CRE Tech & App Review – ClientLook and Today’s Big Announcement

In January of this year, I wrote a post on why you should use a Simple and Cloud-Based CRM System.  In that post, I profiled ClientLook.  I’m not going to rehash what I wrote before.  I do want to give you an update and discuss their excited announcement today.

clientlook logo

Update on My Previous Beefs

Speed – I mentioned in my previous post that my main beef with ClientLook was the speed.  That is no longer an issue.  ClientLook has made numerous upgrades in this department and it cooks.  Very fast.  Thank you!

Property Database – ClientLook is now in development of a property database.  Today, I got to see a screenshot of it.  This will make ClientLook a complete solution for me.

Upgrades

Email – One thing that is difficult to track, quantify, and report on is email.  ClientLook makes it very easy to automatically attach emails to specific projects and contacts.  Each project or contact in your database has a specific email addresses generated for it.  All you have to do is include that email address in an email, and that email will be recorded in the correct project and/or contact in ClientLook.

The big win with this is with reporting.  You should be reporting to your clients on a monthly basis.  Most of us track who we spoke with, how many property tours, how many offers, etc.  What gets lost is all the time and work that happens via email.  ClientLook solves this for you.

A best practice for this functionality is creating a contact in your email program with the project email address.  For example, create a contact for your listing 123 Main St.  Now you don’t have to remember the email address.  You just put 123 Main St in the bcc line.  Piece of cake.

Search – I griped a little before about the search capability of ClientLook.  They have taken large strides in this area.  It is now much easier to navigate through 1000’s of contacts quickly.  You can also search and quickly find notes in a contact or project file.

Today’s Announcement (Sept. 26th, 2013)

On a webinar today, Michael Griffin announced that ClientLook has formed a strategic alliance with xceligent.com.  I have known about this for some months, so it is good to be able to talk about it.  I think this is a big with for the Commercial Real Estate industry.

logo_xceligent_hires

xcelligent.com’s answer to Loopnet is the newly launched – and very free – CommercialSearch.com.  Most of the national CRE firms have their listings populated on CommercialSearch.  I am working right now with Michael Griffin to get all of Sperry Van Ness’s listings on there as well.  It may have already reached critical mass.  Your listings should be on there.

Michael’s announcement today centered around 4 things.

  1. Automated Lead Generation – A prospect is on CommercialSearch and is looking at your listing.  When they click to get more information, CommercialSearch captures their information.  It then checks to see if the prospect is already in your ClientLook database.  If not, it creates the new contact, including all contact information, and notifies you of a new lead.  Pretty sweet.  They are also developing a plugin to do the same on your website.
  2. Automatic Activity Reporting – Some of you will run a report on a monthly basis from Loopnet and give it to your listing client showing online activity.  Wouldn’t it be nice if Loopnet automatically put that in your CRM for you – and in the right place?  CommercialSearch does that for ClientLook.  All that data in one place makes me “happy, happy, happy!”
  3. Property Marketing – The information will also flow the other way.  A new listing in ClientLook will automatically be placed on CommercialSearch for you.  Efficiency is a beautiful thing.
  4. Real-Time Embedded Research – This is cool.  If xcelligent.com covers your market and you subscribe, you can run reports.  Say you want a list of all the attorneys in town using over 15,000 sf of office space.  You can import that list automatically into ClientLook.  The exciting part is any time xcelligent.com updates the contact information for one of those attorneys, it will update in your ClientLook account.

I’m excited to see how this shakes out and if CommercialSearch.com can reach critical mass so that these integrations can be of great value.  I am confident that it will.

Question: What do you think about the partnership between ClientLook and xcelligent.com? What new functions and products would you like to see come out of the partnership? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

 

 

 

 

January’s Top Posts

In case you missed them, here are the top posts from January.  Key to note – January marks the first month I’ve expanded the topics of my blog – from Commercial Real Estate best practices to Next Practices in Life, Business, and Commercial Real Estate.  Thus, please enjoy the post below on marriage as well as other business and CRE topics.  Thanks for reading!

I also want to invite you to sign up just to the right to receive my new posts straight to your email inbox.  Don’t worry about remembering to check my site.  I will do the work and make sure that you never miss a post.  I will also never share your information.

