The database system that you choose in commercial real estate will help you drive new business opportunity. If you are looking for more listings and commissions as part of your business plan, then the database creation and nurturing process should be part of the plan.
Most agents and brokers struggle with the process of client contact and database creation. They simply do not spend enough time on growing their business in this way. When the property market gets slow or becomes tougher, a good database is the only way to move through challenging economic conditions and any market slowdown.
Who do you know?
You simply need to know a lot of people in a relevant and ongoing way, and a contact management system will help you interact with your clients are the right time with relevance. They need to trust you as the expert of choice, and remember you at the right time when it comes to property help and assistance.
Here are some specific rules to help you establish your contact management system in your real estate brokerage:
- The correct information – the information that feeds into your database needs to be correct in every way. When the information is captured, that is the start of the contact management system, and you will be connecting with the same person in a number of different ways over time. Accuracy and regularity feature as part of a professional contact management.
- Segment your database – given that you will be working with a number of different clients and prospects, you do need to segment the database into the various levels of opportunity and also within property types and locations. The contact management system that you choose should offer you that flexibility in a simple and direct way.
- Cloud based storage – you must be able to get to your information at any time, and then use your database from a number of different computer platforms. Cloud based storage and access will give you the flexibility that you need in commercial real estate brokerage. Make sure that the storage and access points for the database are reliable and secure. Given that the data you collate and collect over time will be growing significantly in frequency and volume, you should be using the software platform that is well proven and reliable.
- Determine how you will be connecting – there are many ways to keep in contact with clients and prospects today. As part of your connection pipeline, establish some rules and systems of contact. Every stage or step within the pipeline process will be a professional advancement on the last point of contact. Understand how you can use social media, emails, telephone calls, and meetings as part of regular ongoing contact. Relevance will be important to help you connect with your clients professionally. What can you do or add to the contact process that will help with this relevance? How can you connect with more people every day? What can you do or provide as part of the contact process to build the client relationship over time?
If you’re looking to improve your commercial real estate business both as an agent and within the brokerage, then have a solid and direct look at your database activities and systems. If you are not connecting with a lot of people in a new and relevant way, then you have a few problems to address. Build a database system that works for you and keep the process going in every way possible.
(N.B. these ideas are also sent out to regularly to our friends in Commercial Real Estate Online Snapshot to help amplify brokerage results…. Get your access here)
There are always opportunities to be found in commercial real estate brokerage. To get the best results in your business and brokerage locally you should create a plan and strategy to take you forward. A successful commercial real estate brokerage will usually be the
At any time of year the property market will offer opportunity in sales, leasing, and property management; the trick is to find it. The strategy that you use helps you find that opportunity. So let’s consider some resources that you can put into your plan.
- The register of property owners for your location – Using the register you can identify people and companies that own local property.
- The business telephone book – Always remember that the local businesses will occupy or own the property in which they are located. Asking the right questions will get you to the ownership facts that you require.
- The internet – Using your computer you can search down opportunities in business types, companies, and other listings. Look for activities and changes. Find out the names of the leaders of each business and approach them directly for a property related discussion.
- Websites and industry portals – Always track the listings coming and going from the industry portals. In tracking that information you can understand the time on market factors and the best ways to advertise quality listings. You can also determine just what seems to be selling or leasing and why that is the case.
- A street directory of your location and city – Simple street maps of the area will keep your attention focused in streets and precincts. You can use a highlighter pen to track the streets and areas that you are focusing in or have been in as part of your prospecting and door knocking model.
- Blog strategies – Blogs are wonderful business tools. The great news here is that they are essentially free and the only thing you require to get one going is time. You can write things and you can show photos of your local town or city. The main idea behind a blog is that it is designed to be helpful and informational. Search engines like information and that is why blog strategies work.
- Social media – You should create a few social media strategies to use. Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+ are all good tools to use in commercial real estate brokerage. There are others that you may know about, but don’t use some obscure social media platform that others have not heard about before. To encourage people to join your online social media efforts, use a platform that people understand.
- Your database program – A great database program will help you stay on track with new leads and clients. Most of the listings that you find will come from your database and the efforts you apply to making calls and contacts. If you want a lot of leads and listings, your database and how you work it will be the indicator and tool of success. How many people do you have in your database now? How often do you talk to those people? Good questions require specific answers; be honest with yourself.
