In every listing presentation in commercial real estate, we like to think that we have the best solution for the client given the prevailing market conditions and the subject property. Communicating those facts as part of the sales pitch will be a central component of your presentation and listing conversion.
Most presentations today will be competitive. There will be a number of agents chasing the same client and listing. In a short period of time, the client will need to make sense of the strategies offered and the relative skills offered by the agents. Only one or agent will win the listing in most circumstances. Joint agency appointments where two agents share the same listing are usually an experiment of confusion. Help your clients understand the benefit of having one agent work for them on an exclusive basis.
Here are some questions to address as part of your sales pitch or listing presentation. They will help you prepare for the client and the challenges of the property.
- Why has the client approached you? Get to the real facts and the background behind the client coming to you for property assistance. As part of the investigation, review the history of the property, its ownership structure, and tenancy mix.
- What does the client know about the property market today? A selective question and answer process will help you identify what the client really does know about the prevailing market conditions. You can then fill in the gaps when it comes to property prices, rentals, and competing listings. Provide some market evidence using graphs and charts. The visual approach will be far more effective than a bulky proposal document.
- Given the previous point, does the client consider that they are an expert when it comes to the local property market? You may need to show the client some understanding and talk them through their observations and intentions before you table your property proposal or presentation.
- What will the client need to do with their property, and when will be the best time of year to achieve the result? Every property type will have strategies and solutions when it comes to the best method of sale or lease, and the best timing of the marketing campaign. Provide some logical recommendations based on your market knowledge and experience. Show the client what has worked in the past.
- Be careful when it comes to using industry jargon in your presentation. The use of jargon will disconnect you from the client. Simplify and explain your recommendations rather than let the client fill in the gaps and make the assumptions.
- Be sensitive to clients that are new to the area or the property type. Help them understand what the market has been doing and how they can be part of that property momentum.
- Have some relevant stories of the property market available to tell the client. Those stories should be applicable to situations today and the type of property in question. You are the solution provider and thereby you should put yourself into the success stories provided.
- Provide some testimonials from other clients in similar property situations. To support those testimonials, have a selection of property photographs available to display.
To win a listing presentation today your communication skills should be of the highest order and regularly practiced. These other facts provided above will help you with selling your services and professional skills as a top agent.
The commercial real estate leasing market will change throughout the year based on business activity and sentiment. For this reason you do need to set some performance indicators that will help you understand where the market is changing and what tenants are looking for.
A successful commercial real estate leasing executive will support the property management division and the sales division within the same business. There should be a strong integration between the leasing activities of your top leasing people and the other divisions of your business.
Every property type is unique and special when it comes to leasing. Special skills are required when it comes to the differences of property types including industrial, office, and retail property. Specialization on the part of each individual leasing executive will help attract the clients to use your agency services.
Top leasing agents provide specialist leasing services and are known for that skill. They help clients with strategies including the following:
- Vacancy management
- Tenant sourcing and selection
- Lease terms and conditions
- Tenant retention
- Outgoings recoveries
- Vacancy minimization
- Project leasing
- Renovation and relocation strategies
- Tenant mix and tenant clustering
- Rental strategies and rental types
So an expert leasing operative should understand all of these factors and provide specific solutions to the clients that they serve. There is no point wasting this knowledge on a small and below average property; aim for the top of the market and the quality properties that need top servicing.
Some top agents choose to work with leasing understanding the opportunities that they will get in sales at a later time. The strategy is wise and does have rewards over the long term. The landlords of today with a leasing requirement will be the property owners of tomorrow seeking to sell their asset at a reasonable price. That being said, the strategy behind every lease should be an enhancement to the physical function and sales opportunity for each property.
An average and generic lease will do nothing for the future sale of the property. True commercial and retail leasing specialists really do understand how to structure a lease and make it attractive to the future of the property and of benefit to the property owner.
