Posts Tagged ‘Sales Success’

You’re Giving Up Too Soon When Prospecting

September 29th, 2014 No comments

This month I have been traveling the country and presenting strategies on prospecting. This week I hosted a national webinar on the same subject. During these sessions, we addressed the meaning of prospecting (asking for the business), the objective of initial prospecting efforts (getting the meeting) and approaches of prospecting (letters, calls, meetings – never emails).

One question I always ask my audience is frequency of prospecting; that is how many times they may call a prospect before giving up. More times than not the answer is 3. 3! Really? The underlying reason is the adopted mindset of “3 strikes and you’re out!”

Last time I checked commercial real estate was not played on a diamond-shaped field. There was no one pitching you balls to hit, although the idea of prospects calling you directly is where you should strive to be. If you must use baseball as an analogy, consider this:

Babe Ruth is known as the Home Run King (The magical 714, before the great Hank Aaron, and the presumed medically-enhanced Barry Bonds).
Babe Ruth also held the record holder for most strike-outs (now held by Reggie Jackson, who also in #13 on the most homeruns list of all time).
Ironically Babe Ruth’s jersey number was “3″.

How many home runs would Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron, Barry Bonds or even Reggie Jackson have hit if instead of “3″, the rule was “7 strikes and you’re out!”

Seriously, how many more home runs would Babe Ruth had hit if he had 4 more chances to swing his bat every time he got up? One could easily project double. How many more times would he have struck out? Given the hypothetical “7 strikes and you’re out”, he would have actually struck out a lot less.

Now consider these facts on prospecting:

- It takes an average of 7 attempts to simply make a contact with a prospect.
- It takes an average of 7 no’s from a prospect before they say yes.

Those that make more quality, targeted calls, make more money than those that do not.

Professional persistence pays off. Drop the baseball mindset. By putting these limits on your efforts, you are putting limits on your success.


5 Sales Lessons from ICSC Vegas

May 27th, 2014 No comments

Last week I, along with an estimated 36,000 others, attended RECon 2014, the ICSC annual retail extravaganza in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Like most attendees, my days consisted of back to back meetings.  My nights included a rotation of parties.  However this year, compared to years I have attended in the past, was better attended and had a much higher vibe.  Not sure a 50-year-old knows what “vibe” is, but there simply was a higher level of energy!

As such, here are 5 key lessons for all in the real estate community, even those who don’t necessarily work in the retail sector.

Rod Santomassimo of the Massimo Group with client Jeff Rowlett of Marcus and Millichap

Rod Santomassimo of the Massimo Group with client Jeff Rowlett of Marcus and Millichap

1) You have to be seen.  Think about it.  It is highly unlikely ALL your clients, prospects, influences and referral sources are not located exclusively in your local market.  The Massimo Group has clients throughout North America, and most brokerages have more than a local presence.  There is no substitution for meeting someone face to face.  Admittedly I met scores of our clients for the first time.  Many I had only seen on our video conference calls, others I had never met.  These relationships are now greatly enhanced, simply because we were able to shake hands, bump fists and even man-hug in some cases.

2) Its not only a retail conference.  What, did I actually suggest ICSC is not a retail conference?  Of course it is; however, many of our office and apartment brokerage clients were attending because they understood their targeted owners would be there as well.  And according to #1 above, it is essential that they physically meet and interact with these clients.

3) Party at the Pool.  The actual conference hall was almost explosive in terms of velocity of people and conversations.  The only place that outpaced the quality of these conversations was the pool.  Both during the day and evening festivities, the pools of Vegas resorts were ground zero for owners, brokers and developers to assemble, entertain and engage in relationship-building activities.

4) You must invest in yourself.  We have always preached that the greatest asset you have is YOU! So you need to make the investment in yourself.  Tens of thousands of people invested thousands of dollars to travel, attend and house themselves.  Companies spent Hundreds of thousands of dollars as well.  Why?  See #1-3 above.

5) Never sleep in the Chicago Airport.  Due to horrendous weather, coupled with sold out hotels, I had the opportunity to sleep, or at least attempt to, at Chicago O’Hare on Tuesday evening.  Thank goodness for the internet.  As this was a time to review all our meetings, and schedule follow up activities to ensure our investment (see #4 above) will provide ample returns for years to come.

