Our guest today is Kasey McDonald, who trains Business Development Managers (BDMs) in Australia and here in the United States. She is a consultant for the BDM Academy, which helps property management companies grow and scale, paying special attention to sales. The topic we’re discussing today is how you can support your BDM so that you can scale your property management business.
Without a proper sales system and salespeople, a business will never grow to where you want it to be. In the U.S., it’s a huge area of opportunity. Kasey has been a BDM herself, and has over 19 years of experience and knowledge in this area.
The Role of a Business Development Manager
The role of a good business development manager is to bring new management accounts and be responsible for the complete sales cycle. This is typically done through different methods like handling telephone calls, building referrals, creating newsletters, and hosting workshops.
You’ll need to be clear as to what the expectations are for any BDM that you hire. You need someone who:
- is organized
- possesses great time management skills
- can prioritize and delegate
- has fantastic sales knowhow
- has networking skills
- and most importantly, has the right attitude.
Attitude is important. You can train skills, but you cannot train an attitude. If you are able to find someone with these qualities, then you will have the archetypal BDM on your hands. If the BDM understands the direction and expectations from the business owner, you’ll get great growth, as long as they are dedicated to the process.
Two Common Mistakes Owners Make When Hiring a BDM
Before starting on your search, be aware of two big mistakes people make when hiring and training a BDM:
- First, owners employ a BDM before the business is ready.
You have to analyze and assess your business. Otherwise you could think you’re growing, but properties are actually going out the back door because you aren’t providing the level of service that you need to provide. Make sure you know and understand your business and what you can take on. Have the processes, systems, and a database in place.
- The second mistake is not looking at targets and keeping the BDM accountable.
Some business owners will employ a BDM and just let them go, leaving them to their own devices. No one is checking in or monitoring performance or keeping them accountable. Then, there’s no growth and no one knows why. You need to make sure that you keep your BDM accountable and sit with them regularly to review targets.
In order to have success with a BDM, do your best to avoid these mistakes. Strongly consider the direction of your business. This means knowing what kind of income is being generated, and how much it costs to manage those properties. With this information, you’ll be able to work out incentives for your BDM as well as the Key Performance Indicators (see: Property Management KPIs) and goals. Once you have realistic goals and targets for your business, from there, you can go through individual activities that you want your BDM to handle.
When Should You Hire a BDM?
Kasey decided her business needed a BDM when she was at 50 or 60 properties. At that point, she herself moved from the role of property manager to the role of BDM, and hired a property manager so she could focus completely on this part of the business. It accelerated her business quickly, allowing her to add 127 new properties in a year.
Where Do You Find a Good BDM?
- Look at your existing business.
Depending on your size, you might already have a staff member in place who would make a great BDM. Maybe that person is not performing well in a sales or property management role, or they are struggling slightly in what they are currently doing because their skill set is different.
- Look outside of the real estate industry.
The hospitality industry is a great example; you always find great waiters and waitresses who have amazing communication and customer service skills. Deniz Yusef mentions that bank tellers are also a great place to source talented individuals. Ask them if they’ve ever thought about a career in real estate. Your BDM needs to effectively communicate with clients and deliver outstanding service.
PM Grow Summit Sponsorship
The second sponsor for this podcast is the PM Grow Summit. Last year, the summit attracted a lot of positive feedback. It’s different from any other conference in the property management industry because it caters to intermediate and advanced professionals who crave more information on growth and management. There were 164 attendees last year, and it wasn’t all big companies who showed up.
- 10 percent of attendees managed 0-100 properties.
- 7. 4 percent of attendees managed 100-250 properties.
- The majority – 38 percent, managed 250 – 500 properties.
- 25 percent of attendees managed 500 – 1000 properties.
A lot of attendees also managed over 1,000 properties. All sizes of property management companies were represented. What united everyone was the drive for growth. January 31 – Feb 2 are the dates for the 2018 conference in San Diego, so make your plans to be there.
Tasks for a BDM When Starting Out
As mentioned earlier, you need to be clear as to what you expect out of your BDM, or you and the BDM will find this to be a frustrating experience. When starting out, hone down what your priorities are for the first three months and then six months after that. You can even take it further and decide what to focus on in the first 30 days. These are a few things that you can have your BDM start out doing:
- Make sure the services you’re currently delivering are outstanding. That would be a specific task for the BDM because you don’t want to grow your business while losing business.
- Make sure your clients are happy with your team. Then, those conversations can lead to asking if there are other properties that need management, or if there are referrals that can be made.
The Five People BDM’s Must Know
Relationship building is vital to a BDM’s role. Once your BDM gets some familiarity with your company and its services, have them focus on developing relationships. There are five types of people that every BDM should network with:
- A BDM’s first priority is to develop relationships with existing clients and tenants. Connect with your existing database of owners AND renters. A lot of property managers don’t treat tenants as opportunities.
- Spend time with the company’s RE sales or property management teams. Attend sales meetings to understand listings. Form a connection with other local sales agents, too. Form those relationships. If you send your BDM to other local sales offices, you’ll have a presence that will help you build your database of prospective clients.