- Your telephone – Technology today supports us comprehensively in so many ways. Get the best telephone deal possible so you can make many calls to your contacts and clients. Integrate SMS, email, and social media tools into your telephone. If your database is cloud based, then integrate the database into your smartphone.
- Your business card – Whilst this may be the last item on the list, it is the most important. If you give your business card out every day to new people, opportunities will come to you over time. Most people keep business cards. It is a simple and effective way of connecting with local people and building your relevance as an agent. How many business cards can you give out each day? How many business cards did you give out yesterday? Develop a strategy to get your business cards into the local area.
I am going to suggest here that as an agent or broker you do not need to have any other resources to find new business. Everything that you require as an agent or broker can be found by using these resources effectively and directly.
You can get more tips for commercial real estate agents here in our bulletin.
In commercial real estate, market leadership is a very important issue, and particularly so if you specialise in a property type within a location. If you are like most agents you will have plenty of other competitive agents to work around and market against. Through all of that ‘competitive noise’ your services must stand out as real and relevant to the market place. That’s what the top agents of the market do.
When it comes to pitching and winning a listing, most of the clients that we serve want the best agent for the job; the marketing of any listing for sale or lease is not an experiment and the clients know that. It is at that point where the ‘leadership equation’ becomes important. Having spent many years in the property industry, I have seen and got to know many more agents than most people. It is a fact that the truly great agents are few in number, whilst most other agents ‘ride the rollercoaster’ of the property market through many ups and downs. Resilience is a good skill for an agent to have, but systemised action is far more important.
To develop true ‘market leadership’ an agent needs a ‘formula’ to work to that allows for factors of the market place, the property type, the location, and the current levels of enquiry.
Here are some facts and strategies that can help you reach your targets in the local area when it comes to listings and clients:
- Time – Be very conscious of your time and who you let take a ‘slice of it’ each day. You cannot invent time so you must manage your own business day to get the best results from it; all your appointments, prospecting, marketing, client contact, negotiating and paperwork must fit into the working day. Some things will be more important than others, and there will be plenty of daily pressures that can potentially shift your focus; be prepared for some real discipline in diary control and day management.
- Professional Services and Practice – If you want to be the best agent locally for the property type, then your marketing, property knowledge, and negotiation skills should be of the highest standards. A top quality agent with a dominant market share stands out ‘head and shoulders’ above others due to a recognisable difference in listing quality and listing success rate. To achieve that status, your can practice and refine your skills, improve your weaknesses and build on your strengths. Practice is something that most agents forget about as soon as the market or the listings get a bit busy. The opportunity is wide open for those agents that keep on practicing and improving their skills.
- Database – Your real estate database is the basis of creating personal new business and helping with commission growth. It takes time to grow a good database and the daily updates are ongoing. If you are struggling with new business now, it is time to look at your systems; the database should be at the centre of all of them. Integrate and lift your prospecting efforts into your database. Set the standards of daily prospecting that you should work to and start taking action.
- Marketing – Many agents would use only the most basic of marketing skills when it comes to property listings, and they do little beyond that when it comes to spreading the word about a new listing. Today we have some very advanced marketing tools and systems at our disposal. Every quality property and exclusive listing should be comprehensively marketed to produce the best outcome for the client and for the brokerage. Pitch and sell your commercial real estate services on the basis of exclusive listings supported by a comprehensive marketing tools and systems. In that way you will consistently create better results in sales and leasing activity, together with a shorter time on market.
Leadership in the commercial real estate market place is a strategic choice for top agents and top brokers. You can build your systems using some of the skills above and others to take charge of the marketplace and become a real leader when it comes to property sales, leasing, and development. Success comes to those who work hard to a plan and a process.
In commercial real estate brokerage, you will hopefully have many prospects and a number of good clients. Over time those numbers do need to grow and compound opportunities in referrals, leads, and listings. All of these things will occur when you know your clients very well and similarly so their property needs and or situation.
