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.
Top real estate agents are easy to identify. They do the things that other agents avoid; they know how to tap into opportunity and the right clients. The good thing here is that top agents a far fewer in number (2 in 10 is a typical ratio); there is plenty of room at the top of the real estate market for those agents that strive to get there.
So what do these top agents have that other agents do not? I could summarise it really simply and say that it is ‘commitment and the right processes’. They know what to do and they do it every day. Over time they understand what works for them and they do those things every day.
Here are some ideas to help you get started on the road to being a ‘top agent’. Whilst I will give you a basic system here and now, take it and refine it as you progress. Adjust the system to your market and your property type.
- At least one third of your working day must be devoted to prospecting. That ratio should not change and if anything it should increase towards 50%. Track and measure your prospecting efforts. Understand what works for you and how you can do more of it.
- How you think will impact what you do on a daily basis. On that basis protect your thinking and your processes from the criticism of others. You are the person in charge of your business day.
- Watch what the top agents are doing. Can you replicate their processes or improve them? Success as an agent comes from doing a few specific things very well; not lots of things in a random way. Determine the 5 things that will help you drive your business forward. Decide how you can do those things every day.
- Quality properties should be converted to exclusive listings. When you control the listing stock the enquiries will come to you. Whilst it is good to know lots of other people that require a property to buy or lease, the top agents focus on listings. Find and convert the listings.
- You should have a prospecting system that is easy to implement and stick to every day. Do the required call research each night so you are ready to make the cold calls the next day. Don’t waste prospecting time on research that can be done ‘out of hours’.
Find out what people are doing with property now and into the future. A good client contact today can be a valuable client in the future. Build on your contacts so they trust and remember you at the right time in the future. That’s how you become a ‘top agent’.
Every day there will be plenty of things to do in your commercial real estate brokerage. The choices that you make in that regard will have significant impact on the results that you achieve. The key message here is that you should control your day and only do the things that are really important to growth of market share and commissions. Everything else needs to wait to the end of the day when the pressure is off.
Here are some things to consider and action on a daily basis to help you with your career in the industry.
- Check out the new property developments coming into the market. Go to the local planning and building approvals office at least once per month to check the new developments under consideration. The planning approvals of today will be the buildings of tomorrow. You can make a lot of commission working on a major new development for sale or for lease. When you locate the potential development, connect with the property developer or the property owner as required. Identify the trigger points that will help you convert a new project to a listing.
- Check the number of listings in the market today by doing a weekly count of signboards and Internet advertisements. Split those numbers into brokerages and agencies. Pay particular attention to the shifts in market share. Also look for the dominance of particular agents or brokers. Track the time on market for those listings. Look for the expiry dates of exclusive listings.
- You will find some listings that are being marketed by the relative property owners. In many respects, you will find that those properties for sale or for lease will stay on the market for a long time. Those property owners generally do not have the marketing skills or the resources to generate enquiry. That being said, their reason for the self-marketing is usually that they don’t want to pay commission. If you approach them for a listing, they will usually load their price or rental for the commission to be paid. This can be counterproductive and produce an overpriced listing; the property would have already been on the market for some time anyway. If you are going to work with property owners in this way, be prepared to push strongly for the rent and the price that the market will provide. You can walk away from the listing if the price or rental is unrealistic. In many respects, it is better to do that and waste your valuable resources and tarnish your image as a top agent.
So there are plenty of things to do when it comes to consolidating your market share. Keep a close eye on the market activity and track the results that you achieve. Top agents progressively grow their market share through diligent and directed action. That is why you should track your ratios and numbers.
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 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.
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.
When you work in commercial real estate agency, you should start your day strongly and with focus. Get as much done as you can before other disruptions start to take over (and they will).
It is a fact that things in commercial real estate agency will happen daily that you do not expect. That being said, there are still key things that you need to do every day to improve your market share and client connections. If you overlook these things, you will soon have less commission coming in and you will also be missing on the quality listing stock.
