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Archive for the ‘Client Communications’ Category

Proactive vs. Reactive Marketing for Commercial Real Estate

January 27th, 2014

The world of marketing has changed dramatically over the past 10 years or so. The advent of the internet, social media and mobile technology has allowed marketers to take a much more targeted approach to reaching their prospective clientele. While traditional media outlets continue to survive and in some cases thrive, marketing strategies for most industries have adjusted to more efficient methods with great success. Commercial real estate is an industry that is primed to benefit from making such an adjustment.

What is your typical marketing plan for new listings? Do you order the property sign? Do you start designing print advertisements for local newspapers, magazines, Loopnet and CoStar? Do you use the multiple listing service? Post to your company’s website? Obviously these are logical and somewhat necessary steps to be utilized in marketing your new listing. However, the nature of these marketing methods is that they are reactive outlets designed to take more of a shotgun approach for exposing your listing to potential buyers or tenants. The pertinent information is showcased through these outlets in the hopes that a qualified prospect will find it and be compelled to call you and learn more. This typically leaves the commercial real estate agent sitting at their desk in anxious anticipation of getting that call and springing to action.

Now let’s contrast these reactive marketing methods with a strategy for proactively reaching out to qualified buyers and tenants. Proactive marketing is more of a laser approach to reaching prospects for your new listing. Marketing proactively begins with prospects that are literally at your fingertips. Specifically, your own data base. Assuming you have structured your business to specialize in a property type and geographic area, the first place to expose your new listing is to the most probable prospects within your own data base. Who owns a similar property? Which prospects have defined a criteria that generally matches the aspects of your new listing? The most effective way to present your new listing to these prospects is to simply pick up the telephone and call them. Even if these prospects aren’t interested in your new listing, calling them gives you a quality (more…)

The Commercial Real Estate Broker’s Value Proposition

November 21st, 2013

Why do we buy things? Whether it is a need or a want we buy things because for whatever reason we have identified value. The value (in whatever form it takes) must be compelling enough for us to make the commitment to exchange our hard earned dollars for whatever product or service we value in that particular situation. In the time leading up to the making of that commitment, we do our own evaluation of whether or not the value is there.

As commercial real estate brokerage professionals, we must deliver a value proposition to the prospective client which is compelling enough to move the prospect to take action. When making that first contact with the prospective client, a number of unspoken questions exist that must be answered in order to move the relationship forward. The prospect needs to know:

Why should I listen to you?

Why should I do business with your company as opposed to the other companies I’m speaking with?

Why should I trust you?

Why should I take your advice?

Crafting your value proposition for each prospective client is an important key to winning more quality assignments as well as building the foundation of a long term agent/client relationship. It all begins with a clear understanding of what the prospect needs and how you can help him achieve the positive outcome he desires. Your value proposition also demonstrates your capabilities and delivers the message to the prospect that you are the best person for the assignment. Once the prospects’ needs are identified and you as the problem solver has a clear picture of how you can be of service, then and only then should you begin to articulate your value proposition. Spewing a lot of rhetorical features, statistics and other information related to you and your company prior to learning what the prospects actual needs are equates to nothing more than an infomercial. The prospect needs to be heard. He needs to know that you have listened to him and that you have his best interests in mind as you take the information he’s shared with you and applied the appropriate and relevant services to his needs. Doing so positions you as a trusted advisor who is aligned with the goals and objectives the prospect has outlined for you.

The services and capabilities you articulate for the prospect must be directly related to what they hope to achieve or they are meaningless to the prospect. Personalizing your value proposition for the prospect in front of you also goes a long way toward building the individual relationship that is vital to creating trust. Prospects will not do business with someone they don’t trust, so it is crucial in the early stages of your interactions with the prospect that you listen, understand and empathize. Once a foundation of trust has been clearly established, delivering your value proposition to the prospect will be more effective and have a greater impact on your prospects, resulting in more assignments won not to mention stronger client relationships.