Here are some tips for turning a prospect contact into a future client for your commercial real estate brokerage:
- In many respects you do need to know the client better than they know themselves. Whilst they may have a particular property challenge or need, they probably do not know enough about the local market opportunities to identify exactly what they require to allow them to improve their property performance or outcome. Look for opportunities within prices, rentals, refurbishments, relocations, marketing systems, and income and property expenditure. You can also work within tenancy mix changes and tenant retention plans to improve the tenant profile of the building.
- Understand the factors of compatibility between yourself, the client, and your brokerage. Are you providing the specialized services that match the future needs of your clients and prospects? There is no point specializing in something that is under supported or under resourced within your brokerage. As a case in point, retail shopping center sales and leasing require specialist retail knowledge and unique skills. In that case the brokerage would need to have or acquire the right people and resources to do the job well.
- Establish a regular dialogue with your clients where you can provide up to date specialized market information for their property type. That can be through a newsletter, industry briefing, and local area updates relating to sales and leasing activity, new development updates, and changes within property zonings or building codes.
- Many clients will take time to open up with complete and full information relating to their property portfolio and asset performance. Trust and loyalty established over time will encourage them to share that information.
- Give more to the market than you get back. It is a simple statement that suggests that you should give freely of your knowledge and resources to help the client relationship grow. Establish a group of VIP clients within your database where this can be done. Most top agents will have a database of between three hundred and six hundred well qualified prospects. Within that group, your VIP prospects should number between 50 and 100. They will be the people that can offer higher value and repeat business over time. Connect with that group in a different way and in a deeper level.
Client relationships are at the center of everything when it comes to commercial real estate brokerage and agency. You may choose to be a specialist in sales, leasing, and or property management. Without the client connection and marketing process, you will struggle with market share. Use some of these points mentioned to build solid foundations of client loyalty and trust.
In this commercial real estate market today you must have a database to capture all of the contact detail that you create each and every day. Over time you will come to know or meet many hundreds of people. The more of those that you know on a personal level the better it will be for you as a ‘top agent’.
Here are some tips from our Newsletter….
In saying all of this I am a great believer in the fact that the database that you use should be personally managed. That means that you enter the data and access the database every time you have your meetings or make your calls. The information that you collect and load about your contacts must be accurate and up to date. This will only be achieved if you take ownership of the process.
Here are some tips to establishing the data about all of your contacts and clients:
- Constant contact is a very important part of the process. Every person in the database should be contacted at least once every 90 days without fail. For those people that are more active and relevant to the property market currently, you should be speaking to them every 30 days. When you do your numbers and base it on your working hours in the office, you will soon see that commitment to the process must be systemised.
- Most of your data entry can occur as you talk on the telephone, whilst other information can be entered at the end of the day when you have more ‘free time’.
- Split all of your data into groups. They will usually be vendors, purchasers, property investors, tenants, business owners, and property professionals. Those groups will then need to be split into property needs, prices, rents, areas, and timing. Not all software will do that for you; however choose the best package that you can afford. Importantly the software should allow you to export your data in a common file form such as a CSV file. You must be able to export your information to a common spread sheet easily whenever you want to.
- All of your contacts should be able to get an auto responder email from you. Make sure that the software you use integrates with some auto responder email service. That process will save you a lot of time in sending the right information to the right people when a new or fresh listing comes onto the market.
If you keep a good database and make more calls every day to new people, you will find the market open up for you in many different ways. It takes time, but you manage your time anyway; so you know where the secret is to agent success in this industry. Good luck with your systems.
You can get more tips like this in our Newsletter.
In commercial real estate agency today, the basis of networking and lead generation has expanded. The traditional methods of contact are still there, but we now have quite a few other tools to use. Anything that makes the life of a commercial salesperson easier has my ‘vote’.
The networking and lead generation systems we should always use are really all about convenience, contact, and relevance. In the past we could do all that with cold calling, meetings, constant contact, newsletters, and direct mail. Those things today still exist and should be used but we can now do more with other tools and strategies. In effect we are bringing more technology into the loop of contact.
If we get the equation correct, we can get better results in lead generation. Make no mistake here; in no way am I suggesting that you should stop the traditional methods of contact, I am just suggesting that you should add to them.
Here are some ideas to help you establish the new system of contact and ongoing networking.
