If you want to win over a new client or prospect in commercial real estate, the way to do it is to be absorbed totally in your market and property specialty; you then need to show those traits. Clients sense relevance and specialty when it is real; they know when you are really good at what you are talking about. They can see and sense a top agent at their craft.
I was recently talking with a potential client that had a difficult large and older warehouse property to lease. It was an office/warehouse configuration of 5,000 m2 (53,000 ft2) including the office component of 300 m2 (3,300 ft2). Quite a few agents had tried to market the property over the last 12 months (albeit poorly) to no avail. When I had a look at the property I could see a few problems that really stood out:
- The client had chosen the ‘open listing method’ 12 months ago with 3 industrial real estate agents. As a result no single agent took on the listing completely and marketed it comprehensively. The only way property information was been given out was if someone had called up or inquired on the listing. The marketing was based on ‘luck’. Any quality property today should be comprehensively marketed exclusively.
- The property was to be leased, and no rent adjustments had been put to the client over the whole 12 months of marketing. This had created little momentum or factors of attraction. In one year you could count the property inspections undertaken on one hand.
- The listing was very stale and not been refreshed with a new message to the tenants that may have been looking. The advertising layout was ordinary at best. The advertising copy was not well matched to the ‘keywords’ used in the search engines. The text of the advertising had few if any ‘words that sell’. The advertising was ‘boring’. A call to action was not exciting or focused on a target market.
- Whilst the vacant property was clear of clutter, it was dusty and looked old. Something should have been done to freshen up the visual side of the property. It needed to be more inviting as a warehouse and office complex.
- The marketing campaign had been sporadic at best. Some money had been spent by the client on internet listings and signage on the property. As a result the agents had loaded the listings to the portals and done little else.
- The marketing lacked a ‘theme or message’. There was no defined target market around which the marketing was designed.
So why had this happened? I guess the client made a few mistakes in the way they wanted the agents to market the property. The listing should have been an exclusive listing from the very start. The property was too unique to be handled otherwise; it should never been marketed generically. Any listing presentation should have been strategic and tactical.
Some clients think that they can cover the market by listing with a few agents at the same time; some clients are ‘difficult’ to say the least. The reality is that those agents will put the listing at the ‘bottom of the pile’. It stands to reason that any agent will work more on their exclusive listings before anything else.
So what should you do in this situation? Some clients need to be challenged by real market knowledge and creative ideas; don’t accept a mediocre listing, and be prepared to sell a solid marketing recommendation or campaign. If you do this correctly you can easily show your skills and relevance to the client; they then know that they need you. If you are a top agent you can do this; that’s how you convert more listings exclusively.
In this property situation I was quite happy to show the client the errors that had been made (I will not take on an overpriced or unrealistic listing – that’s the rule), but I also spoke from a position of re-packaging the listing including a solid target market strategy. I included lots of market facts and some unique marketing ideas. The property is now listed exclusively and re-branded for a better promotional story. From this point on-wards it is all about remaining firm and directing the client through what needs to be done.
I have said this so many times before and I will say it again; your ability to convert exclusive listings largely stems from your capacity to show relevance and experience.