Don’t Get “Tied Down” by What You Wear in Commercial Real Estate

August 17th, 2013

There have been about a zillion books and articles written about how to dress in business. The variations of what it means to “Dress for Success” have evolved as the years have passed, trends have come and gone and fashion styles have varied. In commercial real estate brokerage, there seems to be a fairly wide range of what is deemed “appropriate attire” given the diverse types of clients, property types and geographic areas we operate in. There are obvious situations that will require the suit and tie or lady’s power suit routine. Maybe meeting with a major law firm in a major market where you represent a large banking institution would be a good example. The opposite is also true. Meeting with the owner/operator of a concrete manufacturing plant at his construction trailer in the Midwest would certainly indicate an expectation of less formal attire.

Some of the larger brokerage firms require their agents to don formal business attire no matter what the circumstances, a policy that can have either good or not so good consequences. I was associated with such a firm and the policy was strictly enforced so the agents did not have a choice.

With the obvious exception of cases that would violate your brokerage firm’s policy, always choose business attire that is appropriate to the people and companies that you interact with on a daily basis. It just takes a bit of logical thought and planning. When in doubt, always dress a bit more professionally than you think you might need to. Consider the type of prospect, client, business, etc. you are meeting with and what type of attire is appropriate in their business. To a certain extent, be a chameleon. How you dress is one of the first things many prospects judge you on as they determine if you are worthy of earning their business. Think about the impression you want to make. Think about the venue and forum you will be meeting in and what other people might be in attendance or observing. Regardless of whether you find yourself wearing a suit and tie or khaki’s and a polo shirt, make sure your attire is clean, pressed and fits you properly. I know this sounds like common sense, but if you are reading this and have been in the business for a while, I’ll bet that you’ve run across agents in professional situations where you’ve looked at how they were dressed and thought “what the heck were you thinking?” Don’t be that agent. You don’t have to spend thousands of dollars on (more…)

Who The Heck Is William Dawes?

July 4th, 2013

On this Independence Day 2013, I thought I’d offer up a little history lesson and how we as commercial real estate brokerage professionals might learn from it.

Have you ever heard of William Dawes? William Dawes was a tanner in Boston  and around midnight on April 18th, 1775, he rode from Boston through the towns west of the city to Lexington spreading the news that the British were coming and planned an attack the next day. He was to alert the local militia leaders telling them to gather their men and prepare to meet the British troops by sunrise. He rode through the night hitting the towns of Roxbury, Brookline, Watertown and Waltham, Massachusetts and finally meeting his counterparts in Lexington.

William Dawes

Undoubtedly you’ve heard the story of Paul Revere’s famous ride, right? On the same night, at the same time, Paul Revere left Boston taking the northern route to spread the same message to the militia leaders in Charleston, Medford, North Cambridge and Arlington, meeting up with Dawes in Lexington in the early morning hours of April 19th.

The revolutionary war started on the morning of April 19th 1775 with the British army sweeping across the surrounding areas from Boston Harbor. When they reached the towns that were forewarned by Paul Revere they were met by the full militia with fierce resistance and defeated. The British troops who reached the towns that were supposed to have been forewarned by William Dawes were met with very little resistance, very few militia men and virtually marched through (more…)

What’s In It For THEM

April 30th, 2013

My good friend and colleague Larry Pino wrote a blog post last year where he related a wonderful story that also serves as a great lesson

Lawrence J. Pino

for commercial real estate brokerage professionals. With his permission, I have posted it here and I’m sure you’ll enjoy it. There is a big difference between talking to your prospects about features and talking to them about how your services will benefit them, solve their problem, improve their situation, etc. Learn how to get on the client’s agenda so you can talk about “what’s in it for them”. One last observation……it takes practice! Notice that Isabella role played her new found sales techniques over and over until she was confident in her approach! Great lesson from a 7 year old. Enjoy:

We had quite a bit of drama in the household a few evenings ago.

Isabella, newly installed into the 2nd grade, expected some family and neighborhood lay-downs when she started pitching magazine subscriptions for the annual contest.