- Twitter is a process of simple short messages known as a mini blog. The process is free, and can be strategically used as part of ongoing business contact. You must however use relevant and helpful information as part of the process. This then says that you could send twitter messages twice a day with comments regards your commercial real estate product, the market, or services. You could add to that some market commentary or links to other interesting topics related to your area and precinct. If you are going to use twitter for business, do not allow personal small talk to enter into the loop. You must remember that some of the people that are following you on Twitter are business people and they do not need to see your personal ranting’s and ravings. Personality is one thing; when the comments get overly personal and biased they are a detriment to your business profile.
- Facebook is something that is used by many people today. It is preferable that you establish a Facebook page for business purposes, and then retain your personal profile elsewhere with a page for your friends and family. Facebook in business has a particular strategy which doesn’t mix well with standard personal contact. That being said, Facebook in business really does work. You can take feeds from Twitter and LinkedIn to your business page. When you use Facebook in business, segregate your followers into Friends, Family, and Business. In this way you can control who gets access to particular areas of your pages.
- LinkedIn is a great business tool and contact system. In business and commercial real estate it has a much higher value to us than Facebook. If you are a successful business person, your clients and contacts will expect to see a comprehensive and up-to-date LinkedIn profile. After every meeting with prospects and business contacts, send them an invite to join your LinkedIn page. It is questionable whether you need a free or paid LinkedIn account. Most people I know use the free version; however you do have a choice. If your LinkedIn activity gets a lot of use and is growing, perhaps you should revert to the paid version.
- Blogging is an extremely powerful business tool. You can set up a free blog on Blogger or WordPress. It takes about 20 minutes to set up the blog and it is really easy. The only cost to you after that point is time. What a blog allows you to do is establish greater online credibility as an expert in commercial real estate locally. This blog process adds to any other website presence and advertising you may do. You can write a blog about your commercial real estate specialty and area. Information is the key. Use the blog to give value and information about commercial real estate. Use it to show that you really are the expert.
So these are some of the main technology based tools that you can use today. Build them into your business system and start networking.
When you start your career in commercial real estate, you need a mailing list and a database to build the opportunity that you require. From day one, you should be compiling and growing those lists at every opportunity.
The top agents in our industry are successful principally because of personal relationships and networking. Most top agents have a comprehensive and accurate database that they work with the every day. That is why you should start the process as early as possible in your career.
Given that you have nothing to start with when you commence your commercial real estate career, here are some tips to allow you to grow your lists and improve your networking.
- The easiest place to start is with the local business telephone book. Commercial real estate is centered on the business community in many different ways. Changes to occupancy, property usage, property location, and customer growth will always create flux and opportunity within the business community. On a daily basis, you should be connecting with at least 20 business people from the business telephone book. As to how you choose to do that is really up to you, however the cold calling process or the drop in meeting approach will work.
- Get some plans and drawings associated with property ownership through your territory. Over time you can systematically work through those plans to identify the property owners in each case. That being said, this process takes time and there is a significant amount of research associated with identifying the property owner. Set yourself a target of two property owners a day to be researched as part of this process.
- Drive through the local streets containing the active business community. Write down all of the business names and telephone numbers that you can see on a street by street basis. Record those details into a spreadsheet on a street by street basis. Over time you can work through this list of contacts and business identities.
- Visit the larger properties in your area that will contain a number of tenants. Check out the directory boards in each of the properties to make a list of tenants to contact. The easiest way to do this is through taking a simple digital photograph with your cell phone.
- Business groups, community groups, universities and colleges, and business seminars are all opportunities for you to network and gather business cards. The advantage of the business card is that it will usually be retained rather than discarded. It is perhaps the single most powerful tool that you have to assist your marketing efforts.
- Your website will give you an opportunity to grow your database. On your website you should have some offer of free information in exchange for contact details. You could have a special report available to assist commercial property owners to understand the strategies behind property purchase. The report will be of interest and therefore drive some greater enquiry from your website.
- Previous clients and contacts will allow you to expand your communication opportunities with referrals. Get back in contact with these people to open the door on referral opportunity.
Building a contact mailing list today is not hard. It just takes consistent effort and a system to keep you organized. There are other things that you can add to this list over time. Importantly the system should drive new opportunity your way at the right time. Establish your mailing list and start to build a relationship through it.
