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The Lost Boys of Commercial Real Estate?

Of all the conversations that I have with people all over this planet about commercial real estate one theme comes up often and is stated something like this ” ya know you can’t really write this stuff or this is only a you and me conversation.” I get that. There are some things that are not for public consumption. Fair enough. BUT………..some things are just to juicy to let go!

So, I am at a conference and it’s getting late in the day. My feet are sore my voice is getting hoarse and my cheeks are tired from smiling and being fat. People are scattered plates of food in hand and beer bottles within reach. Little groups start to form most of them in threes and fours. The group near me is made up of suits some gray hair and I am invited to join in. I’m not going to say who where and when this was because it was a private conversation….kinda mostly really.

A gentleman next to me in light gray pinstripe and thinning slicked back hair turns to his left “we need to look at a more intense prospecting program. We spent all day here and all we did was talk to other brokers.”

They guy he is talking to is in middle of a small roast beef sandwich, he finishes his bite and nods ” we definitely need to look at something. The CRM product we have now is at least ten years old.”

I can’t help myself  “what does the age of the program have to do with its ability to help you prospect?”

The guy with the sandwich speaks up ” there has to be something updated out there that we are not using. I had my assistant look at some stuff but it’s cloud based and I’m not sure that’s what we want to do.”

” Does the cloud worry you?”

” To be honest I’m not sure what the cloud really does but we need to look at something next generation to what we have.”

” My two cents here but whatever next generation version of a ten-year old program will have been obsolete seven or eight years ago. Why don’t you let your assistant pick something out that they can easily use and show you how to do it? You might be surprised.”

” I’m not sure I am in a learning mode. We need to be on the street doing deals not in the office in front of the computer screen.”

” Is that what you think you are doing the most of now, door to door cold calling phone touching and networking mixers?”

” Always, it gets us more leads than anything that and referral word of mouth and building specific targeted marketing are what we live off of.”

The gray suit speaks up ” we have always broken down our marketing and by far what the young kids call old school still get us deals.”

I chime in ” is that not because you have relationships that have been established and nurtured over the years?”

” Yes, of course but we need to create new clients just as well.”

” Are you not prospecting for the same client that all of your competitors are trying to get?”

” Without a doubt. It’s brutal. I had a facilities manager tell me he gets an average of twenty plus calls a week.”

” But you keep calling him right? You can’t not call him.”

” It’s part of what we do. We also got involved in a charity function he was involved in to make a better connect.”

” I see, what about every other prospect. I am assuming there is no way you have the time for personal involvement?”

” We need to pick and choose.”

The guy with the sandwich is finished and he takes a sip of his beer ” we know that prospecting is our life blood. We need to get face to face and make our pitch. If we are not pitching we have no chance at all. We need to seem to be and we are aggressive at going after business.”

” How about the young guys you have in your group?”

” What do you mean?”

” Do you make them prospect the same way that you do?”

” We have a training program.”

” Which is I’m guessing the same as the one you did when you started?”

” Pretty much. We have metrics that they have to meet and a defined time that they are mentored with a team.”

” So they create the leads and the team does the deals and gives them their cut.”

” It’s working. I did it. He did it. We all have done it.”

” I’m not suggesting it’s not working. I’m just curious, what do you think is the next step?”

” You mean as far as prospecting?”

” Yes you mentioned that you need to upgrade your software. Is that it?”

” I’m not sure I have the answer to that other than we need to do more.”

” More prospecting more work or more production?”

” More of all of it I guess.”

The gray suit speaks up. “I know there is a lot of talk at meetings and conferences about online and mobile stuff. To me it’s just that, talk it is not the real world that we live in. Sure, I use my phone to communicate like anyone else but the online mobile stuff does not relate to me getting deals?”

I reach for another desert ” so you don’t see any part of that environment connecting you to your potential customers?”

” Not really. We have a gal that does our marketing and we have an app of some sort that lets potential customers see our site and listings but that’s all I know about it.”

