I am continually surprised by Commercial Real Estate brokers who lack a specialty. All top performers in CRE have a specialty. Yet, those mired in mediocrity refuse to hone in on what they can be awesome at doing. In fact, business owners of all kinds often have this problem.
I had a call last week with one of our advisors on the East Coast. He was traditionally a specialist in hospitality. Because of some changes in his life, he needed to shift his specialty to something he could practice locally. His question was what should he specialize in. What would you tell him?
Many of my coaching clients face this question as well. It doesn’t matter if you are new to the business or you are mid-career. Making this decision correctly will have a profound impact on your career. Not only can it determine the amount of income you can make, but it can determine if you will like going to work every morning.
A CRE broker, or any business owner or salesperson, can find his/her sweet spot by answering 3 questions.
Three Questions to Find Your Specialty/Sweet Spot
1. What do you like?
You should always start here. What product type do you like? What would you own if you could? For me, I love multi-family. I love to broker these deals. I own this property type. I understand it. I don’t like industrial properties. They don’t fit my eye. I don’t enjoy being in industrial parks. It just isn’t my thing.
You need to answer for yourself – what are my favorite 3 product types? Write them down.
2. What are you good at?
This is completely different than what you like. Consider what you are good at. Do you enjoy intense underwriting and analysis? If so, multi-family might be your thing? Do you enjoy fast paced prospecting and deal making? If so, then maybe Single Tenant Net Lease (STNL) is your thing? Maybe you love evaluating how the business aspect of hospitality properties and convenient stores impact value?
Again, list what product types fit your skill set. Write them down.
3. Where is the market velocity?
I did this exercise in 2009. The market had dried up everywhere. My business was suffering. I looked around and saw that Dollar Stores were still trading at a rapid rate. That was the only market velocity I saw anywhere in Kentucky.
Now I already told you that I love multi-family and it fits my skill set. But no apartments were selling. If I would have chosen apartments as the object of my prospecting campaign, I would have failed. Instead, I began focusing on Dollar Stores. It was a great move, and I learned to love that product type.
Look around your market. Where is the transactional velocity? Write those down as well.
Now look at your lists. Where the answers to the three questions overlap is where you should specialize. This is your sweet spot.
Now I want you to do two things:
Regardless of what industry you are in, what benefits would you realize by finding your sweet spot and being known as the expert in your specialty? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
You have a friend that needs to find their sweet spot. I challenge you to email this post to them so they can do this simple exercise. It could change the trajectory of their career.
To download a free worksheet that will allow you to work this exercise and visually find your sweet spot, click the button below.
My wife drives a Toyota Sienna. Do you know why? It is because a couple of her friends do. My family is going on vacation next month. Do you know how we came up with Disney World? We asked our friends on Facebook what they recommended. This is what crowdsourcing is. By definition, it is the practice of obtaining needed services, ideas, or content by soliciting contributions from a large group of people.
Crowdsourcing is not a new phenomenon, but it has never had more power. Social media has brought the world to you laptop screen. You can access more content and opinions – and quicker – than you ever could before. People are making decisions this way. You probably did today.
Did you know that over 80% of all due diligence starts with a Google search? Do you know how many people trust a recommendation from a “friend”? 90%! Do you know how many people are positively influenced by a Facebook ‘Like’ button from someone they don’t even know? 70%! That number astounds me.
By contrast, only 19% of people now trust traditional advertising. I’m talking about print, TV, or radio. Do you know why? Because the game has changed. No one wants to hear you toot your own horn anymore. They want to know about real people who have actually used your product or service. They want a testimonial.
I plan on writing more in the coming months about the power of crowdsourcing and how you can maximize its advantages. But today, I want to give you 7 steps to harvest testimonials. There are a dozen ways to repurpose them once you have them. First, though, you have to get them.
7 Steps to Getting Testimonials
- Make a list of your top client relationships – This is obvious, but you first need to list those clients from whom you would like a testimonial. Consider who was in love with the service or product your provided. Consider who has the most clout. Who are those people who you have done business with who can sway the most people in your direction? Write them down.
- It doesn’t matter how dated the client relationships are – Don’t be concerned if these clients go back years in the past. It doesn’t matter as much when you provided value, but that you did.
- Write the testimonial for them – Typically, you are going to send an email request. For the first one or two, write the testimonial for them. It should read, “I’m writing to respectfully request that you write a couple of sentences as a testimonial for the service I provided. I’m looking for something like this…” Spoon feed it to them. Then let them know that if what you wrote is accurate, you are happy to use it as their words – with their blessing. This is the quickest path to obtaining a testimonial.
