Cold calling remains a highly effective tool for commercial real estate brokers looking to grow their business.
Before any call is made, however, there’s quite a bit that needs to happen to ensure your successful on the phone.
One of the biggest factors in your success? Call tracking and management.
The Evolution of Phone Calls in CRE
To get the most out of their cold calling efforts, commercial real estate brokers are typically advised to create a system to standardize their outreach.
The good news: Rather than shooting in the dark, you can now be more targeted with your prospecting efforts thanks to evolving productivity, tracking, management, and property intelligence tools.
Brokers and brokerage teams are increasingly able to utilize robust property intelligence to learn more about a property, the owner, and transaction history prior to reaching out to anyone.
You can also use management tools to prioritize the owners you should be reaching out to first.
Productivity and call tracking programs help you make more dials, take notes, stay on top of scheduling, and maintain an efficient stream of outreach.
The fact is, there are certain tools and best practices you can utilize as a broker to maximize the time you’re spending calling prospects, and assure that you’re not costing yourself new listings.
Calling Best Practices for CRE Brokers
There are certain general best practices any commercial agent will want to adopt before launching into cold calling.
1. Understand your market.
In addition to investigating recent transactions, you’ll want to figure out who the major players are in your market.
Study your corner more than you feel you should.
With Reonomy for example, you can easily search commercial assets in your market by size, asset type, etc., then uncover who owns those properties and how long they’ve owned them for.
This research is a critical first step that brokers should take before even building a list of prospects.
Those who have a more in-depth understanding of the marketplace will be able to speak with more confidence once they reach key decision-makers. Simply put, the more informed you are, the better.
2. Craft your script in advance.
We’ve detailed how to create an effective script previously.
In short, brokers want to have at least a guide handy when cold calling prospects. This will help prevent any unintended stumbling that may occur if not fully prepared.
3. Stock your broker tool box as much as possible.
The most successful brokers tend to utilize various tools and mechanisms for tracking and analyzing their owner outreach efforts.
And frankly, at this point in time, there are tools for just about every single task someone could do.
We elaborate below in much more detail.
CRM and Other Call Tracking Tools for Brokers
As with most things in life, cold calling campaigns are most effective when you’re able to collect, monitor and track the data associated with your efforts.
A customer relationship management (CRM) tool is an absolute no-brainer for any brokerage, no matter the size of the team.
CRM Software for Commercial Brokers
Most brokers will utilize some form of customer relationship management (CRM) software.
CRM programs allow brokers to track their calling efforts, automate follow-up tasks, and file notes about specific calls as appropriate. A few of the more popular CRE systems include:
Rethink is a CRM system designed specifically for commercial real estate professionals.
Their Prospect Console makes it easy for broker to create call lists, set follow-up reminders, and manage each prospect more efficiently. Calls and emails can both be tracked this way.
Brokers can add call notes and upload individual emails to the system to ensure all communication is captured in the same central location.
The Apto platform is another designed with CRE brokers in mind.
One of the benefits of Apto is the ease with which it can be used via handheld device.
The platform is mobile, fully integrative and includes additional features like property listings, contacts, property management, and pipeline management.
AppFolio is one of the more comprehensive CRM systems in the marketplace today.
In addition to client management tools, the software also provides full-service accounting, report generation, detailed lead prospecting and property listing services.
Zendesk Sell is an industry-agnostic CRM platform that allows users to sync and store every email, call recording, and business note associated with a specific person, prospect, or property.
Zendesk Sell is simple, efficient and eliminates the friction from deal updates so brokers and their managers are always able to access, analyze and collaborate on deals in real-time.
Cold Calling Tracking Sheets
Another tool utilized by CRE brokers is a cold calling “tracking sheet”. Tracking sheets can take many forms but are intended to achieve the same result.
In short, they provide a simple template for brokers looking to monitor how many calls they make per day, how many of those calls result in a conversation with a key decision-maker, and how many appointments are set up as a result of those calls.
The tracking sheet can be as simple as what’s shown below.
The purpose of this tracking sheet is simple. Brokers can easily monitor the effectiveness of their cold calling efforts.
For example, if they find the percentage of calls they make that turn into appointments is consistently very low, this could be a key indicator that a new approach is needed.
