For this episode of the Property Management Show, we provide answers to sales questions about growing a property management business. This was done as part of a live segment at the recent PM Grow Summit in West Palm Beach. Along with Alex Osenenko, we bring in three experts who have already built high-growth property management companies, or have closely tied experience within the property management industry:

  • Deniz Yusef – Gained 900 new management contracts over a 4-year period. Mentors agents across the United States, Australia, and New Zealand as The BDM Coach.
  • MaryLou Tyler – Founder of Strategic Pipeline, a Fortune 1000 outbound sales process improvement consulting group. She is also the author of Predictable Prospecting: How to Radically Increase Your B2B Sales Pipeline.
  • Jordan Muela – CEO of LeadSimple and ManageMyProperty. Co-Organizer of the PM Grow Summit.

All questions and answers were compiled live at the event from real property managers. Below we have the transcription of the panel.

Q. [1:54] Deniz talks a lot about live presentations and showing up to present to a client at the home. How do you modify that if you’re out of the state or even out of the country? – Bob, Alarca Property Management in Charlotte, NC

Deniz: I love this question, and showing up to present to a client at the home they want to rent out is really important. If you’re out of the state or out of the country, you have to use technology. Skype sessions make it possible to do a face to face presentation if your client is not local. Book an appointment, and send your information in an email ahead of time, and then go through everything. You can’t necessarily walk around the property with the client, but there are ways to work this out. You could do this through Skype and Google Hangouts and Facetime, and you can still be face to face with your client. There’s no excuse to not getting in front of a client in this day and age. You can engage and win their business by looking into their eyes and getting in front of that client.

Q. [3:26] Why go through the trouble of tracking sales activities if you already know the results? If I know the outcome, why go through all that hassle?  

Marylou: First of all, it’s not a hassle. You may know how many properties you’re closing, but it still matters that you track that activity. It’s fine tuning the process of getting from that initial conversation to identifying the opportunity and gaining the business. It helps you to close the lag time and note what pain point or challenge you could overcome for the client. Tracking sales activities can create a shorter sales cycle and helps you identify on what’s working and what isn’t.

Q. [4:21] I like what Deniz talked about in his presentation and my question is, how long or how much time should be spent at a presentation when you’re at a home? Chris, Rent Pros Property Management in Sacramento, CA

Deniz: Give yourself about an hour and a half for the presentation. It may sound long now, however you want to be deliberate enough so you don’t go back and do a second presentation. It’s not very efficient to set multiple appointments for one door. Give yourself that full 90 minutes to plan and spend with a potential client. You can go to the property and do your presentation in that timeframe because before the meeting, you will have asked the important questions already. Make sure you can overcome every objection that you might hear. So, work on your presentation skills, practice, record yourself on the phone and really put together a great presentation. You’ll be surprised at how fast that hour and a half goes.

Marylou: There’s a process at the front end that needs to be in place. You want to do your qualification process and keep track of the client and the property before you get to the presentation.

Q. [5:56] Here’s a situational scenario. Let’s say I run a 200-unit property management company, and I do all the sales myself but I’m ready to hire a Business Development Manager (BDM). What are the first things that I do to structure the process so when that new BDM walks in, so there’s something for them to do? Simplify the first steps.  

Marylou: You need to immediately map out the steps for your sales process from the first conversation to the first visit, whether it’s remote or on-site. Look at the key milestones along that way so you can see the actual steps that create forward movement into your pipeline. Have those mapped out so you’ll know how long it takes, how many people you need to go through, and all the other details. That will shape the daily life of a salesperson doing this on your behalf.

Deniz: Have strong systems and procedures in place in your office. Even if you are starting your property management business, have the infrastructure in place to handle growth. You don’t want to have Band-Aids all over the place because you weren’t prepared. Show that you’re prepared for the growth and the handover to your BDM. When you talk to the BDM, get them to understand the process so they know how to sell your services. So many people in that role don’t know why the office is advertising or marketing the way they do, why they collect the rent a certain way, why they evict tenants or how. They need to know all systems and procedures of the office so when they have an opportunity to pitch for the business, they can explain everything and talk about the mistakes that were made and the knowledge that was gained.

Q. [8:34] For us as property management company owners, looking at marketing and advertising options, what kind of ROI should we look for based on your data? What’s the best baseline? – Duke, Dodson Property Management in Northern Virginia

Alex: First, you have to take a pulse on your existing business. ROI depends on the channel, such as Google Ads or referrals. Create a benchmark for each channel. Even if you’re only business is through referrals, out of ten referral leads, how many of those do you convert? Look at where those referrals come from and move from there. Once you have the pulse, line up your benchmarks, put it on a spreadsheet and set goals for each month. Every business is different. What works for you on one marketing channel might not work for another property manager, this can be attributed to your location or other factors. Set your benchmarks and goals, track your data, and see if you hit them.