Leasing specialists should look to the market regularly to understand the opportunities coming from the business community and the property investment community. These are the indicators to monitor:
- The supply and demand as it impacts particular property types
- The levels of market rental that are being achieved across the various categories of properties
- The time on market applying to vacancies locally
- The lease standards that are expected on the part of landlords when it comes to a new lease structure
- The incentives that are in the market today to attract new tenants
- New property developments that could have an impact on existing occupancy rates and tenant movement
- Vacancy rates that exist now in the market and the trend upward or downward
- Business sentiment as it relates to property occupancy costs and relocations
- The improvements, services, and amenities that tenants are looking for in a new lease
These indicators will help you with identifying and tracking future leasing opportunities. Get to know all the businesses in your local area and you will soon see the relocation opportunities and leasing fees that exist.
If someone tells you that ‘cold calling is dead’ in commercial real estate they are misleading you. They are ignoring the real evidence of the market. Making regular prospecting cold calls is a key part of the business for any commercial real estate agent. Do not let anyone tell you otherwise.
So why do other people come up with this great prediction and revelation on the ‘dead nature’ of cold call prospecting? They are selling a product and they are simply playing to the rejection factors and call reluctance problems that many salespeople struggle with.
Don’t make the mistake of ‘taking the easy way out’ when it comes to prospecting. It is a fact that calling new and fresh people in your property market each day will help you build your listing market share faster than anything else. There are lots of people to call so the process has to occur if you want to succeed as an agent.
Top agents know that they have to make the calls and that is a fact of the market. Here are some proven call strategies to help you get your prospecting systems underway:
- Most agents will not be making lots of cold calls every day and each week, so on that basis you can have a distinct prospecting advantage when you get the process under control.
- The best times to make the calls are in the morning first up and later in the afternoon. You will connect with more business owners and tenants at those times.
- Approach the process on the basis of seeing if the person you call has a need or an interest in local commercial and retail property. If you research your market beforehand you can work your calls from a base of local business owners and operators. That will quickly lead to other local property information and leads.
- Use a database that is flexible and convenient. If you are going to make lots of calls you really must track your results. From the outbound calls understand your contact ratios and conversions to meetings. From 30 calls and 15 connections made you should get 2 meetings of consequence. That can be a daily process. How long does it take you to make the calls? About 2 hours. On that basis you must be prepared beforehand.
- The cycle of commercial real estate activity for many clients and business owners can be quite long (months and years). On that basis you should keep in ongoing call contact every 90 days.
The next time you hear someone say that ‘cold calling is dead’, laugh at them and make more calls. Your market share will be far bigger than theirs in commercial real estate as you make the calls and keep the process going.
In commercial real estate agency, you really do need to understand what is going on in the marketplace and then make some solid choices at a personal level to improve your prospecting and deal activity. Everything comes down to a personal level and process in our industry. Success has little to do with the agency that you work for.
Outsiders and new agents to the industry are tempted to think that commissions and listings come easily. Nothing could be further from the truth. The quality and the growth of your business will come from personal focus and momentum. The choices that you make on a daily basis, and the actions that you take in prospecting and marketing will drive your business forward. The agents that struggle in the industry are those that have little or no system when it comes to business generation and market share.
Here are some strategies to help you initiate a business plan as a commercial real estate agent. Consistency in focus and the actions that you take every day are the keys to getting momentum and traction with your market share. Here are the ideas to help you:
- Understand the condition of the market today in deal activity, competing agents, and future growth. Look for the opportunities in sales leasing and property management activity. Understand where you fit when it comes to those three distinct disciplines.
- Choose the property type that you understand and can relate to. That may be in office, industrial, or retail property. The clients that we work for require specific expertise when it comes to resolving a problem with a quality property. The marketing and inspection process with any listing is not an experiment. It requires specific knowledge and expertise to tap into the right target market.
- Determine the cycles of the local property market when it comes to leasing and sales turnover. You can do that by reviewing the history transactions through the region. In most markets, a commercial or retail investment property will change hands or be upgraded at least once every seven years. It takes that long for the appropriate capital gain to occur or the client to reach the next stage of portfolio change and growth. Be sensitive to the cycles, and start prospecting the right people inside their property cycles.
- Start prospecting on a daily basis ensuring that you’re talking to new people as well as current contacts. The whole process should take you about 2 or 3 hours per day every working day. In a very short period of time you will find some new business opportunity. When that occurs, keep the prospecting process underway. That’s how top agents grow market share.
