When you simplify commercial real estate brokerage, the results that you get come down to a small list of specific things. It stands to reason that if you get these things under control, you can generate more business, commissions, and good listings for yourself.
Working your sales territory will be one of those things that can help you with results. Many agents look at their territory too generically and therefore miss the point of how to win the business. Specific focus is required.
Here are some ideas to get you started with this:
- Set your boundaries so that you know where to focus your efforts. If you work a large territory, break it up into smaller segments and zones. Create a map of the area and segment the territory into zones that can be colored for priority and focus. Each zone should cover approximately 500 properties and or businesses.
- Understand the clients by type and size that you should be connecting with. They may own or occupy quality properties within your territory. Make a list of the clients and the properties, and highlight those properties or companies on your territory map. Prioritise those clients for the business opportunity and profile they can provide you with.
- Systematically work the streets within each territory zone. That will mean visiting the businesses to introduce yourself and leave your business card. You can also contact the property owners directly by telephone or cold calling as part of that process. The important issue here is that you remain organised and focused in the process. Up
- If you have any property listings at this point in time, those listings will give you an excuse to talk to the other property owners and businesses in the same general location. Some adjacent or nearby property owners may be wishing to relocate, expand, or contract. Your current listings will help you identify those nearby clients and prospects that are looking to change.
- Look for the listings that are currently being marketed by your competitors. You can market your services to the adjacent property owners and business proprietors. Use your competitor’s listings productively in your prospecting and networking system.
To be successful in commercial real estate brokerage an agency, you simply need to understand your territory and work it methodically and systematically. Most agents struggle with the discipline required. Get that fact under control; your commercial real estate market share and listing potential can rise significantly.
In commercial real estate today a sales plan will help you stay on track with listings and clients. It will also help you with market share and personal profile. The best agents in the industry have a personal marketing plan that integrates into their sales plan.
It is interesting to note that the agents without a plan of this type usually struggle with commissions and income. Their earnings then fluctuate enormously during the year. Soon you see that the ‘peaks and valleys’ of personal performance then become all too frequent; many agents struggle rather than consolidate and grow. Eventually they run out of time and money to establish their market share. Get to the top of your market and stay there through deliberate effort and focus.
Here are five reasons why you should have a plan of this type:
- A pipeline of opportunity will be built around your property specialty and location.
- It will help you tap into new prospects and leads on a regular basis.
- The clients that you have served over time will be opportunities for the future with referral business.
- The quality of your listings will escalate as will the quality of properties that you take to the market.
- Other agents will come to you as you will have the listings that generate the enquiry.
It is easy to see that the sales plan can have a significant impact on your listings and commissions over time. In that way you can establish yourself as a top agent in your location and with your property type.
What does a good sales plan look like? What are the objects of the process? Here are some ideas to help you:
- The object of the process is to put you in front of relevant people that may need your professional service in the future. The cycle of commercial real estate is quite long and for that reason you need to be prepared for the establishment of long-term relationships.
- Many of the people that you talk to today will not need your services currently. They may however need your services over time and that can be some months if not years away. Be prepared to build the relationships with the people that matter when it comes to business activity and property ownership.
- When you are connecting with more people on a regular basis, you will need points of relevance and information to use in the process. That will include newsletters, social media, e-mail marketing, telephone calls, direct mail, and brochures.
- Understand the quality properties in the local area that should be the targets for your prospecting. Identify the property owners behind each of those properties and establish an ongoing contact program with those people. Getting in front of relevant property owners should be the first step to establishing ongoing contact.
- You will find that some of the people in the marketplace are or could be wasting your time. Be selective with whom you relate to and why you do so. In some respects, you build a filter of contact into your database and prospecting model. Remove the people from the list that are wasting your time.
- Track and measure your contact systems so that you know when your prospecting model is improving. You can and should improve your dialogue to help the ongoing contact process over time. Practice will be required.
- A system of this type requires an action plan and consistent effort. Many agents struggle with consistency. The habits that you develop will help you build your market share. Without habits, the whole thing is quite pointless.
A successful sales plan in commercial real estate agency and brokerage is quite a specific thing. Your plan may be difficult to establish and different than the others in your office. The point is, it must be successful and it must be implemented. Understand what works for you and get the whole thing started.
In commercial real estate agency, you need to be the agent of choice relative to the local area and the property type. The clients that we serve need to understand that they are working with experts.
Top agents build their profile continually through a prospecting and networking process. You need to do the same. About 1/3 your business day needs to be devoted to this prospecting activity.
So let’s say that you have connected with a client and you can see a potential listing available for conversion. Give the client some real reasons to choose you as the best agent of choice. Here are some ideas to help with that:
- Meet the client at the property to inspect it together and prior to you creating any proposal or listing presentation. This will allow you to question the client on the history of the property and the current challenges. You can also identify any concerns that they may have when it comes to achieving a sale or a lease in the current market. From all of this information you can construct a very well-targeted property proposal.
