Old School vs. New School. A 2013 Commercial Real Estate Real World Conversation.

Old School Vs. New School. A 2013 Real World Commercial Real Estate Conversation.

Oh yes, it’s still out there.

The debate….or is it.

Old School. Cold calling door knocking pavement pounding. Face to Face.


New School. Online connecting warm touch meetings content providing. Face to Face.

Just back from Chicago this week and as always I meet some wonderful people and have some interesting conversations.

One in particular caught my attention. It follows.

Broker. ” Duke are you Duke Long?”

Reaching my hand forward ” Yes, I am and how are you?”

” It’s great to finally meet you. I have read a lot of your blog and I think it’s great.”

” Well, thank you very much. It’s always nice to meet people in person, especially people who take the time to read my stuff. What areas do you cover?”

” I concentrate on the suburbs and work local and national accounts.”

” I see by your name tag that you work with (mid major brokerage) are you on a team?”

” Yes, and we are into our third year together.”

” So tell me straight up. How is it really going?”

” Well, at the beginning it was pretty tough.”

” Really why do you say that?”

” Well, you know it was just tough.”

” Don’t worry whatever we say here stays here, oh and I do know your boss by the way.”

” I mean things are ok now that’s what I meant to say. It was just tough in the beginning.”

I lean my head forward a little raise my eyebrows and flash the smile.

” When I started I thought I would go out and steamroll the world doing deals and getting checks. I had a good database of potential customers from my last position and I hit them pretty hard.”

” So you found out that the cycle for commercial real estate is pretty long.”

” Yes, I pretty much knew that but the process that I was suppose to use to get to that database was so ridiculous or that’s what I thought.”

” The process? You mean the phone list cold calling and the door knocking?”

” Yes, I thought that it was a complete waste of time. There are so many different ways to reach people now.”

” But that’s what was required right? Did you not sign up for that when you took the job?”

” Yes but I thought that they would be more open-minded about how I could get to the decision maker.”

” Wait, let’s step back a minute. I have had this conversation about every week for the last one hundred years. Let me start with your company’s website. What do you think?”

” A complete piece of shit. It’s embarrassing. I try not to push people to it. There is no reason for them to be there. There is no information to help them do a deal. It’s just stagnant pictures of buildings and pictures of brokers from ten years ago. My friends just laugh. They are like dude tell them it sucks and get them to change it. Like they will listen to me.”

” They do look at you as the techy person because you are young right?”

” Yes, so what. They hired me to do deals not tech support. I get tired of answering all the stupid questions.”

” So what about online stuff?”

” Do you mean social and that kind of thing? Not even worth talking about. I get shit if I even mention it.”

” You do use it though?”

” Hell yes.”

” Let’s get back to what you consider the process and what works for you. Break it down for me quick and simple. I want the here now and today.”

” To start off with I use the online stuff to build up my brand get my name out there and let people know what I do. I post up articles about my local area and make comments on them. I push them out consistently and keep it professional.”

” Is that an all channels thing?”

“Just the basics really. I also network my ass off locally. I need connections in the community. Real people doing real business.”

” The Tuesday morning Wednesday lunch groups?”

” I am on the boards and working my way to the president of those things. Tons of intel and word of mouth in those groups.”

” What about back up help and leads from your bosses?”

” You said you know my boss.”

” I said I know them I didn’t say anything else.”

” I hardly ever see them except at the mandatory meeting that I would rather die than attend. What a fucking waste of time”

” Yea I get it no need to go on.”

” I mean I am never in the office. I am out trying to meet people and put deals together.”

” Your bosses do show up when the deals start to come together.”

” Oh, they are all over them like it’s the only thing that they know how to do.”

” So are you happy that you are paying into the system to make sure they have a warm office and coffee every day?”

” Never really thought about that too much.”

” Your personal out lay is pretty minimal though right?”

” Phone car laptop wi-fi hotspot adapter and I am good.”

” So you’re telling me that you stay way from the office use your own tools and network your ass off to get face to face and do deals. All without the help from your bosses.”

” Now I didn’t really say that but when you put it like that it sounds like I am out there on my own doing whatever I want. It’s not really like that. I am part of the team and I do use the resources from the brokerage.”

” I am not suggesting that you are not. It sounds to me like your bosses either knew what they were doing when they hired you or just got damn lucky.”

He then flashes me a big smile and reaches out his hand.

” Great to meet you . I love your stuff . Keep it up and don’t hold back.”

” Don’t worry I won’t.”

Old School vs. New School. A  2013 Real Word Commercial Real Estate Conversation.

Duke Long


  • Definitely a story that needs to be told! I am shocked by the young guys in my office (25-30)…who should know better…that still rely on the “old school” guys and techniques to learn and implement the business. One of my faves…a new associate candidate (runner) was given a list by his “mentors” of 500 companies/buildings to call and find out lease expirations, building owners, lease or own, etc…the stuff we used to cold call to determine twenty years ago. When I asked him if he considered searching for that info on line, you’d a sworn I asked him the size of his Johnson…unbelievable!

    We need to realize that the new guys in CRE are being mentored by 50 somethings. Until the newbies disrupt and/or one of us old dudes demonstrates making serious bank from new world techniques…the cycle will continue.

  • Funny to see this in a dialogue format. Agreed though, if networking in local groups or even on LinkedIn and via social are what’s working, why are brokers and leasing reps still given a hard time about utilizing these methods?! I’m lucky.

  • When I transitioned into Commercial RE from Residential in January 2008, the worst time to do it by the way, I was told catalogue 500 properties in your targeted geographic market. I thought the best hitting the pavement was good for was a workout! Walking Industrial parks in Orange County with a suit is nuts, people in sales do it all the time. Lol

    So I left the old ways of doing things to study architecture in Chicago, now build a real estate development company from an idea!

    I agree with you Duke, the internet is eating away at any business it wants too, especially businesses that ignore the internet.

  • I think it’s good for young brokers to cold call even if some think it’s outdated. Cold calling helps develop backbone, helps you handle rejection, learn interpersonal skills, and flat out how to talk to people on the phone…. all traits that great sales people need to know.