In commercial real estate brokerage, your cold calling systems should be coordinated to a plan and a process. Over time you can then improve your actions as the plan requires.
Cold calling is a very specific process of agent actions tracked to results; monitor the things that you are doing and watch what is working for you. When you know that your telephone calls are getting meeting conversions, then you improve them further; if meetings are hard to achieve then skill enhancement is required.
What systems do you have?
So what are the key factors to help you in coordinating and improving your prospecting model and cold call activities? Try some of these:
- Why should someone listen to you? – There has to be a central message to your call process. Have a basic strategy to the call that is useful to the person you are calling. Don’t make calls based on your needs, but focus on them; talk about the other person’s property and how something you are offering will be of use. That could be a special report, perhaps an update on recent sales or leasing’s, or even a chart of property market trends that you can send them.
- Don’t push the other person – Too many agents push a conversation in cold calling. That generally doesn’t work. Polite professional telephone conversations get more results over time. The important thing is that you have something of relevance to talk about.
- Understand your ratios with call conversations and outbound prospecting – When you track your numbers you can see what outcomes you are getting, and if they are fruitful. Whilst everyone will have a different set of numbers to work at over time, those numbers should be improving; that is why you should be making regular cold calls and watching the ratios.
- Create a pipeline of contact – When you connect with a person across the telephone in a positive way, they should then advance up the pipeline of marketing and ongoing contact. Over a period of time you then connect with ever more people in a positive and relevant way.
You can take these simple strategies and merge them into your prospecting and cold calling model. Understand why someone should listen to you and provide relevance around that fact. Grow your skills in cold calling so that your results improve and grow over time. I go back to the point that you should track your ratios.
You can get a big adrenaline rush with cold calling in commercial real estate brokerage especially when you score a few meetings with prospects and new people. That is what the call process is all about; meeting new people and establishing ongoing contact. That’s how commercial real estate really works.
The telephone is a massive source of opportunity for brokers and agents. Use it well and you will find that all of the following are quite possible:
- Reaching out to local property owners and business leaders that may have a current and future property need.
- Talk to others about local listings, prices and rents. Many people like to know about industry changes and property listing changes in the local area.
- Every current listing is a good chance to ask others about what they are doing currently with their property and how things may be changing for them.
- Following up on people that you have spoken to before as part of property marketing and listing activity.
- Establishing a core group of ‘VIP’ prospects and clients that you should be remaining in contact with continually.
Simple things like this will help you find the sales and leasing opportunities. If you are struggling now with commission income or exclusive listings, start making more telephone calls and put your prospecting model back on track. It’s quite a simple equation; talk to more people in a relevant way. Ask the questions and track the responses.
Here are some rules that will help you with all of this:
- If you are going to make a lot of calls in ‘one sitting’, stand up during the call contact process. It will help you with voice, dialogue, and confidence.
- Find a quiet room to make the calls. This is really important when you are prospecting. There is nothing more distracting to the other person on the line than hearing conversations and distractions in the background; they soon know that they are being called by one of a number of salespeople as part of cold calling. The immediate response is then to decline the call or end the conversation quickly.
- Get a headset so you can be ‘hands free’ as you make the calls. Soon you will be using your hands as an extension of conversation and that will also help the call conversions.
- Every morning when you first arise, spend 20 minutes or so giving your voice some verbal flexibility and tonality practice. You can do that by reading a book aloud. This simple tactic will help you a lot for cold calls later in the morning.
These four simple things will help you a lot when starting a telephone canvassing and cold calling program in commercial real estate. They will help with the momentum and focus that you require.
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 agency and brokerage, cold calling is an essential part of the business building process. Every agent and every broker should undertake a number of cold calls every day to build their market share with new people and new prospects.
In any property market and at any time, there will be new people to approach regards the professional services that you can provide in sales, leasing, or property management. At least 25 new calls should be made every day to new people that you have not spoken to before. It will take you 2 hours to make those calls. From doing that, you will nearly always reach approximately 10 or 12 people in one sitting and from that you can get one or two new meetings. That is how you get the new relationships started.