 January’s Top Posts

iStockPhoto via Erikona

iStockPhoto via Erikona

Why You Should Use a Simple CRM – ClientLook – CRE Tech & App Review – On the front-end, I must confess to being a CRM-hopper.  I started my career in 2004 with a legal pad – literally.  Then I moved on to Outlook.  Please pay attention when I say this.  Outlook is not a CRM system – sorry Dad.  It is simply email with contacts and a calendar.  Read More…

 

2012-12-21 22.10.31

12th Anniversary Trip

What 12 Years has Taught Me About Having an Awesome Marriage - I’ve had a crush on my wife – still do – since the day I laid eyes on her.  I was 10 years old in youth church choir.  She sings like an angel, and I liked being around girls that could sing like an angel.  It took me 8 years to ask her out.  Two reasons caused the delay.  I was sort of a dork, and she was intimidatingly beautiful – still is!  After 5 years of me proving that she is the most forgiving person on the planet, we got married.  (This is by far the most condensed version of ‘our story’ that I’ve ever pulled off).  Read More…

 

iStockPhoto from cosmity

iStockPhoto from cosmity

The 3 Benefits of a Well Done Prospecting Letter – 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.  Read More…

 

 

iStockPhoto by hidesy

iStockPhoto by hidesy

The One Secret to Winning the Business Every Time - When I started in the Commercial Real Estate Business, I knew that the listing presentation was important.  Very important. I wrote and rewrote.  I practiced and then practiced some more.  I would record myself and play it back while I was driving.  It was canned…  Read More…

 

iStock_000010779625Small

iStockPhoto

5 Reasons to Develop Decisiveness Using the 70% Rule – You will experience failures in your personal and professional lives.  It should not be the failed goal that defines the experience but the way that we respond to the failure.  Consider reflecting on these questions…  Read More…

 

 

January’s Stats

I’ve read on some other sites where they post their stats.  I have always appreciated this – as much as a benchmark as anything else.  It is difficult to know how well you are doing sometimes.

  • 2,371 Unique Visitors
  • 6,761 Page Views
  • 65% Percent New Visitors
  • 61 Countries
  • 30% from a mobile device
  • 81% of those from an iPhone or iPad
  • 119 Subscribers to my email list

I wish you all a fabulous February.  I turn 36 this month!  If you have any comments on the posts above or would like to make a suggestion on what you would like to read, leave a comment below!

The One Secret to Winning the Business Every Time

When I started in the Commercial Real Estate Business, I knew that the listing presentation was important.  Very important. I wrote and rewrote.  I practiced and then practiced some more.  I would record myself and play it back while I was driving.

iStockPhoto by hidesy

iStockPhoto by hidesy

It was canned.  I would give that same presentation to an elderly couple wanting to sell their land.  I would give it to a bank looking to relocate a branch.  I would give it to the owner of an office building that needed to lease space.  It didn’t matter who it was.  I had it down.

I would talk about the experience of our company (this was important because I had little experience at the time.)  I would talk about successful transactions we had closed.  I would talk about my Marine Corps service (the only thing I had going for me at the time.)  I would talk about how young and hungry I was.  It was all about me.  This, I believe, is what the normal CRE listing presentation looks like.

Through much reading, coaching, and mentoring, I learned there is a much better way.  I was taught the secret.  Before I give it to you, let me tell you a story.

Not too long ago, I received an opportunity through a referral from a CPA (if you aren’t pursuing relationships with CPA’s, smack yourself and start tomorrow.)  Instead of preparing a canned listing presentation for the client’s portfolio of properties, I simply scheduled a meeting.  All I did in that meeting was ask questions.  I didn’t talk at all about me, our company, or my experience – zip.

By the end of that meeting, I knew a few things I didn’t know before.  This prospect was tired of the management and unpredictable net income of multifamily property.  I knew that the prospect wanted to simplify.  I knew that the prospect wanted to be able to hold me accountable throughout the listing.  I knew that communication was extremely important.

I then took that information and crafted a client-centric, customized, benefit driven presentation.  I explained how selling these properties could eliminate the hassle of tenant turnover, dealing with management companies, and fluctuating income.  I showed how a shift to Single Tenant Net Leased properties would essentially produce stable mailbox money.

