When you really understand the commercial real estate market and the brokerage activities in your location, you will fully appreciate that you should be talking to lots of local people in a regular and ongoing way. The database that you create from the people that you know and talk to regularly will be your pipeline of new business in so many different ways. (NB – You can get our free commercial real estate course right here)
Whilst some listings will come to you because of the brokerage that you work for, most of the high quality listings will be a direct result of your personal effort and ongoing contact with property owners, investors, and business leaders.
In those 3 categories of people you will find commissions, listings, and a good degree of property pain. So how do you get this important business activity underway? You make lots of cold calls in a regular and ongoing way.
Cold Calling Benefits
The principle and main benefits of cold calling can be best described in this way:
Building you personal profile
Finding new people that need property help locally
Tracking property changes locally
Finding new listings
Keeping up to date with market trends
All of these things fit quite specifically into the business of commercial real estate brokerage. If you are looking to improve your career in commercial real estate, then look to the strategies and skills in cold calling. Learn how to make more professional business calls every day in a relevant and logical way across property and business segments in your town or city.
In this audio program, John Highman talks about the real benefits of cold calling and why you could consider it as an important part of your real estate model.
Learn the real and relevant skills behind making more prospecting calls in a positive way each and every working day.
You cannot be generic when it comes to working with your client’s properties and the listing activities locally. You need some specific strategies to stand out as the agent of choice in a relevant way above the other competing agents in the location.
In most towns or cities there are always degrees of competition coming from the other agents locally to interfere with listing conversion and listing retention. It is always better to find the listing off market before any other agents locate it. You can then design your marketing strategy accordingly.
So have a serious look at your prospecting activities first and foremost. Understand what you’re doing when it comes to connecting with the right people, researching the levels of property activity locally, and drilling down into the business community to help them when it comes to relocation, property change, and property acquisition.
Most of the results you get in the property industry today will come from your personal efforts and one-on-one contact. You will need a plan to achieve that. Everything else is a factor of luck in the industry, and luck really doesn’t work when it comes to commercial real estate brokerage over time.
What’s your plan?
Establish your plan to help you find the new business opportunities or leads from the market segments, the property types, and the clients that you really want to work with. Make the right choices and then drill down into those segments deliberately and directly.
So some questions here…… Do you know your targets in the industry today? You understand exactly where you are headed and how you will achieve the momentum required?
Here are some specific ideas to help you with brushing aside the impact of your competitors in today’s property market:
Stop listening to your peers in the industry. There are plenty of people who will flood your thinking and activities with negative comments and unnecessary observations. Master your own property market through your own observations and experiences. Learn from the best, but ignore the average agents in the area that may be simply seeking to support their own poor performance through irrelevant reasons and market observations.
Fast track your listing opportunities through a cold calling model and business process. Make plenty of calls each day into the local business community. Some of those business owners will be tenants whilst others will be owner occupiers. A simple telephone call will help you understand who the business owners are that need help when it comes to property change, relocation, or upgrade. A professional cold calling process will help you drill down into the requirements of property investors and business owners.
Through regular ongoing research, develop various packages of market evidence that you can call on when it comes to many conversation, meeting, or presentation. A simple chart, checklist, advertising campaign, or set of photographs can help you grow a conversation into real listing momentum.
Be yourself and improve yourself as an industry professional. You cannot reinvent the wheel when it comes to your personal character and business history. You can however improve your presentation and your presentation skills to deal with property types and the clients in your town or city. You can never really know enough about business communication today, so start practicing at each and every opportunity. Learn how to put the right words and phrases to well selected resources and presentation material. Be prepared to show the client exactly how you are the best solution for the location and their property challenge.
Understand exactly where you are headed when it comes to new business opportunity and listing activity. You will need to use a business plan as part of that process, and that business plan should be structured on real market evidence that you have research over time. Look at the location and assess the property activity for the last few years. Understand where you can fit into the predictable property churn and activity as an industry professional in each and every way.
So there are some things to do here as part of positioning yourself as an industry professional. Take your business to the next level through deliberate ongoing daily activity. Most of your competitors will be rather ordinary when it comes to marketing, client contact, and competition.
A few small changes in your business focus and local market evidence will help you convert client to accept your professional services at the right time in the right way.
Every commercial real estate agent should have a prospecting model. In an ongoing way they should be connecting with new people each and every day. That can be a challenge for some brokers and agents as they balance workloads and property listings. The fact of the matter is that we should all be careful when it comes to personal time focus and client commitment.