- Use peer pressure – Once you have your first one or two, introduce peer pressure. You can accomplish this by including the testimonials you have already received as examples of what you are looking for. This demonstrates that others are providing these testimonials. Peer pressure can then kick-in encouraging them to follow suit.
- Engage their competitive nature – By providing testimonials you have already received as examples in your email request, you will engage their competitive nature. Your client is likely to want to give you a testimonial that out-does the ones you have already received. Over time, this can really work in your favor.
- Make it easy – I have a coaching client who has collected recommendation letters for years. He has a book of them. It is very impressive. It also took a ton of work to accomplish. I’m not saying this is a bad idea because it is not. I am saying that you will have more success more quickly if you keep it simple. Use email. Ask for a couple of sentences. Provide examples. Make it as easy for them as possible. You are interrupting them with your request. The simpler it is, the more you will get.
- Systematize – To this point, I’m suggesting you look to the past for your testimonials. Once you’ve accomplished that, then systematize the process. Make it a part of your business to seek a testimonial from every new client you do business with. Over time, you will develop a stable of clients that scream from the mountain tops how awesome you are. Remember that 70% of people trust a recommendation from someone they don’t even know!
I’d be so grateful if you would add to my list by using the comments section below. What have I left off? How have you put the power of testimonials to work in your business?
In case you missed them, here are the top posts from February 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!
February’s Top Posts:
What are You Worth? - I have a mentor and client who is incredibly successful. He owns over a dozen businesses. He employs hundreds of people. He loves Jesus and is one of the most generous men I’ve ever met. He is an amazing man. He is someone who we should all want to be like. A couple of years ago, I was meeting with this man. I asked him what the inflection point was in his career. He surprised me with his answer. He told me about a conversation that he had with his mentor. At that time, my mentor had hit his limit. He was experiencing what John Maxwell calls the Law of the Lid (read the book – affiliate link). Read more…
A Letter to My Kids - So, here is a not so short letter to my children. I share this because I believe intentionally communicating with our children what they should know is a great idea. Tomorrow is the first day of the rest of my life, but it could also be my last. I want to intentionally take steps to share certain things with my children that could make a huge difference in their lives. I share this to encourage you to do the same. Read more…
CRE All-Stars: An Interview with Chad Grout, CCIM - I tried something new! Thanks to my new friend Dan Hayes, I can now record a Skype call (if you want to know how, just leave a comment below, and I will hook you up). This is the first in a series of interviews of CRE All-Stars. I will be interviewing CRE All-Stars throughout the United States and bringing you their best practices. So…meet Chad Grout! I asked the following four questions to Chad. Read more…
- How did you get into CRE?
- How did you decide on your specialty?
- How have you gone about establishing your presence and becoming the top-of-mind broker in your specialty?
- Explain what having a coach for your business has allowed you to accomplish?
Thank you so much for reading. I’m excited about the topics for March’s posts. If you have any ideas on what I should write about, please leave your suggestions in the comments below.
This is the first time that I have used my blog to promote an event. In this case I am promoting two events. I am not making a dime off this. I am simply bringing this to your attention because both of these events have the potential to bring great value to your businesses.
I remember when I first began in the Commercial Real Estate industry in 2004. The idea of auctioning off a listing meant failure. Using our own marketing and market expertise, our company could not produce a closing. Thus, we punted and looked to auction as opposed to losing the listing. We split our fee with the auctioneer and secretly cursed under our breaths that we couldn’t sell that property without them.
AuctionPoint2013 is an incredible opportunity to expose your listings to a national online event. I’m not sure where to start with the benefits, so here is a list:
- Over $300,000 is being spent to promote the event internationally. None of those dollars comes from you!
- AuctionPoint2013 is a collaboration between AuctionPoint.com, LoopNet, First American Title, Sperry Van Ness, Cushman Wakefield, Marcus & Millichap, Colliers, RE/MAX, CBC, NAI, Lee & Associates, Voit, REITs, and numerous national and regional banks.
- You keep you entire commission. Whatever you listed the property for, you receive. A 2.5% buyers premium is paid by the buyer. This is half of what normal online auction sites charge.
- You can still sell before the auction. This is a great way to bump stalling buyers off-center.
- This auction is already filling up with outstanding assets. This is not an auction full or garbage assets.
- Your brand is aggressively promoted with your property. Every time your property/listing is seen, you are seen.