I explained our commitment to transparency and accountability.  I showed how I could give the prospect 24/7 access to our activities through our cloud-based CRM system, ClientLook.  I promised our commitment to regular communication.  I won the listing over our competition at a higher fee.

If you haven’t figured it out, the secret to winning the business is the Needs-Analysis Interview.  There are many versions of this interview that you can find. I’m not going to plagiarize any of them here.  I am going to give you keys that must be present for this to work.

  1. You have to be authentic – People can tell when you are blowing smoke.  If they care about communication, and you promise it to them, you must be committed to delivering.  If not, they are going to tell all their colleagues.  In the story above, I discovered the prospects highest needs, and then fed them back in a custom listing presentation.  This only works if you are being authentic.
  2. You have to care – Discovering the needs of your prospect is all about putting their needs before your own.  It is about them.  It is about taking the time to craft from your capabilities the solution that meets their needs.  It is about making a difference in solving their problem or helping them capitalize on an opportunity.
  3. You must seek their pain points – You could also say that must understand the opportunity they are trying to seize.  Are they trying to simplify?  Are they trying to pass down a legacy of financial freedom and wealth?  Are they trying to get out from under a mountain of debt and stress that is wrecking their lives?  What is causing them pain.  Learn this and you will be able to earn the business.
  4. You must understand their highest interests – Is maximizing the value their highest interest?  Or is it speed?  How important is visibility to that tenant?  Will they give on price to get the lease term they want?  You can not go to battle for your clients if you don’t know what their desired outcome is.

So I challenge you.  The next opportunity you have at new business, stop.  Don’t go blazing in with your canned presentation.  Schedule the needs-analysis interview.  Let them explain to you how to win their business.  Learn to ask questions and listen, and watch your business explode.

I’d love to hear some stories of how you have used this secret to win business?  Or how do you plan to implement this into your business this year and beyond?  Comment below!

Why You Should Use a Simple CRM – ClientLook – CRE Tech & App Review

I am a systems geek.  I’m not really a techie.  I love to use technology, but I just know enough about how it works to break it.  That said, when it comes to using technology in my Commercial Real Estate business, there is nothing more important than a good CRM (Customer Relationship Management).

iStockPhoto via Erikona

iStockPhoto via Erikona

On the front-end, I must confess to being a CRM-hopper.  I started my career in 2004 with a legal pad – literally.  Then I moved on to Outlook.  Please pay attention when I say this.  Outlook is not a CRM system – sorry Dad.  It is simply email with contacts and a calendar.

I then graduated to a real CRM platform in ACT! by Sage, then to Realhound, back to ACT!, and then to REA9 (Real Estate Assistant). All of these desktop applications have these things in common.

  • they all have a tremendous amount of functionality.
  • they are all loaded on your desktop/laptop (to be fair, some or all are coming out with cloud-based versions, though I see this as playing catch up).
  • they are huge programs.
  • they have bells and whistles on their bells and whistles.

Michael Griffin, the President and CEO of ClientLook, calls these and other desktop software programs Technology Legacy Anchors.  These programs tie you to your desktop – chain you there.

clientlook logo

I’ve been using ClientLook for over a year now.  What follows are the reasons you should consider switching to this cloud-based CRM system.

  1. ClientLook resides in the cloud – As opposed to the Technology Legacy Anchors, ClientLook resides in the cloud.  This means that your data can be accessed from anywhere where the internet can be accessed.  That means from your smart phone, a coffee shop, on the road, in an airport terminal, or even from a client’s office on their computer.  And we are way beyond worries of losing data at this point.  I would guess you have more of a chance of your office burning and losing your data.
  2. It is simple, simple, easy – In contrast to the other CRM programs, ClientLook is as easy as they are complicated.  It is formatted much like Facebook.  You can log notes on all your conversations and contacts.  You can schedule events and tasks and link them to projects and/or contacts all on your calendar.  It generates task lists.  It is super easy to search.