- Use a checklist for the property type when it comes to the client interview and the property walk through. The checklist will help you with important and relevant questions, and also show your professionalism to the client when it comes to the potential listing.
- Your personal profile on the Internet relative to the local area and the property speciality needs to be well established. The client is likely to check your name and or your agency online as part of making their final choice of agent. For this reason, you should have a business related blog that relates to your market and the current property trends. The blogging process only takes a small amount of time. You can write a blog two or three times a week about the local area and particular property activities. You can then link your blog to your social media activities and profiles. You can also link your blog to your newsletter e-mail activities.
- Grow your database at every opportunity. Over time this accurate and up to date database can be a clear advantage and give you leverage when it comes to winning a listing. Show the client the size of your database and its relevance to their property listing. You may even choose to short list a number of people from the database to take to the property as soon as the listing is approved.
- Get plenty of signboards into your local area. Signboard presence is still a tool of leverage when it comes to winning a listing.
A successful commercial real estate agent will take simple steps like these each and every day as part of their business building activity. The systems that you create will help you move ahead to a greater and more successful market share.
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In commercial real estate agency the clients that we serve are a critical part of the market share that we build. The relationships that we create with those clients should be growing within a system and strengthened with relative property market content. This is a very personal process for each and every salesperson or agent.
The cycle of commercial real estate activity is relatively long. It can be some time between lease or sale requirements for the average client. This then says that a client contact cycle and system should be ongoing to a plan and a process. It could be months or years before the client is ready to make or take the next action steps in a property transaction. Over that time the relationship you have with that client or prospect needs to be nurtured and strengthened.
To be a top agent your clients must understand and respect your skills; you must be the ‘go to person’ when it comes to getting a result with a sale or lease situation. When you specialise in a property type and location, this is relatively easy.
Here are five action steps to structure a client contact program in your agency structure:
- Review the clients account history, their property needs, and the potential new business potentially coming from them in the future. As part of the review, consider the variations between sales, leasing, and property management needs. You can also obtain fees from project leasing, tenant retention planning, special lease reviews, and renovation or refurbishment strategies. You will need full and complete details relative to the clients property ownership portfolio, and the lifecycle relative to property holding. Understand the pressures that apply to the portfolio including property age, tenant volatility, income potential, and lease expiry. All of these things can lead to professional service requirements and extra fees.
- Given the previous point, determine the reasons for ongoing contact based on the clients requirements and the fee potential. Every contact call, meeting, and direct mail piece should be consistently focusing on the biggest need that you believe applies to the client and their portfolio. Create consistency in your contact plan by including this determined need factor.
- At a minimum or basic frequency, you should be contacting all of your clients or prospects at least once every 90 days. When you know that the person is moving to some property activity the contact cycle should shorten and be much more specific. It is a known fact that the ongoing contact made to a single client in this way will build agency relevance and immediacy. After the second or third contact to the client, you are likely to get better conversions to new business activity. The organisation behind this process should involve a database with suitable flexibility.
- The client contacting process or system that you create should involve dialogue practice. Call contact and meeting activity will be a daily process. You can improve your conversions in both of these situations through prospecting and dialogue practice. Determine the weaknesses that you have when it comes to dialogue and presentations, then take some steps to improve those weaknesses given the prevailing market conditions.
- Gather some up to date market information relating to the local area and particular property types. Display that information in various ways including charts, market trends, photographs, and benchmarking. This information will give you substance and confidence when it comes to connecting with your clients and prospects.
A client contact strategy in commercial real estate is a very specific process. If requires planning and consistency. Over time you will find that the process will help you establish a stronger market share and generate many more quality listings.
In every listing presentation in commercial real estate, we like to think that we have the best solution for the client given the prevailing market conditions and the subject property. Communicating those facts as part of the sales pitch will be a central component of your presentation and listing conversion.
Most presentations today will be competitive. There will be a number of agents chasing the same client and listing. In a short period of time, the client will need to make sense of the strategies offered and the relative skills offered by the agents. Only one or agent will win the listing in most circumstances. Joint agency appointments where two agents share the same listing are usually an experiment of confusion. Help your clients understand the benefit of having one agent work for them on an exclusive basis.
Here are some questions to address as part of your sales pitch or listing presentation. They will help you prepare for the client and the challenges of the property.
- Why has the client approached you? Get to the real facts and the background behind the client coming to you for property assistance. As part of the investigation, review the history of the property, its ownership structure, and tenancy mix.
- What does the client know about the property market today? A selective question and answer process will help you identify what the client really does know about the prevailing market conditions. You can then fill in the gaps when it comes to property prices, rentals, and competing listings. Provide some market evidence using graphs and charts. The visual approach will be far more effective than a bulky proposal document.
