The marketing process in commercial real estate brokerage should never be ‘generic’ with perhaps one exception and that is in the promotion of ‘open’ listings. ‘Open’ listings generally waste everyone’s time, and will usually only sell or lease through some factor of ‘luck’. You can’t base your commercial real estate brokerage business on ‘luck’.
How Are Listings for You?
Some agents and brokers will claim that they must list ‘openly’ because ‘that is the way the market is for them’ and the only way they can get new listings. Whilst I accept that fact initially for those agents that are very new to the industry, I will say that the best agents avoid ‘open listings’. They grow their profile and market share consistently over time so that the new clients and prospects locally will come to them to list properties for sale and lease. That is when it is really easy to demand ‘exclusivity’.
If the client really wants the best agent then they must accept the terms of engagement that the agent is offering. They are then your terms! Are you ready to package your professionalism and sell it?
Are You the Expert?
If you have a comprehensive and specialised personal brand as a local property ‘expert’, then it stands to reason that people will want to list their property with you rather than some other ‘random’ agent or groups of agents. Take a serious look at your personal marketing processes.
Taking this point further, your market share and listing conversions of an exclusive nature will largely depend on your ability to establish your brand as the ‘go to agent’ for your location and property speciality. You can and should invest more time in building your real estate image and speciality.
Here are some rules to help you do that:
- Your Listings – Understanding the point that I made earlier about ‘exclusivity’, make the marketing process very special and deep with all of those high quality listings that you are bringing in. It is difficult for other property owners and investors to ignore the activities of any agent with the best properties and the best marketing ideas.
- Other Agent Listings – If you are stuck for current listing stock, use other agent’s listings in a location to talk to local property owners and tenants nearby to any listing. Some simple questions and conversations will help you find the next listing in the same street or perhaps a business owner looking to relocate.
- High end marketing campaigns – Get some traction with your marketing by seeking and converting vendor paid funds. If your advertising efforts on any quality property are of a higher professional level than that of your competitors, you should be attracting the new business leads and enquiries very easily.
- The personal approach – You are the marketer of your business. You sell your services well then people will choose the agent that they trust and believe has the better business and market coverage. Is that you?
Simple marketing rules like these help you consolidate market share and listings as an agent or broker in commercial real estate. Follow the rules and grow your real estate business.
You can get more commercial real estate brokerage marketing tips in our ‘Snapshot’ eCourse right here.
In commercial real estate brokerage, your cold calling systems should be coordinated to a plan and a process. Over time you can then improve your actions as the plan requires.
Cold calling is a very specific process of agent actions tracked to results; monitor the things that you are doing and watch what is working for you. When you know that your telephone calls are getting meeting conversions, then you improve them further; if meetings are hard to achieve then skill enhancement is required.
What systems do you have?
So what are the key factors to help you in coordinating and improving your prospecting model and cold call activities? Try some of these:
- Why should someone listen to you? – There has to be a central message to your call process. Have a basic strategy to the call that is useful to the person you are calling. Don’t make calls based on your needs, but focus on them; talk about the other person’s property and how something you are offering will be of use. That could be a special report, perhaps an update on recent sales or leasing’s, or even a chart of property market trends that you can send them.
- Don’t push the other person – Too many agents push a conversation in cold calling. That generally doesn’t work. Polite professional telephone conversations get more results over time. The important thing is that you have something of relevance to talk about.
- Understand your ratios with call conversations and outbound prospecting – When you track your numbers you can see what outcomes you are getting, and if they are fruitful. Whilst everyone will have a different set of numbers to work at over time, those numbers should be improving; that is why you should be making regular cold calls and watching the ratios.
- Create a pipeline of contact – When you connect with a person across the telephone in a positive way, they should then advance up the pipeline of marketing and ongoing contact. Over a period of time you then connect with ever more people in a positive and relevant way.
You can take these simple strategies and merge them into your prospecting and cold calling model. Understand why someone should listen to you and provide relevance around that fact. Grow your skills in cold calling so that your results improve and grow over time. I go back to the point that you should track your ratios.
The commercial property market is a challenge at the best of times. There are plenty of things to do when it comes to commercial brokerage and agency. Each and every day a certain number of hours should be devoted to the prospecting process. That activity will be at a personal level for any agent or broker.
It stands to reason that a good broker will have a successful prospecting model to encourage new clients and listings in a regular way. The earlier that agents and brokers move towards this planning process and its implementation, the faster they move up the ranks of the market with listings and commissions.
Here are some tips to help you with the prospecting process that should be applied to office, industrial, or retail property. Given your local market conditions, you can add to the list as appropriate:
- Understand the activities of the market over the last two or three years. As the market been attracting activity or has it been contracting? It is best to work within a market that has growth and opportunity. It is best to work with property types that have a future.
- Many brokerages employ agents on the assumption that the agents will bring in the required new sales and leasing business. Certainly that is the case to a degree; it should however be observed that a good real estate brokerage will have generic marketing strategies and material to help the agents with their daily prospecting activities. An agent or a broker with little or no support from their principal will struggle.
