How to Improve Listening Skills in Commercial Real Estate Brokerage

In an average working week, as a broker or an agent, you will attend plenty of meetings with clients and prospects.  Your listening skills and meeting strategies will be tested; they should be refined and optimized for each situation that could evolve.

 

Improve your communications skills and your listening skills.  Strategically connect with ever more people in your location and with your property marketing activities.

 

Accurately listen as part of a property discussion or negotiation.  Watch what happens with all your conversations relating to commercial property, and know what is being said by the stakeholders. 

 

Take notes to support discussions and progress; send off an email soon after a discussion to detail the current position.  A full understanding will help you with your position of negotiation or the desired strategic outcome.

 

The Challenges of Negotiations and Clients

 

It is a fact that some clients will be more difficult than others when it comes to negotiation, listing, property documentation, and marketing.  The same levels of difficulty apply to prospects and the third parties to any transaction.

 

Through all stages of the property transaction, there will be issues to discuss and opportunities to create.  Improve your professional communications skills through practice and deliberation.  Set your communication systems in place to help you with prospecting, listing, and presenting properties.

 

Communication Rules

 

Here are some rules that can help you with all your listening skills, client connections, and negotiation opportunities:

 

  1. Where possible, choose the place and the time to meet with other parties as part of any property negotiation or inspection. Try to keep control of the discussion or negotiation through meeting location selection and timing.
  2. Check your property and listing information before you give it to others. Ensure that you have all the supporting documentation validated and ready to display or use in any inspection and or presentation.  Expect that you will get questions on property matters, so have your supporting information ready.
  3. Don’t just listen to the other person but watch what they say and observe how they do it as part of explaining their position or negotiating. The body language of the other party will give you some valuable indicators to work on progressing a transaction forward.
  4. Understand all the alternatives that can apply to the negotiation. Do the people or stakeholders in the transaction need to achieve an agreement, or can they walk away from the discussion?
  5. Take plenty of notes as part of a negotiation process and meeting or conversation. Your notes will help you in the future remember what was said and done or perhaps agreed.  Sometimes disputes occur between the parties in a property transaction, and your notes will be the only way to protect your position and recollection.
  6. Ask plenty of questions relating to a property and or client situation. When in any doubt, ask more questions. As you get the answers that you require, observe the other party in what they are saying and how they are saying it. Look for the problems of interpretation and message accuracy.
  7. Qualify any comments and restate the position of the other party. The stakeholders to a property transaction will have a position or belief so you will need to document that fact accurately and legally for the property and the client.  Don’t proceed with documentation until you know that all is correct.
  8. Any action that is agreed between the parties will need to be taken in a timely way. Timeliness is important and can sometimes be a ‘deal breaker’.  Know the legalities of the matter, and how you can document things accurately for the client’s position, their instructions, and the facts of the property.

 

Listen carefully and comprehensively as part of each property meeting and negotiation.  Establish your rules and your systems of communication control so that every negotiation can be directed and shaped towards the outcomes that the client requires.

How a Complete Commercial Real Estate Brokerage Practice Session Improves Knowledge and Skills

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:

  1. 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.
  2. Marketing solutions – Have some clear examples of other properties listed today and recently that have been taken to the market, and show the client exactly how the campaign and marketing process was critical to the challenge and the outcome reached.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

Commercial Real Estate Brokers – How to Amplify Your Commissions with a Good Database

The database system that you choose in commercial real estate will help you drive new business opportunity.  If you are looking for more listings and commissions as part of your business plan, then the database creation and nurturing process should be part of the plan.

Most agents and brokers struggle with the process of client contact and database creation.  They simply do not spend enough time on growing their business in this way.  When the property market gets slow or becomes tougher, a good database is the only way to move through challenging economic conditions and any market slowdown.

Who do you know?

You simply need to know a lot of people in a relevant and ongoing way, and a contact management system will help you interact with your clients are the right time with relevance.  They need to trust you as the expert of choice, and remember you at the right time when it comes to property help and assistance.

