A good client in commercial real estate can be a massive opportunity in commissions and repeat business over time. Finding the good clients to work with can take time, but the process is necessary and should be done on an individual basis by all agents.
The agents that struggle in any commercial property market are invariably those that do not do enough prospecting on a daily basis and therefore do not have a good source of clients and contacts. It is a simple equation but it does require personal effort.
When you know what a client can do for you, the process of ongoing contact becomes a logical process. Here are some ideas to help you:
- A prospect may not be a client today, but they may certainly have all the attributes of a good client in the future. Comprehensively cover all the possibilities in sales, leasing, and property management. Be prepared to talk across all disciplines. A leasing opportunity today can be a sale or a property management appointment tomorrow or in the future.
- Some property developers and property owners have a number of properties across their portfolio so investment needs can be quite diverse. When they own more than one property, the challenge of keeping up with rents, vacancies, rent reviews, new tenants, and options can be daunting. Market your services to their broader property requirements and challenges.
- When you consider a property with multiple tenants or available premises, the tenant mix analysis and strategy can be quite special. The facts are very apparent with retail property and shopping centre performance. If you provide property leasing services, take the time to understand the strategies behind tenant placement, leasing and clustering. Any tenant that you choose for a property should be well selected given the requirements of income, profile, permitted use, compatibility to the property and the other tenants; consider the long term occupancy potential. Your leasing services should be quite special taking into account these unique factors. Show the client some real reasons as to why you are a top leasing agent.
- A good client will have certain future property needs and targets. On that basis you can seek to satisfy those requirements with some planned ‘off market’ transactions and targeted solutions. Help the client with where they want to head with the right property types and income growth. Remove the pressure from the client’s investment strategy. Show the client what they need to do to stay ahead of the market today and in the future.
Seek to understand your property clients in all respects. A good client relationship may take months to nurture. Trust and respect has to be there before the larger clients will work with you.
In commercial real estate today many agents will say that the property market has changed, and indeed it has. The fact of the matter is that it is always changing and we as agents must live with that change. If we want to earn good commissions and find more listings, we have to use that property market change change and do something productive with it.
In any working year and selling season you will find common fluctuations in all of the following:
- Lack of tenants to fill the existing vacancies
- Slow deals and decisions when it comes to property sales or leases
- Lack of buyers coming to you from the marketing efforts and advertising
- No developments coming up to put more space into the market
- High vacancy factors in existing properties
- Low grade stock and nothing of quality available to rent or buy
- Too many properties on the market in either sales or leasing
The real issue here is that these things happen all the time. If any of these things are frustrating you now in your commercial real estate agency, then have a good look at your prospecting efforts and just how many people you talk to every day. It is quite likely that you have a poor or non-existent prospecting model.
Most agents that struggle with the changes in the property market are those that do not have a solid database of qualified prospects and contacts. Those agents live from day to day on the results that they get from ever new listing and the advertising that follows. They lack new people and established contacts to talk to. They generally have not created the pipeline of contact that is so important in our industry.
It is a fact that the cycle of property activity in commercial real estate is quite long. It can be months if not years for some of our prospects to take action or deal with a property matter. Your success in the industry will be strengthened by the number of people that you know and the frequency of direct contact that you make with them.
When you look at a list like that mentioned above, you can turn every market ‘negative’ into a ‘positive’. For example:
- You can specialize in finding tenants when they are few and not overly active.
- You can improve your negotiation and marketing skills to put urgency into the average property transaction.
- You can get to know lots of local business owners and property investors so you have people to talk to when a quality listing comes onto the market.
- You can become a specialist in selling or leasing a good property ‘off market’ when other agents are struggling with the traditional way of finding buyers and tenants.
You can turn every negative market situation into a positive one if you work at it as a specialized commercial real estate agent.
In commercial real estate agency today, develop some personal strategies to help build market share. Most of the successes created in the industry are personally generated. Your employer and real estate agency has little to do with the process. It’s all up to you.
Many salespeople join the industry thinking that the apparent opportunity for listings and good commissions will help them rise to the top of the market fairly quickly. Reality sinks in after two or three months; the industry can be quite a challenge for new agents; prospecting and networking is required each and every day. It takes deliberate effort and hard work at a personal level to rise to the top of the industry. That’s what all top agents do. You can do the same, however it is your choice to proceed in a systemized and deliberate way.
