In commercial real estate, there is no point in listing a property unless you know what you are going to do with it. You need a marketing plan from the very start, and that plan should feature early in your client conversations and property presentation. Show your confidence so that the client can see that you are listing the property with a purpose. Put some strategy into your ideas and conversation.
Confidence in Property Presentations
So how direct and confident are you in your property
presentations now? While we are all different in how we approach
the listing process, your style and character can and should feature positively
in your listing process. Here are some
ideas to help you with that:
Client motivation and targets – Ensure that you question the client comprehensively and that you know the property in all respects before you go too far in the listing process. There will be strengths, weaknesses, issues, and facts to identify at the earliest stages of client and property engagement.
Set the target market – Be clear and precise about your property market and what it is doing. Your client wants to see that you understand things and how the client’s property fits into the local area and or the competition of other properties. Again, put some strategies in your comments on this. Lead the conversation with facts and strategies.
Define the inspection process and method – Tell the client how you will be taking people through their property and what you will be focusing on as part of that process. Build some stories around the features of the property and show how you see those features helping you with the inspecting people.
Give reasons for the best method of sale or lease – Don’t just put a property on the market for sale or lease. Show the client how you can vary the intensity of marketing and enquiry through choosing the best methods of sale or lease. Have some evidence to support the recommendations that you are making.
Set timelines to your listing approach and marketing process – It generally takes time to list and sell or lease a commercial property. You can simplify the whole process for the client by using a visual timeline that you can then show the client as part of your listing activity. That ‘visual’ approach can be the ‘roadmap’ to display your marketing efforts and listing strategy.
Schedule your marketing plan to a strategy – Just about every agent will use the ‘generic’ approach to marketing with most of their listings. They simply get a property into their listing books and then they promote in some basic way. They don’t overly consider timing, media choices, and intensity. You can change all that and show your client how important it is in the business approach you are taking to resolve their property challenge. Be different and relevant to your marketing recommendations; have a plan that is proven and logical. It is wise to have a solid ‘game plan’ when it comes to marketing any exclusively listed property. Notice the focus word here is with ‘exclusivity’.
So, these are specific ways you can list a property with a
real ‘purpose’; you are putting the client at the centre of your real estate
business. You can build a real support, and
directness to your professional property services. That will help the client see that you are
the ‘agent of choice’ when it comes to listing and marketing their property and
solving their property challenge. That
is how you will win more listings over time.
When you are about to meet a new client to discuss their property, prepare a list of questions beforehand to get to the facts of what the client is trying to achieve. There are five key questions here that I always start with when meeting a sales client for the first time. Preparation is the key to a productive sales marketing campaign. The questions help with that.
Of course, there are always more questions that evolve from the first five questions, so be prepared to probe the client for information, and document the answers that you get. Preparation is the key to getting to the real facts of the property and the client’s situation. Note taking is then wise to protect yourself from misleading events or later disagreements.
Why ask all these questions? Well, it is a known fact that some clients will hide or not disclose the full information about a property. They tend to think that withholding the negative information at the start of marketing will give them a higher price or perhaps better enquiry. The reality is that any hidden information will usually come out in the sale or due diligence process.
The buyers of commercial and retail real estate today are smart and informed. The earlier you can get all the facts about the property, the better it is for you and the client. Explain to the client that they must disclose all that they know.
Watch for What Is Not Said in Listing or Sales Negotiations
As another note on this here, any hidden information will usually do a few things to your transaction including:
Stop the negotiations and any progress
Threaten the legality of the transaction
Jeopardise the ability to achieve a settlement
Risk the transaction being taken to court
Allow claims to be lodged against the property owner and agent for misrepresentation
Don’t allow yourself and or your client to be involved in these difficult situations. Get to the full facts of every property transaction before you take it to the market; when in any doubt ask more questions. Through all and any property enquiries, do not speculate about any information that you may not have available.
