Effectively Communicating and Intentional Personal Focus During a Pandemic

Admit it. Everything is just WEIRD. Our “New Normal” is ANYTHING but normal. I’ve noticed that it’s even affected the most basic of communications. Sometimes I think that because from childhood we have associated masks with pretending to be someone else and hiding our identity, wearing one has caused a lot of us to exhibit our associations subconsciously. We are the same person – pre-covid and post-covid. However, there is a strangeness, even to the point of awkwardness in personal interaction and communications these days.

Statue wearing a mask

As a Commercial Real Estate Brokerage, our business is hinged on communications. Yes knowledge and expertise is power, but if you are unable to convey those things to your client, they are useless.

Our intentional attempts to keep in front of our clients and prospects should be top priority. While maintaining our social distancing and protective measures, we must communicate person to real person. Fear causes people to act strangely, to react strangely. We are seeing this trend in commercial real estate. Some investors and buyers are throwing caution to the wind and making major moves, despite the pandemic. Others are closing their blinds and their minds to any thoughts of considering a covid real estate transaction. We as professionals should be flexible, understanding, and respectful of other’s reactions to this crisis. We should be the value-added asset during this time, helping them maintain profitability and achieve their goals in spite of this virus. It’s all about making good connections and then maintaining them.

Good connections are made when:

Embrace Diversity and Turn Off Your “Presets” – Not only skin color and gender, but age and geographic regions. We’re all different and it’s wonderful. Commercial Real Estate desperately needs diversity, but I know we’re not the only ones. We’ve made strides, but we have a long way to go. Be the game changer at your business and set the example of unity in diversity.

The eyes are the windows to the soul – When you are speaking, look me in the eye and focus on me. Make me feel like you want to invest your time in communicating with me. Even with a mask on, your eyes speak multitudes about how you’re feeling about what is being discussed.

Remember, you’re not speaking to a screen, you’re speaking to a person. For some reason, we don’t have conversations the same way “virtually”. If you are video chatting, stay engaged and animated during conversation just as if they were across the table. Don’t stare at your image, look at them directly. Until we can be face to face, we’ve got to make this work. It will work better if we act like it’s not a screen between us.

“It’s about the bottom line” You’ve heard it more than once in Commercial Real Estate and other industry sectors. Does this mean you don’t need a personality to sell #CRE? Think again. People like to feel respected and valued. And yes, a lot of us are on edge and more impatient during Covid-19. Have grace with each other. Smooth the rough edges with a pleasant response. Call back within a reasonable amount of time. Humans are wired for relationship. We make connections. We should strive to not only make sales, but be better humans.

Take our communications poll:

No Lead Left Behind

As many of you know, working in a commercial real estate office can be a hectic environment at times. The tedious research, the list of phone calls handwritten on this morning’s Starbucks napkin, the ever-changing deadlines for the contingencies and due diligence items for that deal you’re working on…it never ends. You can be a great commercial realtor and one fatal flaw will potentially break you…the followup.

I know how it goes. You are involved in 6 transactions right now. Two are large sales which entail a lot of detail, multiple corporate entities, not to mention the fun spin of the 1031 exchange thrown into the mix and potential bo-ku bucks in your bank account. The third transaction is a 10-year lease in your own business center, but there are a lot of fit-out negotiations to work-out at the table. The remaining three are small, local retail leases. If only the dollar amounts on the commission were equivalent to the hours you spend trying to get these little deals done, right?

In the meantime, you have received 3 phone calls with wants and wishes that you will need to vett further, 2 email inquiries regarding your own property listings, and you’ve been asked to take on a new retail development project which is a couple years out, but you need to start marketing it to be sure to land that ideal anchor tenant.

Science has proven that no human being, super-human or otherwise, can truly do two things at once. Your brain works in sequence, not in a simultaneous state.

Before you guzzle down more of that warm delicious drug and pop another Excedrin, think about this for a moment. What if I developed a “protocol” for how I handle all this communication as it comes in from various sources? What if I established a game plan so that no leads get left behind?

If you have a mack-daddy CRM solution such as GoldMine or SalesForce, you already have these things in place and you may think there is no need to have this conversation. They trigger you automatically to do what you need to do, like a mom only a “CRE Mom”. However, every agent needs a system in place to control and prioritize communications. Most of the time it is a behavioral protocol you develop for yourself to prohibit what I like to call “CRE ADD”. Also, if you are a smaller brokerage without such a resources will need to invent the wheel that will drive them on their current path until they graduate to a faster track.

It can begin with taking simple steps like creating rules for certain types of messages. Yes, as commercial agents we are inundated with junk mail, but some items that aren’t junk mail aren’t good for your prioritizing efforts. To quote the apostle Paul, “all things are lawful but not all things are expedient”. Take all those RSS feeds, REIT and Investment news and have them automatically hit a CRE news and blog folder that you can peruse when your schedule permits. Next, take all of those opportunities coming in from your fellow CRE brokerages and assign a rule that directs them to a specific folder as well. Email alone can bog you down and make you unproductive which equals unprofitable for most. Your social media is another time hustler if you’re not careful. It’s like candy for a sweet-tooth. It draws you in and if you’re not cautious, consumes every bit of focus you might have thought you had.

So is there hope in this instant messaging, instant notification, instant gratification world of commercial real estate? I believe there is. Setting aside certain time slots during the day to perform certain tasks creates a pleasing and freeing sense of order in that chaotic office of yours.

Take charge of your time and guard it as the precious possession it is. At the end of the day, what creates revenue has to be top priority in business. Consider your schedule and priorities just like a company CEO would do. If it makes money, it has a higher value. If it doesn’t, it is overhead and you have to control it. Schedule your social media throughout the day via HootSuite or TweetDeck or the like. Check in periodically to respond to interaction, but don’t get lost in it. If you aren’t using a CRM solution, take the time to create a pipeline tracker in Excel and sort it by priority. Give the leads categories and I’m not just talking property types, wants or haves. My suggestion would be to include columns such as lead source, time frame, value, percentage of probability and final weighted forecast amount. There is an empowerment that takes place inside when you are the “master of your universe”, at least your own CRE niche of it.