You can win more local property business if you are a ‘target marketer’ for a location. The clients that we serve in commercial real estate like to have the best agent with the best market coverage working for them in every way possible. Random actions and the generic approach to the real estate business no longer works. A top agent needs to be specialised and targeted in the actions and marketing efforts.
A good agent has to have some special processes of driving the real estate listings out into the property market and to the tenants or buyers as the case may be; not just relying on advertising online and in the newspapers to do that. Only the ‘open’ listings of the market dictate a generic approach to marketing and client contact.
Think about your property listings now. Split your listings into the two groups of ‘open’ and ‘exclusive’. Your ‘exclusive’ listings should take priority in just about everything that you do as a broker or agent. Review your marketing efforts and your client contact processes between the two listing types. Are you connecting your listings to the right ‘target audience’? Can you improve those connections?
Marketing Strategies that Really Matter
Let’s get to the facts of how and why targeted property promotions really work. Put your exclusive listings into the process. Here are the most important skills of a target marketer in our industry today:
- Providing the deep and relevant facts – with every listing, take the time to explain to the client exactly how their property sits in the local area by way of price, marketing, and potential enquiry. Do a SWOT analysis so that the client can fully appreciate how you can help them resolve their property challenge in a timely and meaningful way.
- Understanding how to reach the right audience – every listing will have a target audience of tenants or buyers as the case may be. Show the client exactly how you will connect with that audience in a deep and meaningful way. Put yourself into the connection process so that you are the real point of difference when it comes to finding the right people to inspect and negotiate on the listing.
- Creating momentum with property listings – take every listing and create momentum across enquiries, inspections, and negotiations. Soon the people in the local property market will understand that you are the agent of choice when it comes to creating churn and activity with a listing.
- Understanding how to inspect a property to show all the features comprehensively and thoroughly – with all of your exclusive listings, develop a special inspection process to feature the property in both layout and improvements. Create an inspection strategy and explain to the client exactly how that will work in encouraging offers from the right people.
- Building and segmenting a database for comprehensive property enquiry – your database can and should be at the centre of your real estate business. Each and every day you should be creating conversations with the VIP clients within the database, and adding new people to the list. It is a special skill to be refined and developed over time. If you are looking for new clients and new listings now, then review your database activities and your client list. How regularly are you connecting with those people in a relevant way? The top agents of the market know how to drive enquiry and interest from their database and their client list. Put your client list at the centre of your business so that you can find the right listing activity and the right buyers or tenants at the time of change and opportunity.
So the message here is that you can be a target marketer covering the specialized segments of the commercial property industry. In your town or city, review the best segments of the industry and the property types that will offer you the ongoing opportunity that you are looking for.
Look at how the property market is changing in your location and position yourself into the zone as the industry specialist. Market yourself accordingly in comprehensive ways. Let the local business owners and property investors see that you are the industry specialist that they will need when the next property challenge evolves. Help them remember you through deliberate and direct marketing activities.
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.
Here are some more topics for commercial real estate brokers and agents around the world. In today’s program we cover 1. Common problems with real estate websites, 2. Some effective territory farming activities and ideas, 3. Using marketing postcards in prospecting and networking. These are commercial real estate coaching programs by John Highman.
In commercial real estate brokerage today, every property and every listing can present unique challenges when it comes to the listing presentation. In every case you will need to understand the property market, the client, and the listing so that you can match your recommendations to the clients required outcomes in selling or leasing the property.
A persuasive presentation is one that addresses the concerns of the client in a proactive and relevant way. To achieve that, here are some recommendations that you can adopt or merge into your commercial real estate sales pitch strategy:
- Determine whether the property and the client are correctly matched to the levels of enquiry coming into your brokerage today for that property type. Is the property so unique that it will have limited inbound enquiry? If that is the case, you will need to choose the right method of sale or lease for the best possible outcome. The duration of the exclusive listing will also need to be extended to support the special and diverse marketing process. It is not unusual for unique properties to be on the market for many months and in some cases over 12 months. To devote the right focus to that type of listing, exclusivity is required in such cases.
- Prepare and structure your proposal following a complete and comprehensive review of the property and the market place. As part of that, understand the competing properties, the prices and rentals currently being achieved, and the levels of inbound enquiry.
- Present your recommendations to the client based on their needs in price, rental, timing, and outcome.