So, next year I hope to see you in Vegas as well.  Maybe at the conference, preferably by the pool, but hopefully not overnight in the Chicago airport!


Hey Duke -You Can’t Simply Show Up Anymore

March 25th, 2014 No comments

DukelossI am taking a break this week from the prospect series to remind you of a lesson I shared before. March Madness is upon us and once again, like two years ago, my beloved Duke Blue Devils reminded me that you can’t just show up and expect to have success. I believe Duke was favored by double digits, playing 20 miles away from their campus and playing Mercer, a school with just over 8,000 students.

Duke assumed they would simply show up and win. They did not appear to be mentally or emotionally prepared to play. Mercer, on the other hand, was experienced, prepared and most importantly, performed.

It reminded me of how some commercial real estate professionals go into meetings and/or presentations with existing clients and assume they will simply be handed the new opportunity.  Then they are shocked to learn a competitor, who also presented, was more prepared and thus “stole” the client.  It’s not really stealing when you give your client away.

Mercer’s victory not only ended any hope for all those Warren Buffet want-to-be billionaires, but also highlights a key lesson for the rest of us. You can’t just show up and expect success.

We will get back to our prospecting series next week. To review our recent prospecting related posts, click here.


When Your Prospect Says “Send me information”, Say THIS – Prospect Qualification – Part Two of Two

March 18th, 2014 12 comments

In last week’s blog, I noted that NOTHING and I mean NOTHING irritates me as much as a slow maybe. It is absolutely frustrating. Give me a quick no, now. I also noted how I see others (not our clients, they now know better) put themselves in the position where their prospects continue to suggest they are interested in their services but can never commit. take ctrl

I noted how it was time to stop letting prospects control you. It’s time to take control of the process and start working with those who are ready, willing and able to make a decision. Then we shared The “Prospect Spectrum” – 8 steps to determine how qualified a prospect really is.

However, what happens when you do qualify a prospect and the prospect then asks you to “Send Information” or to “Submit a Proposal”. What do you do then?

In this Massimo Minute, I want to share with you the two questions you should ask your prospect when they ask you to prepare material for their review.

The first one is simple. “Great, what information are you specifically looking for that will put you in position to make a decision.”  This allows you to send applicable, customized information, instead of just some boilerplate, put together in 3 minutes. It won’t get you any business; I am really just throwing darts on a wall, information.

If your prospect cannot articulate what they want you to send, then you haven’t qualified your prospect, or perhaps you haven’t articulated your value proposition as well as you think you did. A qualified prospect should be able to clearly communicate what they are looking for to allow them to make a decision. If they can’t, review the Prospect Spectrum from my last blog and see what step(s) you missed.

Second and the most important, once the prospect clarifies for you what to send, ask for a follow up commitment. This “follow up commitment” will save you more time, money, aggravation and frustration than you could ever imagine. Remember, nothing aggravates me more than a slow no; chasing for an answer and being dragged through the field of “only ifs”. You don’t want to go there; this is where you lose all control.

What is a follow up commitment? It goes something like this. “Great, but before I send you ______________ (the information, the proposal, etc.), let’s agree to a specific date and time that we are going to _________(talk/meet) again. During that time we will decide one of two things:

  1. You want to move forward and ______________(the result you are looking for, whether it is getting a meeting, a signed exclusive, a contract, etc.), or
  2. You don’t want to move forward, but you will tell me why, as this will only help me understand how I can better serve you and other clients in the future.

Now, if the prospect won’t commit, you have some options to consider. And these we will address in our next Massimo Minute.


Image courtesy of


Prospect Qualification – How To Take Control – Part One

March 11th, 2014 2 comments

There is NOTHING and I mean NOTHING that irritates me as much as a slow ‘maybe’.  It is absolutely frustrating.  Give me a quick ‘no’ now.  There will be plenty of opportunities in the future to share with the prospect why we are the best at what we do and there really is no better choice than the Massimo Group when it comes to improving income.  Forgive me, but you should feel the same.  You want your prospects to understand they only have one choice and that choice is you.Wating

However, we put ourselves in the position where our prospects continue to suggest they are interested in our services but can never commit.  The prospect that tells you they have not had the opportunity to review your proposal, or they still need to meet with their partners.  So, still believing you have a chance to win their business, you wait, checking in periodically, yet never really making any progress.  When, in reality, you are actually digressing.  You are wasting time with unqualified prospects.

