Bo Barron, CCIM Featured in CCIM Publication – CIRE

A few months ago, the CCIM Institute asked me to participate in their System for Success series for Commerical Investment Real Estate (CIRE), their award winning publication.  I was honored to do so.

This is the link to that article where I share what I believe it takes for brokers to thrive in the current economic climate.

System for Success Article for CIRE

April’s Top Posts from theBarronBlog

In case you missed them, here are the top posts from April on the topics of Next Practices in Life, Business, and Commercial Real Estate.

I do want to invite you to subscribe to this blog just to the right of what you are reading now.  This will make it so easy for you to get my new posts without having to remember to check my site.  And I will never violate your privacy!

 

April’s Top Posts:

 

Make the dang call! via iStockphotot.com

Make the dang call! via iStockphotot.com

The Anatomy of a Cold Call – While I don’t believe in scripts, I do believe in crafting your opening statement before you call.  Most salespeople have the most problems with how they start the call.  ”Uh, hi.  My name is Bo Barron and I’m with ABC Co.  Uh….how’s it going?”  Terrible!    Read more…

 

 

 

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The first face to face!

The 5 Steps of the Initial Meeting – With some experience and some great coaching, I learned a better way.  Remember, if you are following my system, this initial meeting should be short.  Actually, you told the prospect that it would be short.  If you connect and the prospect starts asking questions – great.  You may be there 2 hours.  However, you told them short.  Prepare for short as you are making an impression as someone with integrity…or not.  Read more…

 

 

 

It is go time!  What do you do?

It is go time! What do you do?

The Winning Presentation – You have now landed a meeting to make a listing presentation (or whatever presentation applies to you).  You have worked through the entire prospecting process to get to this point.  Your put in the work becoming a market specialist.  Building a database.  Sending letters.  Making cold calls.  Conducting the needs analysis.  It has all led to this moment.  You sit in front of the prospect.  The business is there for the taking.  You have the privilege of potentially improving the life of the person in front of you.  What do you do?  Read more…

 

Bo Barron Speaking

Bo Barron Speaking

Why Do We Fall? [Video] -This week I had the privilege of traveling to Salisbury, MD to visit SVN Miller Commercial.  This group is the Sperry Van Ness 2012 Firm of the Year.  They are a study in how to build a team with incredible culture.  They like each other.  They have tradition.  They have camaraderie.  They absolutely dominate their market.

I had the pleasure of training their entire company primarily on prospecting.  At the end of our afternoon together, Brent Miller played this video.  I was so moved that I wanted to share it with you.

  Read more…

 

iStockPhoto

iStockPhoto

Clarity Series – Prospecting – Summary & Conclusion – When I was 15, my dad hired me to clean out a concrete drainage ditch.  That ditch ran behind the houses of a street he had developed.  We agreed on a price and I started digging.  I soon discovered that I could hire my friends at a rate higher than minimum wage.  I made all the income when I did the work.  I made half that amount when they did the work.  Read more…

Thank you so much for reading.  Towards the end of May, I will be introducing another Clarity Series on Presence.  As always, I’d love to hear from you in the comments section.

Question:  What is the single most important activity that drives your business?  I challenge you to articulate and explain your answer in the comments below.

 

CS: Prospecting – The System Summary & Conclusion

The Clarity Series (CS) is a series of posts all on one subject.  This particular subject is prospecting.  While the context is commercial real estate, these steps and principles can be applied to any sales.  To read the introduction of this series, click here.  To read an overview of the entire prospecting system, click here.  Thank you for reading!

iStockPhoto

iStockPhoto

When I was 15, my dad hired me to clean out a concrete drainage ditch.  That ditch ran behind the houses of a street he had developed.  We agreed on a price and I started digging.  I soon discovered that I could hire my friends at a rate higher than minimum wage.  I made all the income when I did the work.  I made half that amount when they did the work.

It was an epiphany for me.  I made money by providing work for my friends.  It cost me no time.  Instead, I would mow yards.  It multiplied what I could make.  As I look back, this was the summer I was bitten by the entrepreneurial bug.  The other thing I learned that summer was digging ditches is no fun!

