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.