Stop letting prospects control you.  It’s time to take back the process and start working with those who are ready, willing and able to make a damn decision!

There are two steps to determine if the prospect on the other end of the phone line or table is really worth your time.  We will explore the first step today and second, a more significant step, in my next post.

First, you need to confirm where you are on the “Prospect Spectrum”.  This was an approach shared with me by Ralph Spencer, CCIM, a regular contributor to the Massimo Group.

1)     They have a need for some type of commercial real estate solution.  Recognize your prospects may not realize they have a need, and it’s your responsibility to determine if they do.

2)     They are aware of their commercial real estate need.  If not, is there any information you can share with them to make them aware?

3)     They have the authority to execute a solution strategy.  There is no greater waste of time than dealing with someone who has no authority.  You make your pitch asking for a meeting only to find out the prospect needs to speak to their partners, or worse, their boss.  You didn’t qualify.

4)     They have the budget approved to execute a solution strategy.  If your solution is a new lease, a new mortgage, a new purchase or consulting arrangement, make sure your prospect understands the appropriate costs.   We never send a proposal or move down the prospect process without confirming the prospect understands the required investment and expected returns.

5)     They have a relative sense of urgency about the real estate decision.  They may have a need; however, they may not believe it is a priority to them.  If you are not sure, you can always ask the question.  “When will (fill in your service solution) be a priority to you?

6)     They are familiar with your company and have had a satisfactory past experience.  The greater your presence with the prospect before you make contact the better chance you have of moving forward.

7)     They know, like and trust you.  Careful here.  Don’t assume you will win the business because you have done business with them in the past.  Confirm if they are speaking with other service providers.

8)     They are willing to be guided by what you say.  This is ideal, but even so, you need to confirm the prior 7 steps of the Prospect Spectrum.


Once you believe you have qualified (and you really haven’t fully qualified the prospect yet) you may be asked to send “additional information” or even a formal proposal.  I strongly suggest you do not proceed unless you first get one more thing from your prospect.

And that item is the subject of part two of this prospecting series.  We will post part two next week, but for now, start taking control of the process.


Image courtesy of Soul in Motion


Every Opportunity You Secure is Based ON This One Principle

March 4th, 2014 No comments

Earlier this week, a client of ours sent me a picture of him on Florida beach.  The picture comprises of a tall, seemingly, CAM00366cold beer and an interesting combination of fried delights, as well as one of the many Massimo Group exercises we gave him to assist him in working ON his business. I loved it.  Well, not the food, I can’t do fried anything, but the client was allocating the time to focus on  growing his business, and working on his business will ultimately lead to greater opportunities, both in terms of quantity and quality.

Most commercial real estate professionals spend their days prospecting for new opportunities, either on the phone or, preferably, in person.  They are negotiating contracts, and ultimately they or their teams are fulfilling these opportunities.  These elements are the most productive activities for working IN their business.  They are transactional in nature and the result of working ON their business.

If you are not working on as many opportunities as you would like, then it is a direct result of you not spending enough time working ON the business. Working ON the business comprises of your strategic plan, your marketing plan, your operational plan and even human capital plan.  Yes, even if you work by yourself or with a small team you need a human capital plan – either investing in your people or yourself.

I have yet to hear of an instance where someone has called up and said, “I don’t know you, but I want to give you my business”.  Opportunities are the result of marketing and sales, which come in many forms when working ON your business.

Those who say they are “too busy to work on their business” are the same as those who find they have no new opportunities when their existing pipeline is serviced.

Transactions are essential in any business; they are the bloodline of a business.  However, it is when you work ON your business that you work on the heart of your business.


