Starboard Commercial Real Estate

Hans Hansson | December 7, 2017

How do I do better in sales next year? The standard answer to this question has been “cold-call, cold-call, cold-call. Pick up the phone and talk to someone.” Today it’s not that simple.  With voicemails taking the place of live calls and no gatekeeper to get around at the front desk, salespeople need to have a number of “pillars of business” in order to succeed.


So, here are my new rules to succeed in 2018:


  1. Stop casting a wide net. Instead of calling more people every day, try connecting with one real decision maker every day. Rather than “dialing for dollars” and calling between 50 to 100 people a day, try researching your potential candidates.  Find out what is going on in their business, if they are growing or shrinking, and who is the real decision maker there. Find out information through networking, public knowledge found online, or send a direct email to inquire more.


  1. Create a compelling reason for the that decision maker to want to deal with you. What is going to create a reason for he or she to take time out of their day to return your call?  What is your call-to-action?


  1. Customize outreach. Make your emails personal and resist sending mass blasts. Tailor your message to the decision maker with something that is unique to their particular needs.


  1. Be Inquisitive. Instead of telling your clients what you’re going to do for them, ask a lot of questions instead. Try to keep the conversation going as long as you can because the more you find out, the more helpful you can be. Also, the client will recognize your questions as taking care and showing interest in their needs.


  1. Don’t give up. The old rule of thumb still exists that you need seven attempts to get one real lead. Vary your approach so that the client will see you trying to connect with them in different ways. This shows not only persistency, but also that you are strategic. This will win points in the mind of your potential client.


  1. Become an expert. Avoid making mistakes by investigating thoroughly before making a connection with a potential client. The last thing you want to do is to misspeak– it may end up costing you your credibility in the long-run.


  1. Connect with the lead directly. Networking is great, but can oftentimes be overrated. Yes, you may know someone who knows someone, who can connect you– but will they really vouch for you and your services? The only person who can do this for sure is you.


  1. Schedule everything. Calendar your cold-calling activities, strategy planning, even your personal activities every day.  If you put it in your calendar, you're more likely to actually do that activity – partly because you're less likely to have to make an active decision whether or not you should do it.  Remember that cold-calling is not just part of your business; it’s your only business. Without a new business pipeline, you are through in sales no matter what you have closed in the past.

  2. Find a good CRM platform and dedicate yourself to using it.  Without a proper CRM system to manage your contacts, there is no way of running an effective campaign to secure new business.


  1. Respect – Show it, give it, and earn it.



Follow these steps, and you’ll look back knowing you started 2018 in the best possible way. 

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Hans Hansson | November 29, 2017

One of the most active industrial markets in the country can be found in Chicago.  Commercial Real Estate properties there can easily make $300,000 - $400,000 a year selling and leasing industrial space. Yet, commercial firms are having an ever increasingly tough time finding new agents.


No Longer a Go-To Career Choice

Real estate is not an attractive occupation to today’s generation. An industrial agent in Chicago needs to expect to have to own a car and drive on average 25,000 miles per year to cover their marketplace. Today’s generation does not want to own a car, let alone drive around all day for work. In addition, you need to put in several years of hard work with little pay to build your book of business to achieve these higher income levels. This generation wants an immediate payday.  


The biggest challenge is that most younger professionals want to live in the cities that they work in and don’t typically find suburban life appealing after college.  This frankly doesn’t only affect potential talent in commercial real estate, but also most traditional businesses.  From manufacturing to the trades– traditional businesses are struggling to recruit while millennials seek roles at new startups in both nonprofit and non-traditional marketplaces.  


Talent Wars

Today, the average worker in trade work is 46 years old and are struggling to recruit, counting more and more on veterans rather than graduating high school or college students to fill these positions.


The big question is – what happens if you can’t find workers and compensation is not the driving recruitment tool?  What happens when manufacturing or the trades pay well enough to attract and it does not work?  An example is an electrician in the Bay Area can make $140,000 to $175,000 a year including pensions and full benefits far better than most jobs, yet they are struggling to find talent.


Part of the problem is that this generation has not experienced the need to fix their own things or service and assist others.  The age of “now” may be showing its negative effects on society as a whole.  Most of the trades attracted labor from the next generation. For example, a father who worked in the trades would likely have sons who ended up following their footsteps. Children used to work on cars themselves and learned the ins and outs of the mechanics. They would learn how to use tools at a young age, so choosing a career in the trades became a very natural choice. Today, children are working with computers– learning to code, build and design websites and software, therefore choosing a career in technology is now the new natural progression.


