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.
In commercial real estate brokerage, you should have a plan and a strategy that applies to selling your services and your ideas. That plan should be personally implemented on a daily basis. In that way you will be attracting more people to your ideas and your professional skills.
If you are missing out on listings and property inquiry, it is quite likely due to the lack of personal promotion and direct prospecting. You simply cannot avoid the process; you can’t delegate it to anyone else. If you want to achieve reasonable momentum in commercial real estate brokerage today, you really do need to have that personal marketing strategy under control.
Think about the property market today in your location. How competitive is the market, and are you attracting the best quality listings to your brokerage? Attraction and conversion are two big factors in our industry. You simply have to attract the best listings, the best clients, and the best prospects. When you have the listing stock, you can create the appropriate conversion for the market conditions and the client circumstances. Professionalism and promotion will help you achieve those ultimate goals.
Momentum in Brokerage
Momentum is a big issue in our industry. Every day things have to happen that will create churn and activity around you. The telephone should ring with enquiries, and the listings on your books should be attracting those enquiries. One factor to remember here is that quality listings will always create better levels of enquiry. Look at your listings, and understand the factors of attraction in each case. Market your listings into the factors of attraction and the target market.
Here are some ideas to help you sell your professional brokerage services to the right clients and prospects in commercial real estate today:
Property case studies – any successful recent sale or lease transaction will be worth sharing into the local area, the business owners, and the property investors. Recognizing that you cannot and should not breach transaction client confidentiality, create some case studies that spread the basic message of the recent successful deal, be that in sales or leasing activity. Circulate those case studies both online and off-line. Use those case studies in your meetings and discussions with prospects and clients. Market evidence is something that is hard to refute or dispute. Your successful transactions are worth talking about.
Recent location based sales or leases – within your location there will be plenty of property types and precincts to focus within. A recent transaction can be spoken about and shared into the specific precincts of focus and activity. Talk to the neighboring property owners and business proprietors. Soon you will find some other leads or transaction opportunities in the same location from the recent successful deal. Talk about your successes into the location. Spread the word, and share the successes with others, at the same time encouraging them to talk about their property needs and challenges.
Listings on portals – review all of the listings that you have placed online. The listings should be refreshed with different words and advertising copy every few weeks. Also use professional photographs wherever possible. Don’t let your listings become stale. Look at the positioning of each of the listings online in comparison to other properties competing in the same area.
Blog strategies – whilst your brokerage will have a local website to promote properties for sale or lease, you can also have a specialized commercial real estate blog to talk about local area property activity and recent listings. The blog is essentially a place where you can personally share your information professionally about the local area from a property perspective. The information that you publicize on the blog should be useful and local area relative. Think about the keywords and the important stories that should be circulated online. You can do that through your blogging process. Shape your stories for search engine exposure.
Direct calls – use the business telephone book to talk to plenty of local business owners and tenants. Allocate a certain number of outbound calls each day to new people within the location. You cannot and should not delegate this process given that you know the property market better than others. Ideally you want to talk to local people and those that have a property interest or challenge. Over time your database can grow through that simple daily process. The people that know you personally are the ones that are most likely to help you grow your commission and listing churn. If you are missing out on listing opportunity now, it is quite likely due to the fact that you do not know enough local people and property identities.
Direct mail – the direct mail process is somewhat expensive although reasonably successful providing you follow up each letter that you send out. The follow-up process should be a direct telephone call to the person concerned. Do not send out letters without having a follow-up process in place for each letter sent. The letters that you send should introduce the call that you are going to make in follow-up. Over time that direct mail marketing approach will allow you to connect professionally and directly with new people.
Door to door – when you look into your local area and understand the property precincts, the best streets, and the best buildings, you can strategize a door-to-door canvassing process where you can talk to all the business owners and property owners. Create conversations and connections through the door-to-door canvassing process. In simple terms, you are seeking to understand if the occupant of the property requires help or assistance from a leasing, purchasing, or sales perspective. It is also valuable to know whether they are tenant or an owner occupier. Simple questions and conversations will help you achieve that knowledge and momentum. Track your process and your momentum within your database and within charts and maps. Local area coverage is really important. Do not leave one building or one business owner out of your connection process. Methodically cover off on all the local property ownership and occupancy issues.