- Given the previous point, does the client consider that they are an expert when it comes to the local property market? You may need to show the client some understanding and talk them through their observations and intentions before you table your property proposal or presentation.
- What will the client need to do with their property, and when will be the best time of year to achieve the result? Every property type will have strategies and solutions when it comes to the best method of sale or lease, and the best timing of the marketing campaign. Provide some logical recommendations based on your market knowledge and experience. Show the client what has worked in the past.
- Be careful when it comes to using industry jargon in your presentation. The use of jargon will disconnect you from the client. Simplify and explain your recommendations rather than let the client fill in the gaps and make the assumptions.
- Be sensitive to clients that are new to the area or the property type. Help them understand what the market has been doing and how they can be part of that property momentum.
- Have some relevant stories of the property market available to tell the client. Those stories should be applicable to situations today and the type of property in question. You are the solution provider and thereby you should put yourself into the success stories provided.
- Provide some testimonials from other clients in similar property situations. To support those testimonials, have a selection of property photographs available to display.
To win a listing presentation today your communication skills should be of the highest order and regularly practiced. These other facts provided above will help you with selling your services and professional skills as a top agent.
In commercial real estate agency, you really do need to understand what is going on in the marketplace and then make some solid choices at a personal level to improve your prospecting and deal activity. Everything comes down to a personal level and process in our industry. Success has little to do with the agency that you work for.
Outsiders and new agents to the industry are tempted to think that commissions and listings come easily. Nothing could be further from the truth. The quality and the growth of your business will come from personal focus and momentum. The choices that you make on a daily basis, and the actions that you take in prospecting and marketing will drive your business forward. The agents that struggle in the industry are those that have little or no system when it comes to business generation and market share.
Here are some strategies to help you initiate a business plan as a commercial real estate agent. Consistency in focus and the actions that you take every day are the keys to getting momentum and traction with your market share. Here are the ideas to help you:
- Understand the condition of the market today in deal activity, competing agents, and future growth. Look for the opportunities in sales leasing and property management activity. Understand where you fit when it comes to those three distinct disciplines.
- Choose the property type that you understand and can relate to. That may be in office, industrial, or retail property. The clients that we work for require specific expertise when it comes to resolving a problem with a quality property. The marketing and inspection process with any listing is not an experiment. It requires specific knowledge and expertise to tap into the right target market.
- Determine the cycles of the local property market when it comes to leasing and sales turnover. You can do that by reviewing the history transactions through the region. In most markets, a commercial or retail investment property will change hands or be upgraded at least once every seven years. It takes that long for the appropriate capital gain to occur or the client to reach the next stage of portfolio change and growth. Be sensitive to the cycles, and start prospecting the right people inside their property cycles.
- Start prospecting on a daily basis ensuring that you’re talking to new people as well as current contacts. The whole process should take you about 2 or 3 hours per day every working day. In a very short period of time you will find some new business opportunity. When that occurs, keep the prospecting process underway. That’s how top agents grow market share.
- When a competing agent puts a signboard on a property, it is an opportunity for you to talk to the property owners and business proprietors in the immediate and adjacent vicinity. This then says that the marketing processes of a competing agent give you leverage when it comes to building your market share. It is a fact that nearby property owners and business proprietors like to compete rather than cooperate with a nearby property sale or lease transaction.
- When you list a property, personally market the details of the property to the local region of property investors and business owners. This involves door knocking and telephone calls. From this process you will identify other opportunities to work on in the future. Pay particular attention to the immediate property location and the streets around the subject listing. Walk the streets and knock on the door’s to introduce yourself and the upcoming listing. Ask questions and talk to more people; it is amazing how much information you will extract from the market when you do this.
Building your market share in commercial real estate agency is a simple and yet ongoing process. You should have three or four solid strategies underway such as those above to help you connect with the right people and build the right relationships.
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.
Systems in commercial real estate agency set you free and help you build your career. Without systems you will struggle as an agent. So you cannot be ‘out of control’ if you want to improve as an agent.
It is the regular things that you do every day that build habits and those habits help you build market share. Top agents are those that work in a controlled and focused way. You can do the same.
If you believe you are out of control in your career today, take a look at the things you should be doing and what you are actually doing now. Therein lies the answers that you need to resolve market share and productivity problems.
Here are some facts and systems that you can merge into your business model.
- Researching new prospects should be done every day; you need fresh people to talk to. The best time to do that research is in the evening when the pressure is off. We can all use the internet and use it as a prospecting and research tool. It is likely that you can access your database from home as well. Use remote technology to your advantage.
