By Ward Richmond
The bottom line is, I think a little bit of masochism goes a long way when it comes to being a sales professional. Why? Because cold calling sucks.
Let’s face it, the reason I love the commercial real estate business is because I am a little bit of masochist. I have a tendency to be attracted to things that most other people find painful. The most obvious example that reflects my masochistic ways may be my choice of sports over the course of my life. My dad (who played college football and paid the price in later life with aches, pains, arthritis, etc.) heavily encouraged me to play golf or tennis when I was growing up. He may have even tried to hypnotize me. Did I listen? Of course not! I chose football. After 10 years on the O-line was brought to halt by a career ending shoulder injury, I moved on to rugby, then a marathon, then a sprint triathlon, then three Ironmans. Today, I do hot yoga. Laugh all you want but there are times on the yoga mat that require similar levels of physical and mental toughness as mile 20 of the marathon at the end of an Ironman. Well, maybe “similar” is a strong word!
Cold calling is such a beating. It is uncomfortable. It is draining. Often times, it flat out gives me a headache. It should actually be called “Proactively Talking to People Who Think You’re an Asshole.” There’s nothing I love more than thinking of other things to do (like writing a blog!), so that I can procrastinate making cold calls. That being said, I still do it. A lot. If you look at my list of appointments that I have attended this year, your mind might be blown. I have taken the necessary steps to turn myself into a prospecting machine and now I want to help you!
I wasn’t always like this. In fact, I didn’t really start methodically cold calling until about 18 months ago. During my first decade in the commercial real estate business, I built my book of business on warm calls and leveraging existing relationships while doing what I believe to be a kick ass job for my clients. This passive approach to prospecting combined with aggressively creating massive amounts of value for my clients lead to over 95% of my business being repeat business. This is an excellent stat as it relates to execution, product delivery, performance and customer service but it also meant that less than 5% of my business was new business. More importantly, I only had about 4 core clients accounting for this 95%+ of my business. This is a good problem to have but a problem nonetheless! I knew that I needed to step up my prospecting game if I really wanted to take it to the next level. So, I did.
18 Months ago, I hired business coach, Reagan Dixon, who specializes in working with senior level commercial real estate executives, to help me identify and accomplish the necessary goals to strategically grow my business. The first thing Reagan asked me was, “How many appointments did you have this week?” I was like, “Ummm, none?” He said, “Oh boy, we’ve got a lot of work to do!” Since then, I have been putting in the work. Every Wednesday at 5pm, Reagan and I discuss the appointments that I had each week and think of new ways for me to get more. He likes it when I have so many appointments that I start to lose track! I make it a priority each week to be sure that when Wednesday rolls around, Reagan will be impressed.
Below, I’ve listed what I consider to be the Top 5 Steps to Help Make Cold Calling Not Suck – As Much AKA 5 Simple Steps to Making Impactful Cold Calls. This information should be helpful when you attempt to schedule so many appointments that you start to lose track! I believe that these 5 steps can be applied to any business out there, but this is written with commercial real estate in mind. I hope you will find this information to be helpful and beneficial.
This is critical. Duh- it’s Step 1! Before you get started, you better take the time to figure out who you are going to be cold calling and why you are calling them. Don’t do anything randomly when it comes to cold calling. Specialize, specialize, specialize! You gotta love it when my fellow commercial real estate brokers get the bright idea to cold call a company because they read in the Wall Street Journal that a factory is about to shut down. Dude- this company told their real estate broker that they were considering shutting that factory down about 18 months ago. Don’t be reactive. Be proactive when selecting your target audience. Get specific. This is 2017. Customers demand proactive specialists. If you are a reactive generalist, you are gonna be toast!
I personally call on medium to extremely large companies ($100 mil+) in the logistics business. My target customers – much like my top customers – typically have multiple industrial facilities throughout multiple markets in North America and are heavily involved in the logistics industry. I primarily call on transportation companies/ 3PLs/ carriers but have also recently begun working with retailers and eCommerce companies/ shippers because they are so interconnected with the 3PLs and their real estate needs typically tend to be somewhat similar.