Here are some strategies to help you establish a solid market share as a real estate agent, and grow the opportunity for further commissions and listings.
- Understand the growth potential of the market. Your local property market should be defined geographically so you know exactly where you can focus your prospecting efforts. Within that geographical zone, research the necessary growth segments of the market to focus on. There is no point in you specializing in something that has little growth potential.
- Check out your property precinct to see what is working when it comes to sales and leasing activity. Certain methods of sale and certain methods of leasing will be much more successful than others in today’s property market. Understand what works, and then merge those strategies into every listing presentation and sales pitch that you do.
- Check out the competing properties in the local area to see how long they had been on the market. Understand why that is so, and avoid the errors of those other agents and those other properties. Top agents know how to promote and market properties efficiently and effectively. They don’t like to waste time.
- Observe and track all of the good agents in your local area. Find those top agents that seem to be dominating market share and see what they are doing as part of that process. You can learn a lot from other top agents simply by watching their activities when it comes to prospecting, marketing, client selection, and promotional activities.
- Signboard presence through the local area will help you personally when it comes to market share. You should have plenty of signs in the local area on quality listings. There is a real difference to be noted here, and that is the difference between open listings and exclusive listings. Open listings are generally a waste of time, and the same can be said for putting your signboard on any openly listed property with many other agent signboards. The signboards that will create a strong personal brand and professional image are those that are placed on exclusive listings. Sell your services on the basis of an exclusive listing that you can control for a number of months. Then devote the required effort on creating enquiry and getting inspections underway.
- Most of the listings that you pursue will be done so on the basis of a competitive sales pitch and presentation. There will be plenty of other agents chasing the same listings. That being said, your presentational strategy and relevance has to be finely tuned and of the highest quality. Approaching a listing generically usually results in an open listing if any listing at all. When you specifically focus on a listing and provide real and relevant strategies to the client, they cannot help but seriously consider your commercial real estate services and potentially take an exclusive listing with you. A client that wants the best agent will need to take an exclusive listing with that agent. The promotion of property today is not an experiment. Good results come from top agents taking an exclusive listing over a quality property. They then apply all of their efforts into the marketing campaign and inspection strategy.
Success in the commercial real estate market is not a random event. It is generally well planned and facilitated through deliberate systems and actions on the part of each and every agent. Only the best agents rise to the top of the market and that will be only through their personal processes and strategies. You can do the same. The market opportunity awaits you action.
In commercial real estate agency, the employment of a trainee is a good support strategy in the agency. If you are to employ a ‘trainee’ in the sales agency area of your business, it is important that you set the right goals and tasks to get them off on the right foot to a successful career. You should give them a ‘probation’ period and also an induction program.
Every trainee will have a high opinion of what they think they can do in the industry when first employed. It is a fact that the ‘rising stars’ in the industry are very hard workers. The ‘top agents’ status only goes to those that are prepared to learn and work hard for many years.
There are lots of things to ‘grow with’ when it comes to the personal performance and knowledge of a trainee in your agency. To keep the new person on track you should set some controls to help them. Here are some ideas to do that:
- Give them a tour of the office to show them how things happen.
- Introduce them to others in the business and explain what each person does.
- Give them a set of job specifications across the agency so they can see how people are expected to contribute as part of a team.
- Tell them about the hours that the business operates and what is expected of attendance in those hours.
- Confidentiality is a big issue in our industry. Get them to sign a confidentiality agreement as part of their employment arrangements.
- Give the new person an induction manual for the business. It should contain a complete summary of how things happen on a daily basis and what is expected of the team in response.
- Communication skills should be controlled from the very start of a trainee’s employment. They should include computer and internet protocols, client contact, telephone calls inbound and outbound, plus all written and verbal communication. Professionalism is essential.
- A trainee will be required to learn the function of the agency ‘from the bottom up’. Some tasks will be mundane and ordinary but that is how a person learns. Give them a schedule of ordinary things to do on a daily basis. See how they commit to those things.
Allow the trainee to have a say in what they want to do with their job and career in commercial real estate. Get them involved with personal goals and targets. Give them the guidance to move up in the industry. Assess their progress weekly and monthly.
