Build Your Database – Day 4 of 30 D2aBB

Know Your Prospects and How to Pursue Them

Lists. Anyone who sells anything needs a list. A list of prospects. A list of influencers. A list of connectors. Your database is where those lists live.

Build Yoru

I have a coaching client who has a complete database mess. He literally has 3 different databases that live in different places. One list lives in this CRM. One list lives in that CRM. His other list is an excel spreadsheet.

But at least he has a list.

My first years in commercial real estate were full of fits and starts. I didn’t prospect. I simply relied on our company’s presence in the market. Business would just walk in the door or call. Or it wouldn’t. Even if I wanted to prospect, I didn’t have a database.

Again in 2010, I restructured my prospecting focus. I didn’t have a list. So I built one (actually, my assistant did most of the work. I hope you all have a Teresa.)

Regardless of where you are in your career, you need a database full of all the people, prospects, and/or properties in your farm area. It is crucial that you can go pursue the business you want. To do that, you need to know who they are and how to contact them.

My most popular post ever is on the 3 ways to build a database. You can read it here. As a recap, here are the three ways to build your database:

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The 7 Steps to Knowing the Best Time to Prospect

Last week I received an email from one of my coaching clients.  He asked a question that we receive on a regular basis.  He asked when is the best day and time of day to call.

Great question.


The answer is there is nothing that says a certain day at a certain time is the best time to call.  To be sure, you can google this topic and find information that will tell you many different answers.  But the truth is, there isn’t a magic bullet.

There is, however, optimal times for you to call your database of prospects.  You simply have to figure out when those times are.

Before I get into how that is done, I want to address a fallacy.  Many who are in sales try to time their prospecting like someone would try to time the stock market.  This is a bad idea.  Your results will always be better – over time – if you consistently prospect on a daily basis.  You just need to keep doing it.

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The 3 Ways to Build Your Prospecting Database

I coach new to the business (N2B) commercial real estate brokers with the Massimo Group.  In my web-call with my newest group today, I was asked the question that I get asked most often.  How do I find the numbers for the prospects I need to be calling?  That is a key question, is it not?

For those of you who have never seen one of these - it is a Rolodex.  Ask your boss about it.

For those of you who have never seen one of these – it is a Rolodex. Ask your boss about it.

Do you remember the second half of 2008 – when the economy completely tanked?  You may recall how the sky was falling.  Everything changed.  Many in the CRE industry didn’t make it.

For the number of years before that time, a monkey could have made six figures.  Transactional velocity was everywhere.  Cap rates were compressing.  Capital was cheap and readily available.  Deals would just walk in your door.  But when the market turned, top producers kept succeeding while others fell away.  How did they do it?

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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.


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  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’s answer to Loopnet is the newly launched – and very free –  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 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 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 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 What new functions and products would you like to see come out of the partnership? You can leave a comment by clicking here.





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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.



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.

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