Business development is difficult. The search for properties that fit your criteria requires persistence, diligence, and a high level of resilience. More importantly, you must stay top-of-mind with your prospects to ensure all opportunities get a fair shake and none slip through the cracks. This is easily a full-time job when done right.
That said, you have many other things going on in your life, and real estate acquisitions is probably not the top priority. It falls into the not urgent but important bucket, while the urgent and important items take most of your mindshare. Therefore, well-designed systems are crucial to building a pipeline and keeping it full.
Prospects and Value
Lean acquisitions teams rely, primarily, on broker relationships that live and die on the broker’s marketing calendar. This is the easiest way to fill a pipeline of marketed deals. However, it misses the mark when considering how many attractive deals emerge outside the marketing process.
Brokers, owners, and influential third-parties comprise the universe of deal sources that every investor should get to know. These relationships drive consistent business in both marketed and off-market opportunities.
Value is the essential element to stay top-of-mind with your prospects. Learn what drives them and how you can contribute to moving them toward their goals. You’ll understand the gaps that may exist now and in the future after you’ve spent the time learning about their needs and desires.
Friendships develop over time by using a strategy of consistent, diverse, and frequent touches.
In the beginning, you live in obscurity for your prospects. They don’t love you or hate you. They’re just completely indifferent to your existence. One benefit is that you can get away with many botched cold calls and emails, but eventually, you need to break out of obscurity and make yourself known as a player in the market.
It’s not who you know, it’s who knows you.
Noise from social media, a wild 24-hour news cycle, abundant entertainment options, and highly sophisticated algorithms are always vying for your attention. You need to focus on relevance, which comes from consistently delivering value to your prospects beyond the initial meeting.
Employ all communication forms – phone, email, text, social media, public relations, networking events, in-office meetings, conferences, and so on. Each has its own value and the sum of all appearances builds your relevance. Don’t worry about overexposure; there’s no such thing in today’s environment so long as you diversify your approach.
1. Just Checking In
The easiest way to stay top-of-mind with your prospects is to drop a brief note to show you’re interested in their lives. This could be as simple as, “we haven’t spoken in a while; just checking in to see how you’re doing.”
You can provide a brief status update, but keep it short, sweet, and value-oriented. That is, focus on the areas of your life that can add value to theirs. For example, highlight new capabilities or additions to your team that could enhance their business.
Close your text, email, or direct message with something that lightens the burden to respond. Chances are very good that most people won’t get back to you. Still, they appreciate that you clearly respect their time and don’t take offense to no response. Something like, “I know you’re busy, so no rush to respond,” should work well.
2. ICYMI News
In case you missed it…
Busy people have a difficult time staying on top of the latest news. Something inevitably falls through the cracks. This gives you an opportunity to act as a valuable resource in highlighting potentially important news.
Your own public relations and press coverage should be the first priority here. Emailing and social sharing articles that feature you and your company are a great way to enhance your profile as a thought leader in the field.
Regardless of what you’re sharing, provide more value by summarizing and highlighting the most important takeaways. Your prospects may click the link or read more, but they will appreciate one or two bullet points that gives the gist.
3. Curated Content
Articles, infographics, and videos that help your prospect solve recurring problems could have a bigger impact than news and current events. These have the added benefit of being relevant over time and applicable to a broad audience.
Your perspective is important when building a personal or corporate brand. The information that you find valuable and shareable reveals your mission, values, and purpose. Content curation allows you to build that profile without spending time creating the content yourself.
Share curated content in a variety of ways. Social media and email are the clearest way to share, but a phone call or text could be even more effective. Those formats allow you to weave in your own thoughts in a more intimate discussion that bolsters your status.
One piece can go a long way across your network. A well-organized database with interest tags associated with each contact helps you broadcast to a broad audience. You can easily set up a mail merge to blast the info to a small group without bothering others in your network.
Consider introductions as a form of content to use generously within your network. Your status as a person of value in your network increases by multiples when you connect others. Remember, always confirm that the receiving parties are receptive to the introduction before commencing.
4. Proprietary Content
Your brand is the cornerstone in your effort to stay top-of-mind with your prospects.
A corporate or personal brand takes time and multiple touches to develop. The techniques above are simple, entry-level techniques to establish relevance. However, content creation is the future, and the future is now.
Proprietary content is the most effective way to control the message that influences the opportunities that come your way.
Too many companies and individuals delay content creation for two reasons – analysis paralysis and imposter syndrome. Simply, too many people think that content creation takes too much time and leaves you too exposed. Neither should prevent you from getting started.
Proprietary content can be as simple as a periodic newsletter or as comprehensive as an intricate digital media strategy. The scope is fully dependent on the time and money you want to commit. Nevertheless, a slim content strategy is better than no strategy at all.
Start by sharing content that humanizes your company or yourself. People do business with their friends, and they are more likely to do business when their friends seem successful. Highlight wins and incorporate the softer side of your business to become a resource.
Few touches have more impact than a thoughtful gift.
The trick to an effective gift-giving strategy is to stand out. You can break through the noise by sending something that:
- Is absolutely over the top,
- Directly addresses a stated need, and/or
- Arrives when nobody is sending anything / just because
A great gift comes with no strings attached. Logo and promotional products are more like conference swag for building name ID than a thoughtful gift. Books, food, beverage, and practical items are terrific choices.
Avoid end-of-year holiday gift giving. Most gifts and cards have little impact because there’s so much noise in the holiday season.
A well-timed gift in the middle of the year associated with a thoughtful date can have an outsized impact. For example, a cheap bottle of sunscreen around the Fourth of July could have 10x the effect of an expensive bottle of champagne after Thanksgiving.
6. In-Person Meetings
A pair of studies released in the 1960s emphasized that most communication is non-verbal. Albert Mehrabian and colleagues suggested that the mix is “7 percent verbal, 38 percent vocal, and 55 percent facial.” This mix is controversial among researchers, but the concept is difficult to ignore.
Humans are social creatures. So much of communication relies on seeing and hearing how your companions deliver their words. That connection is critical to moving relationships forward in a meaningful way. Therefore, go for an in-person meeting whenever possible to stay top-of-mind with your prospects.
Meeting preparation relies on research, mindset, and setting.
Research encompasses the minimum basics, like a review of the prospect’s social media profiles, website, and biography. More in-depth research into transaction history and potential overlapping networks can also go a long way to improving the communication.
Mindset and setting are equally important. Your ability to connect with someone on a deeper level is fully dependent on being open and receptive. This comes from having an engaged mental model, but it also relies heavily on the environment.
Arrange meetings when and where they are convenient – conference, coffee, lunch, etc. – but adjust your approach to meet that setting. Prepare a few thoughts to come into the meeting with a relevant and value-oriented agenda. Only leave the meeting after you’ve confirmed the next step.