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Commercial Real Estate Prospecting Lessons from a Commercial Airlines Pilot

October 20th, 2014 No comments

Commercial airline pilots don’t “wing it” on take-offs….Why should you? For example, the take-off is one of the most critical elements of a flight and even with thousands of hours in the cockpit, professional pilots use a checklist, each and every time they execute their take-off. The reason is simple; the procedure is proven, efficient and most importantly it works. This eliminates most human error and provides consistent take-offs that get the plane & its passengers safely in the air. UntitledMuch like the pilot’s checklist, prospecting for commercial real estate opportunities is the beginning of our flight with a prospective client. Yet, most CRE professionals “wing it”; applying hit and miss efforts & techniques that result in…you guessed it – hit and miss results! It doesn’t have to be this way. To get consistent results from your prospecting, try replicating what pilots do and create a checklist to follow each and every time. Here is what your checklist should look like. There are three components to a prospecting call:  1) Pre-Call Preparation 2) The Call and 3) Post Call Pre-Call Preparation 1) Identify who you are going to call. 2) Classify your prospect as an A, B or C prospect to represent how often you plan on contacting them (for example A clients touch 12 program (monthly); B clients touch 4 (quarterly) C clients touch 2 ( 2 x per year). 3) Validate contact information (i.e. phone number, email address, physical address) and lastly confirm the person you are going to call is the correct person. 4) Research the account. What do we know about the business; the decision maker; their physical location(s); their industry. Tools such as google, hoovers, annual reports, co-star, social sites such as LinkedIn etc. are quite useful here. 5) Schedule the call. Set a specific prospecting time on your calendar for making this call (i.e. Monday’s calls include the following prospects). 6) Update your CRM with the information you acquire during the pre-call phase. 7) Determine your pitch, marketing strategy and practice it! (Know exactly what you are going to say) 8) Send your prospect letter to the prospects telling them that you will be calling and delivering your value proposition. 9) Time permitting, send presence materials. The Call 1) Review your file, notes & marketing strategy. 2) Deliver the call including the four critical elements. – Introduction that establishes credibility and professionalism. – Involve the prospect in the call; in other words, why you are specifically calling them. – Deliver data or compelling information that creates interest and credibility. – Close with a value proposition on why they should meet with you and ASK FOR A MEETING. 3) Take notes during the call of important information obtained 4) If you get voice mail, leave a message including the previous elements and a commitment to call back in a few days Post Call 1) If you get the meeting great: – Send an email confirmation to be sure your prospect will show up – Prepare and practice your winning presentation 2) If you get rejected, remember that the rejection may have been to your message; not you, so: – Reschedule a follow up call in accordance with your designated touch program (A, B, C clients) and try a different marketing message/value proposition – Precede the next call with more presence materials to enhance your credibility 3) If you get voice mail: – Schedule your follow up call to the prospect. This should be for the next day, or within the same week at the very least. 4) Update your CRM with information obtained from the call If you create & follow a checklist, you can’t help but be better prepared for your calls; more consistent in making them; and most importantly more successful in getting the meetings. Good Prospecting, Paul Reitz | CRE Coach | The Massimo Group

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Commercial Real Estate Prospecting Lessons from a Commercial Airlines Pilot

October 20th, 2014 No comments

Commercial airline pilots don’t “wing it” on take-offs….Why should you?

For example, the take-off is one of the most critical elements of a flight and even with thousands of hours in the cockpit, professional pilots use a checklist, each and every time they execute their take-off. The reason is simple; the procedure is proven, efficient and most importantly it works. This eliminates most human error and provides consistent take-offs that get the plane & its passengers safely in the air.

UntitledMuch like the pilot’s checklist, prospecting for commercial real estate opportunities is the beginning of our flight with a prospective client. Yet, most CRE professionals “wing it”; applying hit and miss efforts & techniques that result in…you guessed it – hit and miss results! It doesn’t have to be this way. To get consistent results from your prospecting, try replicating what pilots do and create a checklist to follow each and every time. Here is what your checklist should look like.