So let me ask you a question.  If I paid you a million dollars to dig a ditch, would you not do it?

Prospecting is much like digging a ditch.  It is no fun.  However, it is the path to substantially increasing your income?  If I paid you a million dollars to prospect, would you not do it?  This is your choice every day when you decide how to spend your time.

Dig your ditch!  Here is a recap of how to do it.

How to Dig Your Ditch

 

Don't I look smart?  My wife thinks so!

Don’t I look smart? My wife thinks so!

1.  Introduction to the Clarity Series on Prospecting

 

 

 

 

photo from iStockPhoto

photo from iStockPhoto

2.  Choose your Geography and Specialty

 

 

 

 

iStockPhoto

iStockPhoto

3.  Build your Database

 

 

 

 

iStockPhoto

iStockPhoto

4.  Write a Letter

 

 

 

 

via iStockPhoto

via iStockPhoto

5.  Purpose of a Cold Call

 

 

 

 

iStockPhoto

iStockPhoto

6.  Preparation of a Cold Call

 

 

 

 

Make the dang call! via iStockphotot.com

Make the dang call! via iStockphotot.com

7.  Anatomy of a Cold Call

 

 

 

 

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WallpaperWizard

8.  Needs-Analysis Meeting

 

 

 

 

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WallpaperWizard

9.  The Winning Presentation

 

 

 

 

This wraps up the Clarity Series on Prospecting.  My hope is that you will now have actionable steps to implement into your business.  Adopt the mindset that someone is paying your a million dollars to dig this ditch.  Systematize your prospecting.  Delegate every task you can.  Make the calls!  Do this and join the 5% of top performers.  Nothing is holding you back except…you.

There are more Clarity Series topics to come in the future, but I want to hear from you.  What topics would you like to read about in more depth?  Comment below!

CS: Prospecting – The Winning Presentation

The Clarity Series (CS) is a series of posts all on one subject.  This particular subject is prospecting.  While the context is commercial real estate, these steps and principles can be applied to any sales.  To read the introduction of this series, click here.  To read an overview of the entire prospecting system, click here.  Thank you for reading!

WallpaperWizard-261612976

I was an Arabic Linguist in the Marine Corps.  Those with my job specialty went one of two paths.  They deployed in support of infantry units, or they were sent to a support battalion state-side.  Those units did not deploy.  I was placed on the second path.

My mom was thrilled as was my wife.  I was not.  I would volunteer for every deployment (they never sent me).  I wanted to go and do the job.

I compare this to faithfully studying for a test.  You have put in the work.  You are ready.  You know that you will come through when it matters at test-time.  You are confident that you will ace it.  But you never get to take the test.  That is what it was like for me.  I had put in the work and needed to take the test.

You have now landed a meeting to make a listing presentation (or whatever presentation applies to you).  You have worked through the entire prospecting process to get to this point.  Your put in the work becoming a market specialist.  Building a database.  Sending letters.  Making cold calls.  Conducting the needs analysis.  It has all led to this moment.  You sit in front of the prospect.  The business is there for the taking.  You have the privilege of potentially improving the life of the person in front of you.

What do you do?

Normal Listing Presentation

Before we get into what the winning listing presentation looks like, let discuss the industry standard.

typical listing

The industry standard listing presentation is broker-centric and follows the sequence in the picture.

  1. Bio – the broker talks about how awesome he is.  The prospect gets to hear the bio, breadth of experience, etc.
  2. Company – the broker then talks about the company.  They have been serving their clients faithfully for 45 years, etc.
  3. Buyer Lists – My database is bigger than anyone else’s.  This is the claim that kills me.  There is no way that any one firm knows all the potential buyers for the property.  It is simply impossible.  But this is the claim.
  4. Advertising – Explanation is given to how the property will be marketed.  They promise to pre-screen all buyers to not waste the prospects time, etc.
  5. The property – Finally, the broker gets around to discussing something that effects the prospect – their property!  The broker takes the seller through the underwriting and analysis.
  6. Listing Agreement & Commission – Once the broker has made the case for how awesome she and the company are, and explained how they will produce the sure-fire buyer, they make the case for their fee and negotiate the listing agreement.