In commercial real estate agency, you will come across many people every day with various interests in commercial and retail property. Some may have an interest in selling, buying, or leasing. This then says that we need to be versatile when it comes to dialogue and communication. In a short period of time you need to impress the other person with significance as an agent.
To help you here, you can develop a very simple 2 minutes sales pitch. In many respects, you only have a short period of time to connect with the required people and convey a clear message of how you can help them. Confidence and relevance needs to be shown as part of that connection.
As a general rule, this short 2 minute connection should tell the client or the prospect what you do and how that will benefit them. Remember the old saying, ‘What’s in it for me?’ You should try to answer that as part of connecting with new people.
It is not sufficient to say:
- I lease commercial real estate.
- I market and sell commercial real estate.
- I manage shopping centres.
All of these things do little to show that you really are a relevant property specialist. You could take these phrases and improve them as follows:
- I lease commercial real estate locally for landlords that require quality tenants. I do that by staying in close contact with the most active and sizeable tenants in the region.
- I market and sell commercial real estate for property investors. I do that by tracking all the recent property deals and upcoming opportunity both off market and on market.
- I manage shopping centres locally for major property investors. I do that by optimising tenant mix and rental returns.
You can take simple statements like these and turn them into something that works for you. Tell and show a prospect how you are real and relevant. Give them a reason to work with you or at least listen to you.
This simple process helps you in a number of ways:
- It makes you stand out as someone that is a specialist in the local property market.
- It can be an icebreaker in a new contact with a prospect.
- It helps them see what they can get from you if all other property issues are aligned.
- It helps you win listings.
Communication in our industry is a large part of finding the right people and moving them to a meeting of some type. Meetings then can open the door on listings or sourcing properties. The simple ‘two minute sales pitch’ helps you attract the prospects attention in a relevant way.
of the process can be improved so that the overall package can be regarded as highly relevant to the clients that we work with.
This strategy of process optimization will allow you to get traction and momentum in your market. It is interesting to note that many of your fellow competing agents will be rather ordinary when it comes to the various parts of the agency process. That is an advantage in itself.
Here are some other factors that can be structured into your professional services and improved to give you the competitive edge as a commercial real estate agent:
- When it comes to listing a property, the right information has to be gathered and checked. As you specialize within the industry, your value as an expert becomes real and relevant. Complex properties require top agents that understand the intricacies of the property package. Promote yourself as the expert relative to a particular property type; get to know all of the variables and factors that make a property attractive. Make sure that there are sufficient listings in the local area within the property type to allow you to gain market share.
- The listing of a property can take many hours if not days. The size of the property, the tenancy mix, the lease details, and the financial performance will all require investigation. The property improvements will require description and qualification. The legal identity and function of the property will need to be checked prior to any marketing commencing. I go back to the point that property specialization will help you with the experience and the profile of a top agent. The clients that we serve like to work with top agents that understand the property and the area comprehensively. Property marketing is not an experiment.
- Given the pressures of today’s property market, you cannot and should not take a generic marketing approach when it comes to a quality listing. A quality property should be exclusively listed. The exclusive listing should be matched to the market and the best method of sale or lease as the case may be. When those decisions have been made, the marketing package can be designed to reach into the property owners and business proprietors that may have an interest. Get personally involved with all of your marketing campaigns. Use each quality listing to talk to other property investors and business owners.
- Understand the local property market when it comes to the seasonal activity in both sales and leasing. Some properties are best released to the market at certain times of the year. The larger and more complex the asset, the greater the amount of care that needs to be taken when it comes to the structuring of the marketing campaign and its release to the local area. Track all of your marketing efforts so that you can understand the things that are working when it comes to attracting enquiries. Repeat the things that work so that every property enquiry is optimized on every exclusive listing.
These four things will give you the best traction when it comes to attracting buyers and tenants. If you are advertising or marketing the property today and simply cannot get the enquiries in the door, then something is wrong. Review your marketing campaign and adjust it to build momentum.
Keep a database relative to all the contacts and people that you talk to. Over time the database will build more momentum and opportunity for you. Keep talking to the people in the market. That is how you find the opportunities and clients to work with.
In commercial real estate agency, the sales pitch and presentation process is something that will hopefully occur quite frequently for you. On that basis you need to be ready to present your ideas and strategies at any time and on short notice. You never know when a client or prospect will want to talk to you about the market or the listing alternatives available when it comes to commercial real estate sales or leasing.