Business Continues to Change


Commercial Real estate agents typically were founded because their parents were in the business. Their parents were salespeople and the next generation understood what it took to be successful in sales and how to service clientele.  Today, sales are done not in-person, but via text messages, emails, and social media.  This has clearly caused an evolution that will eventually permanently change how we do business and how we create things.

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Hans Hansson | November 15, 2017

As a result of owning my own commercial real estate firm since 1991, I have seen what works and doesn’t work in the successful development of a real estate salesperson. The single biggest thing that causes most agents to not “make it” is their inability to create a disciplined approach to time management.


Time management is the key to success for any salesperson. It’s also part of organizational skills that most salespeople do not have as an innate trait. Most personality profile tests will support this understanding. A strong salesperson’s test results will look for strong driven skills and the ability to multitask and press forward, even when it looks like there is no business to secure. Yet, almost all of those tests will show lack of organizational skills. This typically would be found in people who are more analytical in nature.


Calendaring Your Day

I have thought for years about the importance of calendaring all of an agent’s necessary activities each day. Personally, I will calendar current business, new business, “big hour”, personal business, research, and education.


The current business includes all of my deal activity pipeline and things I need to do to push those forward. The new business activity includes business development. The “big hour” is working on deals that have low probability to close, but with high rewards if they do. Personal business is acknowledging that everyone has certain personal actions that need to be accomplished each day.


Each activity requires you to create tasks to complete each day, which I keep in a separate tasks file. When I have to do work on current business, I simply go down my list of tasks associated with each activity. If I don’t complete a task, I move it to the next day to complete.


Continuing to Learn

Research and education are the hardest activities to calendar into your schedule. These are also the hardest actions to perform each day. Although education does not produce immediate results, nor lead to any direct benefits for the foreseeable future– you will increase your likelihood of long-term success.  


As a commercial real estate broker, I recently attended the National Association of Realtors national convention. Most commercial brokers are not members of the NAR and most regard NAR as a service provider for residential realtors. However, NAR actually provides very strong tools, classes and networking opportunities that support commercial brokers both locally, nationally, and internationally.


I went to NAR to learn about new tools available to realtors. In the end, I learned new ways to leverage social media, new software tools available to improve how I do business while also lowering my costs, and I participated in classes that gave me inspiration to start implementing tactics with a new focus.


In terms of time management education, research is the most important daily activity you can do– and a daily calendar with scheduled time to educate yourself through listening to podcasts, reading books, mentoring, attending training classes or online webinars will help you grow as a salesperson instead of ultimately failing.

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Hans Hansson | October 3, 2017

If you are a seasoned sales professional, you probably have reached what I call your “comfort zone.” You’ve established a way of doing your business right or wrong that works for you…or does it?


There is an old rule in sales– 80 percent of the fish are caught by 20 percent of the fisherman. The question is: are you in the 20 percent that catch or the 80 percent that go home empty-handed?


By Staying Comfortable, You’re Settling.

Being comfortable breeds mediocrity. A state of comfort will not motivate you to make changes. You may not be happy in your current financial situation, but you are comfortable enough to complain and do nothing about it. You know you need to make a change, but unless your situation gets dramatically worse– you won’t. And that’s settling for less than average.


Without Challenges, You Won’t Grow.

Your comfort zone does not work in the world of pain; it works in the world of pleasure.  You feel comfortable even if you question whether you can be better because the comfort zone is the safe zone. If we aren’t challenging ourselves, we will stay complacent and plateau in our skillset as we watch our peers surpass us.


Don’t Wait for Outside Pressure

The best salesperson I have ever worked with was when I was in the foodservice industry. This salesman could sell like no other I had ever met then, or now. However, he clearly had personal issues that created a very odd way of selling.  Matt would secure sale after sale and then go dark. When I mean dark, I mean that he would disappear off the grid. This was before cell phones, so his landline was all we had to communicate.  


I would worry that something had happened to him so I would often stop by his house and ring his bell, only to find him in his pajamas in the middle of the day. His famous line was, “I put my bed sheets over my head again.” The only time he would remove that bed sheet was when he started to run out of money and was running behind on bills. At which point, it was like a fire under him to go out selling again. Pain caused need, which caused desire, and he became a selling machine. He was confident, organized, service-oriented, and he was the best salesperson for that brief moment in time when he found himself under serious pressure and pain.


Your Potential Outweighs the Risk

At Starboard, I make it a priority to train our agents and help them find ways to be organized, more focused, and improve their sales results. I’ve seen a lot of positive feedback, but only to see little or no change.


Harness your fear of the unknown and set out for change. Yes, things could go wrong– but you can always go back to what you know. Take a chance – because you haven’t reached your full potential.  