Note that the prospect must sit through a presentation that has little to do with them and everything to do about the broker and his/her company.  Often, the prospect has 4 of these  back to back in an afternoon.  The last broker in should bring a six pack.

 

 

Winning Presentation

In contrast to the broker-centric presentation, the winning presentation is all about the prospect.

  1. Start by connecting – You have already had the needs-analysis interview so you know what the main concerns and highest interests of the prospect are.  Start there.  Demonstrate that you were listening.  Assure the prospect you have custom crafted your presentation to meet those needs.  Discuss with the prospect your conclusions about the property and demonstrate how you got there.
  2. Explain your action-plan – As your prospect has specific needs, explain how you are going to meet those needs.  Think of all your capabilities as the proverbial toolbox.  Which tools are you going to pull out and use together to accomplish the goals of your prospect.
  3. I have, I am, and I will do – Now share with your prospect a deal story where you have accomplished a similar feat before.  Use the “I have, I am, and I will do” method.  I have accomplished this before.  I am working to accomplish this right now with other clients.  I will be able to do so again for you.
  4. Close – Summarize the key points of your presentation.  Emphasize your understanding of the prospect’s situation.  Show how you custom solution will accomplish the prospect’s goals.  Then ask for the business!  Don’t forget to actually ask.  Too many salespeople stop just before this point.

I realize that this is over-simplified.  But what do you do to win the business?  What are your key steps to a winning presentation?  Share those thoughts in the comments section.

CS: Prospecting – The 5 Steps of the Initial Meeting

The Clarity Series is a series of posts all on one subject.  This particular subject is prospecting.  While the context is commercial real estate, these steps and principles can be applied to any sales.  To read the introduction of this series, click here.  To read an overview of the entire prospecting system, click here.  Thank you for reading!

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Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve discussed the first 5 steps of the killer prospecting system:  geography, specialty, database, use the mail, and make the dang cold call.  You have done these 5 steps and now have a meeting with a prospect.  Here is what I used to do.

I would go into the meeting guns blazing about why me, why my company, and why now.  It was all about me.  I would give my canned listing presentation.  I would use this on a 2 acre piece of raw land just like I would with an $8MM apartment complex.  I cringe thinking about this.

With some experience and some great coaching, I learned a better way.  Remember, if you are following my system, this initial meeting should be short.  Actually, you told the prospect that it would be short.  If you connect and the prospect starts asking questions – great.  You may be there 2 hours.  However, you told them short.  Prepare for short as you are making an impression as someone with integrity…or not.

5 Steps of the Initial Meeting

Your purpose in this meeting is two-fold.  First, you need to find out if there is a problem or an opportunity.  Second, you want to leave with an appointment for a second, longer meeting.  This second meeting is where you will make your proposal.  Here is how to pull it off.

  1. Ooze Gratitude and Excitement – Too many brokers or salespeople act too cool.  If you have done your homework and worked the system, then you are sitting with someone who you want to do business with.  You are sitting across from someone who you have pursued.  Don’t act like you could care less.  Show the prospect that you are excited.  Let them know that you are thankful they have given you some time.  Gratitude and manners go a long way.  “Mr. Prospect, I lost sleep last night I was so excited about meeting with you today.  Thank you so much for the time.”
  2. Arrive Bearing Gifts – To get the meeting, you may have offered them something of value – information on a comparable sale effecting their property’s value, etc.  Be sure you have it.  It is likely they aren’t meeting with you because of your reputation.  Deliver this information in the context of a story.  Stories are a great way to communicate the emotion of the deal.  It will help you connect with the prospect.
  3. Make the meeting about them – This is contrary to a salesperson’s natural inclination.  Don’t drone on about your experience or your company.  You should have researched the prospect.  Try to quickly connect around some common ground.  Did you go to rival colleges?  Do you have children of similar ages?  Ideally, you will be in their office.  This gives you the opportunity to see pictures, awards, diplomas, etc.  Pay attention to detail.
  4. Ask Great Questions – Here is where you are trying to uncover motivations that could lead to a transaction.  Better stated – you are trying to uncover opportunities to serve the prospect and build trust.  Asking open-ended and insightful questions is how you will do it.  Try to find area of frustration or pain.  Ask them what keeps them up at night regarding their property.  The answer could be about an opportunity they are excited about.  It could also be about pain they are having.  Ask them about frustrations they have had with previous broker relationships.  The answers to these questions are gold.  This is the information you will use to prepare your customized proposal to win their business later.
  5. Ask for the next meeting – Now that you have conducted your needs-analysis meeting, ask for the next meeting.  Explain that you will need a little more time for the next meeting to propose how they might achieve their highest interest (this is the same highest interest you learned in step 4).  Once you leave with an appointment, it is now time to prepare for your proposal.