So you need to establish your cold calling process to take your business forward as an agent or broker. You should also practice your dialogue. Here are some ideas to help you with that:
- It is hard to get traction in the cold calling process without practice. This means that you will need to refine your dialogue and improve it over time. This can be done each morning as part of your preparation for the working day. You can practice call conversations as you drive to work. Without any other person in the motor vehicle, you have the opportunity to refine your scripts and your conversational ability for the cold calls that need to be done.
- Each evening you can prepare a list of 25 people to call and approach the next day. Given that we work with mainly property investors and business owners, it is really quite easy to establish a list of contacts to call. The business telephone book will give you plenty of telephone numbers. In addition to that, you can research one or two property owners each day to add to the list.
- Split your prospecting territory up into zones. That will allow you to focus your call processes to particular streets and business types. As a general rule, you should be travelling through the streets of your territory each day to identify any opportunities that you can see.
- It is best to get the calls done first thing at the start of the day. In that way nothing can interfere with your progress and prospecting system. Avoid making or attending meetings at the start of the day so that you can get your prospecting done efficiently and effectively.
- Track your call progress in a database that you personally maintain. Where possible, use a computer for this process, and have a telephone and the computer in front of you as part of making the cold calls. You can then enter the results of calls into the database immediately.
- Purchase a headset to use as part of the call prospecting system. The immediate advantage here is that you will have your hands free to record the results of the conversation. One other clear advantage is that you can stand up as part of the calling process. It is well known that call conversations made from a standing position are far more effective and connecting than those from a sitting position at a desk.
- Understand the rules that apply to the do not call register in your area. Ensure that you are adhering to those rules in making the calls.
- Track and measure your call activity and meeting conversions. The primary object of making a call should be to create a meeting with people that have a future or current need in commercial property.
- Collect e-mail addresses and mobile telephone numbers as part of the prospecting activity. Get the permission of the person that you are speaking to for ongoing contact so you can send relevant property information and advise them of market activity.
The prospecting process does not need to be hard. The telephone can be a distinct advantage when it comes to building better market share and growing your database. That being said, it does require a diligent focus and ongoing activity. That is a personal skill and a personal process.
In commercial real estate prospecting you will get lots of ‘push-backs’ as part of talking to new people. Some call it the ‘rejection factor’. Many agents take the rejection and use it as a reason to stop prospecting.
Show me an agent that doesn’t make the cold calls and prospect every day, and I will show you someone with low income and poor listings. Get the message?
If you have chosen a career in commercial real estate, then be prepared to work hard at prospecting. The requirement will never disappear; in fact, it will increase in importance. Rise to the challenge and connect with more people. That’s what prospecting is all about. That is how you become a top agent.
So the message here is clear. Understand that rejection is a part of connecting with new people and in finding new clients. Some will not want to talk to you or meet with you, yet others will. You need to find the right people that want to do something with property or are happy to stay in contact with you for the day that they need property help.
To make all of this work you have to create a solid and effective prospecting system that you do for 2 or 3 hours every day. That’s the rule that you must stick to. Over a period of 3 months your skills in the process will improve and your conversions will rise. Soon you will have quality listings and the majority of them will be ‘exclusive’. When you control your listing stock, the market has to come to you. That is why ‘exclusive’ listings are so important to commercial real estate agents.
So what do people say to you when you prospect? What are the standard ‘push-backs’? Try some of these:
- Not today thanks
- Send me something
- Call me back next week
- We already use someone else
- Too busy to talk right now
- We are just fine at the moment
You can most likely add to this list. There are so many variations that you strike. Most clients and prospects will ‘push-back’ at least twice in a prospecting or cold call situation. You will hear versions of the above statements.
So what should you do? You should be prepared for the rejection. Practice your responses so you can keep the conversation moving ahead. The advantage that you have is that you are the person that made the call; you can be totally prepared to connect in a professional way.
It should be said that your call should be made on the basis of a conversation and not a pitch. Find out what the other person is doing now with property and what they could require in the future. Make the calls and the ‘door-knocking’ work for you in that way.
