Prospecting For Clients in Commercial Real Estate

In commercial real estate it is essential that you know and prospect the right people and lots of them. These people will be landlords, tenants, property investors, sellers, and buyers. The most successful real estate agents and brokers will consistently contact and know several hundred of these people. They will contact every person in their database at least once every 90 days, and commonly much more frequently so that the ‘bridge of trust and relevance’ is established. To do this you should be very organised at record keeping and collation; take personal ownership of the prospecting task.

At the fundamental level, the commercial and investment property industry is just about people with property challenges and problems. You should be the solution that they seek, and your solution should be better than your competition agents and brokers. So what solutions do you bring to the prospect? Do not say that:

  • You know your market
  • You have done the deals
  • You are the best around
  • You have the best team
  • You are the best communicator
  • You are the best agent
  • You drive the best car!
  • You have been in the market for 100 years!

All of this generic ‘rubbish’ is frequently ‘dumped’ on a prospect by ordinary agents in just about every property sales or leasing presentation. Be better than this by bringing real evidence, strategy, and knowledge to the table. Stand tall on what you know and what you can do. Show it! Be part of your own solution for the client so that no other agent can ‘fill the gap’ for the client.

Do not offer tempting and standard low level solutions to your prospects such as discounted commissions, and free advertising, as this will do little to give you quality clients. Quality clients know that a good property promotion and solution for a commercial property, costs money and takes considerable strategy. Demand the commitment from your prospects to be part of the property solution that you have designed.

Today we are blessed with technology (databases, and email) when it comes to maintaining contact with our prospects. It is the personal contact that is more important to build your business than anything else and will remain so. Personal branding is a key element of creating market share and the long term opportunity for you. People need to know you individually, and that vision should give them confidence that you can solve their property challenge in a timely and cost effective way. Build your personal brand each and every day without fail by lifting the telephone and creating appointments. Business cards and lots of them are the best way to leave your mark after every meeting; forget the glossy brochures and concentrate on marketing yourself.

So what are the rules for getting the first appointment up and going for the targeted people that you want to meet and build a relationship with? It all comes down to this:

  • Deal with your fears and weaknesses early. On a daily basis it is this that will stop or detract from your prospecting time. It does not matter what the market is doing or what the state of the economy is; people are still out there who want to lease or sell commercial property. You just need to find them and have something in your ‘listing or service toolbox’ that will help them. You will get lots of comments like ‘no not today thanks’ as you call and speak to many people in the industry. Importantly it is these people that you should maintain contact with, as one day they may need your services. Commercial real estate is special and it often needs the skill of good agents to close a sale or lease. You are in demand; perhaps not today, but certainly in the future.
  • Lift your communication skills. At the start of your career it pays to have outline scripts that you use and practice, especially on and for the telephone when cold calling. Importantly these scripts should just be guidelines and not something that you must read ‘verbatim’. All prospecting calls should be natural and without the formality of a rigid script. Make lots of calls daily, and expect that you will not be of interest to many people. It is the constant calling process that builds the opportunity that you seek. On average, if you make about 100 cold calls, you will get about 5 opportunities or agreements to meet with decision makers. Over time it is this process that builds the ‘tower of opportunity’. This process requires discipline from you to keep the process active and moving ahead. The best people that I have met and known in the industry consistently make about 250 prospecting calls a week. Impressive figures yes, but essential if you want to become very successful.
  • Have a contact system after all you are gathering information and collating it each day and that needs some control tool. The more people that you speak to, the more you will need a great database or contact record system. In the early stages of your prospecting it is fine to use Microsoft Outlook as it is available to most people on their computer. The more contacts that you generate you may find the need to move to something more special as a CRM program.
  • Always ask the right questions confidently. The commercial real estate market and client base is generally very sophisticated, and will see through a person that does not know much about what they are saying or doing. From the outset the knowledge that you bring to your dialogue is critical to the conversation. Sounding confident and relevant to the listener should be your target. Commercial real estate is specialised when compared to residential real estate. Respect the specialisation and lift your knowledge and confidence about important things such as sales methods, prices, buyer trends, rents, leases, time on market, building types, and marketing methods. You must be a walking toolbox of commercial real estate information.
  • The power you get from providing significant benefits to the people that you connect with should not be underestimated. Benefits can include access to market segments or databases of sellers, buyers, tenants, landlords, developers, or investors. Benefits can also include special methods of promotion or your national network of offices to market the property. Be distinctly different than others when it comes to benefits, and know how to convey that to your prospects.
  • Persistence and consistency to a personal prospecting system is essential to your success. That means prospecting every day without fail. It does not mean prospecting once a week or whenever you have spare time. Prospecting is more important than even listing a property. It is the prospecting that sits at the very top of your income ‘funnel’. Feed the ‘funnel’ daily and you will have a great career in any market.

As you analyse these key points and how they can apply to your commercial real estate career you may say that they are obvious; unfortunately most people in the industry do not consistently do them. That says that most people in the industry are average when it comes to building their business base and opportunity cycle. The longer you put off developing these key skills, the longer it takes you to build your market share and commission. It’s that simple.