Here are some specific rules to help you establish your contact management system in your real estate brokerage:

  1. The correct information – the information that feeds into your database needs to be correct in every way. When the information is captured, that is the start of the contact management system, and you will be connecting with the same person in a number of different ways over time.  Accuracy and regularity feature as part of a professional contact management.
  2. Segment your database – given that you will be working with a number of different clients and prospects, you do need to segment the database into the various levels of opportunity and also within property types and locations. The contact management system that you choose should offer you that flexibility in a simple and direct way.
  3. Cloud based storage – you must be able to get to your information at any time, and then use your database from a number of different computer platforms. Cloud based storage and access will give you the flexibility that you need in commercial real estate brokerage.  Make sure that the storage and access points for the database are reliable and secure.  Given that the data you collate and collect over time will be growing significantly in frequency and volume, you should be using the software platform that is well proven and reliable.
  4. Determine how you will be connecting – there are many ways to keep in contact with clients and prospects today. As part of your connection pipeline, establish some rules and systems of contact.  Every stage or step within the pipeline process will be a professional advancement on the last point of contact.  Understand how you can use social media, emails, telephone calls, and meetings as part of regular ongoing contact.  Relevance will be important to help you connect with your clients professionally.  What can you do or add to the contact process that will help with this relevance?  How can you connect with more people every day?  What can you do or provide as part of the contact process to build the client relationship over time?

If you’re looking to improve your commercial real estate business both as an agent and within the brokerage, then have a solid and direct look at your database activities and systems.  If you are not connecting with a lot of people in a new and relevant way, then you have a few problems to address.  Build a database system that works for you and keep the process going in every way possible.

(N.B. these ideas are also sent out to regularly to our friends in Commercial Real Estate Online Snapshot to help amplify brokerage results…. Get your access here)

Commercial Real Estate Brokerage – A Custom Designed Strategy to Work with Commercial Property Investors

Every commercial property is unique and on that basis every property investor will have special challenges to work with their asset.  In every property location there will be special factors to consider and challenges to resolve.  You can be the specialist for the location to help investors through the challenges that they experience.  The value that you can offer through a set of comprehensive property services needs to be carefully considered and promoted.

Know the facts locally

To successfully work with commercial property investors, it is simply a matter of understanding what they are experiencing in the local property market and how you can be the solution that they need.  With particular clients you can drill down into the unique challenges of a single property, its ownership, and its location.

So how can you do this?  You can do an analysis of property performance and property opportunity.  You can provide a real property performance plan based on solid recommendations supported by strategy and opportunity.

What can you do?

As the local property specialist, you can add considerable value to the services that you provide your investor clients.  Specialise completely and thoroughly within your location and within a small number of property types.  That specialisation will be of great value to the clients that you serve.

Here are some of the most common challenges that you will strike with property investors today.  These particular issues all require solutions:

  • Timing – Many property decisions will be based around factors of timing. Time will impact property cash flow, rental, tenancy mix, and occupancy.  Ultimately over time there will be property based issues that will flow through to changes in capital value.  Understand the timing factors for your location when it comes to selling, leasing, and property upgrade.  When it comes to selling or leasing a property, you can show your clients the best strategies of timing matched to the challenges within the asset.
  • Financing – Some investors will need to change financing strategies and structures during the ownership cycle for a property. There will also be the need for property valuations to support mortgage funds.  Understand the duration of financing applies to the clients that you serve.  You will need to strengthen the tenancy mix and the rental income to improve and enhance the financing position.  The loan value ratio between advanced funds and property value is a ratio to watch.
  • Cash flow – The leases within the tenancy mix will support the rental cash flow. Can add cash flow be improved?  How does the rental cash flow matched to the prevailing market rentals?  You can do a rental assessment and compare the results of the assessment to other properties in the location.
  • Portfolio performance – When you delve into the factors of property performance for your client, you can cover off on matters of income enhancement, maintenance management, expenditure controls, tenancy changes, and lease changes. All of these things each year will flow to the end result of property performance.
  • Vacancy factors – How can you improve the occupancy rates within the property? How can you find the best tenants to strengthen the tenancy profiles and lease covenants?  A good property will be strengthened by the tenants in the mix.  Look at how you can encourage and shape the tenant occupancy over time.
  • Property maintenance – You cannot own an investment property without spending money. You can however develop a strategy of timing that takes into account known expenditure and the performance of the asset.  You can set a budget in place incorporating rates and taxes, repairs and maintenance, capital expenditure, and property renovations.  Understand the future of the asset and the maintenance that will be required to improve it over time.

