As many of you have been following our articles, we have gone into detail about the property management industry, property managers and what is involved on a daily basis.
But let’s recap just for a second.
Property Management in London involves the management of communal areas within residential or mixed use (residential and commercial) buildings typically on behalf of a Landlord, Freeholder or Residents Management Company. The role is diverse with property managers requiring an understanding of accountancy, insurance, building construction and maintenance to name but a few.
So back to the skill that will take you from good to amazing, is the ability to:
Before you disregard this article as waffle, to be clear, we do not mean selling as in the famous ‘glengarry glenross’ (see below) type of selling:
(Disclaimer: there’s quite a bit of profanity so not for the faint hearted!)
What do we mean by ‘Selling’?
Let me tell you a story about an average property managers day.
James comes to the office early and turns on his computer to find a number of emails received overnight with a few maintenance requests as well as some information demands.
James needs to speak with contractors to make sure his maintenance work is a priority to the builders, possibly negotiate the price for a repair, he then needs to update the leaseholders at the building he manages.
In that couple of minutes James has had to sell the reason that his work is more important that other work to the builders, he has had to negotiate and agree a sales price for the work and then he has had to sell the idea that the work is in hand to the leaseholders at his building under management.
It really is all Sell Sell Sell!
But why would everyone in the company need to be able to sell?
We agree, it seems unlikely that your service charge accountant will think they need to be able to sell, or perhaps your receptionist feels that their role doesn’t involve selling anything today.
Well we would disagree and let us tell you why, department by department.
New Business Department
Let’s start with a really easy one.
The new business department are responsible for bringing new clients into the company. They are almost exclusively a sales department by nature so it is somewhat easy to understand why a good salesperson can be a huge asset to a property management company.
Property Management Department
Property Managers are involved in every aspect in the management of a building.
They therefore will need to make suggestions to clients about what is best for their homes, what the best direction is for the long term strategy for the building as well as using professional partnerships to carry out any professional works that are required in any given day.
To use a negative, if a property manager cannot sell an idea to their client or use the art of persuasion to improve the running of a building then they will be no more than a regular, reactive entity.
The great property managers we have worked with are the ones that can sell a dream and deliver on it, can sell a proposal and fulfil it, can sell themselves to promote their own personal brand.
Service Charge Accounts Department
Arguably the most important department in a property management company, ‘if you get the numbers right, the rest is straight forward’.
But again, they need to be able to sell.
They provide a large number of accounts to be audited on an annual basis, they need to have the right information from the property managers, they need to justify spending at times to the client.
If a service charge accountant cannot use their selling personality to ensure year end accounts are back within the required 6-month timeframe, if they cannot persuade the property managers to provide the necessary information in good time then they will not be able to provide the service that is required of a good London property management company.
The heart and soul of any property management company.
The admin department are integral to the efficient running of the company, without a productive admin department, every other department will fall short on their abilities.
But, do they need to be able to sell?
The admin department are client facing, very much at the ‘coal face’ as the saying goes and as such they need to be able to sell the ability of the company, sell ideas to other departments on what may be best and most of all, sell their abilities to senior staff in order to gain promotions.
You will find out very quickly that if you work in an admin department and have poor selling skills, you may struggle to be the best you could be.
So naturally the next question for anyone reading this article is ‘What can I do to improve’, well let’s tackle that subject now.
How you can improve your company’s sales culture:
This can be a really tricky subject, each person is different, will have their own way of selling and will have to sell in different ways depending on what department they are in.
We have compiled a small list of a few tips to improve your selling skills from a general perspective:
1 – “Get comfortable with being uncomfortable”:
I was once given this advice and it sticks with me to this day. Whether you are in the new sales department trying to set up meetings with new clients or you are at the front desk, if you are selling an idea or a service to someone, you will at some point be rejected. Now that rejection may come by way of email so no one really has to see it apart from you, or, it may be in the middle of a room with everyone in ear shot.
Everyone gets rejected, yes you may be embarrassed, you may feel a little stupid that you didn’t close the deal BUT, from absolutely every rejection there is something you can learn from it.
It can be uncomfortable and you may feel terrible for the rest of the day but just think, as soon as you get used to selling, you’ll become better at it and therefore you’ll be a lot more comfortable in the future with any rejections you face.
2 – Always be learning:
It surprises me that more companies do not study as much as they can from rejections.
Quite honestly, it has been one of my biggest teachers.
There needs to be an open and honest communication line throughout your company so that people can learn from not only theirs, but others mistakes.
You can learn so much from hearing stories of where people haven’t succeeded in selling their ideas to people so I would encourage every company, be open about your failures and make them useful. Let everyone learn what went right and what didn’t. Only then can people improve their own abilities and becoming more comfortable with selling.
3 – Be an open book:
Or more to the point, be an open business.
We truly believe that everyone has the ability to sell, just in different ways and with different abilities.
If you can create an open structure within the business so the accountants know what is happening in new business, the property managers know what the admin staff are doing, then you allow the business to cross sell.
Every single employee within your business is the single best advertisement in your company so use that to its upmost. Ensure the communication throughout the company is open and with the right attitude towards the company’s overall goal.
As soon as you see people working in sync, you will start to see accountants selling the companies services as much as the property managers.
What tools will help your property managers sell
So this is where we come down to specifics as clearly some departments just need tools that will allow them to sell the companies services and some departments only need their nice, polite demeanour.
Well we wanted to share with you some of the tools that we use and why, who knows, you might like them too (full disclaimer, no we don’t own or take any form of referral fee from these companies, they are just lucky that we want to give them a recommendation)
So the first one we use is Tubular (www.tubular.io). This is a recent addition to Strangford Management’s new business function but allows everyone to see our sales pipeline, discuss who needs to do what at each stage, and notifies each team member when the deal has moved on. Pretty handy for reporting too so you high level exec’s will like that element.
The second one we use is Mailchimp (www.mailchimp.com). This can be used for marketing but also, its great for automating email responses. We don’t use this all the time however having tested it, people have been surprised at the results. You can use its filters to auto fill fields like the individual’s name and address so you can provide them with a really personal response to show just how good your customer service is. Great way to start any relationship really.
The third and final is not really a tool, more of a plea. Please can the Property Management Industry improve its business card game. I have personally seen far too many boring, wafer like business cards in my time, so, let’s all make sure we are getting high quality, well designed (that make you stand out a bit, ours have a QR code for instance to our website) business cards so at least when you do meet your prospective new client you are getting off on the right foot! Oh, we use MOO (www.moo.com) for ours by the way.