In commercial real estate agency and brokerage, cold calling is an essential part of the business building process. Every agent and every broker should undertake a number of cold calls every day to build their market share with new people and new prospects.
In any property market and at any time, there will be new people to approach regards the professional services that you can provide in sales, leasing, or property management. At least 25 new calls should be made every day to new people that you have not spoken to before. It will take you 2 hours to make those calls. From doing that, you will nearly always reach approximately 10 or 12 people in one sitting and from that you can get one or two new meetings. That is how you get the new relationships started.
So you need to establish your cold calling process to take your business forward as an agent or broker. You should also practice your dialogue. Here are some ideas to help you with that:
- It is hard to get traction in the cold calling process without practice. This means that you will need to refine your dialogue and improve it over time. This can be done each morning as part of your preparation for the working day. You can practice call conversations as you drive to work. Without any other person in the motor vehicle, you have the opportunity to refine your scripts and your conversational ability for the cold calls that need to be done.
- Each evening you can prepare a list of 25 people to call and approach the next day. Given that we work with mainly property investors and business owners, it is really quite easy to establish a list of contacts to call. The business telephone book will give you plenty of telephone numbers. In addition to that, you can research one or two property owners each day to add to the list.
- Split your prospecting territory up into zones. That will allow you to focus your call processes to particular streets and business types. As a general rule, you should be travelling through the streets of your territory each day to identify any opportunities that you can see.
- It is best to get the calls done first thing at the start of the day. In that way nothing can interfere with your progress and prospecting system. Avoid making or attending meetings at the start of the day so that you can get your prospecting done efficiently and effectively.
- Track your call progress in a database that you personally maintain. Where possible, use a computer for this process, and have a telephone and the computer in front of you as part of making the cold calls. You can then enter the results of calls into the database immediately.
- Purchase a headset to use as part of the call prospecting system. The immediate advantage here is that you will have your hands free to record the results of the conversation. One other clear advantage is that you can stand up as part of the calling process. It is well known that call conversations made from a standing position are far more effective and connecting than those from a sitting position at a desk.
- Understand the rules that apply to the do not call register in your area. Ensure that you are adhering to those rules in making the calls.
- Track and measure your call activity and meeting conversions. The primary object of making a call should be to create a meeting with people that have a future or current need in commercial property.
- Collect e-mail addresses and mobile telephone numbers as part of the prospecting activity. Get the permission of the person that you are speaking to for ongoing contact so you can send relevant property information and advise them of market activity.
The prospecting process does not need to be hard. The telephone can be a distinct advantage when it comes to building better market share and growing your database. That being said, it does require a diligent focus and ongoing activity. That is a personal skill and a personal process.
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 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.
You can get more commercial real estate training tips in our newsletter right here.
In commercial real estate agency it is wise to plan your prospecting efforts and actions. On an average working day many different things will put pressure on your prospecting. Unfortunately many agents will drop the prospecting activity for the slightest reason. Over time that single choice will have a major impact on the way they grow their business and market share.
So you have some choices here:
- You can grow your real estate business and market share through directed effort each day on a client, property, and street by street basis, or
- You can randomly make calls and contacts if and when time permits.
The comfort zone is a big challenge for many agents and it will slow their listing chances and commissions given half a chance. When time gets tough, keep prospecting and stick to your plan.
To solve all of these issues it is best to have the prospecting plan that gets you in front of more property investors and business owners. It has to be specific and relevant to your property market and sales or leasing territory.
Not everyone that you talk to will want to do business with you or even discuss property issues; that is quite OK as you really should not waste you valuable time on people that do not have a need or and interest. Talk to more people and build your skill in doing so. Over time that one single fact will help you in so many ways to become a top real estate agent.
Many new brokers and agents to the industry struggle with finding clients and prospects to talk to as part of prospecting. The soon know that growing market share and commissions depends on one thing only and that is prospecting; when they get focused on it they also soon know that prospecting is a complex and dedicated process.
Here is a prospecting plan for you. Expect it to be a challenge to your diary and daily activities.
- Get to know the streets and businesses in your primary sales and leasing territory. On a street by street basis, identify the property owners and the businesses in occupancy. Talk to both. Find out what they are doing in property now and in the future.
- Review the other listings in the area that are listed with other agents. Use those listings as reasons to talk to other property owners and businesses in the same street and general location.
