Sustained success in commercial real estate is all about building relationships and winning new business. But it’s not about simply finding the next new deal. It’s about creating a process that yields new deals constantly and somewhat predictably.
Brokers who devise a systematic prospecting strategy—and deliberately carry it out—are proven to be more successful at converting leads into listings or assignments. According to industry research, top-earning brokers tend to engage in consistent, targeted prospecting, while average and below-average earners are significantly more likely to prospect sporadically or not at all.
Warm up your phone with some cold calling
The foundation of a potent prospecting strategy is making phone calls. Yes, it may be one of your most dreaded activities, but it’s still the best way to drive new business.
Remember: At any given point in time, there are property owners in your market who are considering changing their leasing agent or who are carrying a debt arrangement that’s approaching maturity. Same with the tenant side: some businesses in your market are always nearing a lease expiration or getting ready to expand.
Making consistent, ongoing phone contact with these landlords or tenants helps you anticipate their needs when they do need a broker, and it gives you an edge over competitors who aren’t cultivating relationships over time in the systematic way that you are. It also increases your likelihood of getting in touch with someone exactly when they happen to require your services—or are at least agreeable to hearing your pitch. And because so many brokers are not engaging in ongoing prospecting to their target markets (an astonishing 89% do not, according to a recent Massimo Group survey), deploying this strategy has the potential to pay off big.
Make a habit of it
A good rule of thumb is to call every property owner or major tenant in your target market at least once each quarter. To create a plan for accomplishing this, calculate how many calls you must make each day in order to contact all of your prospects in a 13-week time period (taking into account that only one in every three or four calls will reach a live person).
A committed broker should be able to connect with somewhere between 600 and 800 prospects by phone in a quarter. If you have more prospects than this on your target list, consider trimming the list based on geography, specialty, size or some other criteria. Having outlandish expectations for the number of prospects you can call in a quarter will only discourage you and undermine your ability to make progress toward your prospecting objectives.
Make it easier with technology
If you’re using customer relationship management (CRM) software, you should segment your list to make it simpler to develop relevant messages and to take advantage of favorable timing considerations. Block out time on your calendar—one to two hours every single business day—to make these calls, and be diligent about sticking to your commitment. Your scheduled calls should take priority over just about everything else: they represent a significant majority of your future earnings, not just some optional outreach that can be skipped or postponed. These calls are the difference between being an average-earning broker and a top-earning broker.
Once you get started, your calls need to be logged appropriately so you know who you’ve contacted (and when)—and you must send follow-up emails to everyone to maximize your results. It’s also essential that you document all of your findings from each call, including any follow-up tasks that may have emerged. The personal insights and professional details that you capture from these interactions are what make your database unique—and they’re what enable you to truly add value by treating your clients like individuals, personalizing your interactions with them, providing meaningful advice and fulfilling their unique needs.Not only that, but the more you enhance your database with information you collect from your calls and call prep, the more strategically you can target. Here are a few ways to segment your prospect list in order to prioritize your outreach efforts and develop more targeted approaches.
- Client types
- On-market strategy
- Recent transactions
- Top owners
- Principals by geography
- Principals with recent purchases
- Principals with recent sales
- Principals with near-term debt maturity
- Principals with debt greater than value
- Principals who have owned for long periods of time
- Active buyers
To ensure your prospecting efforts are as efficient as possible—and that they drive continuous earnings growth—it’s important to execute your calls based on standardized, repeatable best practices like the process we recommend to our customers:
- Create segmented call lists
- Prepare email templates
- Make calls
- Log calls and follow-ups
- Send emails
- Document findings
- Monitor and follow-up
In the next part of this ongoing blog series on prospecting, we’ll begin discussing these seven steps in greater detail and provide more suggestions on building a winning prospecting strategy. In the meantime, let us know some of your favorite prospecting tips and tricks in the comments below.