commercial real estate canvassing

How to Approach, Nurture and Convert with Commercial Real Estate Canvassing

In the world of mass email blasts, the monotony of cold calling, waiting too long for responses and a society overstimulated by marketing messages, face to face is the way to bust through to success in the commercial real estate market.

Companies and businesses are on the move, whether they’re growing or downsizing, they need a professional space to function. Viewing a company or business as a living, breathing ever-changing entity, you realize that there exists a high need to downsize or up-size, move to different locations, expand into more than one office suite, scale down from three office suites to two, and more. Therefore, your main objective is to talk with and build a relationship of trust and mutual respect with decision makers within each company or business to assist with their movement.  

The act of commercial real estate canvassing—aka “beat your feet across the pavement”— puts you in direct touch and builds a relationship with companies and businesses who need your commercial real estate expertise, further establishing you as the expert. There’s something to be said for a firm handshake and a face to face introduction.

Commercial Real Estate Canvassing Plan

Benjamin Franklin said it best—“If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” This is not meant as a negative, but rather, a strong statement that hopefully encourages you to be prepared.

Time taken to create a commercial real estate canvassing plan and actually following through with the canvassing activities is time well-spent in marketing yourself as the commercial real estate expert within a specific territory. It’s about meeting business/company decision makers face to face; offering them value; nurturing them while building a trustworthy relationship and then converting them into clients so that you can meet all their commercial real estate needs.

So, take out your calendars and let’s start planning!

When are you going to canvass?

Commit and dedicate some of your time to commercial real estate canvassing. Maybe your schedule allows you to go out only one day per week or maybe you can find time to go out every single day during business hours.

The secret sauce? The more you dedicate to canvassing, the more saturated you become in the market and the more business/company decision makers will come to trust you. And, that my friends, is the beginning to a beautiful, long-lasting business relationship!

What areas are you going to canvass?

There are a few ways to decide. A common method is to ask your commercial real estate broker for suggestions, but the key is making sure the territory you choose to canvass has the right type of businesses/companies you hope to do business with:

  • Maybe you want to work with architecture firms only?
  • Maybe you want to work with start-ups who are growing at a steady pace?
  • What about high-rises with no less that 500 suites?
  • A business park that houses various types of companies and businesses?
  • Segregate based on streets? (For example, visit all businesses from 1000 to 5000 Success Street during week #1 and then proceed to 1000 to 5000 Money Street the next week.)

Use your calendar to make an appointment with yourself, including where and when you are going to canvass. By putting this in writing or typing it into your electronic calendaring system, it makes it more difficult for you to cancel.

BONUS TIP: SPOTIO is directly integrated with Google Calendar, allowing you to sync your appointments across your whole team so that everyone knows your schedule.

For example, let’s say you are going to start canvassing the week of March 27th. Mark your calendar with “Canvass 1-3pm W1 1000 to 5000 Success Street.” This indicates that you plan on week 1 canvassing from 1pm to 3pm from the 1000 block to the 5000 block of Success Street.

Rule of Thumb: In one day spent commercial real estate canvassing, based on the close proximity of businesses and 7 hours of canvassing speaking with 6 businesses per hour for 10 minutes each, you should “touch” between 40 and 45 businesses per day.

Plan out exactly where and when you are going to canvass for at least the next few weeks. We suggest planning ahead at least 8 weeks so that for a specific time period, you have an exact canvassing plan and can schedule your other time accordingly for other duties such as paperwork, social media, phone calls, showing properties, etc.

It’s All in the Approach when doing Commercial Real Estate Canvassing

Obviously, the ultimate goal in commercial real estate canvassing is to procure clients who take real estate actions with you, based on your guidance. If this doesn’t happen, you won’t earn money. However, getting to this point takes time, specific strategies and relationship building with the companies and businesses you want to work with now, and in the future. This starts with the approach.

To establish any type of relationship, you must get in front of someone, see eye-to-eye, face-to-face, make the right introduction and an excellent first impression. Doing this pretty much seals the deal for a second meeting to continue building the relationship. The same holds true for the commercial real estate industry—most business/company owners will  respect that you took the time to stop by, shake their hand and introduce yourself.