- Check out the old sale records for your region. Find those property owners that purchased property about 3 or 4 years ago. On average those property owners are going to be the next to come back into the market in some form or another. Connect with them for that process.
- Every property listing that you have on your books will be an excuse to talk to other businesses and investors. Use your quality listings in this way. Over time your current listings will give you more leads and information to act on.
- Walk the streets in your property precinct. You will find and see information that you can work with. Take plenty of business cards with you to leave at the reception desks, and with the business owners that you see or drop into.
- Use the telephone to make plenty of cold and warm calls to your market and business owners. Track your progress and your calls with a good database.
Prospecting in commercial real estate does not need to be hard but it does need to be systemised. In that way you can steadily improve your market share.
You can get more commercial real estate training tips in our Newsletter right here.
In 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.
What is the value that you bring as an agent to a client in commercial property today? It is an interesting question for a client to ask when it comes to an agent selling, leasing, or managing commercial real estate.
Most agents would say one or more of the following:
- We know what we are doing
- We have good people
- We understand the property market
- We have done some great deals recently
- We sold (or leased) other properties like this recently
- We know how to market the property
The sad fact of the matter is that when they have said these things, they go no further. They do not back up their claims with detailed proof.
If you say anything to a client about your relevance or skill as a local commercial real estate agent, be prepared to expand on the issue and talk about it comprehensively and directly. Show the client some proof of why your statement is so important to their property position or need.
Here are a couple of ideas to use when it comes to showing the client that you really are the right agent for the job of marketing the property:
- Use a Gantt chart that shows the steps that you will be taking in marketing the property and converting the result that they need. Have different Gantt charts for the process when it comes to sales, leasing, and property management (commercial or retail).
- Define the target market in such a way that you are clear on exactly how you will connect with the right people and help them understand the property market.
When you pitch or present to a client, don’t discount your services and lower your marketing fees for the sake of attracting the client’s attention. Offer real and relevant marketing solutions that are so good that the client cannot ignore you. Sign them up on an exclusive listing.
When you take a commercial property to the market today, the message about the property has to be clear and precise. There are limited levels of enquiry coming from most marketing campaigns given the current economic climate. This means that you have to do more with less.
It should be said that this is not a seller’s market, not a buyer’s market, but it is an agents market. We as property agents are well placed to encourage enquiry and connect with the right people. Your database is a key factor in this process.
We can produce the right momentum in marketing through developing a direct promotional strategy for each listing. The days of generic marketing are well gone. Specific campaigns create far more enquiry than the traditional generic approach.
When you take on a new listing, be very specific when it comes to structuring the marketing campaign and attracting the right target audience. It should also be said that the exclusive listing process in this market is far more effective than an openly listed property.
If the client chooses to openly list their property, tell them about the weaknesses of the process and the longer ‘time on market’ factors that normally apply. Most clients don’t like to be an ‘experiment’ when it comes to marketing; they want results and the exclusive listing process is the only way to do that with some control and reasonable success rate.
Here are some tips to help you with establishing a successful marketing campaign and correctly promoting a commercial property for sale or for lease.
- There is a significant difference between direct and indirect marketing today. The generic approach involves indirect marketing and most particularly advertising in the newspapers, placing a signboard on the property, and listing it on the Internet. This will only produce limited enquiry. With commercial property you must take the direct approach in addition to the more traditional promotional processes. The direct approach says that you need to get into the local area and take the listing to all of the property owners nearby, the local businesses, and the industry professionals. In this way you will attract more leads and opportunities. Talk to more people; that is the rule today and not the exception.
- The best method of sale or lease should be chosen for the property, the local area, and the target market. The method that you choose should encourage enquiry, inspections, and negotiation. Momentum is the key to getting a good result in commercial property marketing today.
- At the time of listing the property, undertake a comprehensive inspection with the client. Move through the asset together so that you can identify strengths and weaknesses that will need to be addressed as part of the promotion and the advertising. Any weaknesses should be carefully assessed and dealt with prior to the commencement of campaigning.
It is in property markets like that which we have today where the marketing process becomes more important than ever before. Attracting enquiry and converting more inspections is central to attracting offers and closing negotiations.
If you want to be a top agent in this market, take a serious look at your marketing efforts, and your listing processes. Everything needs to work in harmony.
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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Today it is a fact that email newsletters are a part of commercial real estate marketing. Every agency should have a solid system of client or prospect contact using a database and an email newsletter.