Brokerage Business Perspectives from the 5th Row of Cameron Indoor Stadium

February 18th, 2014 No comments

This weekend I had the opportunity to sit 5 rows behind my beloved Duke Blue Devils basketball team and directly in line with Coach K.  Duke was playing the University of Maryland, which has historically been a very competitive match up.  I have been to several games in the past, but this one was special as my nephew, Greg – who is a big Duke fan himself – was recently accepted into the Naval Officers program and it was a celebratory event.  He wanted to see a game in Cameron and I wanted to watch Coach K and his managing of a game.  Heck – I run the commercial real estate industry’s biggest and, may I say, best, coaching organization so I am a student of any coaching similarities I can find. maryland

As the game progressed I found several elements that tie directly to our business and to yours as commercial real estate professionals.

 The warm up – We don’t go into a pitch or a presentation without ample preparation and practice.  Even though you may have given a similar pitch, phone call or speech several times in the past, it doesn’t mean you can wing it and expect perfection.  I am sure Jabari Parker, Duke’s top freshman and major NBA prospect knows how to dunk, but yet he as dunking in warm ups.  It wasn’t a coincidence that he had a thundering game-changing dunk in the final minute of the game; he had practiced that move thousands of times if not more.

The Game Plan – Everyone has a game plan. At least, everyone we coach.  You need to know how to set up your year, your month, your week and your day – every day.   Some days will not go as planned.  Duke had a game plan, but as it turns out they had their worse shooting performance of the year.  Simply put, their shots weren’t falling.  When the same happens to you – your shots aren’t falling – what do you do?  You adjust.

YOU HAVE TO WANT IT – After halftime, a normal phase of Duke Basketball games where Duke comes out more focused and makes one of their patented runs.  Uncharacteristically, things went the opposite way and Maryland gained the momentum.  Coach K called a time out, and stared down at his team and assertively and passionately repeated these five words, again and again and again. You Have to Want It!   Shortly thereafter momentum shift back to the Blue Devils.  Do you “want it”, do you have the passion to set a vision and make it happen?  Losing momentum in sales happens – no one is perfect.  You need to have a clear vision and passion to get the momentum back on your side.

Get Creative – The “Cameron Crazies – Dukes’ student section – are known for their creativity.   During the game one student held up a “Maryland Stinks” sign while wearing a gas mask.  He wore that darn mask throughout the entire game.  And it gets hot in Cameron!  No offense to the University of Maryland, this is just a creative example, albeit at their expense.  From a sales perspective, we must be creative.  Why did this student stick out in a sea of blue?  Because he was different.  Obviously you don’t want to offend anyone in your marketing or sales approach – that’s just wrong.   But how are you promoting your difference to your audience?

Everyone needs advice – The picture inserted in this blog, taken by yours truly, is my favorite. Cameron It shows two of the better college basketball players on the planet looking at their coach for instructions, and Coach K – the one with the BIG championship ring on his finger- instructing them what play to run.  Regardless of your level of success, freshman or senior, new-to-business or top producer, you need a mentor, a coach, or an advisor.  Someone to share how you can get better, make more sales, close more deals or work within the framework of a team.  If you don’t have one, you are simply going at it alone.  So many of your successful peers have leveraged others for their personal success – who are you leveraging?

Despite being heavy favorites, Duke managed to barely pull out another victory at Cameron.  Sometimes it takes more than what you expect to win a client, but then it is seemingly more satisfying.  Follow these five perspectives and you will certainly win more than you lose.


Cameron Crazies photo courtesy of the News and Observer



A National Championship and Prospecting Lessons all in One Weekend.

January 29th, 2014 2 comments

If you have read my book, Brokers Who Dominate, you may recall the sport of lacrosse has played a prominent part in my life.  As a kid passionate about sports, I related everything to the game.  As adults we continue to compare sports to business.  This time however, I want to switch perspectives and share with you some business lessons from a national lacrosse tournament I participated in this past weekend.

Massimo Group reps Vince and Rod Santomassimo on the far right

Massimo Group’s Vince and Rod Santomassimo on the far right

The Florida Lacrosse Classic brought together 42 teams from across the country, to compete in a national championship event, segmented by a variety of age groups.  The winner of each division would be crowned “Masters National Champion” (affectionate term for old guys who play lacrosse) and ultimately be given the opportunity to play in the World Championships in the July of this year.