What are your thoughts about an initial needs-analysis meeting?  What are some questions that you would ask?  Please leave your comments below!

 

CS: Prospecting – The Purpose of a Cold Call

The Clarity Series is a series of posts all on one subject.  This particular subject is prospecting.  While the context is commercial real estate, these steps and principles can be applied to any sales.  To read the introduction of this series, click here.  To read an overview of the entire prospecting system, click here.  Thank you for reading!

via iStockPhoto

via iStockPhoto

I may have told this story before.  About a year ago, I was riding with a couple of guys through rural Kentucky.  As we drove through this one-stop-light town, we passed a Dollar General Store.  Because I was clear on my specialty and had built my database, I was able to look up the owner.  Before we were out of that small town, I was talking to the owner.  What started off with, “Hi, sir.  My name is Bo Barron and your Dollar Store in Perryville is not on fire,” ended with me in his office the next day.  Cold calling works.

The subject of the cold call is a big one.  I expect to break this up into at least three parts – the purpose of a cold call, the preparation of a cold call, and the anatomy of a cold call.  In this post, I want to address the purpose of a cold call and my philosophy of a cold call.  This first part will be a bit more philosophical.  The next posts will get into how to practically pull off a cold call

The Purpose of a Cold Call

The purpose of a cold call is very simple and there is no debate.  It is to get a meeting.  That’s it.  It is not to spend 20 minutes on the phone.  It is not to build a lasting relationship.  It is not to make the sale.  The purpose of the cold call is simply to get a meeting.

I had a guy who worked for me for a time.  Cold calling was not his favorite thing.  When he would call, though, he would make a new best friend.  These would be 30+ minute conversations.  He would have two of these in a day and think he cold called for an hour.  No!  Cold calling is a numbers game.  These calls should be short.  The more calls you make, the more meetings you will have.  The more meetings you have, the more proposals you will make…and on and on.

I want you to build lasting relationships with your clients and prospects.  I want you to know about their kids and their dreams.  It simply should not happen on a cold call.

My Philosophy of a Cold Call

I am going to give you the secret script to wealth and riches.  Regardless of what you are selling, if you use this script, you are golden.

Wrong!  I can’t tell you how many of my coaching clients have asked me for scripts.  Scripts don’t win in sales.  Connecting wins.

Many of you have probably read How to Master the Art of Selling by Tom Hopkins.  This book is full of great sales tactics, closing techniques, and scripts.  I have read this book and use it as a resource.  You should too.  It is one of the best.  However, it was written 33 years ago for the previous generation.  It suggests that if you know the right words to say in any situation, you will always make the sale.  I disagree.

Sales is not manipulation.  Sales is about connecting and providing something of value that makes someone’s life better.  A cold call is the first touch of that process.  You need to have a plan for the call.  You need to prepare for that call.  You need to have great questions ready.  You need to be ready to listen and adjust.  You don’t need a script!

My next post will deal with preparing and the anatomy of the cold call.  But before that, what are your thoughts about scripts?  How do you try to connect with someone on your first call with them?  Please leave your thoughts in the comments.

And on the note of comments, this Clarity Series on Prospecting has been generating some great sharing of information and has led to conversations off-line.  I encourage you all to keep leaving those comments and engaging with each other!

