On separate occasions I recently met with two commercial real estate company owners. These guys don’t know each other but they have a lot in common: Despite great effort, neither is happy with their revenue. Both companies are doing okay but not thriving.
A quick examination revealed the same reason why revenues are falling short. Both owners are mistaking promotional activity for selling activity.
Allow me to explain…
Both of these entrepreneurs tirelessly promote their companies. They belong to service clubs, real estate groups and chambers of commerce. They show up at networking events. They lead active social lives. They advertise. They buy social media ads and boost posts. They sponsor events. One of them even sponsors a youth sports team. Yet despite this activity, neither is getting enough new business to come through the door.
So, what’s the problem?
While they’re doing a great job with promoting, neither is focused on selling. Both entrepreneurs are getting their brands out in the marketplace. They are creating name recognition and associating their brands with positive feelings. But promotion is simply not enough. Promotional activities don’t in-and-of-themselves lead directly to signed deals. If you stop at promotion, you’re not going far enough.
To make a military analogy, think of promotional activity as analogous to an air raid and selling to be an analogy for the infantry. If one military is going to attack another, they often use their air forces to weaken the target before the infantry soldiers invade. You don’t win wars with air power alone. At some point, the infantry must win it on the ground.
I’m a little hesitant to use the military analogy because good brokers don’t “attack” prospective customers. Instead they work with them to find beneficial solutions. Nevertheless, promotional activities “soften” up the target audience while brokers (the “ground forces”) finish the process.
No matter how tirelessly you promote, and no matter how much you spend on marketing, closing a deal usually requires someone from your company to do four things in exact order:
- Interrupt someone’s day and turn them into a prospect;
- Figure out what prospects truly care about;
- Demonstrate how the property or representation service exactly meets their needs;
- Confidently ask them to sign up.
To be successful, you to repeat this process with multiple people each and every day. If you’re not focused on the four activities above, you are wasting time and money.
But it’s not just glad-handing, socializing owners/executives who are guilty of this. Some brokers are too. Yes, people who actually work in commercial real estate brokerage will often promote instead of sell.
Some brokers will sit and wait for the phone to ring rather than proactively pick up the phone and call prospects. You could describe these brokers “reluctant,” “timid” or “procrastinators.”
Other brokers will wine-and-dine clients but not steer them to the close. A good name for these people would be “professional lunch eaters” or “professional coffee drinkers.”
It’s easy to do the relationship-building part of brokerage, but it’s hard for some people to follow through with the closing part. Asking for the order is inherently difficult, because it’s not fun to be turned down. It’s human nature to avoid rejection. Because of that, many people put themselves out there, build relationships and simply hope and pray that the clients will come to them.
That’s too passive. Waiting for people to volunteer to be your clients might work occasionally, but it won’t generate enough business to sustain you.
It’s true that successful CRE brokers must engage in promotional activity, but that is simply a means to an end. Your success is ultimately judged when your prospect signs their name on the dotted line. That means you must be constantly focused on the real measure of success.
Two Examples of Why You Should Choose Jeff Beals as Your Company’s Next Speaker:
“Jeff Beals has presented four different topics at five of our internal events in one year. At each event, the audience of commercial real estate principals and agents was completely engaged and motivated the entire time. Jeff facilitates his training sessions in such a way that each member of the audience was able to relate and understand how to apply it every day in the field. Jeff is brilliant, and we have hired him to continue speaking at our events next year!”
– Lindsay Fierro, Senior Vice President, NAI Global, New York, NY
“Jeff spoke at our chapter in December. His presentation on self-branding was outstanding and our membership was very impressed with Jeff’s knowledge and insight. Not only was the presentation educational, it was a heck of a lot of fun. Jeff’s stories are hilarious and we all had a great time learning how to advance our careers! Our survey results after the meeting had 90% of the respondents marking the program as “excellent” with the other 10% as good. It was our best-scoring program in years!”
– Wayne Teig, International Tenant Representation Alliance, Minneapolis, MN