The longer that you work as a commercial real estate agent or broker, you will soon understand the priorities of property choice and performance when it comes to certain clients and prospects. With that knowledge, you can match clients to properties and create transactions off market.
So every client will have certain priorities when it comes to property choice and investment performance.
Consider the following factors and opportunities:
- The income from a property may have allowances for growth given the rent review profiles within each lease document. Some leases are better than others. Some rent review strategies are also more effective than others when it comes to rental income performance. Understand the differences between the available rent review strategies and how they can be shaped within a lease negotiation.
- A new lease today with a lower rental start point can be shaped into a substantial income cash flow over time; that is providing you choose the right tenants and the appropriate rent review strategies. A good lease negotiator will understand the important factors of rental positioning and growth at the time of lease negotiation.
- Diversification can be an advantage when it comes to property portfolio ownership. If the client focus for a portfolio is too much within the same property type, the client can open themselves up to income instability when the market changes. The threat of a vacancy can be a real problem when the market shifts and changes. So there are different property types to choose from including office, retail, and industrial property. There are also different locations within a town or a city all of which can provide alternatives and opportunities as the market changes. Look at how you can provide your client with portfolio stability through property diversification.
- Review your area for properties going through change in lifecycle due to age and redundancy. The older properties may soon need a refurbishment and or material change of use. That can then lead to a variety of redevelopment, leasing, and sales opportunities.
- You can sometimes match the right people to the right circumstances; as an example you can bring a property developer together with a property investor. You can add to that equation a local financier with appropriate funds. You then simply need to add a suitable property to the relationship, and you will have the recipe for a potential property development and major project. Multiple sales and leasing opportunities can then follow.
- Some clients are very skilled when it comes to property improvement and repositioning. They understand how to take a difficult property and turn it into something that is more successful and highly marketable. It is not unusual for a client in that situation to turn a property around and resell it within a period of 5 to 7 years.
A top agent tends to work with clients and prospects in different ways. To do this, it is simply a matter of understanding the needs of the client, the opportunities of the market, and the different strategies that can be applied to bring a deal together.
There is nothing more rewarding than to put a deal together off market away from the pressures of the competition and the scrutiny of other agents. When you announce the deal to the world through an editorial or press release, the other agents are soon recognising that you are the top agent with all of the contacts.
In commercial real estate brokerage, the questions that you ask will help build listing opportunity. You may only have one chance to connect with a person or prospect. Tap into their property needs effectively and efficiently with better questions; then it is simply a matter of tracking the matter with a good database and follow-up.
Top agents and brokers match people to property situations. That is a great strategy in today’s market. So how many people should you know in this market? Whilst the number varies with property type and location, it is essential to connect with all the ‘players’ including the following:
- Property investors that own quality property currently
- New property owners that have entered the area
- Business owners looking for relocation or purchase
- Business owners looking for a sale and lease back opportunity
- Property developers (yes, I know they come and go from the market)
- Solicitors and accountants with property clients
When you look at the list it is easy to see that the questioning process is critical in each of the segments. Better questions set the scene for property action and opportunity.
Here are some rules that apply to connecting and questioning your prospects today:
- Understand that you are talking with a decision maker for the business or the property. When you are connecting with local businesses you will find middle management quite frustrating and time wasting.
- Look for leads and referrals through the people that you know now. They are the easiest business opportunities to convert. One good client is likely to know 3 or 4 other people of relevance to what you do.
- Find out what the current property situation is for the client or prospect today. In an ideal world how would they move ahead in investment or business decisions? What would be the timing of that?
- One answer to a good question about property ownership or use can be ‘drilled down’ on further, and in doing so you can get to get to the important catalysts of change. There is nothing more frustrating than seeing another agent or broker come into your client relationship and take or convert a listing away from your control.
- Recognise that when you ask good questions, you control the conversation. If the client is asking too many questions, you are not in control.
- Understand the differences in closed versus open questions on property ownership and use. There are many variations of issues to explore and investigate. One good response can lead to a contact call at a later time.
Top agents and brokers ask great questions. They then watch the total response so they can tap into the needs of the prospect or client. Control your commercial real estate market through great questions.
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.
When it comes to building your business as a commercial real estate agent, you will frequently be pitching and presenting for property listings against other agents in your local area. Most property owners will seek presentations from four or five agencies as part of the preparation for listing their property. In most cases, you will only have a short opportunity to connect with the property owner and present your strategies of marketing, selling and or leasing.