- Go to AuctionPoint2013.com
- Click Learn More
- In the circle at the bottom right, select “Click for Details”
- This will take you to a screen that explains how to submit an asset
- Feb. 1, 2013 – Asset Submission Begins
- March 15, 2013 – Asset Submission Ends
- March 29 – May 28, 2013
- Asset list released to the public
- Nationwide market campaign deployed
- Property inspections and underwriting performed
- Pre-auction offers accepted
Question: What is preventing you from serving your clients by utilizing CRE Event of the Year?
- Fill their pipeline with continual business opportunities
- Create a top-of-mind position with their clients and key prospects
- Develop personal teams, both virtual and physical to increase efficiencies and productivity
- Implement tactics which consistently help them Find, Win, and Close more business.
- Date: Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013
- Time: 1:00 pm EST
- To Register: Click Here
Invest in yourself and register today!
What are you worth? You don’t have a clue, do you?
I have a mentor and client who is incredibly successful. He owns over a dozen businesses. He employs hundreds of people. He loves Jesus and is one of the most generous men I’ve ever met. He is an amazing man. He is someone who we should all want to be like.
A couple of years ago, I was meeting with this man. I asked him what the inflection point was in his career. He surprised me with his answer. He told me about a conversation that he had with his mentor. At that time, my mentor had hit his limit. He was experiencing what John Maxwell calls the Law of the Lid (read the book – affiliate link).
In that conversation, my mentor asked his mentor, “Why can’t I break through? What is my problem?”
Last week at my company’s national convention, I spoke on becoming a Power Prospector. Afterwards, one of our top producers wanted to talk with me. He is tapped out. He has so much business. However, he is struggling to keep up with it all. He’s trying to do everything himself. It isn’t working.
I ask you again. What are you worth?
This is one of the most important things that you can know when running your business. Why? Because you have more to do in any one day than you can accomplish.
In both of the stories above, lack of delegation is the problem. My mentor was trying to control everything. He wouldn’t delegate. Thus, he was the bottleneck. He was the problem.
Our top producer has not put together a team or a system to maximize his efforts. He is the Lid holding his business and his productivity back. We are going to remedy this situation, and his business is going to explode.
You have heard that delegation is a good idea, but can you articulate why? As the CEO of you, there are certain tasks that only you can do. These are the high-dollar activities or the high value creation activities. You want to delegate everything else so that you can focus on those activities. Said another way, anything that anyone else can do, they should do. This frees you up to do only things that only you can do.
To effectively accomplish this, you must do 3 things:
- Catalogue your activities – Before you can delegate, you must know with clarity all the activities that take up your time. The best way to do this is to catalogue everything that you spend time on for a week. Write it all down. Some of you just rolled your eyes. Don’t skip this step. Write it all down.
- Triage – The triage step involves deciding which are the high dollar activities and which need to be delegated. Ask yourself, “If I could only do 3 of these activities, which ones would they be?” Some you will simply want to delete and stop doing entirely. This step gives you clarity of purpose. It also gives you the job description for the team member or virtual assistant that you may add. If you already have an assistant or team in place, this list is now their playbook.
- Know what you are worth! – Many of you will be tempted to simply read this and move on with your life. I challenge you not to. Go through this with me. You will thank me.
I’m going to use round numbers. Let’s assume that you work 50 weeks a year and 40 hours a week. Now write down what your income goal for the year is. Great. The math looks like this.
50 weeks x 40 hours/week = 2,000 hours worked in a year
Income Goal / 2,000 hours = your value per hour
If you want to make $100,000 this year, then $100,000 / 2,000 hours = $50/hr. If you want to make $400,000 this year, then your are worth $200/hr.
Rod Santomassimo, the president and founder of the coaching firm the Massimo-Group, knows his number. He has a note on his desk that reads, “Is what you are doing right now worth $___/hr? If not, stop doing it!” This is why you must know your worth. It allows you to effectively focus on the activities that maximize your effectiveness and earning potential. Otherwise, you are leaving money on the table.
So what are you worth? How will knowing this number effect how you lead and work? Let me know in the comments below!
Please join Angela Brown and me for a free webinar sponsored by CoStar!
During this live presentation with social CRE experts, you will learn best practices for elevating and managing your social media presence on Twitter. This program will go beyond the basics, leaving participants with actionable information that they can use right away.
Our topics include:
What you can do with Twitter – You’ve heard all the fuss but what is it good for?