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Hans Hansson | September 15, 2017

Warehouse demand is at an all-time high and industrial vacancies are at their lowest point in nearly two decades at 5.3 percent, according to's data hub. Yet, building of warehouse space throughout the country is not keeping up with this demand. Why?


Simply put, the costs to secure the land, build, and then find a tenant does not make economic sense in most markets. Rents for warehouse spaces have remained relatively flat throughout the country until recently.


E-commerce fulfillment is a big reason why the demand for warehouses and distribution centers has increased of late, representing 40 percent of leasing of industrial properties today, according to a recent report from Jones Lang LaSalle.


In California, warehouse rents are doubling and in some cases tripling due to the legalization of marijuana. Warehouse spaces that used to sell at .50-.75 cents a square foot is now selling at $2.00 a square foot.  In markets like Santa Rosa, California landlords are advertising two prices –$1.25 for non-marijuana use and $2.00 a foot for marijuana use. According to a CBRE article, 4.2 million sq. ft. of Denver, Colorado’s industrial market in Q4 2016 was occupied by marijuana growers.


Of course, at $2.00 a foot, it would make sense to build warehouses. The challenge we’re really seeing is that marijuana remains illegal on a federal basis. As a result, non-conventional funding sources from banks to hand out loans used to build warehouses are not allowed to support buildings that house marijuana.


In addition, if a landlord decides to add a marijuana tenant in their building, even if they had no loan on that particular building, their banks could legally take away any other loans on other properties owned by that landlord since they have illegal use in one of their properties.


In California, the marijuana demand has made it far more expensive for true warehouse users to not only find space, but to keep the space they have.  In Santa Rosa, the Alhambra Water company will not have their lease renewed in favor of their current landlord wanting to add a marijuana cultivation operation in its place.


Unfortunately, the county is certainly not motivated to do anything but allow the expansion of marijuana.  The fee structures established for marijuana cultivation is adding millions to the city. Until there is financing available to build marijuana cultivation warehouses, rents will continue to skyrocket.


What happens to the cost of basic services if businesses have to find warehouses further and further away from their marketplace in order to store their products? They will have to commute farther to bring their products to their marketplaces, making the warehouse location not only a hassle, but more expensive for the business.


Amazon is looking to build “super warehouses” across the country in order to meet their expected demand for their online products and now food with the recent acquisition of Whole Foods.  As a result, there are different types of warehouse usages cropping up, such as indoor soccer fields, large gyms, and other sports facilities that are looking to reinvent their properties.


Local county and state planning is essential to provide quick decisions on warehouse development so that warehouse construction can happen and meet this demand. If not, the consumer in the end will be paying for it with much higher product costs and potentially face shortages in food and other basic product needs.

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Hans Hansson | September 11, 2017

For the sales professionals who established goals at the beginning of the year, we now have just four months remaining to meet our original goals. In sales, September is the best month to close deals, particularly in commercial real estate when businesses are looking to move offices before the end of the year.


If you work for a larger corporate firm, you are certainly on a sales goal plan. If you are an independent salesperson, you either created a plan or you didn’t. Either way, all salespeople have a number in mind at the beginning of the year that they are expecting to hit.  


Review Your Plan

This month, you need to look at your business plan and analyze where you are at. Are you at, above, or below your goal? If you have not met your goal, do you have enough in the business pipeline until the end the year to hit your goal? If you are below your goal, how far below are you and what will it take in the next four months for you to make or exceed your goals?


When It’s Time to Reevaluate  

If you are behind your goal by a fair amount, a full review of your business plan is in order. You will need to review what has worked thus far and what hasn’t.  If certain pillars of your business have worked, then what can you do to expand those efforts? Then, you need to review what hasn’t worked. It’s important to understand why production hasn’t occurred and then ask yourself how you can improve your activity in these pillars to generate deals. You may find that it’s best to concentrate on the pillars of business that are working or perhaps look into new avenues to develop business.


If the decision is to look at new ways to do business, the best next step is to study other salespeople that work those new pillars to see how they make it successful.  


Room for Improvement

Finally, you need to access your daily time management activities. Are you properly organized each day? Are you organizing your day the night before? If not, you should start.  Planning the night before will give you a solid start to a new day. Plan who you are going to cold call and how you are going to secure new business that day or week.


Next, schedule in the time it will take each day for you to work on new business development. It’s very easy to work on existing business that could eat up most of your day, but it’s crucial to set aside time for new business for long term success.


Adequate salespeople like to work on existing business, but great salespeople know they must keep the pipeline filled at all times. Closing deals without a pipeline for future business is like starting all over again each time a deal is done. If you are not meeting your goals, you still have time to turn it around, but the clock is ticking!