- When a competing agent puts a signboard on a property, it is an opportunity for you to talk to the property owners and business proprietors in the immediate and adjacent vicinity. This then says that the marketing processes of a competing agent give you leverage when it comes to building your market share. It is a fact that nearby property owners and business proprietors like to compete rather than cooperate with a nearby property sale or lease transaction.
- When you list a property, personally market the details of the property to the local region of property investors and business owners. This involves door knocking and telephone calls. From this process you will identify other opportunities to work on in the future. Pay particular attention to the immediate property location and the streets around the subject listing. Walk the streets and knock on the door’s to introduce yourself and the upcoming listing. Ask questions and talk to more people; it is amazing how much information you will extract from the market when you do this.
Building your market share in commercial real estate agency is a simple and yet ongoing process. You should have three or four solid strategies underway such as those above to help you connect with the right people and build the right relationships.
When it comes to strengthening your commission and listing opportunity in commercial real estate agency, you really do need to establish systems and processes that can support client contact and transaction accuracy. Attention to detail will be part of that process. Your knowledge of property type, documentation, fiduciary obligations, and client services are all critical to building your business professionally as a top agent.
It is interesting to note that many agents have been and will be sued due to negligence, documentary omissions, and poor professional services. There is really no place in the industry for poor quality agents with below standard business practices and knowledge. Over time their shortcomings in skills and knowledge will unravel their market share and can have an impact on future business for the agency.
So let’s say that you do have some shortcomings at the moment when it comes to documentation and professional services. If that is the case, you do need to consider how your knowledge can be improved and skills developed. In this industry, we never stop learning. Over time you come across so many new and unique issues that require personal development. Every property type can be regarded as unique when it comes to skill requirements. Build your knowledge wherever you can through relationships and education.
Here are some rules to help you with strengthening your property transactions and opportunities:
- Keep a paper trail that is accurate and up to date with every property transaction. It is surprising how frequently people will misunderstand or forget what has occurred relative to a verbal conversation. You do need to back up your actions and transactions with a solid and accurate paper trail.
- Any verbal instructions or agreements should be documented in writing. Whether that be in a legal document, an e-mail, or a letter you will need to make the right choice for the circumstances required.
- The marketing of a property should be fully approved in accordance with the clients instructions prior to commencement. Get all of the draft advertising material approved by the client prior to lodgement and activation.
- Before you act on any property listing on behalf of the client, ensure that you have a legally binding and correct listing appointment document. Some agents will ‘bend the rules’ and get the listing appointment signed later on; they then find that the client will avoid paying commission at a later stage. There are also some big questions that arise here when it comes to risk and liability when inspecting a property that you have no valid listing appointment over. Without a valid listing appointment, you cannot quote a listing.
- Understand the clients instructions from the outset. Follow their guidelines and their targets when it comes to pricing, rental, marketing, and inspections. Keep the client fully up to date when it comes to the latest property activity and the status of any negotiation.
- Ultimately you will be moving a listing to a contract or lease situation. Some properties are quite complex and the associated documentation will be similarly so. That being said, you do need to understand the complexities of the document required; when in doubt involve the appropriate legal specialists to help with the documentation. Every document created as part of a sale or leasing transaction should be valid and enforceable. In that way you protect your commission and client relationships.
You can likely add to this list based on your property type and location. The clear message here is that professionalism is a key component of your commercial real estate business. Strengthen your skills and improve your processes.
In commercial real estate agency, the sales team forms the central part of the income base for the business. A highly performing team will bring in many commission and listing opportunities over time. That being said, the team really does need to be built, guided and optimised for results.
Here are some challenges to look at when addressing sales team performance issues:
- Some salespeople operate best when they are left alone to get their personal plan in motion. Over time this group can rise to the top of the market using a plan and strategy that works for them. On average this type of salesperson is in the minority. Agents in this group know what they have to do and they make sure they are doing it every day of the week.
- Other salespeople (the majority) are more inclined to take random action in the market place. This group requires constant guidance and redirection from the team leader. If left to their own devices and actions these salespeople will usually underperform and stagnate with listings and commissions. Agents in this group usually experience ‘peaks and valleys’ in listing conversions and commission income.
- The administrative team should support the sales team with back up listing and marketing infrastructure.