CS: Prospecting – How to Write a Prospecting Letter

The Clarity Series is a series of posts all on one subject.  This particular subject is prospecting.  While the context is commercial real estate, these steps and principles can be applied to any sales.  To read the introduction of this series, click here.  To read an overview of the entire prospecting system, click here.  Thank you for reading!

iStockPhoto

iStockPhoto

In the previous posts for this Clarity Series on Prospecting, I wrote about how I prospected on dollar stores in KY.  After choosing my geography and specialty, and then building my database, it was then time to start contacting people.  This post is a slight revision on a previous post I wrote titled The 3 Benefits of a Well Written Prospecting Letter.  It fits perfectly here.

In my next post, I will go over the anatomy of an effective cold call.  But I prefer to warm up that call.  Writing a letter is a fantastic way to do that.  Determine how many prospects you plan to cold call a week.  That is how many letters you send the week before.  Twenty was my number.  You can certainly do more.

Sending letters has had 4 different types of results for me:

  1. It hits the trash immediately.
  2. They see my name on the envelope before it hits the trash.
  3. It is opened and read. 
  4. It motivates the reader of the letter to call me first.

You have to assume that at least 50% of recipients are not going to read your letter.  They just won’t.  And that is fine.  All I’m trying to do is warm up my initial cold call.  When I call those who actually read it, my ratio for getting a meeting goes up.

On average, they would call me first about once a month.  70% of those calls turn into listings – that is our close rate when they call us from the letter.  That is a huge number for the cost of paper and a stamp.

I want to share 2 things in the remainder of this post:  why send a letter, and how to increase your open and read rate.

3 Reasons/Benefits to Sending a Prospecting Letter

  1. Letters warm up the cold call – This is obvious, but it works.  Not only do I have a higher success rate in getting meetings with those that read the letter, it gives me something to refer to right off the bat.  “Hi Mr. Smith.  I’m Bo Barron and I’m calling to follow-up on the letter I sent you last week…”
  2. Letters force you to follow-up with a call – How is that, you say?  The letters force me to call because I tell them in the letter that I will be calling in about a week.  This is built-in accountability.  It gives you your first opportunity to follow through with integrity – or drop the ball.
  3. Letters force you to be intentional and systematic with your prospecting – This is a huge benefit for most.  To send out a certain amount of letters a week means you must have your database set up.  It means you are intentionally signing X number of letters a week.  It means that you are planning ahead.  It means that you are differentiating yourself from 95% of the rest of the brokerage community.

Now that I have covered why to send the letters, let’s discuss how to get more people to actually open and read the letter!

  • Handwrite the envelope – Studies show that more people open mail that is handwritten versus printed.  I generally had my assistant do it.  She has much better handwriting.  Once a week, 20 letters appeared on my desk.  I signed them and gave them back to her.  She addressed the letters and sent them.  She logged into my cloud-based CRM system and scheduled the cold calls to the recipients.  I made the calls.  Clockwork.  Simple.  Effective!
  • Write a scannable letter – This is a scannable blog post.  I utilize simple sentences.  Short paragraphs.  Lists.  Bullet-points.  A friend of mine runs a local Packages Plus business.  He was sharing with me that studies have been done on increasing the read rate of a letter.  The second most likely thing that is read in a letter is bullet points.  I will tell you the first in a second.  Use them.  That is where your most important information belongs – written in a benefit statement for the reader.
  • Keep the letter short – Anything longer than a page is way too long.  Three-quarters of a page is what I think is best. You have about 15 seconds of eye-ball time.  After that, you lose their attention to something else.  Short and simple works best.
  • Talk about them – Don’t send a letter all about you.  They don’t care.  They care about themselves.  Talk about what is happening that affects their property – their bottom line – their lives.  If you don’t do this, you are wasting your time.
  • Use a Postscript – That’s right – the P.S.  The postscript is the single most read thing in a letter.  Therefore, put the most important thing in the postscript.  I suggest to you that is where you tell them you will call them.  If they read nothing but the postscript, and you tell them you are going to call them, they are much more likely to then read the letter.

