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Archive for the ‘General Information’ Category

Focus On Exclusive Listings & Control Your Destiny

July 14th, 2014

The phone rings. “Hi, I’ve got some money I need to invest into a good commercial real estate deal. I’m ready to buy right awaysays the very authoritative prospect on the other end of the phone. If you are relatively new to the business, this certainly sounds like an exciting call right? Maybe….maybe not. You begin to qualify the prospect by asking some questions about their specific needs.

“I’ve got a few hundred grand to put down, and I have a great relationship with my bank so financing won’t be a problem. I want a 20 – 30 unit apartment building within a 30 minute driving distance from my home. It has to be low maintenance and have a high occupancy. I don’t like problems and I want a nice cash flow right from the beginning. It should be located in a good neighborhood near public transportation and nice amenities like shopping and restaurants. Ya got anything like that kid?”

Pretty specific and the prospect certainly sounds real. Based on the info you’re now armed with, you set out spending your valuable time researching and tracking down qualified properties. You scour Loopnet and CoStar. You drive the market. You call other brokers who have similar listings. Maybe you make a few cold calls to owners of properties that fit the bill. Hours, days maybe a week or two of work and you’re ready to show the prospect 3 solid prospects that fit what he described perfectly. You call to set an appointment for showings.

“Oh yeah, hi kid. Hey listen, my brother in laws cousins girlfriend turned me on to a great deal on a distressed shopping center in Ohio that I could buy for cheap. Plus it’s only 50%  leased so there is plenty of upside. The market is a bit dicey but it’s turning around so I’m just in time for the upswing. And the seller will hold the financing so I don’t have to try to qualify for a bank loan. But thanks for looking….I’ll call you again if I ever want to buy something else.”  Time and effort, down the drain.

While this may be an extreme example, it happens all the time. Combing the market looking for (more…)

5 Methods for Turning Prospects Into Client Relationships

May 12th, 2014

I recently had the pleasure of coaching a new agent who had secured several prospect appointments. Needless to say, he was excited about the opportunity to win these assignments and we discussed his strategies for engaging the prospects in these first appointments. He had spent several days gathering competitive market data, creating spreadsheets, charts, graphs and collecting marketing flyers from other properties all of which was designed to support his position for convincing the prospect to list the property. He told me how he planned to show the prospect that his company was active and enjoyed a good amount of success with similar properties. He explained how he planned to explain to the prospect how the prior listing agent did not do a good job in representing him. This new agent felt fully armed with all the ammunition he thought was needed to nail the prospect and win the business.

My advice to him? Walk in to the initial meeting with a single blank sheet of paper. Ask permission to take a few notes and tell the prospect that you’d like to get to know as much about him or her and their situation as possible. Then…..LISTEN. A mountainous barrage of facts and figures delivered in presentation format does not a relationship make (or build). Before the presentation, there needs to be a CONVERSATION! Taking the time to develop a relationship that is based on trust is what will pave the way to earning the business. Once trust is established, the supporting data that you share with the prospect becomes far more believable and powerful that it would be as a first “impression”. So here are 5 key ways to begin the process of building a client relationship based on trust:

 

  1. Differentiate yourself from your competition – There are so many ways that you can set yourself apart from the competition. Many times, just taking the time to listen and ask probing questions will show the client that you are deeply interested in helping them, not just advancing your own agenda. Take a video of the prospect’s property, have color photos blown up to 8 X 10 and have them framed as a gift, visit the planning and zoning board to gain a better perspective, research the history of the building, etc. Think of creative ways to show the prospect that you are personally vested in building a relationship with them and that you’re not “just another broker” looking for another listing.
  2. Make it personal – If appropriate, tell the prospect a little about you personally, your family, your goals, why you chose this as a career. Ask the prospect for advice about how you can (more…)

3 Ways to Assess Probability Before Taking a Listing

April 28th, 2014

This short cartoon is an example of how to “walk away” from an unrealistic client.

On a raining morning this past week I decided to watch a television show called “Million Dollar Listing” where these young, hot shot real estate brokers work on luxury residential deals in L.A. Reality TV isn’t really my thing, but this one caught my attention.

In this particular episode, this guy named Josh started by talking about a $5,000,000 listing that he had. In giving his commentary on this listing, he emphasizes that the house is “way over priced” and that he didn’t think that anything in that market had ever sold for more than 3 or 4 million dollars. He also said that the seller was difficult and eccentric but was “a really good person” for reasons I’m still not particularly clear on. After hearing this, my first thought was “so why did you take the listing Josh?” I assumed that since this was reality television, Josh was probably going to pull a rabbit out of his hat and find the perfect buyer who would pay full price and set a record for highest sales price in that market. The whole dissertation about the property being way overpriced was just a setup for the happy ending right?

Josh and his co-listing partner get an offer for $3,000,000 from an investor who wants to refurbish the property and is willing to share the profits with the seller. They decide to meet the seller to present the offer and before meeting him Josh says to his partner “you know he’s not going to like it and it’s going to get ugly” to which his partner (more…)

Delivering “Shock & Awe” To Win More Business

March 17th, 2014

The field is crowded. How many listing emails do you get each day? How many deal flyers and postcards clutter your mailbox every day? What percentage of what you see stands out to you?

Our prospects and clients experience the same thing. As commercial real estate agents and brokers, I believe we have become far too predictable in our approach to business development. Everything from the features and benefits we talk about to the new business proposals we present to our prospects and the marketing packages we deliver to our buyers, very few truly stand out from the crowd. Competing in the commercial real estate brokerage industry is difficult enough. Do you have a strategy for differentiating yourself from the competition?