- Review the property for any weaknesses that will need to be addressed prior to the commencement of the marketing campaign. In the case of investment properties, make sure that any weaknesses in the tenancy mix or existing lease documentation are addressed prior to commencement of the promotions.
- Check out the cash flow from an investment property with due regard for passing income, expenditure management, outgoings, and net income. If the property is to be resold back into the investment market, the checks and balances need to be correct when it comes to investment performance.
- Property performance will need to be supported by proof and evidence. You will need to ensure that all the elements of property activity, performance, and structure are available for scrutiny and due diligence.
- Talk to the customer at their level of understanding. Lead them through the recommendations required for a property of that type in today’s market conditions. Give reasons for your recommendations and evidence from the local market.
It is not hard to win a listing in today’s market providing you are correctly matching your listing and marketing recommendations to the property, the client, and the local area. Local market knowledge and professional skill will help you complete and convert more commercial real estate listings over time.
In commercial real estate, and most particularly with the property agents and brokers, sales team performance should be optimised throughout the year to adjust for the changes in property activity and regional demographics. In any period of 12 months, the market will change and on that basis similar changes will need to occur with prospecting, listing, negotiating, and marketing.
It is wise to have a process of tracking the key indicators in your property market. When you consider an average period of 12 months, most property markets have only 10 months of real activity in sales, leasing, and property management. Seasonal changes and market conditions will take up the other two months of downtime. Team performance needs to be suitably handled and adjusted within the agency to get the best results from 10 months of hard work.
Here are some ideas to help you improve your agency sales team performance:
- Top agents and brokers specialise in particular market segments. The segments may be geographical, or set by property type. Either way, specialisation is recommended. Specialisation process helps you cover the quality properties, key clients, and pockets of high level activity.
- Establish a prospecting model within the agency that can be tracked on an agent by agent basis. That will help you identify any weak links within the team. Some agents need help when it comes to prospecting, presenting, or negotiating. The tracking process will help you see those weaknesses and implement the necessary training and education programmes.
- Establish budgets that can apply to each agent or broker. The budget should be split into key indicators. Those indicators will normally be cold calling, meetings, door knocking, presentations, listings, exclusive listings, inspections, and closed transactions.
- Track the results that you get from every marketing campaign. The results that you get from an exclusive listing will be very relevant to your business activity. Open listings are not easily assessed in the same way given that the marketing of an open listing is random at best.
- At the end of each week, have the agency team provide a summary of activity including call numbers, meetings, listings, and inspections. You will soon see the differences between the members of the team and how effective they are when it comes to building their business.
When you track all of these numbers, you can see where the priorities lie when it comes to each agent and each broker in the team. Given that the property market changes throughout the year, adjustments will always be necessary at an individual level to ensure that quality listing stock is attracted to your business.
So what type of listings should you chase and attract? Quality listings create better levels of enquiry and will sell or lease faster. Over time that will improve your agency market share and commission opportunity.
Should you walk away from a low quality property listing? The answer is yes, if it will take you away from the other good properties in your area and sales or leasing territory. Commercial real estate marketing is a specific process needing effort and focus. Don’t waste your time.
Commercial real estate agents can be quite successful if they choose to work as a buyer’s agent. That being said, the agents success in this process will be based on the commitment of the buyer to a valid agency appointment, and the size of the property that they require.
As a general rule, don’t work as a buyer’s agent with buyers that fail to sign an agency appointment. A buyer’s agent will be paid the commission by the buyer when a successful and satisfactory property has been found and negotiated on a contract.
The buyer’s agent process works when you focus only on the high end of the property marketplace, and the larger businesses and corporations that require specific property solutions. They are normally the only groups that are prepared to pay the required commission to their agent when a property has been found. The smaller and more common buyers in the marketplace are always shopping around for generic and local properties; they will approach many agents as part of that property selection process.
The agent that controls the listing will control the enquiry. You can waste a lot of time chasing around the market place for a buyer that is being less than honest and open with you. Check out the buyer before you get active and look for properties. The key message here is that you should mainly focus on quality listings rather than small buyers that have little or no allegiance or commitment to an agent.
If you are to include high end property buyers as part of your prospecting efforts, then only focus on the buyers at the top end of the industry and the local property market. I go back to the point that when you control the listing, you control the enquiry and you then will have many buyers coming to you anyway.