” So that’s what mobile means to you an app with your website on it?”

” Pretty much.”

” Do you use any apps at all to help you with your business.”

” What kind are you talking about.”

” Something simple like Evernote or Trello.”

” I have heard of Evernote but not the other. I don’t need something complicated or time-consuming. I just need to call and or respond to messages.”

” I see. You may just take a look they might be helpful. Can I ask a general question?”

” Sure as long as it’s not a techy question.”

We all giggle a little bit. ” Don’t worry. I’m not as techy as you think but I am interested in what you see three five seven years down the road. I’m serious now.”

The other guy finishes off his beer and looks to the gray suit. He nods and then ” look I’m in my mid forties and I plan on doing this forever. I have built up a pretty good client base so far and I am finally staring to make some decent money again. I just don’t see this technology thing impacting what I do that much. Unless there is some major shift I don’t see it impacting me anytime in the future. If you were to ask me the same question five years from now I am sure I would have the same answer.”

The gray suit speaks up ” as I said before we may need to look at upgrades and stay up with technology. If it’s available and cost-effective why not. I’m in my fifties and I’m not going anywhere anytime soon. I’ve seen pretty much everything there is to see and if not I can adapt. It’s how I’ve stayed in this business.”

” I see so the tech thing is just something to keep in contact with and not let it keep you away from the real business of commercial real estate.”

” Yea pretty much. Get me face to face and I will get a deal.”

Standing quietly in the group and not saying a word the whole time is a somewhat tall early thirties looking stud. Close cut dark hair. Dark tight suit with a white shirt light gray tie with a hand over knot. He extends his hand to me ” I was nice meeting you today. I love reading all of your stuff.” He puts his beer down shakes the hands of the other two turns and walks away.”

The gray suit speaks up “we are lucky to have that guy he is smart as hell aggressive great personality and knows everything about technology.”

 

 

 

 

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/nathanhayag/5381518780/”>digitalpimp.</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/”>cc</a>

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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  • Duke, once again you hit the nail on the head, old school versus new school. Technology will continue to change so why is it so difficult to adapt and change with it. I hope the thirty something got a raise!

  • hfklaw

    Damn, Duke. What, did you take a writing class or something? Your writing has improved dramatically since we first met on LinkedIn. Before, it was just your tude. Then it was your style. Now its your writing skill. It’s not that I am qualified to comment on your writing skill and I would take my comments with a certain grain of salt, but it is clear that your writing has evolved. A good analogy would be a fastball pitcher who dominated with a 98 mile an hour fastball before he injures his elbow. Then learns how to hit the corners. Your starting to hit the corners well and get the strike outs with skill, precision and guile. I must admit however, while I do admire what you are doing, sometimes its just more fun to criticize you. It’s just that your not giving much to criticize lately.

    • dukelong

      Howard,
      🙂

  • Lowell Peabody

    On the money again Duke! It’s the same “Lost Boys” who decide they are the only ones to make technology decisions like “It’s the latest so get it”, or “I don’t understand all this technology but if it does all those things we ought to get it”. Remarkable now that technology has been growing in our industry for almost 20 years and still some won’t take the time. The “Lost Boys” should let younger people in the organization to tell them what is needed to works efficiently. The admins, the technology proficient maybe even the IT guy if they have one? They should make the recommendations to the “Lost Boys” if only the fairy dust could take them “two stars to the right and straight on ’til morning” to deliver the results..

  • Sounds like every conference I’ve been to or firm associated with over the last 20 years. Dark suit, 60’s techy. Good job Duke

  • Ralph Benzakein

    Good Stuff…Lost Indeed! Thanks Duke!

  • I would add that this is also a great opportunity for women to start getting more traction in the CRE game. Women dominate every major social network other than LinkedIn and have more than mastered the mobile universe. Our ability to build and tap new networks should be seen as a huge advantage for any CRE team or company.