Here are some tips to make your initial commercial real estate canvassing approach the start of a prosperous relationship:

  1. Make the initial meeting all about the potential client…not you. The only information that you should share is your name, company and reason for your visit. Then, go immediately into an open-ended question that encourages the prospect to talk, often divulging some important details. During this time, gather valuable information; qualify the business as a prospect or lead; and immediately establish trust and rapport.

Consider the following open-ended questions to get the conversation going:

  • “How did you get involved in (insert industry/business type)?”
  • “What do you know about this property?”
  • “What made you decide to office your business/company here?”
  1. Listen more than you talk. Learn all you can about the person you are speaking with; his/her company; the place of their business; general likes and dislikes. Basically, soak up as much information about the other person as possible.
  2. Use basic manners. At the conclusion of the conversation, be sure to show appreciation for the person’s time. Perhaps, shake their hand again and let them know when they can expect you to follow up.
  3. Offer value. Ask for the person’s email and/or phone number so that you can add them to your e-newsletter list. Tell them how often you send it out and what value they can expect to receive.

Especially impressive is if you identified their big commercial real estate pain point in the conversation, tell them that you actually address that in your e-newsletters and then give them a tip or trick that they can start using immediately. Talk about establishing yourself as the expert while building rapport and trust!

Bonus Tip: Use SPOTIO to input business name and address; contact’s name, email and phone number as well as the information you learned about them in the notes section to begin a record of engagement with each potential client.

That’s it…no trying to push an appointment down their throats or scheduling a meeting to discuss their commercial real estate needs—all that comes later. Besides, the people who you will be speaking with as you canvass likely were not expecting you anyway, so they may not even be thinking about commercial real estate at the time you make your presence into their company/business.

Nurturing and Converting while Commercial Real Estate Canvassing

After 8 weeks of commercial real estate canvassing, you should have a pretty hefty list of businesses/companies, contacts and contact information. You need to begin your nurturing process to convert them over to become one of your clients.

During your time spent canvassing, you have probably realized that communication is a contact sport—there must be someone on the receiving side to effectively communicate in that moment. Realize that no matter how great the conversation went with companies and businesses, it’s likely they don’t remember you. This isn’t because of anything you did, but rather, it takes time to build relationships.

Nurturing basically means following up to grow and foster a relationship through positive connections and interactions.

How long do I nurture my list?

Continue nurturing until a contact becomes a client or no longer fits into your sales pipeline.

Here’s some ideas for your first nurturing campaign:

  • An email or an actual card that expresses how nice it was to meet them. (SPOTIO users – you are in luck! We have a “zap” through Zapier with a company called Thankster. They combine personalization of handwritten notes with technology that automates this process. And, just for SPOTIO customers—20 FREE cards using coupon code: spotio20.)
  • Send out your enewsletter.
  • Send a customized response to contacts who expressed their pain point when it comes to commercial real estate, explaining in detail what they can do.

Whatever you decide to do, make sure it’s valuable; highlight who you are and what you do; and reinforce the connection that you made.

The goal with your nurturing process is to stay at the top of your contacts’ minds so that when they’re ready to participate in a commercial real estate transaction, they will immediately think of you.

How do I continue to nurture satisfied customer relationships, especially if they don’t plan on any type of commercial real estate transaction for three or more years?

These people are your biggest fans and best salespeople! They will go out of their way to recommend and refer you to others, but only if you stay in front of them.

Continue to nurture them through email marketing campaigns—send out monthly e-newsletters; choose a satisfied customer at random and sending a personalized email; send relevant tips and tricks that are helpful to your satisfied customers; create a birthday list and use tools available through SPOTIO, such as Thankster to send a personalized card.

Also, if customers rent, schedule a reminder to call these customers within the 9 to 12 month range that their lease is expiring. This shows that you truly are paying attention to the needs of your customers, even if it has, in fact, been 5 years since they’ve conducted a commercial real estate transaction with you.

Rule of Thumb: A typical commercial real estate lease is for 5 years, so plan accordingly by scheduling reminders in your SPOTIO calendar on the days you need to make “expiring lease” calls.

Everyone here at SPOTIO wishes you well on your commercial real estate canvassing adventures!

Questions or comments? Contact Ginger Schlueter, Content and Community Manager, SPOTIO at ginger@spotio.com or comment below.

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