    Actual ClientLook Screenshot

    Actual ClientLook Screenshot

  3. It seamlessly syncs with Google – This is really what made it work for me.  I use an app called Calengoo on my iPhone 5.  It syncs beautifully with Gmail and Google Calendar which I use religiously.  Whatever I put on the ClientLook calendar, ends up on Google Calendar and on my iPhone.  Everything is synced automatically without me having to do anything.   This is the awesome part, though.  If I update a task or event with notes and next steps on my phone, it gets linked back to the correct projects and contacts in ClientLook.  This is a beautiful thing!
  4. It has Betty White – I am in my car all the time making calls.  I can be very productive while driving.  The problem is you can’t take notes.  You can forget to follow through on something committed to.  You can forget when you said you would call back.  This problem has always made me hesitate using windshield time to its fullest potential.  No longer.  ClientLook has virtual assistants.  You can call in and dictate notes, set appointments and next steps, etc.  You simply call in, leave a message with your account info and what you need recorded, then hang up.  When it is done, the VA will email you so you can confirm their work.  Now, on my phone, I have named the ClientLook VA number in my favorites list as Betty White.  So I make a call.  Then I call Betty White.  I make another call – then Betty White.  Nothing ever falls through the cracks, and my productivity is at an all-time high.
  5. It allows for virtual management of a team – If you manage a team, you can see what they are doing.  This really helps with a virtual team working on tasks together.  You can see notes, previous calls, etc.  You can see if someone is not making calls.  And this can be set up per the needs of the team.  Maybe you don’t need to see what someone else is doing in your company.  All that can be set.
  6. It is a great transaction management tool – You can give your clients access to their projects.  This means that they can log in and see what you are doing.  I have never lost a listing when I told my prospects that they have a way to hold me accountable.  This is also a way to allow your clients to drive you crazy so be very careful with this one.
  7. Great customer support – They respond to emails and listen to suggestions.  They have added features because I asked for them.  Super people!

Now, if I could change anything (and so that you know that this isn’t a sponsored post):

  • The search functionality is Google simple and fast.  However, when scanning through your contacts, it is difficult to navigate.  The user interface could be better.
  • Overall, the site runs a bit slower than most sites – for me.  This could be my 6,000+ contacts, but that should be pretty normal in the CRE industry.
  • There is no separate property database.  I simply used the Projects functionality and it works perfectly.  But for those power users of REA and Realhound, this is going to bug you.  To the rest of you, simple is the way to go, and I’m just talking to 100 people anyway.

So what CRM solution do you use?  What do you like about it?  What benefits would have to see to switch to a cloud based solution?  You can comment below!

Light Bulb!: The 5 Benefits of a Virtual Office

This is the 3rd post stemming from The Difference Between a CRE Broker and a Drug Dealer.

I started working with my dad in Commercial Real Estate the day after I was discharged (honorably!) from the Marine Corps.  He is a CCIM designee and understands the value of that education.  He had me in the CCIM intro class the following week.  I didn’t have my license.  I was as green as they come.

Light bulb

The instructor had us introduce ourselves and share with the class how long we had been in CRE.  27 years.  15 years.  35 years. 8 years.  Me:  “4 days and I don’t have my license yet.”

That was the first day I’d ever heard of a Capitalization Rate.  It was a completely meaningless and nebulous term.  The percentage linking Value to Net Operating Income?  What is NOI?  You’ve heard the term ‘dear in the headlights.’  That was me.  This was the end of 2004.

Fast forward to yesterday.  My 10-year-old had an assignment requiring him to interview someone who uses math at work.  He chose to interview me.  I taught him that the only equation in CRE that matters is V = NOI / Cap.  Value equals Net Operating Income divided by the Cap Rate.  At some point in the last 8 years, I had a ‘Light Bulb’ moment when these concepts clicked.

I’ve known for a while that the mobile/virtual office was the way of the future.  I’ve inherently understood that this model increases efficiencies.  It makes me more effective – from anywhere.  However, I couldn’t quite articulate the why.

I had another Light Bulb moment yesterday during a fantastic webinar by ClientLook‘s founder Michael Griffin.  He was able to clarify for me the value of being mobile.