As a general rule, every agent should carry a complete and comprehensive marketing folder at all times with examples of property marketing solutions; those solutions should apply to leasing, sales, and property management.
Watch your competitors
In most property presentations situations today, you will be up against a number of other agents all seeking to attract the same listing into their agency. Those other agents will be using a variety of enticements and discounts.
It should be said that the provision of discounts to a client is not a good way to win a listing. Agents that cut corners on fees will generally cut corners on service. Given that the client wants a result with their property, cutting corners really doesn’t work. Adjust your pitch to suit that message.
You should win the listing based on your experience and relevance to the property type and the client. Your strategies and marketing solutions should be so comprehensive and relevant that the client can see no other alternative but to give you an exclusive listing. Build your presentation on that logic.
Discounts don’t work
The clients seeking a discount should be encouraged to understand the commerce of the deal and the marketing effort required by you as the agent. A few hundred dollars saved in commission is nothing compared to the better price that you can achieve for the client with a dedicated campaign that is personally conducted.
It is the quality of your presentation and pitching process that will help the client understand exactly what you are going to do for their property and its challenges. Your services need to be superior to that of the competitors locally. Be relevant and be different. Show the client why they need you.
Here are some tips to help you refine your presentation strategy when it comes to commercial and retail property.
- Check out all the competing properties in the local area so you can advise the client as to how the listing needs to be comprehensively marketed.
- The first four weeks of any marketing campaign are the most important. During this time you will need to connect with the defined target audience and create as many inspections as possible. Structure your marketing recommendations accordingly.
- Be aware of the current market conditions relative to the property type, and the seasonal sales or leasing pressures that can influence the starting of the marketing campaign. If you have a quality property to release to the market, it may pay you to consider the ideal time frames to do that.
- Use some sort of graphical display to illustrate to the client how you will move the listing forward. A Gantt graphing process is good for this application. You can show the client exactly how things are done and where those things will head over the coming weeks.
- As a general rule, every property should be exclusively listed. In that way you can create the correct amount of momentum, optimize the inspections, and negotiate directly with the client knowing all of the facts that are involved.
- Vendor paid marketing should be part of the exclusive listing process. Get quality photographs taken of the property to feature in all the marketing material created and used. Be aware of the opportunities that each marketing method provides. The Internet should feature in every campaign. In the first instance, it is the visual side of marketing that will attract more enquiry so use the best photographs wherever possible as part of your marketing effort.
When it comes to pitching for the commercial property listing, your strategies and ideas need to be well planned and optimized for the prevailing conditions and the property. Help the client see why your strategies are so important.
In commercial real estate agency, you can learn a lot from those lost deals and listing transactions. It is a fact that you will not win all the listings that you pitch for. It is well known that most agents will probably convert approximately 1/3 to 1/2 of the listings that they pitch for. The ratio improves when you improve your skills as an agent and top performer. Practice can help you here.
It is important that we learn from both the good and bad things that happen as part of a commercial real estate career. Some things will be beyond your control; however others will be controllable at least in part.
Here are some ideas and questions to raise with clients as part of the business review process from lost deals and lost listings:
- In the case of a lost listing, understand where the weakness occurred. Sometimes it is a matter of a clash of personalities or poor service. Both of those things can be rectified before they become a problem. A top real estate agent should adjust to the requirements of the client and help them with the prevailing market conditions.
- Poor service in commercial real estate can happen for a number of different reasons. Sometimes it is because the agent is excessively busy, and at other times it is because the agent fails to connect with the client sufficiently and correctly. If you have an exclusive listing, the level of connection with the client should be escalated to the highest possible level. You should be talking to the client at least every two days if not daily. In the case of an open listing, the marketing and communication process with the client is far more random and discretionary. If the client has chosen the open listing process, then they should understand that they will only hear from you when an opportunity exists.
- If you are part of a competitive listing presentation, and you have lost a listing, you should ask the client to give you an overview of how that occurred and why your presentation was not up to standard. If you do not win the listing, it is largely because your strategies, recommendations, and presentation process was not up to scratch.
- Understand what you could have done better. Ask the questions of the client. What did the other agents do that were of attraction to the client.