In commercial real estate agency it is wise to plan your prospecting efforts and actions. On an average working day many different things will put pressure on your prospecting. Unfortunately many agents will drop the prospecting activity for the slightest reason. Over time that single choice will have a major impact on the way they grow their business and market share.
So you have some choices here:
- You can grow your real estate business and market share through directed effort each day on a client, property, and street by street basis, or
- You can randomly make calls and contacts if and when time permits.
The comfort zone is a big challenge for many agents and it will slow their listing chances and commissions given half a chance. When time gets tough, keep prospecting and stick to your plan.
To solve all of these issues it is best to have the prospecting plan that gets you in front of more property investors and business owners. It has to be specific and relevant to your property market and sales or leasing territory.
Not everyone that you talk to will want to do business with you or even discuss property issues; that is quite OK as you really should not waste you valuable time on people that do not have a need or and interest. Talk to more people and build your skill in doing so. Over time that one single fact will help you in so many ways to become a top real estate agent.
Many new brokers and agents to the industry struggle with finding clients and prospects to talk to as part of prospecting. The soon know that growing market share and commissions depends on one thing only and that is prospecting; when they get focused on it they also soon know that prospecting is a complex and dedicated process.
Here is a prospecting plan for you. Expect it to be a challenge to your diary and daily activities.
- Get to know the streets and businesses in your primary sales and leasing territory. On a street by street basis, identify the property owners and the businesses in occupancy. Talk to both. Find out what they are doing in property now and in the future.
- Review the other listings in the area that are listed with other agents. Use those listings as reasons to talk to other property owners and businesses in the same street and general location.
- Check out the old sale records for your region. Find those property owners that purchased property about 3 or 4 years ago. On average those property owners are going to be the next to come back into the market in some form or another. Connect with them for that process.
- Every property listing that you have on your books will be an excuse to talk to other businesses and investors. Use your quality listings in this way. Over time your current listings will give you more leads and information to act on.
- Walk the streets in your property precinct. You will find and see information that you can work with. Take plenty of business cards with you to leave at the reception desks, and with the business owners that you see or drop into.
- Use the telephone to make plenty of cold and warm calls to your market and business owners. Track your progress and your calls with a good database.
Prospecting in commercial real estate does not need to be hard but it does need to be systemised. In that way you can steadily improve your market share.
You can get more commercial real estate training tips in our Newsletter right here.
In commercial real estate it is easy to spend too much time with current clients or prospects, and little time in finding new ones. When this happens your leads and listings tend to slow and will eventually stall. For this reason you must have some systems on the go that will help you find more new clients.
There are always new people to connect with in our industry. The ways to tap into them are simple and yet systemised. Here are some tips to help you with that ‘client growth’ requirement:
- Look for pressure points within the market. Some property owners will be experiencing tenant changes, higher vacancies, renovation pressures, and financial changes. The list goes on and will change during the year. Look for the clients that need help in adjusting to prevailing market conditions.
- Track the other real estate agent boards for both sales and leasing. When they put a new board up on a property, you should contact the owners around it and in the same general area. There is likely to be another property owner nearby that would like to compete with the existing listing. You can help them with that ‘competition’.
- Do a street by street canvass through your territory. Meet the business owners and track down the property owners. This does take an organised process but the rewards are many when you stay fixed to a system of contact.
- List quality properties as a general rule. The quality properties will give you better rates of enquiry from buyers and tenants. When you control the listings you control the enquiry.
- Offer special marketing solutions that are unique and relevant. These marketing solutions will help you when it comes to presenting and pitching your services.
- Build a database of relevance. It is very hard for a client to ignore your database if it is strong and large. Use your database as leverage in your presentation to the client. Show the client the size of the database and give them an indicative ‘short list’ of potential people you would like to quote their property to when the listing is signed.
- Referral business will be available when you connect with the clients and contacts that you have served well in sales and leasing.
- Ask for property management business from those clients, buyers, and landlords that are involved with sales and leasing activity. A great sales or leasing outcome is a reason to quote your property management services.
There are always new ways to get clients. Some will work for you and others will not. Decide what you can do in that regard and adopt a daily process to build your database of clients.