All of these concepts of marketing and canvassing work very well. In saying that, they require specific focus and a systematized approach. Take your commercial real estate brokerage activities to the next level through a combination of these ideas and strategies.
Don’t complicate the marketing process in commercial brokerage today. Keep things simple and get out and about locally among the people that matter. Our industry is based on personal contact and professional relevance. If either of those things are lacking in your property business, then you have issues and you will struggle to stand out as a top agent.
Resolve the property challenge comprehensively by and through a process of direct marketing. That’s how things happen in our industry; everything else is just luck and luck doesn’t do much for market share.
Here is a simple and yet effective process of direct marketing for brokers and agents. See how you can modify your business skills using some of these contact ideas:
Find new people each day – the best way to get this started is by using the business telephone book (the online and offline versions). There are thousands of businesses in that list for your town or city that you can call direct. Ideally you just want to know if they have a property challenge or issue where you can help them. Make the calls and talk to the business owners. It’s a simple way of connecting with new people. Some of those business owners will lease the property they are located in, whilst others will own the property. Either way you get to connect with property interested people.
Create discussions – the people that we class as ‘clients’ or ‘prospects’ are typically business savvy, and they are very experienced with direct business conversations. Master the art of the business conversation using local property information as leverage. Facts about sales, leasing, listings, developments, and marketing will always create some form of a discussion. Practice your meeting and call conversations.
Take notes of meetings and conversations – given that you will be contacting lots of people in a location, you will never remember everything that is said to you. Your database has to track conversations and contact processes. Put your marketing processes into and around your database; you cannot delegate that process. Take ownership of your database so your prospect list is up to date and growing each day. Build momentum in direct contact.
Send follow-up material – every quality conversation, be it across the telephone or in a meeting will give you a chance to send out material in follow-up. Choose the right material for the location, and not some generic ‘fluff’ that no one wants. Be specific and be real in the information that you send out.
Use a database pipeline – a contact today is potentially a listing or transaction in the future. Everything depends on what you do with that contact and how you open up the pipeline of information; your database should be at the centre of that contact. Relevant local property information will always help you open doors on business contact so create a regular informational marketing process around email, telephone calls, meetings, and referrals. Consistency and regularity will help you with that.
The promotional marketing process in commercial property doesn’t have to be complex, but it does need to happen. Keep your direct marketing activities local in focus and frequent in momentum. That’s what the top marketers do all the time. Are you up to the promotional challenge?
You can use direct mail to gain business leverage in your commercial property business. It is part of a good prospecting process that you can consider. That being said you really do need to do things to a system if you want results.
Are you ready for some new business system modification? Here are the facts about direct mail marketing in our property industry:
Be specific and not generic – drill down into a particular message to a target market. You can write your direct letters with the target market in mind. Understand what people like to hear and see as they consider the changes in the local property industry. Create some charts about vacancy factors, supply and demand, prices and rents. Graphs and statistics create questions and can show that you know the facts. That is where you can step in as the expert of choice to help with those market segments.
Be local – most of the inquiry for properties will come from the local area. Concentrate your letters in the streets, the buildings, and the businesses, but always stay local in your focus. Keep that local area defined within precincts, roads, and suburbs. Get to know the precincts in the local zone and what people are thinking and doing in those zones. In doing this you can comprehensively get to know what rents, prices and inquiry is doing. You can feed that information into your recommendations and listing pitch.
Contact small batches of people – you can ‘overdo it’ in commercial real estate marketing thinking that the volume approach is best when it comes to sending letters; the reality is far from that. Only work your direct letters into small groups that you can follow up. It is better to send 5 or 10 letters as direct mail pieces that you can follow up, rather than send 200 pieces that you do not follow up. There is also a cost component that should not be forgotten. If you send a letter, then you must follow it up.
Create a series of letters to use – when you start the direct mail strategy, have a series of letters that you can send every month or 2 months to the same people. Regularity in contact creates familiarity. Help the people remember you by raising valuable ongoing information in batches that attract people.
Simplicity really works – every direct mail piece can be simplified. Don’t send out something that is overly long and complicated. Most adults and particularly property people will on average not spend much time looking at your letter and message. Simplicity will help the message get through. Use a keyword or phrase to pull people into your correspondence then put a few dot points to extend the interest.
