There is nothing like a crisis to throw your well-laid business plans into chaos. There isn’t a business globally that hasn’t been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. Depending on how you look at it you can either be at the mercy of the situation and let it take hold of you and potentially destroy your business, or you can look it in the eye and say, “challenge accepted”.
While many businesses have no choice but to cut costs and lay off staff currently, others will be adopting a ‘just in case’ mentality and cutting expenses due to the unknown circumstances we are all facing, while others are probably reacting to well-meant financial advice. Usually, the first thing to go is money or budgets for advertising and marketing, but is this the right decision to make?
There is a famous story about Kellogg during the Great Depression. While Kellogg’s cereal competitors did the predictable thing and cut back expenses as the economic crisis worsened, Kellogg doubled their spending on ads and even went aggressively into radio ads. While many of their competitors eventually shut up shop, Kellogg’s increased their profit by 30% and still remains one of the most formidable brands in their market to this day.
In Real Estate for us, thus far, we haven’t been affected as much as a lot of other businesses and other industries. We’ve kept our doors open, operated business almost as normal with the exception of the social distancing rules, and ramped up our Business Development. We have followed in Kellogg’s footsteps and have doubled even tripled what we would normally do for business development, advertising, and marketing in an effort to bring more sales and business in, and cement our brands’ reputation in our market.
Business Development is crucial to the long term and ongoing success of any business at any time, crisis, or not. In Real Estate and Property Management, in particular, it has evolved so much from the early days of our business. We would simply rely on personal contacts and thousands of letterbox drops. However, with advances in software and technology, our digital and social presence are prime generators now for new business, but there are literally so many ways to market and build your client base these days. It can be overwhelming knowing where to start but put simply all sales or business development starts with the Three P’s: a plan, perseverance, and patience. Any new Business Development Manager that starts with us is asked to prepare a BDM Action Plan, which in its simplest form outlines their goals, the businesses’ goals and how they are going to achieve them.
- Action Plan – put it in writing what your goals are, steps you are going to take, and how long it is going to take.
- Accountable – make sure you measure your goals with the smaller things, like the number of phone calls you are going to make, the number of letters or connections you need to make, track these on a spreadsheet (some people use the term KPI Key Performance Indicators).
- Knowledge – arm yourself with as much knowledge as you can about your business and what you are going to deliver to the client. Have your pitch or value proposition down pat – ‘why you need my services’. Immerse yourself in some BDM training, listen to a podcast, read a book, attend a conference, find out what the experts are doing.
- Tracking – make sure you are tracking all your leads and plan what you are going to send them, how you are going to keep in touch with them, and when.
- Marketing – ensure you have the right marketing tools to promote yourself and the business, this should include social media, print, and electronic tools to achieve more leads and generate more business.
The key to all the planning though is perseverance. One of my favourite go-to mottos: “goals are won with patience, thought and perseverance”. This message has stuck with me and seen me through some tough and dark days in business.
You are going to get knockbacks, many, many of them. Preparing for this and coping with rejection is key to your future success. For every 100 not interested, there might be one successful conversion, so celebrate the wins and accept the losses as part and parcel of BD, but ‘never give up’. Keep following your plan, review it regularly and tweak things that clearly aren’t working, and put more energy and effort into the tasks that are reaping some rewards. Most importantly don’t get disheartened if you haven’t ticked off your goals or KPI’s immediately, just keep going.
Be patient with it, Rome wasn’t built in a night and miraculously you won’t wake up overnight and have a hugely successful and thriving business. We all get impatient and want to see rewards for all that effort we are putting in, but sometimes it takes a while for your efforts to really shine through. This is so important in Real Estate, where a connection you made in January might not be ready to rent or sell until Spring, or a client might have 10 properties but will only start with one, these are all tests of your patience and deciding how to keep in touch and the information you share is crucial.
TOP TIPS FOR BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT IN PROPERTY MANAGEMENT
- Make connections with the team you work with, from reception to the sales team, you want them to know you are hungry for new business and will work closely with them.
- Existing clients – reaching out to them, it is amazing how many have other connections or business to share, but the question is never asked.
- Technology – from your website through to social media, all are key avenues to generate new business and worth spending the time and money and learning how to expose yourself to new business.
- Industry partners – reaching out to others in your industry who would be likely sources of referring business, connections like this should be built into your KPI’s or accountability.
14 STEP PROVEN BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT SUCCESS STRATEGY
- You need to make clients trust you
- You need to be perceived as an expert in your industry
- Act on all leads quickly
- Have a follow-up plan in place
- Be yourself
- Be relatable
- Become an avid listener – find out what a client’s needs are and find a solution to their problems LISTENING NOT TALKING
- Have energy and passion about your role and business
- Self-Management and discipline – stick to your plan each day and week
- Determination in the face of rejection – don’t give up, just accept it is just part of the process, gear up for it mentally and emotionally, embrace it
- A desire to question yourself “HOW CAN I DO BETTER”, “HOW CAN I BE MORE EFFICIENT”
- Customer Service – over-deliver
- Work hard – start early, leave late – it takes 12 months to build momentum
- Fuelling your funnel – if your business is quiet today, it means you weren’t prospecting 90 days ago according to the experts
Never has the time shine been more than right now, so go ahead be like Kellogg, continue to build your profile, your brand, or your business especially when the going gets tough. Don’t act out of fear and stick your head in the sand and wait quietly for things to improve. Let your competitors do that but be the one left standing that your clients can rely on and turn to in the good times and the tough times.