In commercial real estate brokerage the prospecting letter process is of real value as part of a prospecting system for new business and ongoing client contact. It should not however stand alone as the only thing that you do in finding new business, but it should be one of a number of things.
There are two key facts in making the letter process work. Here they are:
- Regularity – a number of letters should be sent over a cycle of time. They can be sent monthly or once every two months. On that basis you would be sending 6 or 12 letters per year. They should all be different in format and yet consistent in message.
- Relevance – every letter should be matched to your market and their concerns or focus points. This says that every letter should be structured with a target reader in mind. You can then have different letters for investors, developers, business leaders, and tenants.
So if this letter system is for you, then consider just who you will be sending the correspondence to and for what reason. Given that there is a cost and time factor associated with getting the letters out, make sure that you follow up all the correspondence sent with a telephone call where possible.
Sending letters without a follow-up call is a gross waste of money; the conversion factor is low. If however you take the time to follow up every message sent, you will see conversions to meetings being of great value.
If you take this concept of ‘call follow-up’ to its fullest advantage, you will or should only send out the correct number of letters that you can make the subsequent telephone calls with.
Many agents make some big mistakes with the prospecting letter process. Here are some of the most common mistakes:
- Sending out too many letters all at once – that then makes it virtually impossible to do the calls and personal contact over the next week. You only have 5 days to make your calls; after that time the letters sent are a distant memory to the people contacted.
- Creating a message that is too generic – the letters that say something like ‘Would you like to sell or lease your property?’ are virtually useless from a business generation point of view.
- Complicating the process with enclosed flyers and brochures is wrong – the object in sending the letter should be quite clear. You want the person to contact you and or take your telephone call when you make it.
- Failing to enclose a business card – your business card is a big part of the marketing process. Forget about expensive brochures; use your business card. It is quite likely that your card will be retained after any letter is tossed in the rubbish bin.
- Putting too much in your letter – in simple terms the letter should be 3 or 4 paragraphs with some ‘dot points’; adults like simplicity and will not read huge documents unless something is important to them.
- Not signing personally – you should sign the letter in blue ink with a legible personal signature. Let the receiver of the letter see that you are involved in the contact process and that your written comments are specific and not generic. Generic correspondence shows disrespect.
- Using poorly selected words as part of the message – get a book on ‘Words that Sell’ or ‘Phrases that Sell’. They will help you in crafting the right message to the people reading your correspondence. Sales letter copy is a real skill and commercial real estate is no exception. It takes practice and some real ‘word craft’. If the letter process is a struggle for you, get a professional copywriter to do the series of letters for the year. Your contact and prospecting success rate will improve if you do.
If you follow the rules you will see better conversions from correspondence sent. Don’t send out hundreds of letters without a follow-up system; just 5 letters per day are sufficient to get this system running. Plan how you send out your prospecting letters and messages so that you improve your messages with the market place in mind.