The listing of quality local property will always produce better enquiries and inspections. That’s how you find the smaller buyers and the smaller tenants seeking property relocations. When you control the listing, they need to connect with you as part of the inspection and negotiation process. The same can be said for other agents that may have suitable buyers for your property listings.
So here are some rules to help you work as a buyer’s agent in today’s commercial real estate market place:
- Qualify the buyer before you spend too much time assessing their property needs. Given that you are acting for the buyer as their agent, they will need to be totally honest and open with you when it comes to property needs and requirements.
- A buyer of substance should be of a corporate nature or large property investor. The property that they are looking for should be quite specific in location, type, cash flow, and improvements. Is this buyer prepared to pay your commission? If not, walk away.
- Ensure that the buyer commits to you as the agent to service them in this property requirement. The only way to get the commitment is on a valid agency appointment to act. That appointment should be signed before you spend any time looking around the marketplace. Don’t work with in any property buyer that tells you they will pay your commission when you find a property. Many agents have lost commissions in that process.
- If the buyer is of a corporate nature and is seeking a specific property for business and manufacturing needs, inspect their current property location and operations. Get to know how they currently operate or trade when it comes to manufacturing, staff interaction, customers, and the provision of goods and services.
- Identify the ‘must have’ requirements that will make or break the momentum in any property choice and decision.
- Understand who the decision makers are within the buyer business structure and corporate identity. If you are dealing with a board of directors, you will need to understand how decisions will be made and how long those decisions will take. Understand the delays that could occur for your clients between the time of contract and settlement.
- You will need to establish a short list when it comes to satisfactory properties that may satisfy the clients need. Question them as to their previous activity in the marketplace, and if they have inspected any properties with any other agents previously.
- Establish the requirements for due diligence as part of selecting the right property for your property buyer. Recommend that they appoint an experienced property solicitor as part of the due diligence and contract process.
- If the property is of a special or specific nature, the buyer may require investigations from experts on their behalf, such as engineers, architects, and surveyors.
- Question the buyer as to the ideal timing of property acquisition and settlement.
- You will be negotiating the contract on behalf of the buyer. Understand their budget when it comes to property pricing, documentation, property investigations, finance, and settlement.
- Make sure they have the necessary finance and or finance approval capability to move ahead on a contract when a property has been found.
Some commercial real estate agents are quite successful when working in this part of the market. That being said, it is a special process and does require a specific buyer focus.
When you work as a commercial real estate property manager, there are certain things that need to be done every day to help you stay in control of the portfolio and clients that you work for. This segment of the industry is quite busy and challenging in many different ways. You will be balancing issues relating to the landlord, tenants, property performance, maintenance, and cash flow.
It is no secret that you will be very busy most of the time, and yet the high priority issues still need to be done. In most cases, they cannot be delegated. For this reason, property managers need to be highly efficient and effective when it comes to personal time and task management.
A career in commercial property management is very different to that of sales and or leasing. Whilst a property manager may get involved in both sales and leasing, they do it from a different direction and with other priorities. In most cases they are seeking to improve the property performance and the cash flow for the client, so most of their decisions will be based on that focus. Whilst the commission of the transaction is of some importance, the client’s position and targets are more important.
Here are some things that should be high on the manager’s agenda for each working day in commercial or retail property management:
- At the very beginning of the day it is wise to check the inbound emails and messages to see if there are any matters of critical importance relating to your clients, property performance, risk, maintenance, or property damage. Matters relating to potential personal injury should be dealt with immediately. If you have a good group of maintenance contractors to help you, maintenance issues can be ‘actioned’ quite quickly with a telephone call and a suitable job order number.
- Most tenant management and maintenance issues can wait till later in the day. It is simply a matter of acknowledging the tenants request for attention or action, and returning to the issue when time permits. Document all of your communications with tenants in case you need to refer later to the events and actions that were taken. Tenants can sometimes ‘modify’ the facts and use it to personal advantage.
- The collection of rental monies and arrears should be checked at the start of each day. From time to time you will have tenants that are struggling with rental payments and in some cases you will have established a ‘payments plan’. When that occurs, you need to check the progress of incoming payments and the tenant’s commitment to the plan. Also pay attention to the normal rental payments required under the terms of existing leases. When the rental arrears situation arises, act on it immediately.