Permission marketing is part of the email process in that you should only send these emails to people that have agreed to be part of the process. You can easily get ‘permission’ through refined strategies when talking to clients and prospects. That will be in:
- Telephone calls
- Property inspections
- Previous marketing efforts with other listings
It should also be said that the email system you adopt should have an opt-out provision and capability so that any person can step out of the newsletter system if they require.
What do you want to do?
If you are going to create a newsletter in this form, it is essential to develop the right strategy and processes. There are just too many poor quality email newsletters sent today. Relevance is everything.
So let’s look at how you can improve the process and make it a valuable part of your marketing effort.
- Use an auto responder to send the emails and track the open rate. You will then see what articles or properties create more interest.
- Many agents struggle with the issue of frequency in sending the newsletters. At a minimum they should be sent every 2 weeks. In an ideal situation they should be sent every 7 days with meaningful and new market information and listing detail.
- The best time to send the newsletter is between Wednesday and Friday. The ‘open rates’ on emails are generally higher at that time. Publish on time every time. Get a pattern to sending your emails.
- It is easy to get an email template established to start your newsletter. You simple add content inside the shell of the email
- Add to the value of the contact process by providing quality professional photographic images of properties for sale or for lease. Think and display quality at all times in your newsletter. One poorly photographed property will detract from the entire newsletter.
- Your exclusive listings should be marketed in your newsletter. Open listings should not get the newsletter treatment (open listings are a process of luck). If the owner of a property did not trust you enough to give you an exclusive listing, then they do not get the quality marketing processes.
- Have property relevant information in your newsletter that tells the reader about the local commercial real estate market and any changes that are coming up. At the top of the email, have an editorial area for this process. As agent you should write the commentary of 3 or 4 paragraphs and include a photograph of yourself in the process. You are building your ‘brand’ remember, and a photograph will help with that.
- All of your newsletters should feature links to your website listings, your informational blog, and your social media channels (Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook). Make it easy for people to follow you.
- Each email newsletter sent should be about 6 properties in depth, plus an editorial. If you work on different property types, you may like to make the newsletter specialised to the property type (eg Retail, Industrial, or Office).
When it comes to marketing yourself and your listings today, these are critical issues to take your listings and your real estate business forward.
You can get more tips like this in our free Newsletter for Commercial Real Estate Agents.
In commercial real estate sales or leasing, every little bit helps when it comes to marketing the property to the target market and local area. A correctly constructed marketing campaign should be 75% focused on the local area and 25% focused on the greater region and beyond. Here are some tips on marketing from our Newsletter for agents.
In just about all property marketing efforts, we find that most enquiries will come from local business owners and local property investors. This is the reason for the bias to local marketing. Sure you may have some properties that are an exception to the rule but almost always it is the local enquiry that really matters
So all of this being said, the advertising effort for any property and listing should be comprehensive and across a number of marketing tools and systems. The days of ‘generic’ advertising and promotion are well gone.
So let’s differentiate marketing between ‘open listings’ and ‘exclusive listings’.
- In the ‘open listing’ situation you have no control on the property or the client. For this reason advertising is largely a matter of convenience. You put a sign on the property and an advert on the internet. Any enquiries that you get you can process in an ordinary way. Importantly you should not waste much of your time on any ‘open listing’. If the client will not trust you with an ‘exclusive’ agency, then understand that your focus should be elsewhere on your better listings.
- ‘Exclusive listings’ are better for the client and for you. If the client is genuine in the sale or lease process, ‘exclusive’ listings allow you to get deeply into promoting the property to the local area. The communication between you and the client is a lot stronger and more relevant to getting results from the marketing campaign. Every ‘exclusive’ listing should include a reasonable amount of vendor paid marketing funds.
When you are to promote a property to the local area, a campaign should be structured on the target market, and personally driven by you as the agent or salesperson. When you get too many listings, the ‘personal’ side of property promotion gets a lot more difficult. The number of ‘exclusive’ listings that you can take on at any one time is about 15 listings. Beyond that number, you need a personal assistant to help you with the required systems and processes. Remember that the client wants to talk with you and not your assistant.
To put high value and relevance into your property promotion, take every listing personally into the area and the business community. Use every listing as a reason to talk to business owners and property investors. In this way you will get better results from all your marketing campaigns.
You can get more free tips like this in our Newsletter for Commercial Real Estate Agents.