There are some good things here that can be tracked and managed for your investment clients.  You can provide some stability and controls to enhance property performance over time.

Understand the asset for what it is, and look at how you can bring change and opportunity to the tenancy mix, rental strategy, lease documentation, and property value.  Your clients will appreciate the real strategies that you bring to the process of property ownership and investment.

Get the Snapshot eCourse

You can get more commercial real estate brokerage ideas in our Snapshot eCourse right here.

Commercial Real Estate Brokerage – A Blueprint for Finding and Retaining Top Sales Agents

In commercial real estate brokerage there is always a degree of movement when it comes to sales agents.  Some don’t last in the role, some move to other brokerages for perceived better ‘deals’, and others stay for the long haul.  If you are managing a brokerage team, you will know what I mean.  Staff volatility can be quite high within the industry.  Unfortunately the success of a commercial real estate brokerage this largely geared to the balance between the sales activity, leasing, and property management.  You need good people in each of the rules to make the brokerage a success.

Strive for Stability

Ultimately you need some stability in the brokerage with agents; the property market will change in many ways, and the agents working for you have to adjust and work through those changes whilst bringing in the new business.  It is a fine balance to work with.  The very character of a sales agent is sometimes a real challenge to manage at the best of times, and even more so within the team.

Successful sales agents are usually a mixture of egos, knowledge, skills, and motivations.  In a large sales team, the individual agents must be balanced, encouraged, and rewarded.  Without those three particular attributes being active within the brokerage, an agent will usually leave for ‘greener pastures’ when the time is right.  That can then expose the brokerage to a significant loss or shift in income. Volatility within the team can also be a problem.

The Facts to Remember

So you want your brokerage business to be successful.  Here are the basic facts to remember and work with in any commercial real estate team:

  • You will lose agents for reasons that you cannot control, so prepare to find others. You can do that through a number of different strategies including personal contact, career nights, advertising, and team development.
  • Education and training will help your retained agents grow their skill base and performance. Understand the difference skill needs of the people within your team.  Assess their strengths and weaknesses on a regular basis.
  • The management of a sales team is totally different to that of a property management team. Each team should work autonomously but the business opportunities should feed between each.
  • Other competing brokerages in your location will be looking to attract your good people away from your business. Be aware of the competitive commission packages and salary opportunities offered to top performing agents.  Adjust your commission and marketing packages to retain your best people.
  • The changes within the property market throughout the year will present challenges and different requirements in property skills and knowledge. Be prepared to train your people in an ongoing way.

Given all of these facts, you will need an ongoing plan of staff attraction and staff retention.  The success of the commercial property business will generally hinge on the performance of the team and also that of the individual agents or brokers.  Individuals will be motivated in different ways.

You can get more tips in commercial real estate brokerage sales right here in our Snapshot eCourse.

Commercial Real Estate Brokers – Why You Should Learn From Mistakes

In commercial real estate brokerage you will make plenty of mistakes on the road to progress. In sales, leasing, and property management, there will be issues, challenges and mistakes.  Every day there will be issues to work through and potential diversions to disrupt your efforts.

Let’s face it; the industry can be complex and competitive.  You will not win every client or listing that you chase, although you should win more times than you lose.  There will be challenges in your career and sometimes you will make the wrong choices (or no choices at all).  The key message here in commercial real estate is that you can learn a lot from your mistakes and the mistakes of others.  You can make adjustments to your efforts; that is how you progress.

A Real Broker Mistake

Let’s take a broker story as a case in point.  You will learn from this story just how easy it is to divert and take the wrong directions in our industry.

This is a 2014 story of real ‘mistakes’ of a real estate person working an inner capital city suburb in industrial property sales and leasing.  Here are the facts of the market to set the scene:

  • The sales and leasing season for a calendar year in the location was typically mid-February to late November in each year. That means most listing business generated could be derived during that time.  The property market always declined significantly between December and early February.
  • Around the change of financial year in June to July, things usually slowed for a few weeks in both business and investment. After that time the activity ramped up again for the balance of the year.
  • In the location things were generally active and ordinary. In other words the sales and leasing deals could be completed with specific brokerage and agent effort.  Some businesses and investors generally were looking to move or invest, so there were things that could be achieved locally.  The opportunities were there for those brokers and agents that could focus on prospecting, and stay on task.

