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Archive for the ‘Prospecting’ Category

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…)

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…)

How Exclusive Representation Provides Maximum Value For Clients

January 20th, 2013

Every commercial real estate brokerage professional who has ever interacted with a prospective client has heard it. “Everything sounds great….Just bring me a buyer (or tenant) and I’ll be happy to pay you a commission, but I won’t sign an exclusive representation agreement”. The client feels that entering into an exclusive contractual arrangement with you limits his ability to get other brokers to work on the sale or lease of his property. The client sees the request for an exclusive agreement as something that benefits you, the brokerage professional and in turn creates a disadvantage to her. Something about that word…..Exclusive….seems to imply that everyone else is excluded from working on the deal. The reality is that just the opposite is true. A good commercial real estate brokerage professional understands that exclusively representing our clients is the only way to maximize the CLIENTS’ benefits and achieve what they are asking you to help them achieve. This may seem counterintuitive to the client, so let’s look at where the real value of exclusive representation is for him or her: (more…)

Commercial Real Estate Agents Who Succeed Their Way To Failure

November 10th, 2012

Commercial real estate professionals know that new business development is the life blood of a long career in the brokerage business. When brokers start out in the business, virtually 100% of their time is devoted to new business development. Naturally. When starting out, every day consists of learning the market and making contact with the principals who either control the assets or actively seek to enter the market you have claimed as your own (hopefully). (more…)