There are three components to a prospecting call:  1) Pre-Call Preparation 2) The Call and 3) Post Call

Pre-Call Preparation

1) Identify who you are going to call.
2) Classify your prospect as an A, B or C prospect to represent how often you plan on contacting them (for example A clients touch 12 program (monthly); B clients touch 4 (quarterly) C clients touch 2 ( 2 x per year).
3) Validate contact information (i.e. phone number, email address, physical address) and lastly confirm the person you are going to call is the correct person.
4) Research the account. What do we know about the business; the decision maker; their physical location(s); their industry. Tools such as google, hoovers, annual reports, co-star, social sites such as LinkedIn etc. are quite useful here.
5) Schedule the call. Set a specific prospecting time on your calendar for making this call (i.e. Monday’s calls include the following prospects).
6) Update your CRM with the information you acquire during the pre-call phase.
7) Determine your pitch, marketing strategy and practice it! (Know exactly what you are going to say)
8) Send your prospect letter to the prospects telling them that you will be calling and delivering your value proposition.
9) Time permitting, send presence materials.

The Call

1) Review your file, notes & marketing strategy.

2) Deliver the call including the four critical elements.
- Introduction that establishes credibility and professionalism.
- Involve the prospect in the call; in other words, why you are specifically calling them.
- Deliver data or compelling information that creates interest and credibility.
- Close with a value proposition on why they should meet with you and ASK FOR A MEETING.

3) Take notes during the call of important information obtained

4) If you get voice mail, leave a message including the previous elements and a commitment to call back in a few days

Post Call

1) If you get the meeting great:
- Send an email confirmation to be sure your prospect will show up
- Prepare and practice your winning presentation

2) If you get rejected, remember that the rejection may have been to your message; not you, so:
- Reschedule a follow up call in accordance with your designated touch program (A, B, C clients) and try a different marketing message/value proposition
- Precede the next call with more presence materials to enhance your credibility

3) If you get voice mail:
- Schedule your follow up call to the prospect. This should be for the next day, or within the same week at the very least.

4) Update your CRM with information obtained from the call

If you create & follow a checklist, you can’t help but be better prepared for your calls; more consistent in making them; and most importantly more successful in getting the meetings.

Good Prospecting,

Paul Reitz | CRE Coach | The Massimo Group

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5 Responses When a Prospect Says “No Interest”

October 6th, 2014 2 comments

Last week, I outlined my experience with the general commercial real estate professional community giving up too soon in their prospecting efforts. It is common for most brokers, mortgage brokers and even those pursuing property management assignments to stop calling on a prospect after only three tries. Furthermore, I shared statistics that suggest it takes 7 attempts for a prospect to even reply, and 7 rejections from a single prospect before they will say yes. In other words, most of your peers (hopefully not you) are not even trying to win business!

Sadly, not only is there a general lack of effort in getting in front of a prospect; but when your peers (again, hopefully not you) finally get a prospect on the phone and the prospect says they are not interested, many callers will say thank you and hang up. That’s right – the prospect answered the phone – yet you (I mean your peers) let them off the hook!

Let me repeat that. You feverishly attempt to get in front of a prospect, and when you finally do, you articulate the most alluring value proposition ever created and somehow you allow that prospect to simply blow you off. I don’t think so. You need to go down with a fight. No bullets left in the gun, no arrows left in your quiver, no electrical charges left in your tazer or laser zaps left in your death ray. OK, you get the point. Here are five approaches you can take when a prospect informs you that they have no interest.

1.  Ask your prospect why not. Seems simple enough, but if they truly do not have an interest, versus simply blowing you off, they should be able to articulate it. And this will provide you invaluable information for future questions or future calls.

2. Ask your prospect when they would have an interest. It could simply be a matter of time. Either they picked up the phone at a bad time, or your prospect simply has no need for your services.