Marylou: Every channel should be accountable down to the penny. So, you can see where you should put your marketing dollars based on your current clients or your ideal client. There’s a waterfall for outreach. There’s a crawl, walk, run stage. Usually, within 6 to 9 weeks we have something crawling and something walking. You can see your ROI in as little as three months with most marketing channels.

Jordan: Another way to frame it is by tracking time to payback. If it’s longer than 18 months, that’s unacceptable. If your time to payback is six months, you’re doing really well. You can also look at your customer acquisition cost and lifetime value ratio. Getting that at a 3:1 ratio is really the upper limit of what will be profitable. That’s what you can look at in terms of ROI. It can tell you your cost per lead and you can create a target.

Q. [11:34] Deniz mentioned sending videos out to prospective tenants and investors during the sales process. One of our difficulties is implementing a fail-proof process. What tools do you recommend with text messaging videos to make it more streamlined and efficient so we are sure it goes out every time and isn’t necessarily dependent on a BDM or a salesperson? – Michael, Real Property Management in Salt Lake City

Deniz: Sending text videos out to prospective tenants and investors during the sales process is an important part of preparing them for your presentation. A tool like VirtuallyinCredible can set it up for you. Doing video for sales is/should be a part of the job, simply because that is where technology is headed. This goes for creating content as well. Have that YouTube channel optimized to your website so everything works together. Some people prefer to read and don’t like videos. Make sure you cater to everyone just so you won’t miss out on anyone.

Q. [13:41] During a listing presentation, when you get towards the end, how do you transition into the potential closing? You want to get through the documentation, and there’s a bit of awkwardness after you’ve given the speech and it’s time to sign. – Brad, RentWerx Property Management in Austin, TX

Deniz: After you’ve made your presentation, and you’re at the end, how do you transition to the close and get your management contract signed? When you’re about to go in for the ask, re-visit the pain points that you discussed during the presentation. If your prospective client expressed concern about the type of tenant that would be moving into the property, re-iterate that question they had, and ask if they are comfortable with the way you said you’d handle it. Go through it again if you need to, and then ask if they are happy with the way you would manage the investment property on their behalf. You’ve brought up the hot points, so they’re going to say yes. Then, you can explain that you’re going to discuss the authorization form with them. You don’t want to push it on them, but you do want to go through the contract and leave it with them. This explains all the processes of property management. They have to agree to all your services and by this time, they are ready to have you take over the management and find a suitable tenant. It works almost every time.

Alex: This illustrates why the discovery process is so important. You have to ask the questions and listen so you can fish out the real pain points. They will realize your value when you go through their pain points and offer your solutions. Usually, you’re at the point where they’re ready to sign. If there is friction or something you have to come back to, you won’t get the signature at that moment. But it’s a natural process, and if you’ve done more listening than talking, you should be able to close that deal and get that signature. Use your tools. They will be ready to sign when you can help them.

Q. [17:51] I’m in New York City, where we have over a million buildings, and a lot of property managers. There are 20 people just like me in every corner. I’ve had to do sales pitches in front of a board with three other property management companies in the room with me. How do I compete in this market? – Abdullah, NewGent Management in New York

Marylou: The thing is, there aren’t 20 people just like you. If you need to compete in a market like that, you need to differentiate yourself. Dig deep into why you matter and what sets you apart from everyone else. Be able to explain why people want to do business with you. Focus on the reasons people should change property management companies and work with you instead. When you take the time to do this, it won’t matter how many other property managers are out there. Once you get that core essence of who you are, it will propagate through all your messages and videos. It bubbles up and resonates with your audience.

Alex: Branding is important as well. Go back to the basics. The power of content can really work for you because it gives you a chance to educate people and be a teacher. How many of those other property managers in New York City are educating and being open about what they do, how much they cost, and why the properties they manage are so successful? Probably none of them. So, stake that one corner and be the authority. Figure out what your ideal customers are asking, and answer those questions. Record 20 videos and use the content in your emails, texts, and brochures. You also have to ask for the business. It’s that simple sometimes. Talk to your current clients and find out why they chose you. It’s an eye opener. A lot of people see themselves one way but their clients see something else.

Have any questions about growing your property management business? Contact us at Fourandhalf – Internet Marketing for Property Managers. If you enjoyed this episode of The Property Management Show, be sure to subscribe on iTunes, and YouTube to stay up to date on the latest episodes!