I had the privilege of playing with some old friends, and other fantastic players for “Team Florida”, my old stomping grounds when I first broke into the brokerage industry in the late 1980’s.  Like most sports, the object is simple – score more goals than the other team.  Throw in the mix of 50 year old men beating you with titanium sticks while you attempt to score makes it a bit more challenging.

The First Call is always the hardest – During our first game, we were clumsy, uncoordinated and downright bad.  We flopped around with no direction and little understanding of what we were doing.  Personally, I led the pack in sloppiness.  Every time I went to the goal I got beat up and either missed my shots or got smacked into submission by an over-sized brawny defenseman.  Prospecting without a plan, direction, or understanding of your objectives or perspective is just as futile.  And yes, educated prospects will beat you up if you are not prepared.  You might as well “cold call” and at the Massimo Group, we don’t coach cold calling – don’t believe in it.

You have to find your groove – After a bad loss in game one, our team started to figure out how to play with each other, and the goals started falling.  Even my shots started falling; I got my legs and confidence back and was able to contribute.  Not all my shots went in, but you can’t score if you don’t shoot, so I knew I had to generate more shots.  I scored three goals (a hat –trick) in both games 2 and 3 and next thing I knew we were in the semi-finals.  Prospecting takes a plan, but more importantly, it’s the consistent implementation of that plan that matters.  Not every call will lead to a meeting, but I can guarantee you, avoiding prospecting will lead to very few, if any, quality meetings.  You have to take your share of shots, and sometimes more than your share.

When you’re in the groove – keep going.  In the semi-finals we faced a higher seeded team and found ourselves trailing 5 to 2 at one point.  Then our fearless team leader asked us to “have fun and do something stupid”.  All it took was one shot and I was “in the zone”.  I kept on taking my shots, abusing my

When your in the groove, don't stop!

When your in the groove, don’t stop!

body in the process, ended up with four goals and we found ourselves winning 10-9 and on our way to the National Finals for our division.   I have seen far too many times folks giving up way to soon in their prospecting efforts.  They secure one meeting and tell themselves to “stop while I’m hot”.  How self-defeating is that?  If you’re hot, take more shots, make more prospecting calls and ride the wave.

Make “one more call” – In the finals we faced a strong team from Maryland.  However, my personal groove was gone.  I stopped taking my shots.  Things were not falling for me.  Thankfully, we had a strong team; no longer resembling the bumbling old men we looked like only 2 days and 4 games earlier. We took a 7-2 lead late in the game, only to have our opponent tie the score at 8 in the final minute.  The game would go to sudden–death overtime, with the next goal securing the National Championship.  Despite playing poorly, I knew I was ready, in fact as soon as the game was tied I told myself – “Great – now you can end up on a high-note”.    From all the abuse, beatings and moves the defense applied, I knew exactly what to do and how to get us in position to win.  I took one more shot and, luckily, it went in.  We won.  National Champions.

Similarly, there are days I prospect and get beat up all day long, just like you.  The easy decision is to cut your prospecting efforts short and move to another, less productive activity.  However, in any competition, especially sales, winning is not easy.  I can’t count how many times I, or our clients, have secured meetings by simply making one last call.  OK, it is hokey, but being persistent, regardless of how the past has played out, is what will ultimately make the difference.

For me, I am not going to Disney World, but our team is going to the World Championships later this year – even at our old age!



5 Things Every Broker Must do to Finish 2013 Strong

November 19th, 2013 No comments

November marks the last 60 days of 2013. When you take into account the last two weeks are generally lost for personal, well deserved, family time, as well as reflection on the year that was, we really only have about 45 days. But wait, there’s Thanksgiving break, other holidays that you may not recognize, but certainly your clients do and of course weekends (for those of Strong finishyou that observe these) so now we are down to less than 20 to 30 solid business days to make a difference. So what are five things you should do now to make the most of this limited time?

