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!


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!


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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…




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!

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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!

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