So just how do you adjust to this challenging team and get the best out of them? Here are some ideas to help:
- Know who your best agents and salespeople are. Let them work with autonomy on their plan (providing the plan matches that of the business). As long as they are getting results there is no need to interfere. Top agents understand what they have to do and they get on with the process. The income and commissions for these agents will be constantly growing.
- Determine just who your ‘rising stars’ may be in the sales team. They will require special guidance and assistance to grow and improve. Provide them with personal coaching and training so they can achieve set key performance indicators. Each week and each month this group will need shaping and nurturing. They should continue to get the dedicated attention providing they are responding to fresh ideas and showing growth.
- Some of the remaining members of the sales team will be operating in the ‘ordinary zone’ of performance and will be quite ‘happy’ to do so. Members of this team segment usually have plenty of excuses to apply when it comes to a lack of listings and commissions. The income that they generate will fluctuate greatly during the year. Should you tolerate these people in your team? Probably not over the medium term (over 6 months and beyond). Give them some guidance and training to correct performance problems; if they fail to adjust then it is better for all concerned if they move on to another agency.
It is better to have a smaller team of top agent performers than a big team of below average agents. Below average agents drain the life out of the business over the long term. Choose your sales people well by undertaking a ‘sales character assessment’ prior to employment.
In commercial real estate agency you will find that you will constantly be up against many agents in the presentation and pitch process. The question is can you present and pitch your services for a listing at a better level or in a better way than your competitors? Can you show why you are the better agent for the job?
Sure, things are competitive in our industry but with a little self-development you can expand your strengths and make them even stronger for any sales pitch you make on a listing. When you know that you are a ‘top agent’ and that you have all the relevant skills that a client or the property requires, then you can convert more listings. Confidence will get you ‘across the line’ when it comes to your pitching and presenting.
Here are some tips to help you with your presentation and client connection processes today. See how these things match your current skills and approach to attracting more listings.
- Know what you are good at when it comes to selling, leasing, or managing commercial property. Build that relevance into your presentation with stories that attract the attention from the client. Most clients like to know that they are not the only ones struggling with sales and leasing challenges. Show them the solutions as you see them. Give them the ideas of just how they can fast track the marketing and results process given the prevailing market conditions. Put yourself into the property marketing and promotional process; if the client then wants to get the results as you see them, they will need you to do that. Top agents sell themselves very well.
- Find out what people are looking for in solving their current property challenge. Ask them questions about what they have done to date in marketing the property in case you are taking on something that has been taken to the market unsuccessfully before.
- Review the skills of the competition so you understand what the competitors will be saying in their presentation to the client. How can you be better than the others that the client may be meeting?
- Start practicing on your good skills so they get even better. Every day when you first arise, read a business or sales related book aloud for some 20 minutes or so; it helps you with verbal flexibility and confidence that is just so important in our industry. Just about everything that you do and negotiate on in property sales and leasing will hinge on your ability to communicate. The words that you use and the way you deliver them will be strengthened by this voice practice process.
Are you ready to win new commercial real estate clients and listings? Now is the time to build on your strengths as part of starting that process.
What is the value that you bring as an agent to a client in commercial property today? It is an interesting question for a client to ask when it comes to an agent selling, leasing, or managing commercial real estate.
Most agents would say one or more of the following:
- We know what we are doing
- We have good people
- We understand the property market
- We have done some great deals recently
- We sold (or leased) other properties like this recently
- We know how to market the property
The sad fact of the matter is that when they have said these things, they go no further. They do not back up their claims with detailed proof.
If you say anything to a client about your relevance or skill as a local commercial real estate agent, be prepared to expand on the issue and talk about it comprehensively and directly. Show the client some proof of why your statement is so important to their property position or need.
Here are a couple of ideas to use when it comes to showing the client that you really are the right agent for the job of marketing the property:
- Use a Gantt chart that shows the steps that you will be taking in marketing the property and converting the result that they need. Have different Gantt charts for the process when it comes to sales, leasing, and property management (commercial or retail).
- Define the target market in such a way that you are clear on exactly how you will connect with the right people and help them understand the property market.
When you pitch or present to a client, don’t discount your services and lower your marketing fees for the sake of attracting the client’s attention. Offer real and relevant marketing solutions that are so good that the client cannot ignore you. Sign them up on an exclusive listing.