Take time to consider this: Why would anyone want to buy what you’re selling in the first place? Think about it. The more specific the better. Man, this one can be tough. The most important thing about your value proposition is that it needs to be authentic. I probably need to have a private coaching session with Tony Robbins before I’m properly satisfied with the quality of my value proposition, but this will have to do for now!
I have dedicated my career to working with logistics and e-commerce oriented companies to develop and execute real estate strategies on a local and global basis in an effort to maximize operational efficiency and drive value related to their “supply chain real estate” needs.
For the purposes of this article, when I say “cold calling,” I really just mean reaching out to someone that you do not know – in a business environment – to make them aware of your value proposition – in an effort to try to set a meeting at some point in the future to discuss potentially doing business together. Please remember, the point of a cold call is just to schedule a meeting. Not to get hired. If someone hires you off of a cold call (to be their commercial real estate broker), you probably do not want to have them as a client – or you might just be THAT GOOD!!!
The way I see it, there are lots of different ways to make a cold call:
Establishing immediate credibility is essential upon initial contact with your target audience. Immediate credibility is achieved by purposefully delivering the following one-two-punch of self-aggrandizing information:
a. Volume Statement
A Volume Statement is a quick synopsis of what all you (or your team) have accomplished that has made you into the so-called expert you say you are. The example that my business coach, Reagan Dixon, likes to use is his interface with a shoulder doctor. Reagan had to get shoulder surgery so he asked his doctor, “How many times have you performed this surgery?” The doctor responded, “I have performed this surgery 10 times a week for the last 25 years.” That’s one hell of a Volume Statement.
I have personally worked on hundreds of industrial real estate projects in almost every city you can name in the US and Canada plus a few projects in Mexico. My Volume Statement is just as important to me as it is to my prospects because it is truly the reason why I am a bona fide expert in my field. I have been fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to work on more “supply chain real estate” projects in more cities than most people alive.
b. Value Statement
A Value Statement is the icing on the Volume Statement cake. Reagan’s shoulder doctor’s Value Statement sealed the deal for him and got him hired. The doctor let Reagan know that he has an unparalleled track record when it comes to performing shoulder surgeries and provided Reagan with a long list of patient testimonials and references.
The Value Statement is the hard evidence that backs up the Value Proposition. Client testimonials and case studies are critical to my Value Statement. A solid case study should tell the story of massive value being created for the customer which will inevitably lead to an elevated customer experience (CX) and a raving client testimonial.
We have multiple case studies which outline how our team has worked with our clients to create significant cost savings. Sometimes we are talking about several millions of dollars in value. Cold hard cash. This story never gets old.
Other case studies focus less on dollar value and more on CX. These are my favorites. They tell stories about how our team works with our clients to collaborate and develop creative solutions, to streamline operating efficiencies, to drastically improve the ability to make decisions and make the overall real estate process more impactful and gratifying.
I always welcome the opportunity for my prospects to reach out directly to my clients to discuss our service offerings and track record.
Follow up and follow up and follow up! I have found that cold calling is much like working out – or eating healthily. If you have a good approach and you do it consistently, it gets easier. You might actually start to enjoy it.
Please, keep in mind, commercial real estate is best approached as a team sport. If you are just getting started, find yourself a mentor. If you don’t work with a team, you are missing out. Work together with your team to:
Now- to put it all together, check this out:
Hi, my name is Ward Richmond with Colliers International.
I have dedicated my career to working with logistics and e-commerce oriented companies [TARGET AUDIENCE] to develop and execute real estate strategies on a local and global basis in an effort to maximize operational efficiency and drive value related to their “supply chain real estate” needs. [VALUE PROPOSITION]
Our team has collectively negotiated hundreds of transactions throughout North America representing some of the top logistics oriented companies in the world. [VOLUME STATEMENT]
We have a few case studies that we would like to share with you which outline new creative ways that we are generating millions in cost savings and optimizing operational efficiencies for our customers. [VALUE STATEMENT]
Please let me know if you are available to schedule a 30 minute intro meeting with my team to discuss further? [DON’T HOLD YOUR BREATH!]
Go get ‘em!