Attract and Focus on the Best Properties and Clients
We should be focusing all or our prospecting activities and model on the best opportunities and the best clients locally. Applying that back to the beginning of the contact pipeline cycle, we should be concentrating our prospecting skills into the best segments of the market and particularly the best people owning an occupying the prime buildings and the prime properties.
We all get our fair share of poor quality listings and redundant properties. That being said, we do have a few choices to make when it comes to accepting a listing and working for a particular client. As you grow your market share, be increasingly selective as to the properties that you list, and the clients that you work for.
The larger properties and the better listings will always create better enquiry churn and activity from your marketing activities. If you focus on the higher quality listings within a location, the levels of enquiry will always be higher, more active and interesting. That is how you can build a pipeline of investors and prospects faster within a location.
Here are some ideas to help you improve your prospecting activities within your town or city:
COVERAGE: Understand the coverage of your prospecting activities. There is no point in spreading your prospecting activities across a huge area or a large town. You have limited resources and time to cover the market. Consider your territory and split into priority precincts of prospecting focus. You should have your primary zone of prospecting. Most of your new business should come from that defined area. Everything else outside a primary zone will be a secondary focus; listings may come to you from the secondary zone but you would not specifically prospect into the secondary zone. Understand your time as a resource, and focus all of your prospecting on a time basis into the primary precinct of property activity. Typically you will need about 2500 properties to focus on in that primary precinct so you will need to get organised. Over the year you can get to know all of the best property owners, the business leaders, the lease expiry dates, and investment opportunities.
LOCAL PROPERTY: Focus within particular property types locally. When you focus your prospecting activities within a particular property type, you can get to know exactly what’s happening when it comes to prices, future supply, and time on market, contracts, and leasing. You can also predict what challenges may exist when it comes to the segment and the location. That then allows you to adjust your marketing activities and any negotiation factors that arise.
PRIME PRECINCTS: Get to know the owners of quality properties in prime locations. As a commercial real estate specialist, you will already be focusing on certain segments of properties such as office, industrial, or retail. Within those segments, identify a small group of prime properties locally. Determine the ownership identity of those properties and make contact. Connect with the owners and build relationships at professional level. Understand that those property owners are likely to be talking to many local agents, so your connection will need to be comprehensive and professional at all levels.
THE BIG END OF TOWN: Track the property ownership and occupancy activities of the larger businesses and corporations in your primary prospecting precinct. Certain businesses will be more successful than others and therefore more active when it comes to property. Certain industries will be looking for resolving factors of expansion and contraction. You can and should focus your prospecting into the active segments of the local companies and businesses.
These four simple approaches to commercial real estate prospecting will help you find the right people to talk to in a timely and ongoing way. Focus on building relationships. As a general rule, don’t list or work with low quality listings unless there is a bigger agenda to support the approach.
Understand that your pipeline of prospecting will be an ongoing event and will require a commitment at a personal level to keep up the momentum and the persistence. Over time you should be talking to many hundreds of people in an ongoing and relevant way.
Keep it moving
Connect with all the people in your database at least once every 90 days. When you can identify a property need or challenge, the frequency of contact will be shortened to monthly or even weekly.
Relevance is the key to making the contact prospecting process work effectively with reasonable levels of conversion. The relationships and the trust that you build through that regular contact will eventually lead to listings and property requirements. That’s how any top agent will build market share and grow market relevance.
Most agents and brokers that are struggling in the property market today are doing so for the simple reason that they are not ‘relevant’ to the prospects and clients that are looking for property help.
Relevance wins property business; the ‘generic approach’ to commercial real estate has little magnetism for pulling in listings or commissions.
Disaster strikes when there is no real reason for clients, business owners, investors, or tenants to remember a particular broker or agent, and particularly so at the right moment when they are handling property issues and challenges.
So where are things now?
Want to improve your real estate business? Answer this question. Why should a commercial property client or prospect choose you to help them with a property challenge? It’s a scary question to ask; commonly the answers given by most agents are ‘generic’ and bland like these. They can provide:
Local market knowledge
Team service for the client
Client communication, etc.
All of these things are too ordinary, and just about every agent or broker uses the same ‘ordinary stuff’ which inevitably makes little or no difference to the clients that they serve. The statements are of no real attraction or interest to any client wanting property help.