Key Sales Questions
Here are the key questions that I believe are the starting points for getting to all the client’s property issues. These questions allow you to go further and deeper into issues identified:
When and why did they purchase the property? This question allows you to understand the original motivations of the client in the first acquisition. Perhaps they purchased the property for investment and or as a base for their business to operate. When you know why they purchased the property, you can then judge whether the asset has satisfied their needs.
What is the ownership structure of the property? Sometimes there are multiple owners and or decision makers to the sale and marketing of commercial or retail property. Understand who they are, and more importantly, that you understand their motivations and agreement to proceed.
What are the restrictions and limitations applicable to the property? Some properties will have issues of operation, compliance, legality, and function. The best way to probe these things is to use a checklist of questions that you know would apply to property types in the location.
Has the property been on the market recently? It is very possible that they have tried to sell the property recently. If that is the case you must know about that activity and the results that evolved from the promotion. Buyers locally will see the listing coming back into the market; you must have your answers ready.
Why are they selling and what is their target price today?Perhaps these are quite direct questions, but the variety of answers that you get will help you with knowing the momentum that the client may have towards any sale and marketing process.
As mentioned, these questions allow you to go deeper into the client’s situation and their property as it appears to you today. Be prepared to ask these questions and others as part of the listing meeting and before the property is released to potential buyer enquiry.
In commercial and retail real estate, there are different ways to find new property management listings and clients. Some strategies are more successful than others. Either way, the growth of a portfolio under management is a good part of commercial real estate brokerage today.
A thriving and successful brokerage and agency business will have an established process to finding new management appointments. That process will or should be ongoing.
So why do this? The object here is to build growth in a property portfolio under management. That portfolio will bring fee stability to a brokerage and potentially future sales and leasing stock over time. Every person in the sales and leasing team should be encouraged to raise the ‘property management question’ in all interactions with good clients and established contacts.
Locating Good Properties to Manage
Where can you find new property management business? Try these for starters:
Sales activity – as properties are sold, some purchasers are investors in some way or form. They don’t have the time or the skills to control the leases and cash flow from investment activity. The greater the number of tenants in a property, the harder the work involved. They will likely need property management help. Recognise the complexities of property management with arrears, lease management, vacancy reduction, and property optimization. Sell your management services through to buyers of your listed properties.
Leasing activity – every lease converted will allow you to ask the question of landlords as to how and who manages their property now. Are they happy with their existing property controls and services? Are there things that you could do that are better?
Referral business – knowing that you should have a good list of clients or properties on your books now, the referral question is a strategic advantage. When should you put the referral question to, and who should ask it? Sometimes the sales and leasing team must be reminded or shown how to introduce the idea of property management services into a meeting and or a discussion.
Large investment groups and companies – many larger corporations have property portfolios and need help with facility management, property management, reporting, and risk reduction. Generally, those companies are not property specialists, and they do not want to employ teams of people internally to solve day to day property problems. Can you offer a cost-effective and professional way of managing properties to those larger groups and businesses? Build a ‘corporate property management package’ to be specifically promoted in your region and those identified key corporate groups.
Family businesses – some successful family businesses put money back into the property or their portfolio. Research all the local property owners to find those families and understand what they own. How could you help them with rent collection, vacancy reductions, and property optimisation?
There is a good foundation of new property management business to be extracted from this list of initiatives. Build a system of business development around it and shape it to your location and preferred property types.
There are differences to consider in a sales pitch for a lease listing in commercial or retail real estate. You are working with elements of rent, vacancy factors, supply and demand, property types, and certain target markets of tenants. Landlords need a bit of help in knowing how you see the ‘attraction factors’ that apply to their property. Tell a story about their property and how you will move on the leasing requirement; demand exclusivity for your intense focus and time commitment.
Before going too much further here, it should be said that the leasing part of our business is very lucrative as you can connect with plenty of local landlords and that can lead to sales appointments over time. Be prepared to work with lease listings and convert them; go ‘deeper’ and make direct calls to local or targeted tenants.