  1. Review with your clients any year-end planning issues.  Next week I am meeting with our accountant to review 2013 and discuss strategies for next year.  We are looking at some structural changes and other business issues.  When you approach your clients as business owners, instead of simply investors, owners or tenants. change your role from mere broker to trusted advisor.  Don’t focus on the transaction, focus on their business and they will include you.
  2. Identify clients 2014 objectives.  Similar to #1, however, much more of a look-forward perspective.  Your clients may have investment, business or personal issues that you can directly affect via repositioning of real estate or restructuring of business leases.  Owners need capital for business expansion, or child’s college, perhaps a sale-lease back, lease renegotiation or building refinancing is the answer
  3. Share any and all success stories for 2013.  Probably the number one failure of most brokers and brokerage firms is the sharing of their success.  We have found most do this improperly and have very little results from their efforts.  We share with our commercial real estate coaching clients  a specific approach for securing testimonials, creating powerful success stories and leveraging these to secure additional opportunities.  The exact approach is reserved for our clients, however, you should review all the closed transactions you completed in 2013, and be assured there are prospects in your market who would be interested in learning more about what you provided to others.
  4. Review all 2013 proposals/OVs submitted and revisit these prospects.  It is unlikely you won every pitch that you delivered this year.  No doubt, you responded to more than a handful of proposals, offered numerous opinions of value or directly proposed your services that unfortunately did not lead to a representation or listing.  Whatever happened to all these opportunities?  Were they really motivated at the time – perhaps they are now.  Things change and if these opportunities were being explored earlier in the year, they may still have some life today, or early next year.
  5. Review and Reflect.  December is the ideal time to review and reflect on the year, not January.  If you wait until January you are already behind the preverbal “8 Ball.”  In December we will post our 2013 Review and Reflection document.  Look out for it, as it will be a free download.   In general, it is time to
    • Review your prospecting, personal marketing and financial progress over the year
    • Reflect on what met and did not meet your expectations
    • Set a vision for 2014

You may have noticed the first two items focused directly on your client, the third item focused on both your client and you and the final two focused directly on you.  Ideally the primary focus of your 2013 was appropriately on your clients, and if so, you should be pleased with your year.


Systemizing Your Prospecting

October 7th, 2013 4 comments

For many brokers, the hardest part of the business is prospecting. If you’re one of these people, your antipathy to calling makes sense, especially due to the combined challenges of starting up systemconversations with people that you don’t know and the additional risk of rejection. However, getting out there and prospecting is well worth it. Just one good call could turn into tens or thousands of dollars of income. One of the keys to successful prospecting is to take what could be a random activity and turn it into a systemized process.

The key to successful prospecting is momentum. When you get into a groove, you make more calls in less time. It also becomes progressively easier to pick up the phone after each call. The momentum also creates similar benefits on the call as you are able to use what you learn on previous calls to make subsequent calls more effective.

Building momentum can be challenging. Between all the interruptions that most offices bring and the tendency to procrastinate during your calling campaigns, you might find yourself just making a couple of calls at a stretch. Here are some techniques that can help you to increase your focus and make more calls in less time:

- Block out times to call. Making an appointment with yourself to get on the phone eliminates the excuse that you don’t have time to do it. If you treat the time as it is a meeting with a client and close your email program, switch your cellphone to silent mode and let incoming calls go to voicemail, you might be amazed at how much you get done.

- Sometimes “time” can be intimidating.  A “1 hour call block” may seem like 10 hours for some.  In these instances we suggest setting a “rep” goal.  Instead of one hour, perhaps the goal is 10 dials, or 10 connections.  The latter of course will take much longer to achieve, but setting a small “rep” goal can be the catalyst to quickly building a habit and growing from there.

- Plan your prospects. Instead of randomly paging through your database looking for people to call, take the time to predefine your dialing list. This makes it easier for you to go from call to call quickly.

- Pre-book follow ups. After each call, put an entry in your CRM’s calendar or your calling program to remind you to make your follow up call. Even if your call was not fruitful, consider booking a call for two to 12 months in the future so that you can touch the prospect again and have a chance at better luck. As you do this, you will find that you are making more and more pre-planned calls and fewer and fewer cold calls, reducing your planning time.

- Use an automatic dialer. Many customer relationship management (CRM) software packages can interface with a networked desk phone or with an Internet telephone on your computer to dial calls for you, saving you from stopping to dial and taking the risk of doing something else instead of dialing.

Prospecting might be hard, but it’s very fruitful. Spending a little time up front to set up a system and using your discipline to stick to it can make the process easier, and even more fruitful. Now stop reading this and go call someone!