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 today, the cold calling process is still a very big and important part of what we do as agents. Each day you should be devoting 2 or 3 hours to the process. When you do this you find the opportunities and the prospects that you can serve.
Many agents struggle with the research and effort required to get a list of people to call. To help with that here are some thoughts:
- Choose one or two property investors in the local area to research each day. On average you should be able to contact one targeted property owner per day. Over time you will have built a list of 30 new property owners per month. This is a very powerful way to build your property owner contacts.
- The foundations for income and occupancy in commercial and retail property are in the local businesses and tenants. Make it a priority to call 40 local businesses every day. This process is easy as you can use the business telephone book for that. You can also use the internet. A business owner will quite likely tell you if they are a tenant, they own the property, who the landlord is, or if they need to relocate. All of that information is very valuable. Track the information in your database.
- Selectively contact solicitors and accountants in the local area. The best way to do that is by sending a letter first. Then you make the call. Introduce yourself and get to meet them. These business professionals will have clients that you can help with property matters. It takes a little bit of time for the levels of trust to be built up and the proof of experience to be established however there is very high value in this level of contact.
- Get in touch with property developers to see what needs they may have locally with current and new projects. It takes a bit of time for the relationship to be built here, but there is high value to you in doing so. Understand that most developers have
relationships with many other agents in your town. Don’t spend your valuable time at no cost until you know that the developer is committed to you.
The secret to making a call prospecting process work for you is in regularity. The process has to happen every day. It is a habit that takes time to create and you will need to prime yourself for the challenge. After about 3 or 4 weeks, the whole process gets a lot easier and results start to come in.
In commercial real estate agency today, the cold calling process is critical to the market share that you require and commissions that you create. You cannot avoid the process if you want to rise to the top of the market.
That being said, it is interesting to note that the cold calling process is something that many agents avoid with a great passion. Call reluctance is a real problem in the industry.
Top agents that work in the industry know that you have to make the calls to get the business. The strength and size of your database is fundamentally important to the commissions that you create. Each day you should be phoning into your database to make contact with the right people. You should also be creating new contacts and leads to help that database grow.
Here are some tips to help you in establishing a cold call prospecting system as part of your commercial real estate career.
- From the very start of the process, you will have some mental hurdles to address and overcome. Call reluctance is a big problem until such time as you see results and momentum from your efforts. It takes about three or four weeks of hard work to break through this barrier. Creating a habit to the call process is quite important. Only a habit will take you through the barrier of call reluctance.
- Determine the ideal property type and geographical area in which you should centre your prospecting efforts. Each night you will need to do the necessary research to find new people to call the next day. Don’t waste your precious calling time on research. The research can be done the night before. Keep up your momentum with calls and avoid in any distraction or diversion. In a period of 2 or 3 hours you should be making 50 outbound calls. You will not get through to 50 people as part of that process, but you should get through to about 20 or so people. From that rate of connection you should create 2 meetings with people that have a genuine interest in commercial real estate agency activity.
- Track your ratios of calls to connections, connections to meetings, and meetings to business opportunity. The ratios are really important to keep you on track and also to show you what is working. When something starts to get traction, you improve the process through practice.
- Confidence and dialogue are two important parts of making the calls. Both of those factors are personally controlled and can be improved. What you can do here is practice your call conversations and scripts as part of rising each morning and in preparation for the working day. Over a period of a few weeks, the call conversation and connection will significantly improve.
- Use a database program that has significant flexibility to capture the information that you come across. That will include a property type, location, price ranges, contact details, ongoing meetings and connection results, and future needs. Make sure that the database program can integrate with an e-mail newsletter and also a direct mail merge.
- Your confidence in making the calls will be significantly boosted if you choose to stand up as part of the calling process. It is a known fact that the conversational ability of people improves greatly when you are standing on two feet and moving around. Use this advantage to help you improve your call connections.
For an agent to be successful in commercial real estate, they need to be focused on growing their market share and their database. Use some of these factors above to help you get the momentum and traction that you require from direct call contact. Over time you can improve these things to a system that works for you.