Commercial Real Estate Agent Prospecting Facts and Strategies

When you work as a commercial real estate agent or broker, it is essential that you develop and implement a prospecting program to generate new business leads. It is a personal process and it is not something that you can or should delegate.

I am amused sometimes when I hear that an agent has paid considerable money to a marketing company to ‘cold call’ their entire sales territory or market segment looking for leads and prospects to serve. Delegating the prospecting process to a marketing company or another ‘unskilled person’ is a waste of time and money. Commercial real estate is an industry built around personal relationships and trust; a marketing company or employed canvasser cannot offer that level of communication or service.

So why would a real estate agent employ such a ‘marketing firm’ to make prospecting calls? The answer in most cases is glaringly obvious; the agent doesn’t have the skill or the discipline for the prospecting process to be successful.

If you want to win the new business, then you will need to do it yourself. Yes, it takes time to get results and you will need to develop some new skills, but discipline will help you get to the results that you are seeking.

One thing should be said here; commercial real estate brokerage is tremendously rewarding for the sales people that can work hard and to a system or plan. Looking for leads and opportunities is part of the process or game. It’s a personal thing and it can’t be delegated.

Here are some way’s to find new business, better property listings, and good clients:

  • Redundant Properties – Some properties will move to a level of redundancy due to age, deterioration, change of zoning, or lack of tenants. When this happens it is time to move to the next phase of the property ‘lifecycle’. A good real estate agent can see the signs early and work closely with a property owner as they start to deal with the issue of investment change.
  • Vacant Land – As a city expands or suburbs change, vacant land will be rezoned for new development. Keep ahead of this opportunity by monitoring the planning and development applications at your local planning approvals office. Get copies of the public minutes of the planning committee meetings.
  • Old Listings – Some listings don’t sell or lease at the first attempt. What you can do here is withdraw the property from the market today and then revisit the property marketing effort a few months later in another and perhaps different marketing approach. Refreshing a listing is a valuable business process.
  • Open Listings – The best way to sell or lease a property is through an exclusive listing process. Open listings are very much a process of luck; most open listings stay on the market for a very long time and on average are far less successful when compared to the dedicated marketing efforts of an exclusive listing. Revisit old open listings to see if they can be optimised for a fresh marketing effort.
  • Larger Businesses – Local businesses are involved in property either as tenants or as owner occupiers. Business owners will need help with property from time to time. The best way to tap into that opportunity is through direct and ongoing contact. Cold call every business in your town or city and speak to them regularly about property needs and changes.
  • Surrounding Other Listings – When a competing agent puts a property on the market, you can use that listing as a reason to talk to all adjacent and nearby business and property owners. One property listing can be the catalyst to talk to others to see if they would like to compete or do something themselves.
  • Street Canvass – On a street by street basis, systematically move through your sales territory and research all property owners. Eventually you will create a good list of owners for your database. Ongoing contact will allow you to build valuable client relationships and the levels of trust that help grow commissions and listings.
  • Cold Calling – The telephone remains the most effective business tool that we have. Direct calls handled in a professional way will help you reach out to new people. Selectively researching the property owners and business people in your area will support the cold calling process.

A simple list like this will give you an abundance of property leads and opportunities. The secret to making things work for you is in doing it yourself.

Tips to Hire a Commercial Real Estate Agent

If you don’t want to handle your relocation project or commercial lease renewal yourself, you can go to a commercial real estate agent. All you have to do is choose the right professional for your needs. Given below are 6 things you may want to consider during your evaluation. Read on.

Likability

A relocation or lease renewal is similar to a construction project. The difference is that it takes a bit longer than expected. So, it’s a good idea to go with someone who you like. This way you will enjoy throughout your journey and the process of negotiation may also go well.

Trust

Make sure the professional agent that you are going to hire can be trusted. It may be difficult to find out who can be trusted but it can be done during the interview. By asking a few relevant questions during the interview, you can get a pretty good idea as if they are trustworthy or not.

Conflicts of Interest

What does a conflict occurs? Actually, the conflict may occur when you go with an agent who already is a representative of many property owners in the same area. Now, the agent wants to serve you despite that the fact that they have given their word to the property owners that they will find a way to earn them the highest rate of rent possible. So, you may want to get a clear idea of the conflict severity and its importance for you.

Experience

Experience of the agent is of utmost importance as far as choosing the best professional is concerned. Ideally, it’s a good idea to go with a commercial real estate agent who has over 10 years of experience in the field. Their grey hair may be a sign that they have been in this business for years. You can ask about their experience during the interview.

Age

Age of the professional should not be taken as an evidence of their experience in the field. The million dollar question is how long have they been actively involved in the business. You need to keep in mind that commercial real estate is on the list of those businesses that people do part time. So, make sure you choose a professional who has been working full time as an agent. What matters is experience not the age of the agent. After all, age is just a number.

Specialization

Typically agents specialize in two ways. They can do it by industry vertical or location. As far as importance is concerned, location specialization carries more weight. An agent with location specialization has a pretty good idea of what is happening in the market. They know about the best deals and best property owners. Aside from this, their negotiation style is pretty impressive.

Long story short, if you have been thinking of hiring the services of the best commercial real estate agent, we suggest that you take these factors into consideration. This will help you choose the best service provider.

Growing and Adapting Your Commercial Real Estate Agent Relationships

In commercial real estate agency the relationships that you have with your clients will shift and change during the year as their property needs change. Importantly, you should adjust your approach and make all your contact processes relevant and of high value.

There is no point in contacting the same prospect or client with the same information and strategy each time you call. Fresh market information and ideas will help the client relationship grow. So what type of information can you provide that will help the client connect with you?

Try some of these:

  • Time on market factors impacting the different property types
  • The levels of inquiry coming in currently through the local region
  • Price trends with properties on the market and those that have been sold
  • Rent strategies and results from recent leases
  • Yields and cap rates applying to prices and rents
  • Best marketing strategies that are getting better inquiries locally

In an ideal world you should be 'on top' of these facts as part of your daily market activity in commercial real estate. It is simply a matter of having the information available in a form that you can provide to the clients and prospects that you work with.

Here are some ways to distribute the information to the people that are in your database and that you regard as targets for more new business:

  1. Start a blog in your own name and featuring the local area and property type that you specialize in. Every week you can write a short article or two about current market activity and trends. Given this you can link your blog article in your emails and newsletters that you send out.
  2. Your database should be constructed and contained in a system where you can broadcast many emails and newsletters. It is best to send out a newsletter via email at least once a fortnight.
  3. The previous two points are 'electronic' and internet related. You will still need some more 'traditional' approaches to getting information to your clients and prospects. Direct mail once a month will be useful. Enclose a 'hard copy' of your newsletter in the mailing process. Always enclose your business card in every direct letter sent.
  4. Create what I call a 'one sheet'. It is essentially a single sheet of paper printed on one or two sides. It is a mini version of your newsletter and provides an update. You can conveniently copy the number of 'one sheets' that you need as the weeks progress. Black and white copy is fine for the process but always attach your business card to the sheet. Use the 'one sheet' in meeting new people or prospects, or in door knocking local businesses. Use the sheet as a 'leave behind' marketing tool. It is simple and yet highly effective process in getting the attention of the prospect.

Be sensitive to the growing and changing relationships with all of your prospects and contacts. Your marketing material can be adjusted to their ever changing property needs.