- Look at the differences between agencies to understand if the winning agent was part of a busier agency or had a better market profile. Most clients will choose an agency that has a strong market presence and a comprehensive way of connecting with the right target audience.
- All too often we see that the presentation or proposal decision is usually made on the strength of client’s confidence in the sales person concerned. The final decision is not really about the size of your proposal for the comprehensive nature of the document. Many proposals are very similar. Take a serious look at the people involved in the sales presentation and how they connected with the client. Did you have a strong and substantial relationship with the client before the presentation? The other competing agents may have had that advantage.
In commercial real estate agency today, you will win some of the listings that you pitch on. Other listings you will lose for many different reasons. Try to investigate each process so that you can adjust your presentation strategy.
In commercial real estate agency today there are too many ‘myths and rumours’ around generated by agents that are the ‘poor performers’. They are usually the agents that are looking for excuses for their inaction or poor outcomes in listings or commissions. The market is the market, and we cannot change that; we can however take the right action to suit the situation.
Today’s commercial property market is something that requires understanding and adjustment certainly, but good commissions can be had by active and professional commercial real estate agents. You need to know what to look for and how to tap into it. Action it then required.
So what is it about all those ‘myths’ that we keep hearing about? I guess you would have heard some of these comments from your fellow salespeople and competing agents:
- There are no buyers around to purchase
- The client will not listen
- Tenants don’t want to move
- Property listings are hard to get
- There is no enquiry coming in from advertising
- The client wants too much money
- Other agents are taking my listings
- Business is slow
- It’s time to take a holiday
The property market changes and on that basis we need to change. Every year there will be challenges with prices, rents, enquiry, listings, and clients. The fact of the matter is that poor agents without a good database of clients and prospects to talk to will struggle.
Those agents that have continually built a great group of contacts will always have fresh business. Certainly client conditioning will be required as the market changes condition, but today is an ‘agent’s market’ and on that basis we need to act.
Find those good listings and tap into them. Quality listings will always create better enquiries in any market. If you are not getting enquiries coming in, then take a look at your listings. If you have poor listings then have a look at your prospecting efforts. Everything is linked.
It is a fact that top agents attract the business in all markets. The quality listings will go to them most of the time. So how did they reach this level of success and listing attraction? They did the ‘hard work’ with prospecting and connecting with fresh people that are interested in commercial real estate.
The property cycle in commercial real estate is quite long. It takes months if not years for some clients to act on a property issue. This then suggests that you need to be building the right client relationships from the very start and keep the ‘door of contact’ open with the prospect. That’s how you become a top agent. Work hard and the business will come. Forget about those ‘myths’ that low quality agents like to circulate to support their inadequacies. Make your mark on the commercial property market.
In commercial real estate today, the cold calling process is still a very big and important part of what we do as agents. Each day you should be devoting 2 or 3 hours to the process. When you do this you find the opportunities and the prospects that you can serve.
Many agents struggle with the research and effort required to get a list of people to call. To help with that here are some thoughts:
- Choose one or two property investors in the local area to research each day. On average you should be able to contact one targeted property owner per day. Over time you will have built a list of 30 new property owners per month. This is a very powerful way to build your property owner contacts.
- The foundations for income and occupancy in commercial and retail property are in the local businesses and tenants. Make it a priority to call 40 local businesses every day. This process is easy as you can use the business telephone book for that. You can also use the internet. A business owner will quite likely tell you if they are a tenant, they own the property, who the landlord is, or if they need to relocate. All of that information is very valuable. Track the information in your database.
- Selectively contact solicitors and accountants in the local area. The best way to do that is by sending a letter first. Then you make the call. Introduce yourself and get to meet them. These business professionals will have clients that you can help with property matters. It takes a little bit of time for the levels of trust to be built up and the proof of experience to be established however there is very high value in this level of contact.
- Get in touch with property developers to see what needs they may have locally with current and new projects. It takes a bit of time for the relationship to be built here, but there is high value to you in doing so. Understand that most developers have
relationships with many other agents in your town. Don’t spend your valuable time at no cost until you know that the developer is committed to you.
The secret to making a call prospecting process work for you is in regularity. The process has to happen every day. It is a habit that takes time to create and you will need to prime yourself for the challenge. After about 3 or 4 weeks, the whole process gets a lot easier and results start to come in.