In commercial real estate agency today, we tend to overlook the value of the lists that we have in our office or in out possession. Lists can help focus our efforts when it comes to new business and commission.
When talking about lists, it is interesting to note that many commercial real estate agencies have a database that is well out of date. The results of any marketing into the database are therefore quite sporadic at best.
If you want results in our industry, take a look at the lists that you are working with and the accuracy of the information contained therein. Develop a good list process yourself, and work it on a daily basis. It is essential that you develop a habit when it comes to maintaining your lists and your client relationships.
The problem with databases and lists is that they need to be maintained. Many salespeople prefer not to do this work themselves. The result is that no one person then takes ownership of the database and the value of the process falls away.
Whilst I may be generalising, I would say that at least 75% of the commercial real estate salespeople that I have made contact with over time have databases that are sporadic at best, and in most cases quite random. You cannot build your commercial real estate business around a sporadic database.
Top agents tend to have lists that are completely up to date and worked on a daily basis. They know the people in the list and make sure that regular contact is maintained. After each contact process, the list is updated with accurate information.
Here are some ideas to help you build momentum and accuracy in your list process:
- In most cases, your personal list of contacts should be no more than 1000 people. Beyond that point it is very hard to keep contact with the right people at the right time. It is the quality of the 1000 people that makes all the difference in your career and industry. When you focus your connections into a group of this size, you will generate commercial real estate business. The key point is to focus your efforts of connection and communication on a regular basis to the right people. They need to know you as the expert that you want to be. In this way you can build your top agent profile over time. Regular contact sends the right message.
- You do not need to have a complex software program to support your cold call prospecting or client networking. You simply need something that works for you. Certainly there are some great software programs out there that can help you build very productive customer relationship models. When it comes to choosing the right program, I would prefer something that is simple to use and convenient. Access to the database anywhere by the mobile telephone and or a laptop computer would be an essential part of the list building process.
- It has been proven that a regular contact process to the right people will produce significant new business opportunity. That contact cycle should be at least once every 90 days. After that time people tend to forget you. When you make contact with clients and prospects, have some simple connection process and information that you can send on to them as part of the connection follow-up. You are the property expert, and they need to see that.
Leverage is one of the most important things to work with in commercial property and investment real estate. It is a people based industry and your success will be based on the size of your network, and the relevance of your skills. That is why your list is so important. If you are struggling in the property market now, take a serious look at your database and its relevance to today’s market. Start working on your database and the industry will open up for you.
In today’s marketplace the Real Estate Agent needs to be technologically supported as both an individual and an office. Good database software is the only way to support ongoing customer relationship management and control your accounting processes.
Whether your office is focusing on property Sales, Leasing, or Property Management, you will need database software to support your activities. If you diversify further into the disciplines of business sales or commercial, the needs of your database software will need to be further enhanced to satisfy the unique conditions and activities of those transaction types.
Before we go further with this topic, we will say that you need to be very comfortable with using computers as regular business tools for your business today. The more that you do this and the more effective you are at it will be critical to your future real estate success.
So what Database is Best?
Essentially there is an array of database software alternatives available. These can be generally acquired through retail outlets or by purchasing online. Most of these generically available products are very good software packages but have not been specially shaped for the Real Estate industry.
This then means that you must spend some time on the software to shape it to your particular needs. In most cases this will not be a problem for the person familiar with software technology and computers. If however this is an issue for you, then you’ll need to seek expert assistance from a consultant to install and shape the software for you.
A good choice of software for your database will save you time and help you keep on top of the opportunities. This means more clients and commission.
You will need software that tracks the prospect and the series of interactions that you have had with them. The software will, at the most basic end of the usage spectrum, also need to:
- Mail merge to letters and emails
- Integrate with ‘Microsoft Outlook’ or your email client
- Integrate with your mobile phone synchronization
- Create diary recalls of critical issues and the next contact event
- Contact detail
- Property detail
- Recording of all correspondence
- Allow you to classify the prospect to the type of property they want or have, and their capabilities and needs in that regard
- Allow you to make notes of conversations and meetings with the person
- Flag urgent and critical issues of response or opportunity