Occasionally I am told by a potential user of our Proposal Generator software something along the lines of “I don’t want to create a report that is more than 3 or 4 pages” or “The package is too thick”. I always find this perplexing when considering the end goal of every agent’s presentation. Needless to say, our business contains it’s fair share of complexities and the proposal is our opportunity to showcase our value proposition to the prospective client by delivering a package that is complete, well thought out and professionally presented. More importantly, the proposal we present is our first chance to truly differentiate ourselves from our competitors. Why wouldn’t you want to do that every single time you interact with your prospects?

The expression “Shock and Awe” originated as a description of what would be expected during the second military confrontation with Iraq. The vision speaks for itself. In terms of commercial real estate, “shock and awe” can happen if we truly differentiate ourselves by exceeding our prospects’ expectations in an extreme way. This is not that hard to accomplish, especially if the prospect bases those expectations on the same old song and dance they have seen and heard from most of the other agents out there. This tends to set the bar fairly low. Advantage you.

Shock and awe happens when you begin by truly listening to the prospect’s needs and wants. Conducting an in depth and serious discovery process where you ask several levels of questions that will allow you to clearly understand the prospect’s situation, problems and needs demonstrates to the prospect that you sincerely care about helping them. Gathering a complete (more…)

Cold Calling: Finding The Proper Quantity – Quality Balance

February 24th, 2014

How important is a business development call or as it is more commonly known, a “cold call”? Is it more important to dial the phone as many times each day as humanly possible or is it more important to make each call truly meaningful by researching the prospect, property etc.? In reality, it’s both. The irony is that the two concepts are somewhat at odds with each other. Perhaps you work for a firm that requires a certain number of cold calls be made each day or each week and tracks that activity as a metric of your production. The theory there is something like “the more calls you make the more money you make”, believing that it’s a numbers game and if you call enough prospects the business will come. This has merit but only to a limiting degree. If the quality of your initial client contact is poorly planned, unprofessional, “salesy” or otherwise ineffective with the prospect, you are actually doing yourself more harm than good. The damage gets compounded if the only focus is quantity because you will continue to burn bridges with prospects by making poor calls and leaving the client with a negative impression of you and your company.

The most successful commercial real estate sales professionals find a proper balance between making enough new business calls and delivering a positive impression to the person on the other end of the phone by knowing something about them and having a relevant purpose for making the contact. These successful agents realize the importance of each and every call. Why? Because each and every call is a treasured opportunity for the commercial real estate agent to build a client relationship that can foster long term revenue, referrals, positive branding and a countless number of other benefits that cumulatively defines success. I suggest replacing the concept of “quantity” with a more effective concept…consistency. If you simply create a well thought out plan each day or each week that consists of whom you want to make contact with, a relevant purpose for (more…)

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.

The Forgotten Business Development Tool

October 2nd, 2013

One of my Coaching students told me a great story this week. He was attending a high school lacrosse game that his niece was playing in. His aunt, mom and several friends of their family were there with him in the stands. One of them politely asked what he was up to these days. Of course, he told them enthusiastically about his new career but he also had the presence of mind to add one very important statement which he addressed to everyone around him.

“So if you know anyone who has any commercial real estate needs of any kind…buying, selling or leasing, I’m your man.” This was followed by a smiling distribution of his business cards. Shortly thereafter, a friend of his aunts whom he had never met before that evening approached him and said “You know my neighbor told me she needs to expand her store by 3,000 square feet but doesn’t know how to approach her Landlord. I’ll give her your card and maybe you can help her”. The next morning he got a call from the neighbor’s husband and he is now pursuing that assignment.

Too often we forget to tout our services to those around us and ask for referrals. Every business development call should incorporate a simple statement asking the prospect if he knows of anyone who could benefit from your services. Every inquiry from a buyer or prospective tenant should also include that question. How many Attorneys, CPA’s, Title Agents, Bankers, Appraisers, Architects, Building Officials, Residential Agents, etc. could you call and ask for referrals?

In the fervor of our traditional business development activities it is very easy to forget the simple act of asking if the person you are speaking with knows someone who could benefit from the services you offer. Asking everyone you meet this very question should be as natural as saying hello and goodbye. To reinforce this behavior, create a “Referrals – Ask & Received” tracking sheet. Note every time you ask for referrals and track how many referrals you receive. Then track the results. I assure you that you will be impressed with the results and that positive reinforcement will ingrain the practice into brain.

“HALF OF U.S. HOOKERS ARE SPACE ALIENS”

September 28th, 2013

Did that get your attention? Make you want to read this post? Probably. That is just one of the many outrageous headlines found on the cover of the tabloid Weekly World News. You’re probably asking what the heck this has to do with commercial real estate brokerage. Well in this post I want to talk about marketing, mainly email marketing. Email has become such a prevalent form of communication these days, especially in business, that most people are forced to filter through the bombardment of emails we get on a daily basis. Still, email can be a very effective tool for commercial real estate agents who want to market their listings, services or client needs. So the question becomes, how do you set yourself apart and rise above the noise?

When most people receive an email, the first thing they look at is the sender. Then, and almost immediately, they look at the subject line. If the sender isn’t immediately recognizable and the subject line sounds “spammy” or is irrelevant, that email is most likely either ignored or cast off to the trash bin without being read. All of this happens in a second or two.

Commercial real estate agents should put a great deal of thought into what goes into the subject line of every marketing email sent. I’m certainly not suggesting that you become the Weekly World News of commercial real estate brokerage with false or outrageous subject lines. I am suggesting that you really think about a “headline” for that space that will set you apart from all of the other stuff we see day in and day out…..and usually ignore. Think about how (more…)

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…)