So let’s look at the story about this agent.  For the purpose of the story I will call the person ‘Rex’ (name changed for obvious reasons).  Here are some facts about ‘Rex’ and what happened to him in 2014.

  • Rex is not what I would call a highly experienced agent. He still has a lot to learn about commercial, industrial, and retail property.  He had graduated into the commercial segment following many years in residential.  He did what most real estate people in such situations do; he had started to work industrial segment given that it is not overly complex and yet it is reasonably active as a segment.
  • After a couple of very slow years trying to make things work, he changed brokerage again and started a new location. He had a good start to the year between March and July 2014 due primarily to his prospecting activities including growing his market share in a particular location.  He had learnt how to prospect and had taken steps to deliberately grow his market share through database creation and direct marketing.  He was talking to a lot of people in a regular and ongoing way.  Soon his database was growing and enquiries were coming in.
  • Before I go too far here, I will go back to the point that Rex still had a lot to learn about certain market segments and property types. Commercial real estate is like that; there are many things to learn, and personal experience will usually be the only way to achieve the learning curve and local knowledge.  So Rex was still an ‘ordinary’ agent learning about the commercial, industrial, and retail segments.
  • In early 2104 his prospecting activities had created some positive results. Given that personal level of success and momentum, he had converted a few good investment listings in a location where investors liked to purchase property.  He took his new listings to the market using the auction method of sale.  It was the middle of 2014, and the right time to do property auctions.
  • So the auction campaigns started. He had created some reasonable levels of enquiry from each campaign given that he had a few good listings to market in a comprehensive way (quality listings will always create that marketing advantage when it comes to property enquiry).
  • Whilst the auction campaigns were underway, Rex did very little direct prospecting and new business generation. He simply focused on his new listings (that was a bad move).
  • So back on the listings he had, whilst there were not a lot of buyers active on each property at that time, there were still a few good and interested buyers, and that was really all that was required to get the listings locked away on successful contracts.
  • He had sufficient enquiry to convert and close on the sales of all three listings at around two million dollars each in sale price. Rex had achieved a reasonable level of personal income through commissions.  It should be said that this was the first reasonable income Rex had achieved for quite some years and that income was only as a direct result of his prospecting and personal effort.
  • With the commissions created, Rex started (falsely) to think that he was a ‘top agent’ and the ‘go to man’ for the location (this type of self-belief can be a real problem, and in this case was). After his recent sales, he took a short break from the business with a brief holiday, and forgot about prospecting entirely for the rest of the year.  This was in September 2014.  Essentially he did not prospect for new business between September and Christmas in that year; he was still living off the enjoyment of his recent sale commissions.  His ‘ego and attitude’ were however still quite high at the end of 2014. That is what you call a ‘false belief’ leading to ‘real shortcomings’.
  • When January 2015 arrived, Rex had no listing momentum and flow, no new stock, and no commissions in the pipeline. This is where the problems started to occur.  He was running out of money and had no momentum in the marketplace.  He was starting to consider family and lifestyle problems that would soon evolve.
  • To cut a long story short, at the start of 2105 Rex knew that he had to find another segment of the property market in which to start afresh. Whilst he still had plenty of self-belief, he had little self-process; he had to start rebuilding his momentum, career and market share.  He had let himself down when it comes to property activity, diligence, focus, and action.

When you look at the facts from the story, Rex knew exactly what to do, but consistently failed to take the required action.  His inflated ‘ego’ from the July sales in 2014 had shifted his focus away from the things that matter (prospecting).  The market soon moved away from him and the good listings went elsewhere.  There are always plenty of competing agents ready to take up on the mistakes of others and that was exactly what happened to Rex.

The moral of the story

This is a real story from the property market (Rex is not the person’s real name).  We can learn from this.