- Maintain relationships with former owners. They may not be working with you right now, but perhaps they’ll have a need for you in the future. They might eventually buy another property, or maybe they’re making plans to invest again. Your BDM needs to be available to them.
- Pound the pavement by reaching your neighborhood. Put flyers around the neighborhoods you want to work in. Saturday mornings are a great time to do this because people are out and there’s more activity. If you recently leased a home, let people in the neighborhood know what you leased it for and how quickly you got it rented. This will put your BDM in touch with potential clients.
- Develop relationships with the professional services industry. These include accountants, financial planners, tax professionals, and insurance providers. They can add value to your clients, so you can have them speak at webinars, seminars, and other educational events. Your BDM can work on these referral relationships that bring clients in.
At a certain point, the BDM role needs to be consistent in sales and activities. Next, we’ll go over the strategies that you can use to set your BDM’s up for success.
Three Prospecting Strategies for BDM’s
Having a personal brand, meeting new people, and attending networking events helps immensely, but to become a good BDM, prospecting is the main activity. They have to be comfortable picking up the phone and making those calls. They’re speaking to people they have never spoken to before. This is what property management company owners should expect from a BDM. When hiring someone for this role, consider that skill. Below are three proven prospecting strategies for BDM’s:
- Reach Your Prospects with an Hour of Power
Prospecting doesn’t have to be uncomfortable, and there are some great methods for this part of a BDM’s role. Consider doing an hour of power, where the BDM stays late one day a week with your sales team calling your database of prospects. Have them talk to owners about whether they have any rental properties, and be willing to answer any of their questions. Make sure the BDM asks probing questions, talks them through investing in properties or tells them what happens in the process of finding a tenant. Then, at the end they can offer an appraisal. If you’re an information provider and not just giving them a sales pitch, you’ll get a better response.
- Provide Value with Workshops
Have your BDM’s invite people to a workshop that provides information and education. Owners will be willing to spend some time learning, and this can be used as an opportunity to build a database of useful contacts. This is more comfortable than a sales phone call because you’re being helpful. It’s always a good idea to have regular seminars or webinars as those prospects will see you as the bonafide leader in the area. You’ll find the closing ratio is fantastic.
- Connect with Vendors By Hosting BBQ’s
If you want to develop a relationship with vendors and contractors who can bring you more business, host a barbeque once a month or once every quarter. Kasey did this with the tradespeople she was already working with. She’d encourage them to bring other people, and she’d provide beer and food. It provided networking opportunities, and she’d have about five minutes to introduce herself and talk about her business. She was able to obtain new business directly from the people she worked with. This is a great way to build a referral network.
The National Association of Residential Property Managers (NARPM) sponsors this podcast, and if you’re a property manager, you need to know about their designations. They have a course for the RMP – Residential Management Professional, and after you pass that and meet other criteria, you can work towards your MPM – Master Property Manager. These designations are an effective way to move your company forward. It’s an incredible resource, and you can take courses online, at state conferences, and in regional chapters. You get coached, you discover new revenue streams, and you build a great support network. Most importantly, you make deep friendships.
Three Ways to Measure and Track Success
Measuring and tracking success is important because results are what you want all that work to produce. Look at breaking down your KPIs and setting specific targets:
- Maybe you want your BDM to connect with 10 people per day.
If the target is to have those 10 physical conversations per day, they will likely have to make 20 to 30 phone calls since people will not be available and messages will be left.
- Look at how many people were added to the database and what kind of opportunities are present.
Figure out what kinds of listings and appraisals came from the BDM activities. You want to determine how effective the calls and activities are, and if the goals are not being achieved, why not.
- Look at how many management agreements are signed and how many listing presentations are made.
If the numbers seem low, figure out why those achievements didn’t happen. Talk through the activities with your BDM and find out what is preventing him or her from getting in front of people.
Key to Success: A Good CRM
A recurring theme for BDMs is their database of leads. A lot of people miss opportunities if there isn’t a good system in place. All the work that’s being done gets devalued if you’re not staying in touch with people. Follow up with individuals in the database. Track the letters you send through the mail and make sure all activity goes in the database. Track the newsletters you send every month and the seminar invitations that are sent out. There should always be some touch point.
Tracking activity is crucial, so you need a Customer Relationship Management system (CRM) to track your activities. Without a CRM, you can’t track anything. Track and document everything so you can accurately assess the performance of your BDM. You need to know what’s not working as well as what is working. You need to start building a database of leads and building a sales process even if you don’t have a BDM yet. Maintaining a list of contacts is crucial to your business.
Note: LeadSimple and Fourandhalf have partnered to deliver this service to property managers. Click here to learn more on how we can help your property management company.
Please feel free to contact Kasey at BDMacademy.com.au. Hopefully, she will be at the U.S. to teach a session or two at the PM Grow Summit.
Get tips on how to handle the complete sales process for an incoming owner lead with the, Art of the Sale: A Process for Property Managers.
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