plenty of notes as the transaction evolves. Most property negotiations are complex, and the elements of offers, discussions, and agreements will vary. Your notes are critical to transaction control. Every meeting, telephone discussion, or direct instruction should be documented.
If you need some ‘market awareness’ to help shape the thoughts of your client or the negotiating party, then gather plenty of comparable evidence from other local properties and transactions. That evidence should be statistical and visual, as well as verbal. Verbal comments alone don’t count much when it comes to client or prospect conditioning. Help your client or the other party to the transaction understand the elements of the local property market and recent prices or rents.
Most parties to a property sale or lease want to get some ‘saving’ as a final element of ‘closure’ on a negotiation. What is the best alternative to no agreement for each of the parties? They will be ‘holding out’ for their position and advantages, and somewhere in those facts will be a potential agreement. Know the negotiation ‘variables’ for each party and then position the negotiation around them.
Personal marketing for a top agent is a required process. It covers promotions and engagement across some different channels. A top agent will be using all available marketing elements to build their business. That will, for example, be websites, editorials, articles, social media, databases, telephone calls, and meetings. That is how they can build a solid marketing profile as an industry expert. The process of personal marketing never stops for a top agent. Get involved in promoting yourself and your skills locally. Engage with your target market.
When the final transaction documentation takes shape, understand the facts and capture the elements of the deal. Know how all matters should be documented; do so with accuracy and timeliness. All documentation should be served and prepared with full regard to local property laws and the instructions of the client.
With these things, you can control a property transaction most effectively from start to finish.
Communicate through your listing and property transactions with accuracy and timeliness. That will help in creating ‘closure’. Commissions are then easier to convert. That is how top agents do things.
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.
In commercial real estate brokerage it is not unusual for agents to struggle or have a slump in business from time to time. The matter is resolved when they focus back on building market share and client base.
So why does a ‘slump’ in business happen? Whilst the market may change and the tenants or buyers could be slower to respond to a deal opportunity, everything comes back to the volume and quality of listings held by the broker. A good quality listing that has been correctly marketed will sell or lease most of the time.
So how can a broker or agent get out of a ‘slump’ in commissions and listings? Try some of these:
Simplify the day so more of the correct things get done. It is a sad fact that diversions occur each day and far too many brokers let those diversions take over. Focus on the things that must be done; understand the importance of those things in business generation at a personal level. An agent that is struggling is usually well ‘off the rails’ when it comes to important business tasks.
We are the products of our habits. Only our habits will help change the market and our commissions. Start a new habit per week and develop it to a high level. Focus on the key things that mean a lot to building market share. The question will then be what are the most important habits to develop? In most cases they are a mixture of the following; prospecting, presenting, inspecting, and negotiating. Take one of these habits per week at take deliberate steps to improve the process. When you have got the new skill underway, move on to the next one. I go back to the point that ‘habits’ are really important in our industry.
Track your progress each day in the things that mean something to where you are headed as a broker and agent. In tracking the numbers you can improve your results in the things that matter. What would I track? Try these; cold calls, meetings, presentations, listings, inspections, and closed deals.
We must control the working day. We have work choices throughout the day and the choices that we make will build our market share or destroy it.
If someone wants a slice of your time and asks for an appointment, understand that only the most important people get time with you. Unimportant issues can wait to later in the day when the key issues in your business plan have been done.
In commercial real estate brokerage today, the blogging process will help you build market share and professional profile. That being said, the strategy does require commitment and focus. It is certainly something that you should carefully consider as part of building your professional image and social media strategy.
It is worthwhile noting that this process should only occur if you have a reasonable command of the written word and your property topic. Quality and information should flow through your article and your blog process.
So why is this so important? The process of blogging allows you to display your skill and knowledge to the Internet world, and potentially the clients and the prospects in your market today. When you do this correctly, the search engines will see you as an industry expert. You can also link up your social media activity into your blogging process.
There are always plenty of listings on the Internet, and you will have your fair share of those. The blogging process is entirely different to property advertising, and is based on information sharing. You will be writing about the marketplace in a valuable and meaningful way. Blogging is not a process of advertising properties, as that already occurs on your website and the industry portals.
So here are some things to think about as part of building your online profile in this way:
Understand your niche market when it comes to property activity. Also determine the critical issues that relate to your geographical region, town, or city. From these factors, you can select keywords that apply to your region and property type. Those keywords can be fed into the articles and blogs that you write. You can research some of those keywords on the Internet based search engines using a keyword search tool. In most cases you can download the keyword search results using an excel spread sheet. That information will be quite valuable when it comes to connecting with your marketplace, writing advertisements, and building market share.
Every article or blog that you write should be content rich. In other words you should write to a topic and a specific local property issue. The search engines love to see quality content relating to a topic. Choose your topics wisely and match them to the concerns and the activities of the property market today. Think of your blog as a newspaper that is talking to the market about relevant issues related to property. What would the readers like to hear? Within reason, you can be controversial and yet also remaining professional to the industry and the current property market.
When you place a blog online, you can use tags or labels in each case to focus the search engines on your article. Choose those tags or labels based on the central topic, your location, and the property type. When you correctly do this, you will find that the blog will receive good hits and maximum exposure.
From any blog that you write, you can link the article back to your social media activity. The same rules apply to linking back to your e-mail newsletter. Interesting information displayed in a concise and well-presented way will help you when it comes to professionalism as a top agent.
