Every deal starts with a phone call.
That phone call sets the stage for the relationship to come, be it a long and profitable partnership or a quick goodbye. Prospecting is a key contributor to your successes and failures, so if you want more of the former and less of the latter, it pays to take a hard look at how you’re engaging with prospects.
To help you get started, we decided to take a look at some of the most common ways brokers sabotage their own prospecting efforts. From simple things like not preparing enough to making the conversation all about you, avoid these four mistakes to win more deals and build stronger relationships.
1. Not doing your homeworkHomework has never been a terribly popular proposition, but when it comes to building a network of clients, doing the research and taking time to prepare is critical to your success.
This starts with the obvious, like knowing a prospect’s name and title, but extends far beyond simple formalities. Take the time to understand the position each prospect is in to see how you can provide value. Having the right technology, and especially a strong CRM, can help you keep track of prospects and easily access critical information.
Did a prospect recently grow their team? Is their current lease expiring soon? You need to know the answers to these types of questions. The more you prepare the more you will be able to highlight exactly how you can provide value.
2. Not keeping track of call listsProspecting is a numbers game. While there are many things you can do to swing the numbers into your favor, you always need an organized approach to target your efforts.
Unfortunately, many brokers are not as disciplined about prospecting as they should be. We get it — prospecting is hard, it takes time and it often feels like there are more urgent things to do. But in reality, prospecting is what powers your business, and call lists are a simple way to focus your efforts.
Rather than firing off calls indiscriminately, use call lists to segment prospects into actionable lists. You want to break prospects into key groups, such as past clients, market principals and top owners, along with every other category that fuels your business. Commercial real estate-specific CRMs greatly simplify this process, although you can create helpful lists using anything from Excel to a pen and paper.
Keep track of your call lists. This will help you understand your conversion rates and make it easier to identify trends in your market. And at the very least, call lists will organize your efforts and help ensure you touch base with everyone you need to.
3. Framing the conversation according to your interestsHow many of your prospecting calls and emails begin with “I”? We’re guessing many of them do, and it’s easy to see why — starting a call with “I” feels natural. The problem is, doing so immediately turns the conversation into something about you.
That’s a problem because effective prospecting is all about finding ways you can help your prospect, and people are much more likely to respond positively when the conversation is framed around their interests. So the next time you dial a prospect, keep these tips in mind:
Instead of saying: “I’m calling about a great opportunity in town. Are you looking to buy?”
Try saying: “You recently expanded your team — congratulations. Given how quickly your team is growing, what are your thoughts about transitioning into a larger office?”
Rather than framing the conversation according to your interests, the second option gives you an opportunity to show you know something about the prospect and frames the discussion according to their needs.
Instead of saying: “I appreciate your time.”
Try saying: “Thank you for taking the time to talk today, NAME.”
This is a subtle change, but studies suggest it’s a good one. Thanking someone for their time makes them more likely to help you in the future and more receptive to working with you now, and you always want to remember and use a prospect’s name.
Too many brokers inadvertently sabotage their efforts by using the wrong language. Simple changes can go a long way, so the next time you’re connecting with a prospect focus on framing the conversation according to their interests.
4. Not following up enoughCommercial real estate brokerage isn’t a career for the faint of heart. From pounding the pavement in search of deals to learning on the go, you won’t last long in this industry if tenacity isn't part of your DNA.
That’s especially true when it comes to prospecting.
If you stop following up after a couple of calls and three emails, you're giving up too easily. While you should always be respectful and space follow up calls and emails appropriately, don’t stop following up with a prospect until you get a clear, “No, I’m not interested.”
Before you feel like you’re pestering people, consider this — your prospects are busy, so it may take multiple calls to get them moving forward, and you are legitimately trying to help. So it doesn’t matter if it’s your 20th call or your first, it takes persistence to make deals and you never know which call will be the one that does it.
When it comes to the practical side of following up, a strong CRM is your best friend. Whether it’s setting periodic reminders or leaving notes on what happened during your last call, the right technology makes it easy to stay on track of prospects and follow up effectively. While all you technically need to follow up is a phone or a computer, consider investing in the right technology to ensure nothing falls through the cracks.
Prospecting is tough. It’s a long-term strategy that takes time, persistence and patience. When done correctly, prospecting will build a network of contacts to rely on throughout your entire career. When done incorrectly, you may find yourself scrambling at the end of each deal. From taking the time to prepare for every call to using technology to amplify your efforts, steer clear of common prospecting mistakes and start building relationships that will push your career forward.