Nailing the profile – A look at profile best practices and recent changes to its appearance
Connect with clients and prospects using
“The Rule of Thirds”
-Angela Brown, Communications Manager, CoStar Group
-Bo Barron, CCIM, Managing Director, Sperry Van Ness/The Barron Group
*Do you communicate on a social media channel? If so, spread the word! Tell those that may benefit from this webinar to join us.
I need to confess. I am a huge University of Kentucky basketball fan. Huge. I have managed to successfully brainwash my children as well. My parents met while attending UK. I have been going to games my entire life. If you don’t know already, after Louisville, Duke is the most hated rival that we have. Christian Laettner, Bobby Hurley….makes me feel icky.
So at this point you are wondering why am I talking college basketball? Because I am excited about going to Duke University next week. I never thought I would say that.
Next week is the Commercial Real Estate Broker Owner Success Summit (CRE BOSS) put on by the Massimo-Group at Duke University. I will be there facilitating the Summit in my capacity as a coach for the Massimo-Group.
I’m excited because CRE BOSS is something new – fresh – different. This isn’t the same old conference with the same speakers. BOSS is something else. This summit is an exclusive first-class event for Broker/Owners and has two goals:
- Maximize the Production of Your Individual Brokers – How do you give your brokers and advisors every competitive advantage to be successful? How can you train and mentor them into becoming top producers? How do you create self-motivated high achievers?
- Maximize the Value of Your Brokerage Firm – How do you control costs while enhancing the client experience? How can you grow your firm? Mergers and Acquisitions? What kind of exit strategy or succession plan do you have? Is your firm being built to be sold?
Not only is the focus of the Summit to benefit the broker/owner, but the speakers are world-class achievers themselves. We will get to hear and learn from the likes of:
- Bob Knakal, Chairman of New York City’s top firm Massey-Knakal
- Finn Johnson, President and Founder of RunMyBusiness and 25 year veteran at all levels of the Commercial Real Estate Industry
- Warren Greshes, Hall of Fame speaker, top-selling author and expert in sales, motivation and employee motivation
- Lee Rust, Florida Corporate Finance, M&A and succession planning expert
- Rod Santomassimo, CCIM – President and Founder of the Massimo-Group and author of the best-selling CRE book, Brokers Who Dominate
Be on the lookout for some post from CRE BOSS next week!
So answer this question for me. What are you willing to do in 2013 to ensure that you are investing in yourself by attending events like this one?
In a previous post – 12 Keys to Becoming a Top Producer – Faster! – I shared that one of those keys is reading. I mentioned in that section that I had wanted to improve the impact of my elevator speech so I read Small Message, Big Impact by Terri Sjodin. Great book. This is a must read for anyone in sales. By the way, we are all in sales in some way.
Cory Spanko commented on that post asking if I would share that elevator speech. So this is my response to his request. (Thanks Cory for giving me the idea for this post! DM me your address on twitter – I’d like to send you this book.)
About a year ago, I was in Chicago for the Sperry Van Ness National Convention. It is always a great event. I leave with dozens of actionable ideas from the first-class advisors that attend. This convention had a competition called SVN Idol. The premise of the competition was 4 advisors would compete in giving “The Presentation.” The winner won $1000. I was one of the four. I was going to win that prize.
We were told in advance that we would compete in giving the canned SVN listing presentation. (I don’t like canned presentations, but that is a topic for another post.) We were not told that there would be round two. In round two, we had to give an elevator speech. I was not prepared. Transparently, I tend to be good when I’m prepared. I’m not awesome on the fly. I did well in round 1. I bombed round 2. My good friend Henry Hanna left victorious. I left knowing that I had a few books to read.
The key to a powerful elevator speech is that it gets you a meeting. That is all it needs to do. If I’m in line at Starbucks and have an opportunity, can I get a meeting with a prospect in 90 seconds? Not only must it be powerful, but it needs to be adaptable. Too many people look for the magic bullet – if I say these 3 things, I’ll get that meeting. No. You need a powerful framework that can be custom fit to the prospect.
That framework is Monroe’s Motivational Sequence (MMS). Thank you @terrisjodin for writing a fantastic book! MMS is a logical and sequential 5 step process to motivate someone to take action. This method does not have to be an elevator speech. It could be much longer. It works brilliantly for a super short speech, however.
The 5 Steps of Monroe’s Motivational Sequence
- Attention – I always think about Alec Baldwin in Glengarry Glen Ross here. But you don’t have to be a complete jerk to get someone’s attention. You do have to be interesting. You do have to understand what is important to your prospect. Example: “There is only one way to maximize the value of your property, and my company is the only one that can do it.”