In commercial real estate agency, your sales pitch and presentation should be of the highest quality. It should be practiced regularly on different property types and in different property situations so you can attract the right listings to your agency.
Here are some facts to remember:
- Quality property listings will attract a greater level of direct enquiry from the market, and therefore you will have more inspections to work with.
- Average listings take a lot longer to move due to the lack of enquiry or poor interest from the market.
Given these facts, your presentation has to attract and convert the best listings. That’s how top agents get the results from the market; they focus on listing quality before anything else. Even if a quality listing is overpriced, it will still attract greater enquiry and that will give you something to work with for the client.
Most of the listings and clients that you target will be chased by other agents locally. Rarely will you have the opportunity to pitch for a listing entirely on your own. Your sales pitch needs to be well planned and staged. Here are some ideas to help you do that:
- First impressions are really important. Take pride in how you dress, appear and carry yourself when meeting a commercial real estate client or prospect for the first time. It takes about 1 minute for a person to assess you visually and form an opinion on your relevance. The commercial real estate industry is one of professionalism and on that basis a ‘business image’ is required.
- Be aware of the age and experience level of the people that you are connecting or working with; they may be far more experienced in business than you are. They may have expectations that are high and demanding.
- The client expects you to be skilful in the issues that they want resolved. On that basis you should have a ‘professional selling attitude’ that they appreciate and know will help with their property challenge. Confidence should show in what you say and do.
- Practice your dialogue and speech so you are ready to show confidence in every client or prospect situation. If this is difficult for you now, make ‘role playing’ a part of your weekly sales meeting. Create a quality in what you say and how you do it. Let the client see that you can handle any property negotiation or debate professionally. Master the right words for the right situation.
- Ask the right questions in any contact situation. It helps if you have a checklist relative to your property type and marketing situation.
- Show that you have a real knowledge of the property situation and task ahead for the client. Give them some confidence that you are indeed the ‘real deal’ when it comes to moving through their property challenge.
Your presentation or sales pitch in commercial real estate will get a lot easier when you follow these simple and yet effective rules.
In a commercial or retail property today, it is the tenants that provide the backbone and the stability to income and rental performance. On that basis, you really do need to keep your tenants well in control given the prevailing market conditions and the current tenancy mix.
It is notable that a retail property can be highly volatile when it comes to tenant interaction and occupancy. Essentially all retail tenants are essentially small business people that rely on the success of the property and the overall tenancy mix to provide an opportunity for sales growth.
The tenants in a retail property will usually talk between each other on a regular basis. They therefore share information and perceptions relating to the property, the property manager, and the landlord. I go back to the point, that you must not let your tenants get out of control. Encourage good communications and build solid relationships with all of your tenants.
Here are some rules to apply to the tenant communication and connection process in commercial and retail property today:
- The tenant will be assessing their business performance continually during the year and the lease term. This then says that you should meet with your tenants on a monthly basis. This will help you when it comes to understanding shifts and changes relating to their business, customer base, or sales. If you identify any problems early, you can make the necessary adjustments to occupancy or leasing strategy.
- In a large property, it is likely that you will have one or more anchor tenants as part of the tenancy mix. The anchor tenants will usually be in occupancy for the long term with a lease document that extends over a number of years; in most cases the lease for an anchor tenant will be in excess of 10 years and will have options for lengthy renewal terms. Stay close to your anchor tenants so that you can understand how they are integrating into the overall property and any associated specialty tenants. The success of the anchor tenant will have some flow through to the specialty tenants.
- Most leases will have provisions for rent reviews and options as part of occupancy. The critical dates that apply to those lease situations should be carefully watched. Any rent review or lease renewal inside the next 12 months should be negotiated as early as possible. This then will remove the volatility from the property for the landlord.
- Every meeting or conversation with a tenant should be documented as quickly as possible. Whilst a simple situation or discussion today with a tenant may seem unimportant, it is quite common to have more complex issues arise in the future that started from some simple discussion or telephone conversation.
Get to know your tenants as part of the services that you provide for your client the landlord. In this way you can help the client understand the predictable changes that you can see with the tenancy mix and the lease profiles.