Quality is important in working with lease vacancies and the different properties. That is a rule to ‘live by’ in brokerage. Choose the properties that are likely to create tenant interest. Know what motivates a tenant to look at or take up a property. That knowledge can be gained and used as you talk to plenty of local businesses.
Listing Facts for Presentations
Take every potential lease listing and do a ‘SWOT’ analysis before you engage with the landlord client. You are then prepared to ‘pitch’ for the listing. Here are some things for you to talk about with the landlord as the client for you:
Levels of enquiry – show the landlord what is happening with the inbound enquiry and list the questions by a group as to what tenants are looking for. Will the landlord’s property satisfy that list of questions?
Property types – put the client’s property firmly in a property grouping for the zone. At that point, you can then tell the client what they are up against with other listings and lease offerings.
Location preferences – explain how different tenants look for location advantages such as roads, transport points (ports and airports), location to end users or markets, and other local businesses. Some locations are more attractive than others when it comes to those elements.
Target marketing – shortlist a few tenant types that will be valuable in the target marketing process. Your promotional strategies can then be direct and deliberate as you spread the word about the property. Tell the client how you will do that.
Local area comparisons and coverage – list the competing properties in the precinct, and then take some photos, get the property facts in each case, and look at the strengths and weaknesses of each property. The competitive position for the listing is then something that you can talk about with the client and make some clear recommendations.
In saying all these things, simplicity is important in what you say, do, show in the listing process or pitch. Help the client see and hear how you can move things ahead with a direct focus on results. That is the best way to pitch for a commercial real estate lease listing. Be different, real, and relevant to the property and the client.
In commercial real estate brokerage, try to add value to all the activities and conversations that you have with clients and prospects. Sales, leasing, and property management are all the same; go that extra bit further with listings, inspections, feedback and negotiations.
Every client contact experience should be special, so you can then grow your real estate business in the right way and for the right reasons.
Today there are plenty of other agents just looking to take your listings away from you and or to influence the client away from your recommendations. Clients and prospects are valuable to your real estate business.
Set Your Engagement Rules
Follow the ‘rules of client engagement’. These are some good ones to start with:
Keep the client fully appraised of all transaction activity and offers
If you have exclusive listings on your books, then spend more time with all the specific clients and owners of those properties
As a promotional campaign commences keep the client briefed on enquiry, campaign momentum, and local area marketing
When you have undertaken an inspection, let the client know about the ‘third party’ feedback.
Provide plenty of ‘comparable property information’ from the location and across the property types
Write plenty of notes from meetings, telephone calls, and negotiations
These are simple rules, and perhaps you can add to the list in other ways. Importantly, create your rules that you can use with clients and prospects. These are then the ‘rules of engagement’, and they will help you with client conversions and interaction. Quality communications and professional business practices prevail.
It is interesting to remember that a small amount of ‘added value’ in customer and client service will help considerably at the time of a property transaction and negotiation.
In commercial real estate brokerage there are a good number of things that require practice and refinement over time. It’s a personal process that cannot be delegated. It is the faster track to getting results in brokerage with listings and clients. (NB – you can get our free commercial real estate course here)
So why is this so important?
There are many ‘top agents’ in a location be that a suburb, town or city, and they are all chasing the same new business across sales, leasing, and property management. Your recommendations and solutions offered to your clients and prospects should be well considered and clearly displayed. Your ideas have to be better than that of your competitors. Can you stand out in that way now?
Your solutions have to be better than the others that are put to the client and that are available. Expect the client to seek presentations from other agents as they work through their property challenge, and before they make a listing decision.
Your pitch has to be better than the others that are out there; you should be perceived as the professional that people need. Practice is required to achieve that status. If you pitch your services comprehensively, the ‘exclusivity’ process is much easier. Exclusivity is critical to market domination.
Practice your skills on key matters
Through your career in brokerage, you should practice your skills and strategies in a number of key disciplines. You can put that practice into your real estate business through personal disciplines, team meetings, and role playing. That specific practice will help you with deeper market confidence and better levels of communication; both are important factors when it comes to converting the client to your ideas and recommendations.
