“The obvious way to deal with a lackluster pipeline is to double down on lead generation.” That is according to Tanner McGraw, CEO and founder of Apto. But to prevent dry spells, he says that commercial real estate brokers should take a step back and look carefully at their processes and ensure they’re tracking their business effectively. “After all, the timeline of a deal in the industry is long, often spanning many months or even years. It’s easy to lose sight of the early stages of the pipeline when you have a deal or several in the works.” In the exclusive commentary below, McGraw says that brokers need to make sure they’re systematically and consistently addressing each area of the business and gives them tips on how to do just that.
The views expressed below are the author’s own.
1. Revisit your goals and work backwards to see what went wrong.Do you have a goal for how much money you want to make? It doesn’t have to be a hard and fast number. Start with a ballpark figure, maybe based on last year’s performance plus a certain percentage increase, and then calculate how many deals it would take to get there. Then determine how many listings/assignments end in a deal, how many pitches it takes to reach a listing or an assignment, how many meetings to get a pitch, and how many calls to get a meeting.
The key is to know your conversion rates for each stage of the pipeline. If you’re tracking these carefully and accurately, you should be able to see early signs of risk and correct course before the leads dry up completely.
For example, maybe you’ve been so focused on your current clients that you haven’t been making enough cold calls. Put time on your schedule to hunker down with your phone. Or maybe you’re getting to the pitch stage often enough, but you’re not landing deals. Time to revisit and revise your pitch deck.
The bottom line is that, if you’re tracking correctly, you should be able to see exactly where in the pipeline you’re stalling and where you need to make up for deficiencies.
2. Get to work on the specific tactics that you know help you generate business.
Don’t treat downturns as downtime. Now is the time to step up your game. Once you know you’re tracking your business correctly and know what’s going wrong, you need to execute, execute, execute.
Pick up the phone, set up lunch meetings for the next two weeks, touch base with former clients, attend a networking event, walk your neighborhood and canvas office parks. You should have a documented strategy for generating new business, and you should make sure you’re putting that plan into action, focusing on the areas you’ve identified as weaknesses. And most importantly, track these efforts in your CRM so you know exactly what’s working and how your efforts are affecting your pipeline.
3. Expand your lead generation tactics.
While you’re working through your strategy for filling your pipeline again, you can also consider the long-term strategies that can both garner new business and build your brand and reputation.
Try a new marketing or networking technique, or take a look at your existing materials and tactics to see if they’re up to snuff. Here are some ideas:
- Invest in new advertising
- Create a business blog or write a guest blog for other experts’ sites
- Secure a speaking engagement
- Update or redesign your website
- Revamp your social media presence, particularly your LinkedIn profile
4. Stay on top of your goals.
Generating leads takes consistent, sustained effort. Make sure to set reminders not just to follow-up with clients and prospects, but to check in on your goals every month. The key to keeping your pipeline full is to pay attention so you can identify risk early.
Notice a dip in your conversion rates? Seeing response rates decline during the summer, or spike in the spring? Be poised to tackle each challenge as it arises.
Brokers must evaluate their pipeline on an ongoing basis. If they don’t have the tools to do so, now is the time to raise their hands and take the steps necessary to harness the data at their fingertips. With a strategic approach to business development and data management, brokers can take control of their sales cycle, stay productive and rev up lead production. Downtime may be unavoidable, but it should never be wasted.