I have a couple more thoughts to leave you with.  First, systematize this process.  If you are prospecting on similar properties, there is a good chance that you can use the same basic letter over and over.  If not, take the time to customize the letter to the owner.  Your close rate going from call to meeting will go up.  Take the time.  It is worth it.

Second, delegate everything you can.  I initially wrote the letter.  My assistant would print out 20 a week.  She would lay them on my desk on Wednesday.  I would sign them and give them back to her.  She would then address the envelopes and send them.  Then she would log in to ClientLook and record who was sent a letter.  Finally, she would schedule my calls for the following Tuesday.

Note that all I did was initially write the letter and sign them each week.  Everything else was done by her.  When I show up on Tuesday, my call list is already waiting for me.  Delegate everything that anyone else can do so that you can focus on what only you can do.  Systematization at its finest!

Most of you will not do this.  Some because you are lazy.  Some because you don’t know where to start.  Some because you won’t pause long enough to build your database in the first place.

I challenge you to try this for 90 days.  I think you will be blown away with the results.

Let me hear from you.  Have you used prospecting letters before?  Did they work?  What would prevent you from doing it now?  Please share your comments!

Clarity Series: Prospecting – 5 Steps to Build a Database

The Clarity Series is a series of posts all on one subject.  This particular subject is prospecting.  While the context is commercial real estate, these steps and principles can be applied to any sales.  To read the introduction of this series, click here.  To read an overview of the entire prospecting system, click here.  Thank you for reading!

So far in this series, we have discussed what it means to choose a farm area or geography.  We also discussed the value of specializing.  The next step in implementing a killer prospecting system is to build your database.

iStockPhoto

iStockPhoto

In 2004, I got out of the Marine Corps and moved home with my family.  The next day, I started working with my dad in his CRE brokerage business.  As we would be driving around town, he would share with me the histories of the properties we drove by.  He knew everything.  He knew who owned the property.  He could tell me what they paid for it.  He could tell me how big they were.  We would pass some properties he had sold multiple times.  He defined encyclopedic knowledge of a market.  I remember thinking that I would never get there.

Building a world-class database is how you get there.  And you can do it in months.

Your purpose in building a killer database is two-fold.  First, you want to personify the kind of encyclopedic market knowledge like my dad has.  Second, your database is your road map – your foundation – to consistently finding and winning business through prospecting.

Here is how you do it!

5 Steps to Building Your Database

  1. Be crystal clear about your geography and your specialty – This guides you in finding the properties and owners that you will be prospecting on.  My database was built on dollar stores in Kentucky.  You are shooting for 400 – 600 properties.  Does your market have 1,300 multifamily properties?  How many does it have with 100 – 250 units?  Get it down to 400 – 600.
  2. Choose a CRM to hold and manage your database – There are many to choose from.  You can go the traditional desktop based direction with ACT!, REA9, RealHound, or others.  I chose to go the cloud-based route and used ClientLook.  If you’d like to read more about why, click here.  If you are using Outlook to manage your contacts and prospecting, stop immediately.  It is not a CRM.
  3. Find the properties – Your goal is to know everything about every property in your specialty and in your market.  Depending on where you live, this could be easy.  It could also be fairly tedious.  I used the Site To Do Business (STDB).  This is a super-powerful platform that provides site analysis and demographic tools.  You can also define a geography and then search for businesses within that geography.  It then spits you out a list.  It takes maybe 5 minutes.  STDB is available to CCIM designees and candidates.  If you are in the CRE industry and aren’t involved with the CCIM Institute, you should remedy that right away.  There are other tools that you can use in larger markets to include CoStar, Xcelligent, ProspectNow.  There are many other options. Your local PVA office can also be helpful.
  4. Find the owners – In my experience doing this, finding the properties is easy.  Finding the owners is difficult.  Kentucky is a freedom of information state.  Once we built our database of dollar store locations, my assistant went county-by-county (there are 120 in KY) getting the owners of record for each property.  This took about a month.  Where you live will determine how difficult this may be.  If a company like ProspectNow, LexisNexis, or REIS covers your market, pay the fee.  You could get what you need in days instead of weeks or months.  If you live in a freedom of information state, check your Secretary of State website.  It should tell you the members of LLCs.
  5. Maintain your database – Once you have it built, maintain it.  Pay attention and track all the transactions of the properties in your database.  Keep it up to date.  This will allow you to remain the market expert in your specialty.