- The leases in the property remain the backbone of the cash flow for the landlord. For this reason the critical dates of each lease should be understood and tracked continually. Pay particular attention to the rent reviews, options, renovation and maintenance requirements, insurance, rentals, and outgoings. When a critical date is coming up, act on it as early as possible. The greater the number of tenants that you have, the more challenging this requirement will become. A good property management software program will help you with the controls behind these critical date issues.
- Communicating with the landlord in a timely and efficient way will keep them fully briefed on income and expenditure activity. Document all of your communications with the landlord. Understand what they require when it comes to reporting and income. Show the landlord that you really are in control of all matters relating to property performance, the tenants, and the cash flow.
So the message here is that you need to remain organized and efficient. Develop a system that works for you from a property management perspective. It is a known fact that personal control in time management is one of the biggest challenges you will strike in this part of the industry. You will be very busy on a daily basis. You need to control all the things that you do and the way that they are undertaken.
Commercial real estate agency has significant attraction and opportunity for agents and salespeople that are looking for the potential of higher incomes and a good career. That being said, results that you achieve will only come from directed effort. Each and every day you need to do particular things to help you build market share, listings, and quality property enquiries.
It is interesting to note that many agents choose an agency or a brokerage to work for, and then expect to be fed listings and opportunities. If only the industry was that easy. It is a fact that most of your income opportunities will come from personal effort in prospecting, marketing, and negotiating. The agency or brokerage that you work for only has a small role to play in those factors.
If you are starting a new career in commercial real estate, or if your career has failed to move ahead with good results, now would be a good time to look at goal establishment and personal business planning. This is a specific process that will help you get traction when it comes to attracting listings, converting clients, and closing more deals. The goals you set will help you understand where you are headed, and the business planning process will give you the tools to take the required actions.
It is a fact that the property market will change throughout the year. The business plan that you create will need to be reviewed on a monthly and quarterly basis. In that way you can make the necessary adjustments given the prevailing market conditions. You cannot control the market but you can control your responses. Directed actions will always help you grow market share under all types of pressures.
So here are some rules to help you with goal establishment as a commercial property agent:
- Determine the reasons that you are working in the industry. It is wise to be quite clear when it comes to working and controlling your market share. Be quite precise when it comes to understanding where you are heading as an agent or broker and why you are doing it. Perhaps you have an income focus, or perhaps you have a professional target as a top salesperson. Either way be quite clear and specific when it comes to your reasons to be in the industry.
- Determine your market geographically so that you can focus your prospecting efforts inside the zone. Get some maps of the region so you can determine your primary location of business opportunity; outside of that zone will be the secondary precinct that will also feed some listings to you. The primary business precinct should have plenty of activity or opportunity within it. A full 75% of your business should come from within that area. The area should be reasonably local and you should also have a good knowledge of the property types and the market activity. Any listing or business opportunity that comes to you from the secondary business precinct will be the other 25% of opportunity that you will generate throughout the year; it will come to you as a result of luck more than directed effort.
- Understand the property types within your primary prospecting precinct. Ensure that you have the necessary knowledge of the market and the property types when it comes to sales, leasing, and property management. Be prepared to talk across all three disciplines as required in any client or prospect conversation or meeting.
The goals that you set based on the three previous points should now be determined on criteria that you can track. Here are the most common numbers that form a goal tracking process for individual salespeople and agents:
- The number of outbound prospecting calls made as part of a cold call prospecting process.
- Meetings generated from that cold calling activity. You should be talking to property investors, business leaders, tenants, property developers, solicitors, and accountants. These are the groups that will give you the best opportunity to act on in the industry.
- The conversions of listings or transactions from those meetings.
- Track the differences in listings when it comes to open listings and exclusive listings.
- Track the time on market relative to the listings that you control as exclusive listings. Open listings do not need to be tracked.
- Monitor the commissions that you write in both sales and leasing activity. Break those commissions down into size of sale and size of lease transaction. In that way you will see where you should be lifting your focus to better quality properties.
- One factor linked to all of the above will be that of your database. The size of your database should be monitored and its quality improved. The database is the one thing that can help you grow market share and close more transactions.
Taking on all of the above points, you now have some meaningful information to merge into your personal business plan as a commercial real estate agent. Set the right numbers relative to your property marketplace and the history of the area. Over time you can see where you are improving and then you can adjust and grow your skill base.
When it comes to strengthening your commission and listing opportunity in commercial real estate agency, you really do need to establish systems and processes that can support client contact and transaction accuracy. Attention to detail will be part of that process. Your knowledge of property type, documentation, fiduciary obligations, and client services are all critical to building your business professionally as a top agent.
