In last week’s post, the Difference Between Top Producers and the Others, I made the case that top producers prospect. That is the difference. They schedule time to do it. They have a system that they execute. It works. It sets them apart. I have also written a post on the benefits of systematizing your business. Both of these posts deal with the “why.” Before you go any further, I encourage you to take a few moments and take a look at those posts. Knowing “how” without believing in the “why” will lead to burnout and letdown.
I highly recommend coaching. Regardless of your level of success, a coach and mentor can provide you with great benefit. At the beginning of 2010, I hired the Massimo-Group to coach me in my commercial real estate business. Up until that time, I had never systematized my prospecting efforts. There was no rhyme or reason. Often, there was no prospecting at all. My coach helped me change that and revolutionized my business in the process.
I want to clarify what I mean by prospecting. Prospecting is a form of business development. Networking and building a presence – or a platform – is another form of business development. Their activities are similar. Their purpose is completely different. (To read about the difference between prospecting and networking, click here.) Prospecting involves asking for the business. That is its only purpose.
Since my last post on prospecting, I’ve received a number of questions about how to do it. My way is not the only way, but any effective prospecting system will have elements of these 8 steps. This is exactly how I built my core business. You can do it too!
How to Build a Prospecting System
- Define your geography – This is as simple as it sounds. You have to know what geography you are working in. I come from a small tertiary market. To have enough Single Tenant Net Lease (STNL) properties to go after, I built a state-wide database. I’ve heard different numbers, but you need at least 350 properties in your farm area. If you are in Los Angeles like one of my clients, you may just have a section of such a large city. Regardless, you need to be able to articulate it with clarity.
- Choose your specialty – If there is one thing true of top produces, other than they prospect, it is that they are specialists. Use this test. What are you good at? What do you like? And where is the deal velocity? Your specialty should be where these three answers intersect. A quick note: it is OK to be a geographical specialist. The number one broker from the number one CRE firm in New York City is a geographical specialist. And he kills it!
- Build your database – Once you know your geography and your specialty, it is time to build your database. It should include all the properties in your farm area. You need to know who owns what, how long they’ve owned it, what they paid, and their contact information. I’ve heard brokers talk about how they used to have all that information on notecards. My assistant built mine using Excel. We then imported it into my cloud-based CRM solution. All of that info is now in my iPhone.
- Send them something in the mail – This could be a book, a letter, anything of value. The whole idea here is you want to raise your chances that they will take your call and talk to you. Letters are cheap. There is no reason not to send them. Get creative. You want them to want to take your call.
- Make the dang call – This is the scary part for most brokers and salespeople. Fear of rejection. Fear of sounding and feeling stupid. You must overcome those fears. You must prepare – but not so much that you never make the call. The entire goal of the cold call is to get a meeting. That is it. If you spend 30 minutes talking, you have missed the point. Get the face to face meeting.
- Have the meeting – Face to face is where the top producers excel. These meetings can take two forms. I prefer the first meeting to be a needs-analysis meeting. I am asking questions of the prospect and it is all about them. Then the second meeting is where I make my proposal. That isn’t always possible, but it is certainly ideal.
- Make the proposal – Sometimes, step 6 and 7 happen at the same time. Ideally, you have had the needs-analysis interview and then gone and crafted a custom proposal that addresses the specific needs of that specific prospect. This beats a canned-presentation every time.
- Win the listing/Make the sale – this is what success looks like. After a while of doing this, you will know that if I make X amount of calls, I will get this many meetings. If I get X amount of meetings, I will make this many proposals. If I make X amount of proposals, I will win this many listings.