We will all make mistakes in the industry, and Rex is not unique or special.  He failed to see what was happening and then failed to do something about it.  He should have adjusted his focus and activities earlier rather than later.  He should have kept his ‘ego’ in check.  Confidence is a good thing; ‘ego’ is not.  Develop plenty of confidence in our industry from the deals that you dot, but keep the ‘ego’ out of the equation as it will not attract the clients or transactions.

There will always be ‘peaks and valleys’ in our business.  When you are at the top of your game, still focus on the small things and the important things.  Build your confidence.

Commercial real estate is an industry where the rewards are large and generous for those that take correct actions in a regular and ongoing way.  We should all learn from our mistakes and adjust our actions accordingly.  Look for the mistakes and resolve them.  We can all learn something from Rex.

This year

So let’s fast track the full six months now to the middle of 2015.  Rex is still struggling in the marketplace to gain any traction and listing activity of consequence; he is not a prospecting directly, logically, and effectively into the location.  He is losing ground.

He is now trying to take any shortcuts possible.  He has become desperate and disorganised.  He has failed to understand that he was and still is the problem to his current situation.  Unless he changes his personal actions and focus, nothing will improve.  It is quite likely that Rex will soon be slipping out of the industry.

The central message

There is one fundamental message that flows from the story.  You can learn from the mistakes of others in the industry, and you can also learn from your own mistakes.  The important thing here is that you do quickly see where the mistakes are happening, you learn from them, and you adjust your efforts specifically and consistently.  Make the adjustments sooner rather than later and track your progress.  That is how you can succeed in commercial real estate brokerage.

You can get more tips and ideas to help with commercial real estate brokerage in our eCourse ‘Snapshot’ right here.

Commercial Real Estate Brokerage – A Fresh Approach to Time and Task Management in Listing and Marketing

When you list a commercial property today on an exclusive basis, you really do need to focus your efforts from the point of listing onwards to achieve the best results for the client.  Don’t waste time during the campaign and make sure that you optimise your efforts of promotion from the very start.

Know what has to be done with every exclusive listing when it comes to pulling in the target market and listing enquiry.  Ensure that the client has given you sufficient vendor paid marketing funds to achieve that level of promotional momentum.

Exclusivity Really Matters

When you have converted a property exclusively, the stages of promotion should be set out and actioned in a timely way.  Make every moment count when it comes to creating enquiry and converting inspections.

How can you do this?  You can split the campaign up into three distinct levels of momentum.  They are:

  • STAGE 1: The initial two weeks where you are releasing a property to the market and the target audience. During this time it is quite important to spread the word comprehensively across the local property zone or precinct applicable to your buyers and tenants.  You really do need a marketing campaign to understand how you will reach the right people in the right way from all of your promotional efforts.
  • STAGE 2: The next four weeks will be critical to lifting the levels of inspections and enquiry and encouraging any offers. Any potential negotiations should be occurring during this time.  If the offers are not coming in, then it is a matter of looking at pricing the property differently or changing the method of sale or lease.
  • STAGE 3: If the property has not sold or leased or during the previous two stages, then there are issues which need to be addressed. That is where a rethink or a different plan needs to be achieved in the marketing of the listing.  Don’t let the property become stale and stagnant on the market.  Stage 3 is the adjustment phase if the property is not creating real interest or inspections.  Changes have to be made to lift levels of enquiry.

As indicated, split the property campaign into a number of weeks and stages of promotion.  Change the campaign during that period of time based on the levels of enquiry that you are achieving.

Every exclusive listing should be placed on market and promoted to a strict time frame and task regime; in that way you can ensure the best outcomes are achieved.  That is why exclusivity is so important for each individual agent or broker if they want to grow market share and potential income.  Don’t waste your time on open listings unless you really need them.

Monitor the Property Campaign

Every moment of a property campaign should be monitored and optimised to achieve the best inbound levels of enquiry; refresh the listing appropriately based on feedback and inspection results.  Understand why exclusivity is so important when it comes to promoting commercial property for sale or for lease.  Exclusivity allows you to focus your efforts and commitment to the client and the property.  Over time that means better results.

Ultimately a successful property promotion allows you to achieve greater levels of inbound enquiry, inspections, negotiations, and closure.  Eventually that allows greater commissions and a growing level of market involvement for you at a personal level.