So to start strong every day, you need a plan and a process. Action is everything in our industry and directed action can allow you to form habits. It is the habits that will take you forward as a professional in our industry.
Here are some ideas to help you with effectiveness and focus as a commercial real estate agent.
- It is easier to control the start of the day than it is to control the whole day. If you can control 1/3 your day, you can be quite successful and effective as an agent. Plan your activities so that your working day can and will be under your control from 7 am. to 11 am. Don’t let others change or modify your diary before 11 am.
- Prospect every morning from 8 am to 10 am. Get your outbound cold calls done then. That one single process will be critical to your market share. It is interesting to note that most top agents do this. Struggling agents overlook the process or avoid it.
- Talk to your clients from 10 am to 11 am. After 11 am the pressures of the day can take over so get to your important clients on key issues early. You can do the same thing at the end of the day and in the evening.
- Look after your database yourself. Only you have the information that should go into it, and only you are going to benefit from it being correctly used. If you go into your database every day you can shape the information and use it to your advantage. Ongoing contact and trust in our industry is a really big thing.
- As you move through the day and the week, track your numbers and ratios relating to calls out, meetings, presentations, listings, inspections, and deals closed. You should also track your exclusive listings as they will do more for your market share than open listings.
So you can see that the key thing here is control. When you are in control you can get more of the right things done. That is how you move up in the industry.
It is an interesting question to ask in this property market. Exactly why are you a better commercial real estate agent for a client to use than some other agents locally? Why do you stand out as the best choice to take on the listing? The clients and prospects that you serve will be asking themselves those questions and they don’t want to make mistakes in getting to the answer. Here are some tips from our Newsletter.
Here is what most agents say when it comes to providing the answer to their clients:
- We have all the experience with properties of this type
- We are top agents locally by far
- We have the best people on team that will serve you comprehensively
- We are part of a very big network of offices and your listing will be promoted across the network
- We know how to promote this property
- We have the results in the local area
- We know exactly what you want Mr Client
- We can do this your way without marketing funds and at a lower commission
- We are the best at getting results faster
Have you heard some of these before? If you say any of these things to a client you have to prove what you say. It is not sufficient to ‘throw out the line’ without any substance to back it up. The clients that you serve expect you to prove it.
It is no secret that the current commercial and retail property market is under some pressure in prices, rents, time on market, and negotiations. You have to do more with less when it comes to working and marketing a listing.
Do you treat your exclusive listings with the focus they deserve? Can you prove to the client that the exclusive listing process in your agency is quite special and unique to the point that it is exactly what they need to create the property enquiries and the inspections? As you can see from these questions, I am pushing you to think about the sales pitch and presentation that you use today, so you can make it highly relevant to the client and the property. When you do this the listings are far easier to convert.
New agents and salespeople in commercial real estate always find it difficult to attract and convert exclusive listings, and on that basis most of their listing stock initially is ‘open agency’. If this sounds like you, start to focus on improving your relevance and your pitch. Remove the ‘generic comments’ from your sales pitch and become very property specific. Provide marketing, inspection, and negotiation solutions that are matched to the property and the client. In simple terms, be very special.
In commercial real estate today, the abundance of agents in the property market means that most listing opportunities are a competition to win the business. Every agent invited to the listing presentation process with the client will put on their best pitch and strategy for the listing.
This can be good and bad, but the fact of the matter is that many agents tackle the listing process very generically; they are largely complacent and quite ordinary when it comes to target marketing and direct marketing. You can adjust your pitch and presentation to be quite specific to the property type, the client, and the location. When you do this your chances of converting the listing rise greatly.
If you are known as the local real estate agent of skill and relevance, you will get invited to more listing opportunities. All or most of your leads and listing invitations will come from your local market presence and personal networking. You cannot wait for the leads to walk into your agency; it doesn’t work that way in this market.