Maybe a broker needs to revise their script.
Maybe they need to spend more time doing research on the owner or local market before calling on prospects.
It’s especially helpful for brokerage teams to use the same type of tracking sheet so they can benchmark their performance against one another.
Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
The most successful commercial real estate brokers will track certain KPIs over the course of a cold calling campaign. One such metric, for example, is activity.
- How many cold calls did the broker make?
- How many cold emails did they send?
Knowing their activity level is important when trying to track how their time is being invested in lead generation efforts.
Another KPI that CRE brokers track is quality. Using your tracking sheet, you can see how many dials it took you to reach key decision makers.
Of those, how many were qualified to speak to you about your services?
CRE brokers can use this information to determine whether they’re pursuing the right prospects and to test the quality of their cold calling lead list.
Finally, brokers will want to track specific conversation data.
How many conversations with qualified decision makers did it take to set up an actual appointment?
This conversion metric is a great tool for pinpointing the strengths and weaknesses of a broker’s pitch and close.
Let’s say a broker makes 100 cold calls (activity), and of those, they reached two (2%) and qualified both (100%). Of those qualified leads (quality), the broker is able to convert one call into an appointment (50%).
A 100% qualification rate with a 50% conversion rate is excellent. So what’s the problem?
The problem is that this broker is only reaching 2% of the prospects they’re calling!
This indicates the broker needs to do some combination of the following: find more accurate contact information, visit properties in person, or cold call at different days and times.
Using Property Intelligence for Better Owner Outreach
As discussed above, Reonomy is a helpful tool for commercial real estate brokers looking to gather property intelligence prior to cold calling any owner.
In fact, one of Reonomy’s most beneficial tools is its ability to gather and produce accurate, detailed ownership data.
Many commercial properties are held in limited liability companies (LLCs) in order to protect the individual owners from certain liability.
Therefore, you might use public records to track down an owner, but the owner might be an LLC and then you’re left spinning as to how to find a specific person to contact.
We get it… And that’s why we’ve aggregated ownership data from multiple sources, public and private, to provide contact information for owners – even in cases where a property is technically owned by an LLC.
Most ownership data includes at least one contact person’s phone number, email address and mailing address.
Often, Reonomy will have the names and contact information (including cell phone numbers) of multiple owners, thereby increasing a broker’s chances of connecting with key decision makers.
While most CRE brokers are away of Reonomy’s property data capacities, some may not be familiar with two of our most recent tools: Reonomy Notes and Reonomy Teams.
These functions help CRE brokers maximize their cold calling efforts.
Leaving notes on prospect profiles Reonomy is a simple, easy to use function that allows CRE brokers to jot down specific notes related to their cold calling efforts.
For example, a broker can track properties for which they unlock contacts and then add labels to organize these properties.
They can digitally pen in notes about their cold calls, such as whether they reached a contact, and if so, whom they spoke to. They can add details about that call, such as pertinent next steps.
CRE brokers often make dozens, if not hundreds of cold calls each day. Tracking the details of those calls has never been easier with Reonomy’s Notes function.
All notes are held as confidential on the platform, unless the user otherwise wants to share with their other team members…
Reonomy for Teams
Which gets us to Reonomy for Teams, a product that we first rolled out in September 2019.
We realize that there are some situations in which a broker might actually want to share their notes with other members of their team.
So we created Reonomy for Teams, which helps small- and medium-sized companies collaborate in new ways.
Let’s use the case of a multifamily sales broker who called on the owner of a 50-unit apartment building.
The broker was really prospecting to learn more about whether the owner would potentially be interested in selling. But after a lengthy conversation, the broker learns that the owner is a long-term buy-and-hold investor.
However, they have a loan that is set to mature in the next 90 days and they’re in the market for new financing. This is a trigger for the sales broker. Although she can’t do much to help this owner, she has someone on her team who can.
She works side-by-side a debt broker who specializes in arranging multifamily financing.
With Reonomy for Teams, she’s able to log her call notes and flag her debt broker colleague.
This automatically alerts her coworker, who can then easily access her call notes, and now knows that this is a ripe opportunity for him to follow-up with the owner as his colleague had promised he would.