So let’s get this important business education underway. Here are some strategies to help you get that practice incorporated into your real estate business:
Listing pitch – Given the pressures of the current market, what are the better ways to list a property today to get faster outcomes in sales and leasing? That question has to resolved in any client presentation. Your listing presentation can be supported by research, computer based aids, statistics, and case studies.
Negotiation alternatives – Every deal can be closed in a number of ways. Show the client how one negotiation stalled; also show them how another was resolved. Put yourself into the solution as the facilitator of the positive outcome. Stories will always help you with client communication.
Vendor paid marketing – Show several examples of local property promotions where vendor paid marketing was the big difference in getting a positive outcome. As a general rule, vendor funded campaigns generally attract and facilitate more inquiry over the listing period, and the time on market is shorter when it comes to a positive result.
Listing refresh – Package your presentation to allow you to refresh the advertising every 2 or 3 weeks. Don’t let a listing stay too long on the market. Watch the trends of enquiry and tune your property advertising frequently.
Client conditioning – How can you condition a client to the prevailing market conditions in your location? There are many different property challenges as there are clients. Make sure that you can handle the most common client concerns in today’s property market.
So there are some real things that you can practice here. Take the pressures of the properties that you work with, and practice your pitch and presentation recommendations. That practice will help you stand out as the ‘agent of choice’ for the client and their property today.
As you consolidate your career in commercial real estate brokerage, there are plenty of opportunities to be had across the segments of the leasing market. There will usually be a good selection of local businesses, landlords, and tenants struggling to resolve occupancy issues.
If this is the property market segment for you, then consider how you can boost leasing inquiry and provide professional services to both landlords and tenants. There are some critical steps to the process to help you build your leasing momentum.
Let me set the scene here in your local area:
Some tenants are looking to relocate due to pressures of expansion and or contraction.
Some landlords have vacancy issues and pressures to deal with. Look for the vacant properties and then talk to the landlords directly.
Some properties are quite complex in tenancy mix and occupancy. The larger properties are likely to have an array of leasing challenges including variable market rentals, upcoming lease expiries, and a changing tenancy mix.
Market rents are changing in your town or city. Track the market rentals that apply to the different property types and precincts.
The factors of supply and demand in the local area will shift occupancy rates and market rentals. Look for the local developments that could influence future supply and demand. Adjust your marketing efforts based on the upcoming changes to occupancy supply and demand.
Many tenants today are looking for improved conditions of occupancy and better buildings. In talking to the tenants locally, you will soon identify what they are looking for in any new occupancy.
Some landlords are overly aggressive when it comes to market rental negotiation. The landlords that push the levels of occupancy and rental recovery are usually the landlords that lose tenants over time. They are likely to have higher vacancy factors in their investment buildings.
Many tenants are looking for improved factors of economy and cost when it comes to lease occupancy. Understand how you can bring factors of occupancy cost improvement into the tenant lease negotiations. Market rentals, outgoings costs, and rent review processes are ways of achieving a better rental package for the tenants that you serve. If you work as a tenant advocate, this will be a big part of your professional advocacy services.
New projects are coming onto the market, and those projects will require a professional occupancy and leasing strategy. Many project leasing opportunities are quite large and can take months if not years to complete. If this is the type of work that you are focusing on, then be careful when considering commission charges, marketing costs, and resources to be applied to the project. Many developers will look for lower levels of commission and minimized marketing costs. They will be looking to offload many of the project leasing costs to the marketing agent.
All of these things are happening in most cities at any given point in time. They are all related to leasing and property performance. You are the best person to help resolve these challenges.
So here are some of the rules that you must follow to improve your professional profile as a top leasing agent:
Concentrate on the market segments that have the best levels of churn and opportunity. There will be certain property precincts and buildings in your town or city that are higher on the selection list for new tenancies and new tenants. Work the buildings, the landlords and the precincts that have the best opportunity for change and churn.