To be known for the right reasons is an unusual equation that requires planning on your part. Consider your local property market. What would make you the top agent? What would let people know that you are the best in a particular property type and location?
Here are some ideas to help you build your local brand:
- Signboard presence will always be the number 1 factor in territory dominance and market share. You cannot claim to be a top agent unless you have the majority of the signboards on all the top quality properties. Now I know that this is difficult to achieve, however dedicated networking and prospecting will get you there.
- The internet will bring you many leads and opportunities today. All of your property adverts on the internet should be optimised for the search engines and customers that are looking to buy or lease property. So how can you do this? Do a keyword search on your property type and local area. Do this in http://Google.com with their ‘keyword search tool’ to see what people are typing into the search engines today when it comes to looking for local property. Take a selection of those words (not too many at once), and feed them into your marketing material and online advertisements.
- Write a blog about commercial investment property in your area. The blog process will cost you virtually nothing to establish using http://wordpress.com or http://blogger.com . Over time you can fill the blog with regular market updates and property tips. Do not focus on listings, but do focus on helpful information about the local area. That simple internet marketing process will help build your personal brand well above the other competitors locally.
- Create an email newsletter that is supported by an auto responder. Put all of your clients into the system and keep in contact with them through the regular email market updates.
- Make lots of telephone calls every day. The telephone remains the most powerful personal marketing tool that we have. Use it well.
In today’s property market you really must be known as the best solution for the clients that you serve. If they can see your name and face in more locations it will help you rise to the top of your market faster.
When it comes to your career in commercial real estate, nothing will fast track your results faster than a good prospecting model. This then says that a prospecting model should be established into your daily business activities.
Prospecting for new business is quite a specific task and very specialized. It should be regarded as something that requires practice and directed effort. It takes about 2 or 3 hours each and every day to develop a good solid prospecting model.
This should also say that prospecting should be undertaken before anything else is done within the commercial real estate office. If all salespeople within a commercial real estate agency did this, the volume of listings and the quality of enquiry would be far higher in just about all cases. That will make the market share for the office more significant.
Quality listings and quality properties produce good enquiry. It’s in tougher markets like this that we have today that we need a solid enquiry base coming from qualified prospects. This is where your database will become highly important as part of your business activities.
Here are some ideas to help you with your prospecting activities and system.
- Determine a specific territory of prospecting. That will contain the necessary numbers of properties and businesses that will produce the required commission that you want. Make sure that the historic activity in the area has been significant and will remain so into the known future.
- Get to know all the local property owners of significant and important properties in your territory. It does take time to identify property ownership structures and particular property owners; that being said, it still needs to be done and should be merged into your prospecting model. Tackling property owner at a time is a good strategy to adopt in growing this market share as part of your prospecting system.
- The local businesses and business community will provide a significant volume of enquiry for you. They will tell you so much about the local area and also of their property requirements. In many cases they may own the property in which they are located. They could also be tenants and on that basis they will require further leasing assistance at a later time. Currently they may provide you with details of the landlord for any direct enquiry and networking.
- Go through the old sales records in your local region. On average, most commercial and retail property will change hands in every 5 to 7 years. That being said, the cycle can be a good source of future listing opportunity. You simply need to identify the right people who have purchased or sold commercial real estate about four or five years ago. They will again be entering the property industry in some way or form quite soon.
- Older lease transactions may still be current with business tenants. They will however soon be reaching the end of the lease and require assistance in locating another property. Every business in your local area should be entered into your database for the opportunity that it provides. That being said, the tenants of today are also requiring local property market information. You can be the expert to provide that.
To make your prospecting model work, a process of constant contact should occur. The commercial real estate industry is built around trust and personal connection.
The first approach to a prospect, property investor, or business proprietor should be the simple beginning of a long-term relationship. Over time you should be establishing meetings with those people and opening the door with property assistance at the right time. Those being said do not forget about property referrals and referral relationships that exist with people that you already know. Top agents do this all the time.