Apparently, depending on how many subscriptions you sell, and how much money you collect in a two-week period of time, you get to be invited to the Dippy Dot reward party where extra spiffs are handed out to the 2nd graders who did particularly well. (more…)

Ten Clichés To Stop Using On Clients

March 2nd, 2013

By Nellie Day, Featured Contributor

There are certain lines that we rely on when making a point, particularly if it happens to be a selling point. While clichés will never disappear entirely from our vocabulary, commercial real estate agents seem to fall privy to these word traps quite often, particularly after the Great Recession. In the interest of your client’s sanity, here are 10 overused (and often misunderstood) business clichés you may want to lay off of.

1. Delay and Pray

Also known as “extend and pretend,” this cliché refers to the strategy some lenders have adopted in a down market whereby they hold commercial loans at pre-cash values instead of taking a loss on the books. This is done in the hopes that the market will soon turn around.

2. Main Street, not Wall Street

This phrase gained popularity during the Great Recession. Though there are many interpretations, it ultimately pits Middle America and everything associated with it against the “corporate greed” that many blame for the Great Recession. Agents often use this cliché when discussing the pros of a local real estate market. Others use it to emphasize the services in place that can help smaller or independent investors achieve their financial goals. Whatever the context, this phrase is as tired as “The Great Recession.” (more…)

5 Tips for Using Video to Market and Brand in Commercial Real Estate

February 10th, 2013

I recently attended a seminar on the topic of internet marketing and I witnessed something that shocked me. It was about 4:30 in the afternoon and the seminar was wrapping up. The speaker asked the audience of about 250 attendees to raise their hands if they planned to go home after the seminar and turn on the television. By his count, 17 hands went up. He then asked how many people planned to spend their time after the seminar online. I was near the back of the room and suffice it to say, I lost site of the speaker because of the forest of raised hands in front of me.

While it’s probably obvious, online activities have replaced a very large chunk of the time we used to spend watching the tube. Sure we surf for information across all formats, text, audio and video, but video is becoming the most popular form of content on the web. YouTube is now the third most visited site on the internet behind Google and Facebook according to Alexa Traffic Rankings. More than 24 hours of video is uploaded to YouTube every minute of every day and when you consider that most videos are under 5 minutes in length, that’s a heck of a lot of videos. There are other video platforms as well, such as Vimeo, digg and others popping up to increase the volume of video content even more. (more…)

The Relationship Between Trust and Success

September 18th, 2012

Last week, luxury Swiss watchmaker Tag Heurer became the latest corporate sponsor to announce that they were ending their relationship with golfer Tiger Woods after 10 years. They join other major corporations such as AT&T, Gillette, Gatorade and Accenture. Since Tiger’s infamous Thanksgiving “car accident” which spiraled his career and personal life into a public circus, it is estimated that he has lost between $40 and $50 Million in endorsement deals. There is even talk of him struggling to meet his financial obligations at this point.

What I found very interesting was the statement released by Tag Heurer when they announced the end of the relationship with Tiger. The Company’s Chief Executive, Jean-Christopher Babin was quoted as saying “We are confident that Tiger will eventually regain full trust with the public, and that his huge talent and mental strength will help him overcome his difficulties.”

It occurred to me that all of the scandal, embarrassment, negative press, sensationalism, etc. are byproducts of the real reason these companies are no longer doing business with Tiger Woods…TRUST. The reason corporate America pays enormous endorsement fees to athletes and celebrities is because they feel that the person endorsing their product or service has the trust and admiration of the public. (more…)