John McDermott is one of my favorite guys in the CRE industry.  Here is his list on what should be in your database for each property.

  • Property Name
  • Property Address
  • Property Photo – you should take this yourself.  STP!  See the property.  See the people.
  • Property Condition/Class – A,B,C
  • Property Tenants
  • Property Rents (current & market)
  • Property Features including deferred maintenance
  • Owner Name(s)
  • Owner Address
  • Owner Phone Number(s)
  • Owner Email – if possible

Final thought – I believe and preach that anything that can be delegated should be.  You need to focus your time on the tasks that only you can do.  Building a database is an exception, however.  You should do most of this yourself.  To become a market expert, you actually need to learn the properties and the people.  There is no better way than getting on the property.

So we have now covered geography, specialty, and building a database.  The remainder of this series will deal with how to use the data to find and win business.

What are your favorite tools to finding properties and owners?  Please share with us in the comments section.

Clarity Series: Prospecting – Geography and Specialty

The Clarity Series is a series of posts all on one subject.  This particular subject is prospecting.  While the context is commercial real estate, these steps and principles can be applied to any sales.  To read the introduction of this series, click here.  To read an overview of the entire prospecting system, click here.  Thank you for reading!

photo from iStockPhoto

photo from iStockPhoto

In 2010, I bought the family commercial real estate brokerage business from my dad.  That week, I had 3 closings.  It was great timing.  All of them were Single Tenant Net Lease (STNL) deals.  I experienced in a new way broker’s remorse.

Broker’s remorse is that feeling of exuberance a broker feels once a good size deal closes.  It is followed 5 minutes later by the feeling of, “Oh crap!  What next?”  In commission sales, it is like you are unemployed between closings.  After those deals closed, I looked at my pipeline and panicked.

I had nothing else happening.  I had zero clue when my deal would hit.  I had not been prospecting and I was paying for it.  I also had an epiphany.

The only deals that were getting done were STNL deals.  Until that day, I was a generalist.  On that day, I chose my specialty.  I prospected on 405 Dollar stores in the commonwealth of Kentucky.

Question:  What is your specialty?  (If you paused or couldn’t articulate it in 20 words or less, then you don’t have a specialty.)

Top producers in commercial real estate are specialists.  This is known and proven.  So, when you are crafting a prospecting system, you must start with these two steps:  geography and specialty.

Geography

Now remember – when you are prospecting, you are asking for the business.  Your geography is simply the physical area where you will be doing so.  Let me give you some examples:

  • A STNL specialist who prospects nationwide.
  • A multifamily specialist who prospects within a 20 mile radius of a certain city.
  • An industrial specialist who works a specific industrial area within a city.
  • A tenant rep who serves her client wherever they go
  • An advisor who specializes in a certain, defined neighborhood.

In my case, my geography was the commonwealth of Kentucky.  I had to go that wide to have enough inventory of Dollar Stores.  Ideally, you want a minimum of 400 properties to call upon in your chosen geography.

Specialty

You can be a geographical specialist.  The number one broker of the number one CRE firm (by number of transactions) in New York City is Bob Knakal.  Bob is a geographical specialist.  He can show you on a map which blocks in the city he works.  In fact, his entire office is set up this way.  Each broker has their own territory.  They know everything about every property within that territory.  Or they get to go work somewhere else.

I was in Chicago last week training some brokers in our office there.  It is a top 3 office in our company.  One of their top 3 guys was explaining to me all the success he has had since he specialized.  And his specialty is a specific neighborhood.  He owns property in that neighborhood.  He is a peer with the owners he is calling on.  You can’t go 2 blocks without seeing one of his signs.

More common, however, is a product type specialist.  You can go with the major food groups – multifamily, retail, office, and industrial.  Or, you can go more of the niche route and focus on STNL, medical office, sale-leasebacks, self-storage, and on and on.  I know a great broker who specializes in marines.  Another who does charter schools.