This then says that the presentation and pitch process that you utilize with your listings is really important. Many agents tend to provide discounts as part of the enticement process for attracting the new listing. Whilst this may seem somewhat sensible to attract the business, the reality is that any short cuts and discounts will have an impact on your marketing program and your income. It should also be said that discounting commission is not a sensible idea in this property market when hard work it required to convert the average deal and get it across the line.
Here are some tips to help your sales pitch and presentation process in commercial real estate agency.
- Be prepared to show the client some real and valuable points of difference in your service. Most agents use only generic comments such as good staff, knowledge, market share, and duration in the market. When it comes to pitching and presenting, these generic comments have little value in converting the listing. Your points of difference need to be real and specific to the needs of the client. This then says that any presentational process should be well planned and optimized for the property and client in question.
- Visit the property before hand, and take approximately 50 photographs of the property and the surrounding area. These photographs can be used digitally on a laptop computer or iPad as part of the property presentation. It is surprising how powerful a simple running photo-slide show of random photographs can be in a property presentation. The client will always show interest in their property and that is what the photographs relate to. Forget about using anything else on the computer, the client will only relate to their property and that is why you use property photographs.
- The best property presentation is a conversation or connection with the client on a number of levels. It is best to bring together all of the senses as part of the property presentation. That will mean visual, sound, and touch. To achieve this, you have your laptop computer loaded with property images, you have your verbal presentation with points of difference, and you have a property proposal to provide to the client for review (keep it short and to the point).
- Engagement is really important when it comes to the sales pitch or presentation. Engagement means connection and conversation. The top agents of the industry know how to engage and converse in a meaningful way. Local property knowledge and market trends will help you do this. Tell the client what the inquiry is doing, and what people are looking for. Demand an exclusive listing; do not take an open listing on the clients terms.
- Every property listing will involve both a strategy, and a marketing campaign. Both of these should be specifically designed for the subject property and quite unique given the trends of the local property market. In this way you can help the client see how you will attract the correct levels of inquiry from the selected target market. When the client believes that you are the best solution for their property challenge, it will be easier to convert the listing on an exclusive basis.
Over time you can improve your presentational processes through practice and the development of specific marketing tools. On average, the top agents of the industry tend to win more listings per property presentation. They do it because they can connect to the client more professionally than the competitors. It is a simple process, however it does require practice.
Many commercial real estate agents find the cold calling process very frustrating. They generally have a lot of reluctance to the entire concept and will avoid it at every opportunity. The fact of the matter is that cold calling really works; it does however require personal skill and correct focus.
If you can develop a cold calling process that works for you as a commercial agent, you will find more prospects and better quality listings in the local area. Generally you will find them faster and more effectively than the competitors and other agents in your area. Isn’t that what the industry is all about?
To beat the cold call reluctance problem, there are a number of key factors to help you get the system underway. Here are some tips to help you establish your prospecting model using the telephone:
- Perhaps the biggest single issue to get under control is that of creating a new habit. The cold calling process has to be a new habit in your daily diary. After many years of doing business in a different way, you now need to change processes to ensure that cold call prospecting features in your business system. This single factor can take some weeks to achieve. Habits take time to modify and improve.
- The successful prospecting process is actually built on a conversation; it should not be built on the pitch. There is no point in pitching for something unless you know there is a need. Given that most calls made will be to people who have not spoken to before, you will really not know if they have a need or a requirement in commercial real estate. Questions are the key to creating a conversation. The conversation is the key to understanding future opportunity.
- Many salespeople make the common error of driving the conversation from the first point of contact and talking about what they do. The conversation, if you can call it that, quickly becomes single sided. The people that you are approaching over the telephone soon understand that they are being subjected to a poorly skilled salesperson. The general result is that the call will be terminated within the first minute. The successful mindset of the call contact concept is that of questioning to see if the other person has a requirement.
- Some of the best agents are great conversationalists. They don’t pitch. They know that the conversation correctly formulated, will open the door for future opportunity.
- Define your territory and property type so you can focus your efforts in prospecting. When you do this, you methodically move through the streets and the businesses to identify commercial real estate opportunity and intentions. Some of the people you talk to will be tenants in occupation, whilst other people may own the property outright. Either way you can help them at the right time.
Generally speaking, the prospecting process is not that hard. It is just a mindset that holds back salespeople from attempting the skill development required. Challenge yourself, change your mindset, and improve your client contact system.