“Top Down Bottom Up” And “Boots On the Ground.” Own It Or Die!

Ah, the catchphrases that we all use to do a bit of business. Core Competency, Buy-In, S.W.A.T Team, Swim Lane, Drinking The Kool-Aid. Moving The Needle (I am The Needle, Wink!) Open The Kimino, Burning Platform, Lot’s Of Moving Parts, Best Practices, (I hate this one the most) Thinking Outside The Box, Ducks In a Row,  Drill Down (I’m especially guilty of using this one) Boil The Ocean, Dialin’ and Smilin’, The Phone Is An ATM, You Get FU Money From Following Up (One of my personal Favs) And Of Course Any Number Of Sports Metaphors…Punting, Ball In Their Court, Hail Mary, In Your Wheelhouse, Dropped The Ball, (Why does this make me think of the Jets?) and of course the ever-popular Slam Dunk!

And to make sure my name will live on forever…or at least maybe in #CRE, I am going to add to that fine list by coining (stealing) the catchphrases “Top Down Bottom Up” and “Boots On The Ground” for #CRE specifically.

Let me give you a couple of real-world examples of how and why these phrases MUST become part of your everyday #CRE business mentality.

This may have been a couple of years back but thankfully I found myself in the city beautiful, Chicago. As I exited the elevator in one of the stunning high rises that define the downtown I walked through glass doors into a tastefully decorated wide open reception area. As I gazed up and across at the windows on the other wall I could only see clear blue sky. I must have been fifty or sixty stories up, I can’t remember exactly. As I was escorted into a conference room, I glanced to my left and all I could see was the water reaching all the way to the far horizon. Sitting down in front of a full pitcher of water I reached and poured myself a glass. 

Entering the room were two C-level people, with big smiles and hearty handshakes. We were all in the room to discuss tech in general and tech more closely as it applies to #CRE, obviously. But as the conversation started to go on for some reason we started talking about the process in which some if not all of the tech companies were selling or more accurately presenting their product. And the consensus was they were all doing it wrong. Why? Because they did not fully understand the customers they were selling to and how the organizations they were selling to worked.

And one of the first steps of that process is to sell Top Down.

Top Down in the most simple of terms means that yes, you can and should go right up to that C-suite literally and metaphorically. You need to get there buy-in, permission and or endorsement without fail but that is only half of the process of selling to #CRE. They can love whatever you have but….that can only go so far because…

The other half of that process is “Bottom Up.”

I was sitting somewhere outside in a small cafe somewhere in San Francisco, this must have been five or six years ago, maybe longer. Across from me were two (at that time) budding startup entrepreneurs. In their recent previous life, they had been hardcore #CRE brokers. The product that they were working on at the time was in it’s simplest forms a way to capture data and that was not going anywhere near as well as they would have hoped. Now remember the time fame we were in, just those few years back and there was barely even the ridiculously funded environment we find ourselves in today. As we sat we discussed what they were doing and what they might not be doing. The might not was, funding anything farther than the next three months or so. I asked the simple question, “how are sales?” They just kind of looked at me quietly. Remember these two came from brokerage, there was no bullshitting around the reality of what they were facing, and that was a simple fact that they could not sell what they had.

So, my suggestion to them was to get another product that they could sell and sell to themselves. They understood who they were in a previous business life and that they understood what that customers every day was like. More to the point they understood the power that that person held in any organization. They were the “Boots On The Ground.’ And I further suggested that they become that same thing for their startup organization.

Those ” Boots On The Ground” were and are the salespeople or pipeline to revenue of any organization. In #CRE they are generally recognized (for the purposes of this article) as brokers. Brokers in #CRE in most instances can and will decide what if any type of technology they will use. What works for someone in retail in Philly might not be the same technology that will work for someone in retail in Nashville. Why? It’s more individualized and more market specific. It’s just that simple. A broker say, in Los Angeles may be curating data into a database they specifically created. In that same market, data sets may be driven locally and also driven by a corporate tool provided by a global brand. That individual broker can also decide that global corporate tool means nothing to their business and not use it at all. And so it goes across many if not all #CRE organizations. 

Part of what any good or better yet great sales organization does in understand their customer and their process, or everyday way of doing business.

In #CRE if you want to sell, you sell Top Down and then Bottom Up.

To sell #CRE you must also sell to The Boots On The Ground.

And You Must Own It Or Die! 


+1 BTW those two startup brokers raised millions and are still selling SaaS to #CRE today. I’m sure you know who they are.

+1+1 Oh and they were and are a “sales first” startup. That means they started winning the minute they decided to sell to themselves.

“Sales First”…Now, wait a minute I just added another new catchphrase for #CRE and #Tech. Own that one too!





Duke Long

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