5 Questions to Ask Every Prospect

June 3rd, 2012

There is a powerful axiom in the sales world that goes something like this: “If you are telling, you are not selling”. Sure you want to unleash your value proposition on the prospect and dazzle him with your capabilities, track record and all the reasons he would be a fool not to list with you. But what the client really wants to hear is how you are going to SOLVE HIS PROBLEM! That’s what we do…..we solve problems for our clients. So in order to present a solution to the prospects’ problem, we first need to be sure we understand very clearly what that problem is what the prospects’ expectations are of us.
The process leading up to earning a new assignment has many facets, but effectively questioning the prospect about their current situation, problems or needs and expected outcomes is a major key to winning the business. Commercial real estate agents and brokers can dramatically increase their success ratio through some basic training on how to ask strategic questions that will draw out the prospects’ motivations, problems and needs. You can word them in such a way as to make them feel natural to you, but here are 5 important questions every commercial real estate agent should be asking the prospect when working on a potential new assignment:

1. What was your original investment strategy when you acquired this asset? Asking this question forces the prospect to review why they purchased the asset and what their vision was for the future benefits they would derive from owning it. This will allow you to potentially contrast that vision with the prospect’s current situation. If the investment hasn’t performed up to their expectations or has deteriorated in some way, this question will help accentuate the prospects’ current motivations for disposing of the asset or his need to accelerate the leasing process.

2. If you could change anything at all about how this investment is performing or any other aspect of your current situation with this investment what would that be? In other words, tell me what’s wrong with this investment for you. This question will help the prospect clarify the shortcomings of the investment or his current situation. Perhaps the management of the property is weighing on the prospect and interfering with his personal life. He may tell you that if he (more…)

The Joys of Client Communication

September 2nd, 2011

It’s a scenario we’ve all experienced. We’ve secured an appointment with a potential seller. He’s had the property listed with one of your competitors and the listing has expired. The first thing he wants to tell you is that “the last guy called him everyday until he listed the property and then he didn’t hear from him again until just before the listing expired when he asked him to lower the price and renew”. It’s probably one of the simplest yet effective things you can do to build trust and confidence in the client broker relationship. Communicate. Especially in the age of cell phones, email, text and social media where everyone has access to instantaneous communication portals. How you communicate with your client is probably the single most important factor in developing the relationship that will have longevity. The converse is also true. Lack of communication will most certainly create a simmering feeling of animosity within your client which will erode the relationship beyond the point of repair.

Of course sometimes we avoid contacting the client because we either believe we have nothing to tell him or the information you have to deliver is negative or unpleasant. The nature of the communication is secondary to the NEED for the communication to take place. After all, isn’t communication what every relationship is about? Without it, the relationship is sure to breakdown.

Every commercial real estate broker should develop a structured schedule for client communication. This is something that you should broadcast to your clients when you establish the relationship. Believe me, it will make a positive impression on every client if you discuss exactly how intend to communicate with the client, what information you intend to provide and on what schedule. I highly recommend that when you are entering into the listing agreement with the client, you engage in a conversation that goes something like this:

“Mr. Client, I know the importance of communicating with you on a regular basis to keep you informed on the progress we are making in marketing your property. Typically, I provide a marketing letter to my client’s on a weekly basis which outlines the prior weeks activity, feedback from the market and a schedule of the following week’s marketing actions. With so many methods of communication available, I like to ask my client’s what their preferred method of receiving this information is so that I provide you with the best possible service in a manner that is most comfortable for you. Do you prefer receiving a fax, email or letter each week? I’d also like to schedule a regular call or face to face meeting where we can discuss the details of our efforts and strategize future marketing. What is your preference in terms of the frequency of these conversations and do you prefer to do this by phone or in person? What is the telephone number you prefer that I call when needing to reach you?”

Once you have noted the client’s preferences and what you have promised in terms of the information to be delivered and the method of communicating that information, you MUST perform precisely on those promises. Even if your weekly or bi-weekly communication is to tell the client that every potential buyer or tenant and their broker representatives are telling you that you are over priced, it is an opportunity for you to deliver the message to you client that you are proactively engaged in the process of marketing their property. It also manages the expectations of the client by engaging them in the ongoing process of positioning the property in the market and hearing market feedback from real buyers and tenants.

As commercial real estate brokers and agents, our consistency in communicating with our clients is a major component in building client relationships, branding ourselves as solid professionals and securing future business.