So what can you do here when pitching your services? Clients prefer ‘specifics’ that are matched to their property challenges. For example:
A database of 2000 tenants in the location, 250 of which have been shortlisted to the client’s property listing (Leasing)
15 parties ready to inspect the new listing in the next week (Sales or Leasing)
Savings of $40,000 to be found in energy by load shedding (Property Management)
4 investors that missed out on the last local campaign are to be contacted (Sales)
If you haven’t got a very specific answer to that question given, then it is likely you will struggle for some time in converting business leads and opportunities.
Why do you have to determine a clear answer to that question? In simple terms you must be able to market yourself specifically as the best agent for the job. The only way you can do that is through a mixture of the following:
Locational coverage – Split your city up into a ‘primary zone’ for implementing all your prospecting, and a ‘secondary zone’ where you will still take business if it arises. In this way you can really cover the right people and the right properties in your ‘primary zone’. This extra level of focus in prospecting helps you with local area information, market evidence, and personal marketing. The question arises as to how many properties and or owners you should have in your ‘primary zone’. The answer is related to your capabilities to cover the patch with a direct marketing approach. You are the person that has to make the calls, create meetings, and door knock streets. In an ideal city location, choose a primary zone of properties and streets containing about 2000 properties. Then you can split the location up into activity zones that you can move through in a logical way.
Marketing mastery – Ensure that all of your promotional efforts are well crafted and implemented. Use words, phrases, photographs, and layouts that pull in the enquiry. Top agents are usually respected and chosen for their marketing skills.
Database depth and relevance – If you prospect directly into your area, you can build a database that will help you build your business. It is very hard for a client to overlook an agent that has a top quality database containing people from the location and within the targeted segment of business owners, tenants, buyers, or business leaders.
Property speciality – Get to know everything that you can about a property location and speciality. From that effort you will then understand where the next listings are likely to evolve and why that is the case. You will also know what things are selling or leasing for. You will understand why some levels of enquiry are better than others with certain listings. When you understand the enquiry, you can do something with it and improve it over time. Know what people are looking for in local commercial property and then market comprehensively into that.
Commercial real estate brokerage does not need to be complicated but it does need to be relevant. Get involved with your property market and show the right people why you are highly relevant to them as they seek to solve a few property problems.
To get a reasonable market share around you in commercial real estate brokerage you should consider your daily efforts and actions. Understand what you are doing and not doing. Understand the things that are wasting your time. From that point it is just a matter of change.
Caution! Some agents and brokers never change their ‘problem’ habits, and on that basis they struggle for their entire career. Things don’t need to be that way.
How’s Your Business?
Perhaps you are wasting your own time in real estate due to a lack of process and quality in your business systems? So it is time to step up to move into a better level of property performance. It’s a good year in the industry and there are things out in the market to be done.
If you are lacking listings, enquiries and clients, then you are likely to be lacking good business processes centred on the best clients and properties. Here are some ideas to help you resolve that:
Think about and action your prospecting around your listings – When you have a listing in your area and within your property speciality, you have something to work with. Use your listings as reasons to talk to others in the street or suburb. Remember that business owners need to relocate from time to time, and property investors look to upgrading their portfolios. Help those people remember you at the right time by getting in contact and staying in contact in a relevant way.
Referrals – When you have finished a successful transaction you will have the opportunity to explore referrals, leads, and repeat business. If the client is satisfied with your professional efforts then there are things to do with referrals and leads. Help other people to direct you to the next clients and property owners that you can serve.
Previous clients – Go back in your sale and leasing records to find those people that you and or your business has helped over the last 5 years. It is likely that some of those people are still active in the property market. Do they want some more help?
Other agent’s clients – Don’t be afraid of positioning yourself with clients that currently use other agents and brokers. There could be some reasons for those clients choosing a different agent. Professionalism will help you connect with those people and stay in their memory for the right reasons.
FSBO – This is a strange market segment, although a useful one. Some FSBO owners eventually give up trying to resolve their property problems. Let’s face the facts; they probably don’t have the contacts, the database, or the skills to negotiate a sale or lease deal professionally. Can you help them?
Investors – Local property investors are great clients for the long term. They need all types of help across tenant mix issues, leasing, selling, renovating, and portfolio mix. When they trust and respect your skills, you can do something to help them.
Business Owners – Stay in contact with local business owners. They will require professional property assistance at some time in the future. Keep them up to date with prices, rents, enquiries, and stock availability. Share your facts about the property market and pull in the local business owners that can use your help.
These simple strategies will help you attract more new business in the best possible ways. Make yourself known locally as the agent of choice; that agent that people must go to when property challenges present.