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Hans Hansson | August 22, 2017

Lead generation through social media has become the new “norm.” Data analytics now enables customers to be notified of products and services they should consider while shopping in stores. If you walked into a car dealership, another dealership may advertise to you when you leave the premises across almost every medium available– Facebook, LinkedIn, banner ads, app push notifications, etc. Restaurant where you recently dined will advertise to you shortly after on visiting websites.


Sales has also been automated at almost every turn. But what does this mean for salespeople? Will technology completely replace the job of a salesperson? Sadly, I believe in some industries, this may be the case. Salespeople will be replaced not only by technology, but also by customer service personnel who can be paid far less than talented salespeople.


Yet, I still wonder– can an online ad really lead the end-user to the finish line of a sale without a human closer?  Salespeople need to adapt to survive the advances in technology. They must understand today more than ever where their strengths lie as human beings and where robots fall short. Becoming a client’s trusted advisor will keep salespeople in the game. This is how we will maximize earnings potential.  No matter what type of sales you may be in, applying your expertise and providing outstanding counsel to your client will outplay anything else.


The Power of Face Time

Taking time to meet with your clients in-person or at the least speaking to them consistently on the phone will also help achieve not only far better results short-term, but maintain strong relationships that you can count on for future deals. Although communication via email, text messages, and networking suffice, nothing beats having a conversation with your client face-to-face, or hearing the tone of their voice via phone.


When I first got started in the business, it was a requirement for us to make at least 50 connections a day in order to attract new business. Some required their salespeople to come back each day with at least 50 business cards. Others demanded that salespeople make at least 100 calls per day.  


I recently hired two new sales agents who we are beginning to train. In the first week, I had them making phone calls to get comfortable with cold-calling. They both averaged about 35 calls a day with some success. Although calls are fewer, they are higher quality. Instead of “dialing for dollars,” each agent today takes time to study each person and their business before dialing out to a potential customer. They educate themselves on what their potential needs may be so that they can offer relevant services from the start.


In their second week of training, I selected specific streets in San Francisco and asked them to cold call each building tenant. I asked them to first study the building they were in, then study the current space and learn if the space is being properly utilized. Then I asked them to go in-person and present themselves to the tenants. The results of this training were amazing! Twenty percent of the time, the agents were not only able to speak to the office managers, but also the decision makers of the company. They were also able to learn more in-person about whether or not the company would need move soon, what their company size was, and their biggest needs in office space. The first day, they came back with two solid leads and the second day came back with four.  


In another case, I had an agent that was texting back and forth to his client. His client was considering taking an offer he had just received ahead of getting the listing on his property.  The offer was strong and my agent was asked for his opinion, even though he was not a part of the transaction deal she was considering.  I had advised him strongly to go by and see her in-person instead of texting her. When he saw her in person, he was able to convince his client that it would be best to offer the property to the open market and see if they can secure a stronger offer, before accepting the first offer presented.  


Personal conduct will beat social media. Maybe not all the time, but most of the time.  Yes, it is important to utilize the technology and tools of today to improve our results. But it’s also important to note that sometimes “old school” techniques still work.

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Hans Hansson | July 28, 2017

Amazon recently announced the largest office lease signing this year in San Francisco– 180,000 square feet and occupying multiple floors at 525 Market Street. This deal presents a number of ramifications to both the current and future commercial leasing market.  Amazon released a statement saying that San Francisco’s current tech market is still booming and that firms still want to be here in the city.


With the Boom Comes Doom

This may be a not-so-positive outlook for conventional businesses who have lease renewals nearing. More likely than not, landlords will want to sign new leases with larger tech firms who have deeper pockets.


Today, most leases that are going to expire after five-year terms will be seeing rent increases of at least 40 percent. For most businesses, they will not be able to pay the increased rent and will be forced to move out. The challenge is that with a vacancy of less than six percent overall, businesses will be forced to not only move, but make some drastic decisions on how small of space they can occupy and where.


Other businesses will have to look at their overall profits and decide if and when they need to make cuts. They will also need to review current business operations and determine what changes can be made to reduce spending or reallocate budget. Some of these changes may be minor. For instance, I have a client that is considering eliminating his conference room altogether because he simply doesn’t use it. I know of others who are looking to eliminate private offices in favor of open plans in order to lower square footage needs and costs. Minor moves like these can actually have major consequences on not only day-to-day operations but long-term.