- It is critical that a broker or an agent get signboards into their territory as soon as possible. Those signboards should be on exclusive listings. Signboard presence will always help local market profile and encourage inbound telephone calls. On that basis you can build your database.
- The Internet today offers significant opportunity when it comes to business profile and property marketing. Every brokerage or agency should have a substantial business website to promote sales and leasing listings. The brokerage should always be updating the website with the latest technology tools to capture inbound enquiries. A database portal is part of that process.
- Set aside 2 hours per day to contact new people through the local area. The easiest way to do that is through a consistent and professional cold calling process. When you have connected with a number of people across the telephone, you can move out into the marketplace and door knock a number of businesses and property owners. Personal contact in our market today is really important.
- Every new property listing will give you an opportunity to talk to many other property owners and businesses in the same location. Every successful transaction will give you further reasons to connect with the market place. Use your existing listings and exclusive listings to connect with the property market.
In looking at these activities, it is easy to see that the involvement of the agent or broker at a personal level is critical. Momentum is required every day to establish a good prospecting model to convert more listings and commissions.
In commercial real estate brokerage, you will have plenty of challenges when it comes to finding quality listings and good clients. In most locations, towns and cities, the competition is fierce when it comes to commercial real estate agents. On that basis you really do need to have an effective prospecting model to implement at an individual level.
It should be said that most brokers and agents don’t do this very well. On that basis the opportunities are significant if you can create and stick to a good prospecting model. Create a habit around prospecting.
Here are some proven and highly effective prospecting and networking tips when it comes to agents or brokers winning new clients in commercial real estate today. Compare these to your current strategies:
- Stick to a defined area when it comes to targeting properties and clients. On a street by street basis you can move through the region and research the necessary property ownership details and business proprietors. Don’t spread yourself too thinly when it comes to large areas and diverse property types. Specialization will help you with finding listings and growing property knowledge.
- Devote 3 hours per day to the prospecting process. The cold calling process should occur first thing every morning prior to any meetings or property inspections. Make a priority to get your cold calls done prior to 11 am. Your meetings and property inspections can occur after that time.
- Split your prospecting time into two distinct segments. The first segment will be those people that you have spoken to before. Regular contact here will allow you to tap into the opportunity when those people are ready to make a sale or a lease transaction. The second group that you should speak to will be those that are totally new to your database. Feed your database with fresh contacts and opportunities with new people.
- Track the results that you get from all of your prospecting activities. Understand how your ratios are improving between outbound calls, meetings created, presentations made, and listings converted.
- Understand the differences between open and exclusive listings. As a general priority, you should be targeting exclusive listings at every opportunity. On that basis, track the numbers of listings in each case. Show the client the differences in time on market when it comes to open listings and exclusive listings.
- Any property that is converted to a listing should be packaged for the current market conditions. As you get results and feedback from inspections, you can make clear recommendations to the client regards pricing and marketing. Over a period of weeks, the repackaging of a listing can increase inspection and negotiation opportunity.
So there are some very definite things that can be done to improve your listing conversions and commission opportunities. The secret to making all of this work is to create a personal system of prospecting that you stick to every day. Refine your activities to the current market conditions, and soon you will see the conversions you require.
In commercial real estate prospecting you will get lots of ‘push-backs’ as part of talking to new people. Some call it the ‘rejection factor’. Many agents take the rejection and use it as a reason to stop prospecting.
Show me an agent that doesn’t make the cold calls and prospect every day, and I will show you someone with low income and poor listings. Get the message?
If you have chosen a career in commercial real estate, then be prepared to work hard at prospecting. The requirement will never disappear; in fact, it will increase in importance. Rise to the challenge and connect with more people. That’s what prospecting is all about. That is how you become a top agent.
So the message here is clear. Understand that rejection is a part of connecting with new people and in finding new clients. Some will not want to talk to you or meet with you, yet others will. You need to find the right people that want to do something with property or are happy to stay in contact with you for the day that they need property help.
To make all of this work you have to create a solid and effective prospecting system that you do for 2 or 3 hours every day. That’s the rule that you must stick to. Over a period of 3 months your skills in the process will improve and your conversions will rise. Soon you will have quality listings and the majority of them will be ‘exclusive’. When you control your listing stock, the market has to come to you. That is why ‘exclusive’ listings are so important to commercial real estate agents.
So what do people say to you when you prospect? What are the standard ‘push-backs’? Try some of these:
- Not today thanks
- Send me something
- Call me back next week
- We already use someone else
- Too busy to talk right now
- We are just fine at the moment
You can most likely add to this list. There are so many variations that you strike. Most clients and prospects will ‘push-back’ at least twice in a prospecting or cold call situation. You will hear versions of the above statements.
So what should you do? You should be prepared for the rejection. Practice your responses so you can keep the conversation moving ahead. The advantage that you have is that you are the person that made the call; you can be totally prepared to connect in a professional way.
It should be said that your call should be made on the basis of a conversation and not a pitch. Find out what the other person is doing now with property and what they could require in the future. Make the calls and the ‘door-knocking’ work for you in that way.