Like it or not, the database process in commercial real estate brokerage has to exist at a personal broker level, and it has to be up to date. Old and redundant information in any database will bring with it problems and time wasting conversations.
Every broker should be very focused on their data growth, content entry and accuracy. The process can’t and shouldn’t be delegated.
So It’s Logical!
So this sounds very logical and yet why is it such a problem? Some brokers struggle with the processes of list management. These are the most common issues in commercial real estate database creation and growth today:
Choice of the wrong record keeping process – Many agents and brokers still keep information on basic spreadsheets. They do so in an effort to contain costs and or for the purposes of simplicity. The fact of the matter is that a spreadsheet with a lot of contacts will leave itself wide open to data loss and or errors.
Doing the work of data entry – It takes time to load data into a software program. Many brokers either do not have the time or do not want to enter data; they try to delegate the process. Unfortunately the person delegated the work of list management has little involvement or commitment to the end result. The message here is that the work has to be done personally by the broker, and the best time to do so is after hours at the end of the day. Keep a standard form process underway so you can write things down during the day that could be required as a new entry in your lists.
Set targets for growth – Determine where your client and customer numbers are now. Set some simple growth targets of perhaps 5 new people per day. Over time you will lose some current contacts as they will have moved on, so a growth strategy is important.
Making categories work for you – Categories will be required to help you find the right people to talk to. Split your list up into zones, budgets, property requirements, VIP’s, owners, tenants, and business owners. Your selected software for recording the data should allow you to cross reference categories to find people and situations.
Regularly making contact – When a person is captured into your list, they should be entered for one reason only, and that is because they have a property interest now or in the future. From that point onwards regular meaningful contact is required with clients. Talking to them or connecting with them at least once every 90 days will help with list momentum and new business conversion.
If you are looking for new business in commercial real estate today, the answer is in your list. Refine your database activities and drive relevant contacts and conversations through it. Over time the listings will emerge as will the commissions.
In commercial real estate brokerage today it pays for every agent to have a definite plan of approach to bring together all of the many things that need to be controlled and actioned. If you like it is a bit like having a blueprint to the business at a personal level.
I have put together some of the more important issues to get under control personally and to help you formulate your commercial real estate agent blueprint. You can add to the list based on your property type and location:
Define your property type – Some property types will be more relevant to your skills and or marketing confidence. Understand what you are good at and focus on that property type; that will give you required confidence and then help you with listing conversions.
Define your services – There are differences between sales, leasing, and property management. Sales and leasing activity are strongly linked and one leasing deal can lead to a sales opportunity in the future; that is why I say that all agents should be able to jump from sales to leasing and back again quickly and effectively. You will normally earn greater commissions from a typical sales deal than from a leasing deal (based on averages), and the people that you target as prospects in each group are different so understand those differences and track both types of people. As the property market shifts from a buyers focus to a tenants focus, you can move with it.
Set your marketing zone – Limit your zone of activity in your town or city to a number of properties and inside a precinct of main roads. The focus inside a geographical area allows you to track property activity, rents, prices, time on market, and marketing strategies. That focus will also help you a lot when it comes to connecting with clients in a property presentation.
Define your clients – What does your ideal client look like? Where are they located? How are they involved in the property market? What will they need from someone like you? When you know the answers to these questions you have something significant to merge into your personal marketing efforts. Your prospecting and cold calling will become a lot more centred on market segments.
Research the property market – In each year there are changes, dips, troughs and peaks in market activity. Some are predictable due to seasonal holidays and business calendars. Your prospecting and listing efforts should have due regard to those seasonal changes. Only take a property to the market when all targeted segments are active and looking for something to buy or lease.
Determine key indicators to track – Some of the main indicators that can show you how you are performing as an agent are centred on prospecting, listings and negotiations. Each week take those indicators such as commissions, listings, and presentations into account so you can see where things are developing. Build on your strengths and fix your weaknesses. That’s how you progress in our industry.
Set up action processes – Every day a system of actions will take you forward. It really matters what you do in a regular way. Consistency will take you forward; random actions will not do much at all.
Set your goals and targets in listings, commissions, and clients – These 3 categories of activity are most important. They are simple numbers to track so start charting the progress you are making in each. Ratios will soon be seen and that is when you can improve your skills in key business generation activities; start practicing!
So these numbers and categories of activities will show you where you are heading as an agent. You can strive to improve in so many different ways in our industry; it’s a personal process.