- Problem – This could also be an opportunity. I’ve heard John McDermott say 100 times that people sell property because they have a problem or an opportunity. That’s it. I think the same is true of anyone buying or selling anything. They have a problem or an opportunity. You need to know what it is, and hone in on it here.
- Solution – Share with them the solution to their problem or opportunity. Ideally, how you can solve their problem or help them capitalize on their opportunity.
- Visualize – This step hooks them. Here you want to encourage them to visualize the glorious future destiny that awaits them if your solution becomes a reality for them. Use the word “imagine.” ”Imagine how much fun it will be, Mr. Prospect, when multiple capable buyers are competing for your property and driving up the price!”
- Action – Now you share with them what you would like them to do. In the context of an elevator speech, you want them to agree to have the next meeting. If you are a politician, you want their vote. Be specific. Ask them to sign on the line that is dotted!
As a parting example, watch this video of my dad making his announcement speech to run for office. It is short and sweet. See if you can pick out the steps above. [Skip to the 4 minute mark]
I’d love to hear from you in the comments below. Share a story of an elevator speech opportunity that went well. Or that bombed. What other elevator speech methods have you used with success?
The path to success is not clearly marked. It is muddled. It is foggy. You realize you have gone off the path as you get up from the ditch. In this 2-part post, I want to help shed light on the path to success by sharing the 12 keys to becoming a top producer – faster! In this post, I cover the second 6 keys. (You can find Part 1 here.)
In my last post, I introduced the first 6 keys to becoming a top producer – faster! Before I share 7 – 12, let me briefly review the first 6:
- Obtain Knowledge
- Become a Student of Top Producers
- Hire a coach!
- Go to Conferences
- Systematize Your Business
12 Keys to Becoming a Top Producer – Faster!
7. Use Technology for its Time Management & Efficiency Benefits – I am not the tech geek that can explain to you how things actually work. I just love using technology to squeeze more productivity out of a day. Top producers are fanatical about time management and efficiency. I have written posts that go into more depth about this:
- My Tools to Manage Twitter in 15 Minutes a Day
- The 5 Steps to a Paperless Office
- Light Bulb! The 5 Benefits of the Virtual Office
8. Build a Team – Top producers are team oriented. Top Producers are not loners. They don’t try to do everything. They understand the value of a team. And not only just having a team, but maximizing the production of that team. Rod Santomassimo discusses this in his best-selling CRE book – Brokers Who Dominate. Beyond the fact that I am profiled – along with about 22 others – this is must reading for any CRE practitioner.
Top producing brokerage teams are generally made up of a Senior Producer (Rainmaker), and Junior/New to the Business advisor, and an administrative assistant. The key to the best teams is hiring/recruiting well and assigning tasks according to the strengths of the team. The best teams run like a well-oiled machine (or the Colts offense in the 2nd half of Sunday’s game!). They do so because everyone knows the plays. They know their roles. Systems and communication are vital. Read more about systems here.
9. Treat Your Business Like a Business – The alternative is treating it like a hobby. You’d be shocked at how many brokers treat their businesses like a hobby. I can look at your books and tell you in 30 seconds whether you have a hobby or a business. The difference? Brokers that treat their business like a business invest in it. They spend money hiring a coach. They advertise. They go to conferences (see key #4 above). They hire talented team members. Brokers that have a hobby tend to whine about not having money to put in their business. It is really that simple. Top producers invest in their business.
10. Focused and Positive – Top producers work while they are at work. This seems so simple, but it is not. Top producers don’t spend much time chatting with others in the office. They are not found at the water cooler. They never take an hour “off” for lunch. They may have a lunch meeting, but they never shut it down for an hour in the middle of the day.
They also have unwavering positive attitudes. PMA – positive mental attitude. They choose to be positive – optimistic. They understand the message of Dead Poet’s Society because they live it.
11. Specialization – In retrospect, specialization should be #2 on the list. Top producers are not generalists. They specialize in an asset vertical or at least a geography. (I have to throw the geography part in here because I am a small town geographical specialist – at least in part.) This allows them to create presence as an expert – to be the go-to guy. If you are the broker who will work on anything – stop it. Pick a lane and become the subject matter expert in that lane.
12. Passion – Top producers bleed passion. It oozes out of their pores. They can’t wait to get to work in the morning and absolutely love what they do. Everyone has tough days, but passion is what top producers rely on to persevere. Passion is the ingredient that brings the other 11 keys together into a sum that is much great than its parts. Passion sells – it is obvious to your clients whether you possess it – or you don’t!