- Prospecting should happen at the same time each day. Given that most people get distracted as the day progresses, prospecting is best done in the morning first thing. Avoid morning meetings for this very purpose (I know this will upset some agency principals). Long morning meetings are a terrible waste of time.
- Presentations for listings should be practiced. Hopefully you are a specialist agent in a local area and property type. This will make your presentations a bit easier and you can refine them accordingly.
- Marketing campaigns should be focused on the needs of the property and the client. Given that there are so many unsold and vacant properties on the market today, it is critical that you make every marketing campaign a good one. Be specific in the way you are reaching your target audience. Get personally involved in your marketing efforts.
- Property inspections should occur only after the prospect has been qualified. Make sure that they are the right people for the property before you take them to it. Develop a system of property inspection that features the listing correctly and comprehensively. Make every property inspection great with the right preparation.
- Negotiations and client connection go hand in hand. Keep the client up to date with all property events, marketing, inspections and negotiations. An informed client is much better to work with. It is notable that top clients should be served by exclusive listings.
- Database systems should support your ongoing growth of market share. You cannot delegate that process. It is a personal one that you should take ownership of.
So now you can see how important systems are to a commercial real estate agent. If you want to succeed in this industry, take a look at your systems (or lack of them) and make them better.
So many salespeople in commercial real estate struggle with getting things done. Each day many pressures and client challenges will shift your focus (or try to). Before the end of the day you will feel that nothing of importance has happened. Here are some tips from our Commercial Real Estate Newsletter.
There is a saying that ‘a person that feels in control will get a lot more done’. Feeling in control is just a mindset; however it helps a lot when you are a commercial real estate salesperson that is responsible for earning a good income (or trying to).
When you look at your job, career, and real estate agency, you can see lots of tasks that if well done, can help you get good results. Here are some key systems that you can optimise and improve on.
- Develop a marketing information packet that you can send via mail or email very quickly to a client, property owner, investor, tenant, or business owner about the alternatives and services that you can offer them. The marketing packet should be specific to sales, leasing, and property management. Retail information packets will be different and much more unique than the others.
- Have a pre-listing or pre-presentation kit ready that you can send to clients a day or two before you meet with them to talk about their property. The kit should contain market facts, examples of advertising, and samples of brochures, strategies of promotion for sales, leasing, or property management.
- Create procedures for canvassing and prospecting so that each day you can repeat processes that will help take you forward in your property market. Don’t reinvent new systems; just repeat the ones that work for you.
- Your database should be well controlled. I am a great believer that a database is a personal process that cannot be passed on to others. In only this way will you take ownership of what you need to do and that will ensure that the information is correct.
- Client contact systems will always be of benefit. It is a fact that more listings will put you under pressure. Open listings are a waste of time, but exclusive listings and their clients need to be well serviced. In most cases, commercial real estate agents can only handle up to 20 exclusive listings at any one time. Beyond that point you will be out of control and stress will take over.
Look at the things that you should be doing every day. Learn to delegate mundane ordinary tasks to the administrative staff that support you. If you do not have the benefit of administration support then, the only way forward is to systemise everything that you do.
As an agent in commercial real estate for many years, I know that every bit of marketing material needs to be carefully optimised. The rule applies even to the envelopes that you use in your direct letter or brochure campaign.
You want your letter to be seen and opened. The envelope will help with that. If the envelope is too ‘business like’, it will hit the rubbish bin faster than you can imagine. So we should set some rules to the letter process to be adopted in commercial real estate.
Try some of these:
- Use a non-standard envelope colour. Blue is good and also is orange. The colour should still allow the address details to be clearly seen.
- The ‘return to sender’ address on the back of the envelope should be hand written with an address only. Leave off your name.
- Use a non-standard envelope size. Try an envelope that is smaller than the traditional business DL size.
- Use real stamps on the letter and not a ‘franking machine’ embossing. Real stamps attract the eye and help the readability factor.
- Hand written addresses on your envelopes should be in blue ink. Make sure that your handwriting is clear and legible; it shows respect.
- Do not bulk up the envelope with too much marketing material. A business card is all that you need inside the envelope with your letter to send a professional business message.
- Open rates on envelopes are better between Wednesdays and Fridays. To achieve this delivery focus, send your letters on a Monday.
- If you want your letter to be seen amongst others, pay for priority postage and overnight delivery.
- Always follow up your letters a few days after sending.
- Sign your initials across the envelope flap on the rear of the envelope. It appears like a ‘seal’ to the reader and then adds to the personalisation.
Simple rules like this will help your sales letters reach the required person. More importantly they will help your envelopes get opened and the contents read.
Personalised envelopes and direct letters can be a good part of your marketing campaign to build your prospect list and support your direct prospecting efforts or cold calls.
The commercial real estate industry is based largely on relationships and trust. You can extend and grow those factors in the way you address and send your envelopes to prospects and targets.
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