Why You Should Consider a Virtual Office

  1. Your Office Moves With You – Do you remember the line in Spiderman 2 when Doc Oc says, “The power of the sun in the palm of my hand!”    This is the totality of your office in the palm of your hand.  To accomplish this you need to have a paperless office.  I explain the steps to making that happen in my post – The 5 Steps to a Paperless Office.
  2. Beyond paperless, you must commit to moving your office online.  This means using websites instead of software.  You need a web-based email solution like Gmail.  You need a web-based CRM like ClientLook (be looking for a review of ClientLook coming soon).  You need to choose web-based solutions that work across all platforms.  Mac or pc.  iOS or Android or (what’s the name of the other one?).
  3. Drop the Legacy Technology Anchors – Michael Griffin calls desktop software Legacy Technology Anchors.  What a great description for all the programs on your desktop that keep you anchored there.  Cut those puppies loose and claim your freedom!  And consider, you will have to upgrade every one of those programs.  You will have to update the servers that run your office.  You will have to update your desktop.  I pay monthly licensing fees that are known costs.  Do you know how much life your servers have left?  Do you know how much their replacements will be?  No, you don’t.
  4. You Need Less Space – This point will vary greatly depending on what kind of office you have.  It will vary by the size of your office.  How much rent have you paid in your life for square footage to store files?  What about for servers and IT equipment?
  5. You will do it now or later – You may never do away with having an actual physical office.  I do believe that you will have true mobile and virtual capabilities.  I encourage you to be on the front end of that wave.  Use it to your advantage.  Make it a point of differentiation between you and your competition.  The technology to pull this off has never been easier or safer.  Your excuses are gone.
Raise your hand if the idea of having all your data stored online makes you queasy.  Why is that?  This topic leads to a discussion of data security.  What concerns do you have? Or are you comfortable with it?  Let us hear your thoughts.

The Difference Between a CRE Broker and a Drug Dealer

If you have read some of my other posts, you may know that I was an Arabic Linguist in the Marine Corps.  One of the huge differences between English and the Arabic language is that Arabic is completely contextual.  Words don’t have meaning outside of context.  Said another way, the context gives meaning to the words.

Here’s what I mean.  To say that I am a Commercial Real Estate Broker I would literally say:  “I am a broker in the buying and selling of real estate.”  The problem is that the word for real estate is also the word for illegal drugs.  So, if you don’t know me or have any context to give you a clue, you would not know if I’m saying that I’m a CRE broker or a drug dealer.  Context is everything.

So here is a story for you to give context.  This post will spawn others as I unpack this story.  My purpose in this post is to show how systems, the proper team, and technology work together.  I want to demonstrate what is possible.

The Story

A few months ago, I was riding with my dad heading to a meeting in central Kentucky.  We drove through a small town called Perryville where I saw a Dollar General Store.

Dollar stores are a core part of our business.  Seeing this store gave me the idea to cold-call the owner.  I opened the Dropbox app on my iPhone 4S and accessed my Kentucky Dollar Store database.  Finding the owner, I looked him up in my mobile cloud-based CRM solution, ClientLook.

I recognized the name for the Perryville store as a man who was a former college coach in my town.  That gave me the common ground I needed to connect with him.

I was fortunate to get him on the phone.  By the time we had driven through that small town, I knew that he owned three Dollar General Stores - not just one.  I also knew that he was in a partnership, that he would like to simplify his life, and that he was likely a seller.

He agreed to send me the leases so that I could do proposals on his properties for his partnership.  He had one of his staff email me the leases.  I forwarded them to my assistant.  This all happened in 30 minutes, from a car in the middle of Central Kentucky, using just my iPhone.

The next day, my assistant used the leases to build proposals through BuildOut.  She is able to quickly take raw materials and take a proposal to 80% completion.  I then did the financial analysis, approved the comps, set a value, and pressed ‘print.’  Though I have a paperless office, I do print and bind property proposals.  The quality is so high on these packages that I know property owners will not throw them away.

The next week, I was in the man’s office – one hour from my office – presenting proposals on his properties.  Because we’d done our homework building a database of properties, had systems in place to be lightning fast, and used technology that made us mobile, we were able to instantly take advantage of an opportunity.

Over the coming weeks, I will take you behind the curtain of our business and unpack how we build databases, what systems we have in place, and what technologies we use.  This post, however, was all about context.  Never confuse the broker for the drug dealer!

UPDATE:  Post 2 in this series can be found here:  The 5 Steps to a Paperless Office
UPDATE:  Post 3 in this series can be found here:  The Benefits of a Virtual Office
Parting thoughts:  do you use a database in your business?  What systems do you have in place?  What technologies do you use?  Share a story from your business that will provide context for this conversation.  Engage!