To make the blog and the topic meaningful, write approximately 400 words in each case and with each topic. Split the article up into sensible paragraphs and dot points. That helps the readership conversion and retention.
It should be noted that this marketing process is relatively low cost if not free. You only resources required will be your time and your intelligence.
So this becomes a specific strategy within your personal marketing plan. The blog should be something that you control and write to on a daily or weekly basis. Frequency is quite important when it comes to attracting the search engines. Most of your competitors will not be doing this at an individual level. On that basis, you can easily move up in the search engine rankings as an industry professional.
In commercial real estate agency and brokerage, the process of ongoing contact and prospecting will help you with market share in a significant way. You simply need to ‘turn the key’ on client contact and grow it at each and every opportunity.
To make this process work for you, ensure that you have the following tools in place and ready to use:
A defined geographical area defined on a map where you can focus your prospecting activities on a regular basis.
A database that is simple to use and easy to access. It is preferable that the database will be accessible from both the office, and when you are out in the sales or territory region.
A landline telephone system that you can use each day in privacy and without the distractions of a noisy and busy office.
A computer that you can have at your fingertips as part of making direct cold calls and prospecting research.
Travel through the main streets in your territory and visit the other listings that are currently on the market so that you can understand marketing strategies, prices, and rentals.
Create a system of calls to occur at the same time every day. Normally you can achieve 50 outbound calls in a period of 2 hours.
Build a simple prospecting dialogue that you can use in the early stages of cold calling and client connection. Over time this will become redundant as your dialogue will improve naturally.
So the process of ‘turning the key’ on client contact is to take the necessary prospecting action each and every day. In doing so, remember that the cycle of commercial real estate is relatively long. Most of the people that you talk to today will not have an immediate interest or need. They will however have some property challenges down the track and for this reason your database needs to allow ongoing regular contact each period of 90 days.
In connecting with new people as part of the prospecting model, remember the relationships between sales, leasing, and property management. Ask questions across each discipline to see if any pressures apply or any future needs could occur.
Here are some interesting numbers to help you understand how all of this works:
In a period of 2 hours, you can make approximately 40 to 50 calls. Those calls will need to be researched the night before. The Internet and the business telephone book will help you significantly at the early stages of your career with this process.
Eventually you will find some good clients and prospects to maintain contact with. You will need some selective criteria to understand exactly who you will be putting into your database and for what reason.
In making approximately 40 to 50 outbound calls, you will connect with about 15 people. The others that you cannot connect with today can be pushed to the next day or later in the week for another ongoing contact. You will need a system to maintain the flow of interaction and return call process. Organisation is the key to help you here.
When you connect with approximately 15 people per day, your target should be to create two new meetings. Those meetings should be established on the basis that the person will have a current or future need when it comes to commercial property.
From each meeting and from each positive outbound call, maintain a process of repeat contact at least once every 90 days. When you know the person is ready to act in some respect, you can shorten the cycle to bi monthly or monthly.
Many agents and brokers struggle with the rejection process that inevitably comes with prospecting and cold calling. That does not need to be the case given that you are a commercial real estate professional and that your services are highly valuable to the right people. The prospecting process should therefore be undertaken on the basis of identifying the people you can help now or in the future.
In this time of technology and e-mail, the traditional letter is even more effective and powerful as a marketing tool. Far too many commercial agents rely solely or largely on e-mail as part of their marketing effort. Develop a direct mail strategy to add to any other marketing activities that you currently undertake.
In saying all of this, the direct mail process should only occur if you are prepared to follow-up each and every letter sent. When it comes to commercial property, most of the new business we create is through trust and personal contact. For this reason the letters that you send should be focused on two things. They are:
To introduce yourself as a local commercial real estate expert of relevance to the prospect.
To seek a meeting with the prospect and provide them with local market information and knowledge.
If you send a letter on this basis, you are not confusing the marketing message and you are simply introducing yourself. This makes the telephone follow-up process quite easy and specific.
Here are some specific tips to apply to the direct mail strategy and letters sent today.
The letter that you send should be simple in format. Three or four simple paragraphs are sufficient to send right the message and request a meeting. Keep the letters simple in every respect. You want the person to take your call when you make it in a few days’ time. The letter is really encouraging them to take your call. When you make the call, you are then encouraging them to a allow you to meet with them. Keep things simple and centered on these basic processes.
The only thing that you should include in your letter should be a business card. Far too many agents send bulky marketing material and brochures. Most of that will be put in the rubbish bin fairly quickly. If you send only a business card, that is likely to stay within the possession of the client for some time. That is exactly the goal of your letter.
Break your letter up into three simple paragraphs of two or three sentences each. Tell the client about the local property market and recent changes that may be of interest to them. Tell the client that you will be ringing them in the next few days to talk about those facts. The primary goal of your letter is for the client to take your call. When you make that call, you want them to remember you. That is why the business card mentioned earlier is part of the contact strategy.
When you sign off the letter, do it personally in blue ink. That will then show the prospect that you have personally committed to the dispatch of the letter. If your standard letter signature is somewhat illegible, it is better to develop a legible signing process for your marketing letters. That will then show the client that you have taken time to identify yourself formally and correctly at the base of the correspondence. You have a name; make sure the client can read it.
The traditional direct mail strategy is of importance and significance when it comes to marketing yourself today. Make sure you follow the above points so that your correspondence can be converted to the meeting that you require.
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