In talking to local business owners and tenants, adopt a checklist approach to understand where their business is located now, what they may need for ongoing successful business occupancy, and when their current lease may expire. When talking with decision makers, understand the pressures of today that they may be experiencing, and how they are looking at their future in the location. Show them the economies of the area that could influence their choices to relocate. Most business owners and tenants will be attracted to factors of efficiency and economy.
Track the market rentals that apply to the property types and the precincts. When any new lease transaction has been completed, seek out the facts relating the finalized lease, and the agreed rental.
When focusing on new properties to lease, bias your activities towards the larger properties, the quality locations, and the good quality buildings. In that way you will achieve a higher level of rental and better levels of interest as you market the vacancies.
So these are all strategic issues that can easily be applied to the tenant and landlord leasing services locally. Understand the factors of attraction in the local commercial real estate leasing market. Work the factors of attraction through your prospecting and marketing processes. The better buildings, precincts, and market rentals will always attract good levels of quality inquiry. Work with your landlords and tenants on that basis.
When you have a property to take to the market you will have a number of options to consider as you reach out to the target market. You can promote the property selectively and directly to the right people, or you could undertake a public campaign to the general market. So a good degree of strategy is required to find the right buyer or tenant as the case may be. Understand the listing and the client before you get started in designing your marketing campaign.
Drill Down on the Property Facts
You are the professional person to establish the promotional strategy, and then make the marketing campaign work. You can do things generically, or you can drill down into the real facts of the market and the property; your choices here are critical to the end result. Your marketing choices are really important to the resultant ‘time on market’ and price or rent achieved. When you help the client understand those facts, the conversion of vendor paid marketing funds is a lot easier.
A property marketing campaign is a bit like a sales drive, and that process will be supported by the many promotional tools that we have today both online and offline. Sometimes you can use gimmicks to attract the attention of the buyers and tenants in your target market, but the end resultant inquiry will usually be driven by the facts of the property zone and the listing itself. It is a personal selling process.
Professional Systems in Commercial Marketing
You are the professional to take a property listing forward, so convert the listing exclusively for a good period of time, and then match the promotional campaign through a deliberate mix of advertising strategies including geographical concentration, marketing message, and target marketing. Here are some ideas to help you do that:
Inspect the asset – When you comprehensively understand the asset, you can penetrate the targeted segments of buyers and tenants. Don’t do things generally. Promote with focus and significance.
Resolve problems and challenges – Every property will have issues; some of those issues will be real hurdles in the marketing and promotional process. Resolve those property problems before you go to market.
Comparable properties – Check out the competition and the other listings in the location. See if there is any conflict with other properties in the region and adjust your marketing efforts to encourage inquiry given all of those other properties still on the market.
Marketing alternatives – Understand the promotional tools at your disposal for the property and then make the right choices to get the property out into the location or target market of buyers or tenants.
Focus the budget and the campaign – Achieve target market coverage. You can cross sell and promote all of your listings, providing you really understand the strengths of each of the listings; cross selling is a great concept in commercial real estate brokerage. When you work the target market comprehensively, there is a reasonable chance of gaining inquiry inertia and better results with all of your properties listed.
Take these marketing ideas, and apply them to your clients and commercial listings. Upsell your services where possible and cross sell your listings where the inquiry allows; do more with less, that’s the rule. There are good commissions to be converted in commercial real estate today; there are plenty of business owners and investors looking for a property resolve.
A blanket approach to your listing territory and your property segments will help you to get to know the right people in the right way.
The quality and focus of your marketing campaigns in commercial real estate will attract volumes of clients and prospects over time, providing you build quality and target marketing into your promotional processes. Build your brand through your current marketing processes with all of your listings.
So the rule here is typically that ‘a quality focus in promotional activity generally attracts quality new business in local property’. The best clients and investors locally like to work with the agents that have a market domination of the location and the property type.