3. Ask your prospect what they are interest in. In other words – cross sell. Regardless of your focus, you can cross sell so many different services from brokerage, to financing, to management to appraisals to consulting, etc. The list goes on and on. Even if you do not have these services internally, you can align yourself with external sources. The point here is that you need to be resourceful to the prospect.

4. Ask your prospect if they know of anyone who may be interested in the benefits your service provides. Owners know owners, tenants know tenants and investors know investors. For example, “Mrs. Tenant, may I ask if you are aware of any other business owners or tenants in your network that may be interested in how I saved another tenant in your building over $200,000 in rental costs?”

5. Ask your prospect when the benefit of your services may be a priority to them. Note, this is the much more assertive version of #2 and #4 combined. It’s not for everyone. For example: “May I ask when achieving a x% cap rate on your building may be a priority to you?”

Getting in front of a prospect takes effort. It is your responsibility to ensure that these leads are given your fullest attention and strongest presentation. When you call a prospect on the phone and they tell you they don’t have an interest, don’t let them off the hook, instead use all your resources and qualify what their version of “no interest” really means. Their answers will be the key to you getting a meeting.

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5 Responses When a Prospect Says “No Interest”

October 6th, 2014 No comments

Last week, I outlined my experience with the general commercial real estate professional community giving up too soon in their prospecting efforts. It is common for most brokers, mortgage brokers and even those pursuing property management assignments to stop calling on a prospect after only three tries. Furthermore, I shared statistics that suggest it takes 7 attempts for a prospect to even reply, and 7 rejections from a single prospect before they will say yes. In other words, most of your peers (hopefully not you) are not even trying to win business!

Sadly, not only is there a general lack of effort in getting in front of a prospect; but when your peers (again, hopefully not you) finally get a
prospect on the phone and the prospect says they are not interested, many callers will say thank you and hang up. That’s right – the prospect answered the phone – yet you (I mean your peers) let them off the hook!

Let me repeat that. You feverishly attempt to get in front of a prospect, and when you finally do, you articulate the most alluring value
proposition ever created and somehow you allow that prospect to simply blow you off. I don’t think so. You need to go down with a fight. No bullets left in the gun, no arrows left in your quiver, no electrical charges left in your tazer or laser zaps left in your death ray.  OK, you get the point.  Here are five approaches you can take when a prospect informs you that they have no interest.

1.  Ask your prospect why not. Seems simple enough, but if they truly do not have an interest, versus simply blowing you off, they should be able to articulate it. And this will provide you invaluable information for future questions or future calls.

2.  Ask your prospect when they would have an interest. It could simply be a matter of time. Either they picked up the phone at a bad time, or your prospect simply has no need for your services.

3. Ask your prospect what they are interest in. In other words – cross sell. Regardless of your focus, you can cross sell so many different
services from brokerage, to financing, to management to appraisals to consulting, etc. The list goes on and on.  Even if you do not have these services internally, you can align yourself with external sources. The point here is that you need to be resourceful to the prospect.

4. Ask your prospect if they know of anyone who may be interested in the benefits your service provides.  Owners know owners, tenants know tenants and investors know investors.  For example, “Mrs. Tenant, may I ask if you are aware of any other business owners or tenants in your network that may be interested in how I saved another tenant in your building over $200,000 in rental costs?”

5. Ask your prospect when the benefit of your services may be a priority to them. Note, this is the much more assertive version of #2 and #4
combined. It’s not for everyone. For example: “May I ask when achieving a x% cap rate on your building may be a priority to you?”

Getting in front of a prospect takes effort. It is your responsibility to ensure that these leads are given your fullest attention and
strongest presentation. When you call a prospect on the phone and they tell you they don’t have an interest, don’t let them off the hook, instead use all your resources and qualify what their version of “no interest” really means. Their answers will be the key to you getting a meeting.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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  bishopclimate.me

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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

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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.

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