It is interesting to note that many agents have been and will be sued due to negligence, documentary omissions, and poor professional services. There is really no place in the industry for poor quality agents with below standard business practices and knowledge. Over time their shortcomings in skills and knowledge will unravel their market share and can have an impact on future business for the agency.
So let’s say that you do have some shortcomings at the moment when it comes to documentation and professional services. If that is the case, you do need to consider how your knowledge can be improved and skills developed. In this industry, we never stop learning. Over time you come across so many new and unique issues that require personal development. Every property type can be regarded as unique when it comes to skill requirements. Build your knowledge wherever you can through relationships and education.
Here are some rules to help you with strengthening your property transactions and opportunities:
- Keep a paper trail that is accurate and up to date with every property transaction. It is surprising how frequently people will misunderstand or forget what has occurred relative to a verbal conversation. You do need to back up your actions and transactions with a solid and accurate paper trail.
- Any verbal instructions or agreements should be documented in writing. Whether that be in a legal document, an e-mail, or a letter you will need to make the right choice for the circumstances required.
- The marketing of a property should be fully approved in accordance with the clients instructions prior to commencement. Get all of the draft advertising material approved by the client prior to lodgement and activation.
- Before you act on any property listing on behalf of the client, ensure that you have a legally binding and correct listing appointment document. Some agents will ‘bend the rules’ and get the listing appointment signed later on; they then find that the client will avoid paying commission at a later stage. There are also some big questions that arise here when it comes to risk and liability when inspecting a property that you have no valid listing appointment over. Without a valid listing appointment, you cannot quote a listing.
- Understand the clients instructions from the outset. Follow their guidelines and their targets when it comes to pricing, rental, marketing, and inspections. Keep the client fully up to date when it comes to the latest property activity and the status of any negotiation.
- Ultimately you will be moving a listing to a contract or lease situation. Some properties are quite complex and the associated documentation will be similarly so. That being said, you do need to understand the complexities of the document required; when in doubt involve the appropriate legal specialists to help with the documentation. Every document created as part of a sale or leasing transaction should be valid and enforceable. In that way you protect your commission and client relationships.
You can likely add to this list based on your property type and location. The clear message here is that professionalism is a key component of your commercial real estate business. Strengthen your skills and improve your processes.
In commercial real estate agency, your sales pitch and presentation should be of the highest quality. It should be practiced regularly on different property types and in different property situations so you can attract the right listings to your agency.
Here are some facts to remember:
- Quality property listings will attract a greater level of direct enquiry from the market, and therefore you will have more inspections to work with.
- Average listings take a lot longer to move due to the lack of enquiry or poor interest from the market.
Given these facts, your presentation has to attract and convert the best listings. That’s how top agents get the results from the market; they focus on listing quality before anything else. Even if a quality listing is overpriced, it will still attract greater enquiry and that will give you something to work with for the client.
Most of the listings and clients that you target will be chased by other agents locally. Rarely will you have the opportunity to pitch for a listing entirely on your own. Your sales pitch needs to be well planned and staged. Here are some ideas to help you do that:
- First impressions are really important. Take pride in how you dress, appear and carry yourself when meeting a commercial real estate client or prospect for the first time. It takes about 1 minute for a person to assess you visually and form an opinion on your relevance. The commercial real estate industry is one of professionalism and on that basis a ‘business image’ is required.
- Be aware of the age and experience level of the people that you are connecting or working with; they may be far more experienced in business than you are. They may have expectations that are high and demanding.
- The client expects you to be skilful in the issues that they want resolved. On that basis you should have a ‘professional selling attitude’ that they appreciate and know will help with their property challenge. Confidence should show in what you say and do.
- Practice your dialogue and speech so you are ready to show confidence in every client or prospect situation. If this is difficult for you now, make ‘role playing’ a part of your weekly sales meeting. Create a quality in what you say and how you do it. Let the client see that you can handle any property negotiation or debate professionally. Master the right words for the right situation.
- Ask the right questions in any contact situation. It helps if you have a checklist relative to your property type and marketing situation.
- Show that you have a real knowledge of the property situation and task ahead for the client. Give them some confidence that you are indeed the ‘real deal’ when it comes to moving through their property challenge.
Your presentation or sales pitch in commercial real estate will get a lot easier when you follow these simple and yet effective rules.