Your business card – with every letter that you send out, enclose your business card so you can encourage ongoing contact. In most cases, business cards are kept for future reference even if your letter is ‘binned’. Make sure your business card is carefully designed with professional layout, as well as being printed on good rigid paper stock.
So you can do a lot with direct mail marketing if you design the system that works for you. Track and measure the results that you get back in, then improve your processes at every opportunity.
When you work as an agent or salesperson or agent in commercial real estate, sales letters should be part of all your marketing campaigns. Those campaigns can be for you personally, your office, or your listings. Whatever the reason for the letter, they have a place and a use.
You can convert good enquiries and listing opportunities from these letters providing you follow them up. Not many agents do the necessary follow-up; interesting isn’t it? So many agents will send out several hundred sales letters for a marketing campaign of one type or another, and then make very few follow-up calls.
Ratios Prove it!
Here are some ratios for you. A direct sale letter with no follow-up will have a conversion of about 1% or 2%. When you follow-up the sales letter with a direct telephone call to the key person, the conversions lift up to somewhere between 5% and 10%. I know that skill and dialogue will have some impact on the result by I assume that most people know the importance of professional dialogue in making calls.
So let’s set some clear rules for the typical sales letter:
Keep the letter simple. Rarely will you need to go over one page, and it is preferable that you do not. Everything that you want to say should be on the single piece of paper in 3 or 4 paragraphs of text
Personally sign each letter legibly in blue ink. The person then knows that you are sending an original letter.
Your signature should be readable and better than a ‘scrawl’ at high speed. You are sending a marketing letter, and your name is part of the marketing message. It is preferable to write and sign your full name.
If you must go over 1 page in your letter length, ensure that the first page ends mid-sentence and therefore encourages a person to turn over the page.
Personalise the letter and make sure you have the names correct in all respects. Errors made in addressing a letter to a person will see it hit the rubbish bin faster than you can imagine.
Typo’s and mistakes are unforgiveable in a sales letter. They show a lack of attention to detail in the correspondence. Get your sales letters proof read before they go out.
Enclose a business card in all your sales letters. Generally speaking, a loose business card is likely to be kept after everything else hits the rubbish bin.
Encourage telephone and email response to your sales letter. Make it easy for people to find you.
Use dot points and sub headings in the letter. This will make the readability much higher. Most adult readers only skim marketing material and will read it only if it has some interest. That interest comes from the dot points and the sub headings.
Use a plain blue envelope that is personally addressed in neat handwriting.
Use a good headline for your letter that is relevant to your message. Some words sell better than others; some words attract attention better than others. Get a good book on ‘words that sell’ and use the words with skill in all your marketing material.
These concepts for a sales letter can be the main part of your commercial real estate marketing effort as long as you follow through on every message. Get to know your market and the people through constant contact and relevant messages. Use the sales letter strategically and regularly.
When it comes to selling and leasing commercial property, the direct marketing approach has distinct advantages. That being said, the direct marketing approach does have more requirements of time and effort on the part of the commercial agent.
Every property that is listed for sale or for lease should be exposed to a variety of marketing campaigns and initiatives using the following categories as a guideline:
The local property business proprietors that may need to relocate will always be opportunity. Keep in close contact with this business segment.
Property investors requiring alternative properties with a different tenancy mix and cash flows will always seize opportunity where they can afford it.
Identify the property investors that seek to diversify their portfolio in different locations and in different property types. Even in difficult times, these investors had do exist and are waiting for the right circumstances or bargains come along.
Contact all the local tenants that may seek to relocate through expansion, contraction, rental, or property acquisition.
Businesses located in the immediate proximity of the actual listing may be requiring further premises close to their existing operations.
Within your database you will have people who were previously qualified from other earlier campaigns and listings. They should be contacted again.
All of your current property listings should be cross promoted to the suitable qualified prospects that you take to inspections.
So these categories are all direct marketing tools. They require specific effort and a systemized process on the part of the agent. When the property market slows or becomes tougher, these issues above become more important than ever before. They can be used in addition to any ordinary generic marketing that you usually implement. That being said, you should only do these things based on the quality of the listing, the quality of the client, and an exclusive listing.