The key to remember is that you know what you are, and you know where you pursue deals.

To make this decision, ask yourself the following 3 questions:

  1. What kind of deals do I like?  Or what kind of properties do I like? - Different product types have certain characteristics that you may or may not like.  For instance, I don’t like industrial properties.  They don’t fit my eye.  I don’t like being in industrial parks.  It would not be a good idea for me to pick this as a specialty.
  2. What are you good at?  Do you have more experience in one product type or another?  You may love multifamily.  You may also hate numbers and underwriting.  If that is the case, you may be more suited for something simple like STNL.  Know what you are good at!
  3. Where is the transactional velocity?  You may love marinas.  You may be great at those kinds of deals.  But if you are intent on working Nebraska…see my point?

If you can find a specialty where the answers to these three questions intersect, then you may have found your sweet spot.  Once you have this, the next step is to gain encyclopedic knowledge of your specialty.  That will be the focus of the next post.

Until then, I challenge you to state your specialty publicly in the comments section.  I will ask you again.  What is your specialty?

Introducing the Clarity Series: Prospecting

Clarity is an elusive gem.  When you have it, you are a rock star.  When you don’t…

Don't I look smart?  My wife thinks so!

Don’t I look smart? My wife thinks so!

A month ago I was playing guitar in the praise band at the church I attend.  I’ve done this since I was in high school.  For the first time, I noticed that I was having a difficult time making out the chord charts.  This had never happened to me before.  [And Peter, I’d love to jam with you sometime.]

I had a particularly hard time distinguishing between a B chord and a D chord.  If you play any kind of instrument, you will understand that getting confused and playing the wrong chord in the middle of a song is bad.  It gets noticed.

So, for the first time since high school, I had my eyes examined.

I had the puffs of air blown in my eyes (I just about fell backwards out of my chair – warn a guy!)  I had a retinal scan.  Then I had the experience where the doctor asks, “Which one is clearer…1 or 2.”  At the end of the tweaking, he showed me what my vision was like.  Then he showed me my vision with corrected lenses.

I was blown away!  I had no idea how clear vision could be.  Now, my sight is not that bad.  I have a mild astigmatism.  The glasses help when I read, and they help with the stuff far away.  However, I am wearing them all the time.  I love the clarity.  Plus, my wife thinks I look smart!

Clarity is such a powerful thing.  It allows you to act with direction and focus.  It gives you the ability to maximize your efforts and your results.  Clarity of purpose allows you to say ‘no’ to good things and ‘yes’ to great things.

I am introducing the Clarity Series.  Let me explain what the Clarity Series is.

  • To this point, my posts have been random in nature.  I write about Next Practices in Life, Business, and Commercial Real Estate.  However, there has been no rhyme or reason to my posts.  They are basically whatever hit me at the time. 
  • The Clarity Series will be a series of posts on a specific topic.  You will know where I am headed and what to expect
  • I am starting with the topic of Prospecting.  I chose this topic because I believe it is the single most important factor that differentiates top producers from everyone else.
  • I’ve written about prospecting many times, but this will be an orderly and systematic approach.

The Clarity Series: Prospecting will have a beginning and an end.  If this is well received and adds value, I will take on other topics.  I am thinking that ‘creating presence’ would make a great next topic.  Please use the comment section to suggest other topics.

I previously wrote a post about the 8 Steps to a Killer Prospecting System.  This Clarity Series will break down each of those steps in much more depth.  Please keep in mind that the context here is Commercial Real Estate.  However, these steps are applicable to anyone with a product or service to sell.  The 8 steps are as follows:

  1. Define Your Geography
  2. Choose a Specialty
  3. Build Your Database
  4. Send Something in the Mail
  5. Make the Dang Call
  6. Have the Meeting
  7. Make the Presentation
  8. Secure the Business

Now is your opportunity to share with me your thoughts.  Would you add a step to this process?  Are there specific questions you have with any of these steps?  Share with me these questions in the comments section, and I will do my best to address them.