Compare the competitors
Compare your marketing solutions to those used by your competitors:
Can you claim to be more relevant and real as an agent in your property activities?
Do your advertising efforts stand out as the best for the property type or the location?
Here are some ideas to help you stand out as a ‘go to agent’ for your location:
Property and target market match – Always match your property to a target market before the campaign of promotion commences. Help the client understand the target market that you are chasing and why that is the case.
Local area coverage and regional coverage – When you promote your listings, devote different strategies to the local area, versus the broader region. Vendor paid marketing funds should allow you to specialize your property coverage and penetration.
Online marketing versus traditional marketing – You will need to mix and match your marketing to the online and offline media outlets and channels. Think about everything from the traditional signboard through to website coverage, and the industry portals. Your exclusive listings should get special attention in that process. Use the email marketing system as well as the more traditional approaches to listing distribution.
Brochures and photographs – Some people like to review the local papers and or get a brochure in the mail, so photos and brochures are valuable in property marketing. Use them in directly marketing the listings that you have. The direct marketing process has merit as long as you are taking the time to follow through with telephone calls and direct contact. If you have spent the money in mail outs, then make the calls to see what others think of the listing and the brochure.
Editorials – When you have a good quality listing coming to the market, get an editorial ready for release, and promote that editorial to the local papers and media outlets. If the property has a good history or local relevance, an editorial is a good strategy to use promotionally.
Database – Use your database in your client and prospect discussions. Create a shortlist of people from your database to inspect a property as soon as it is released to the market for sale or lease. It is hard for a client to overlook a relevant database of local contact.
Feedback – Seek comments from the people that you take to your listed properties and hold inspections with. Allow their comments to shape your clients thinking and their perceptions of the property as it is being marketed. This is called ‘third party conditioning’ and it is a valuable strategy in shaping a property for better listing and or negotiation outcomes.
Reset and refresh your listing advertisements – Don’t let an advert for property remain unchanged for too long. Refresh your listing stock promotions with different promotional copy and feature points every 3 weeks or so.
These simple and yet direct strategies are valuable in delivering high quality property promotions. They allow ‘high end’ coverage, and will attract better levels of inquiry. Refine and revisit all of your commercial property promotions accordingly, with a real bias towards your exclusively listed assets.
Most years in commercial real estate will dish up a variety of market conditions. You have to be versatile and driven as an agent or broker. If something is not working for you, look for the signs and then implement change. There are plenty of people to watch and use as role models.
Top agents leave a trail of skills and information that you can replicate. Watch what they are doing with their listings and marketing, and then pick the best activities for your own implementation. Apply your own twists to a property initiative; there is no point in being ordinary in commercial real estate today. Learn how to stand out as the person that commands the market and the enquiry.
When you take a property type and specialize in it. You can monitor key performance indicators and weave those indicators into your client presentations and marketing recommendations. Real facts will help you connect with the client. Show that you are a critical part of the marketing process. Tell the client exactly what you will do if the client appoints you as the agent to resolve their property issue.
Look deeply into your client relationships. Some of those clients will be well placed to take action on a quality listing. Keep your VIP clients fully briefed on the best listings as they come to market. There is nothing wrong with holding an inspection early in the campaign with your preferred and qualified clients.
The email marketing process today is something that is part of the business. That being said, you can do it generically, or you can do it with relevance. Why not send your campaigns with some focus or property type in mind? Don’t send out too many properties of different types to everyone that you know. Be more specific in segmenting your Email marketing efforts to business owners, tenants, landlords, and investors.
Don’t just market your listings online; market yourself. In saying that I mean creating some valuable online property based information in a regular way that can help people. The best way to do that is through a blog and a series of resources and articles shared on that blog. You can then link your social media back to the blog, in that way showing your clients that you are significantly better than the other agents locally.
So there are some good things that you can do here in creating major change in your property and marketing efforts. Don’t be ordinary in commercial real estate brokerage; strive to be different and relevant.
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