Supply Doesn’t Meet the Demand

The largest issue we have is the slow process of office space development. San Francisco needs to develop spaces sooner in order to meet the demand. This has been a real challenge as we continue to see building costs skyrocket and the beyond lengthy process it takes to acquire land and actually develop buildings in the city. For a developer, this means taking a tremendous risk with an upfront investment, not knowing if the site will even be approved for development.  


Old Laws With New Action Come Into Play

In addition, past city propositions, dating back to the 1980’s are now coming into action, along with potential delays on new measures to help enhance office development.  In the 1980’s San Francisco passed an office limitation ordinance known as Proposition M. This established an “under one million square foot” annual cap on office space growth. Each year, whatever annual square footage was allowed that wasn’t built could be placed on “reserve” for future years.


For most of the years since the passing of Proposition M, there has been little to no office development. But today, almost all of the reserve space has been occupied, which means that we have little expansion of office space left. There are numerous projects, including office development plans for the San Francisco Giants, as well as expansion around the Golden State Warriors’ new stadium site. In addition, there are major office developments throughout South of Market (SOMA) planned– all of which will be at risk with Proposition M.


In adding to the list of challenges– San Francisco’s SOMA plan, which would rezone buildings from 4th street to 7th street in order to create office, residential, and hotel development, is now facing new opposition. Current condo owners are concerned of the larger scale projects causing shadowing throughout their neighborhood.  All of which can be worked out, but will certainly cause delays.


Delays occurring within a boom market are not going to be good if our city cannot react to the needs of the marketplace in a timely manner. The city needs to be proactive in streamlining office development projects so we encourage growth, not delay it. With the city just passing the largest budget in its history at $10 billion, and with less than $50 million in available discretionary funds– any dip in business opportunities can have devastating effects on our city, our operating revenue, and jobs overall.

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Hans Hansson | July 15, 2017

Hans Hansson | July 15, 2017

San Francisco’s Mayor, Ed Lee, just announced a $10.1 billion city budget, with increased spending to address homelessness. The two-year budget proposal, which includes a $10 billion budget in the second year, will boost services by $30 million each year around homeless services.


Per resident, San Francisco spends more money than any other city in the United States. While the budget was announced, real estate assessment figures showed that property tax revenue will increase by 7.4 percent, due to higher real estate sales transactions paired with higher real estate values.


The city is over six months to a year behind in actual reassessments of properties that have sold. Therefore, the actual gain will be much higher when the city finalizes new reassessments.


San Francisco is experiencing an unprecedented boom in new income due to increased property values and will continue to do so over for the next two years at least, until all reassessments are complete. Given we are spending the most per resident in the country and given our unprecedented growth in income, are we as residents getting our money’s worth?


The Board of Supervisors struggled with approving this $10.1 billion budget because it still requires major cuts in services to obtain a balanced budget. The city continues to spend more money than it receives. How can this continue to be?


Discretionary available funds are actually at an all-time low. There are less than $50 million available funds to tackle new projects from infrastructure to assisting the homeless. Almost all the $10.1 billion budget is locked into city wages, benefits, and pension dues. The sad fact is that there is little that can be done about it.  


Illinois currently has no state budget because the state owes far more in outstanding bills than it has money to pay. The only difference between us and the state of Illinois is that we are experiencing a real estate boom. If this boom did not occur or eventually busts, our situation is going to be exactly the same as Illinois.


It doesn’t take an “eagle’s eye” to question whether we are getting our money’s worth out of this budget. As a native San Franciscan, I see that our streets are dirtier than ever before and are lined with even more homeless people. Countless streets are in desperate need of repair and there is absolutely no discussion amongst city officials to repair our underground infrastructure, namely our 100-year-old plus sewage system along with our electrical and water systems.  


So, what is the hold up? First, we have a political problem. We are a one-party town with no political opposition to create a system of checks and balances. Secondly, the very worker’s government, union, and the large corporations that control the city are our politicians, which created these massive financial “giveaways” in terms of wages, benefits and pensions. Therefore, without independent oversight or some political oppositional pressure, there’s no chance that anyone will truly tackle these cost overruns.  


Overregulation and inefficiencies are built into the fabric of how we run our government. Again, you don’t need an “eagle’s eye” to see this. Simply go down to San Francisco City Hall and try to pay your taxes, or go to the City Permit department and try to pull a permit for construction. There is no motivation to be efficient because if they were, they simply would not be needed. The sad reality is that we are overstocked with government workers. From the time of Mayor George Moscone to the end of Dianne Feinstein’s term in office as Mayor, the city increased its city worker count by four thousand.


Here is an excerpt from a recent San Francisco Chronicle article on our budget.


“By far the biggest chunk goes to pay city employees. Almost half — $4.7 billion — is spent on the salaries and benefits of 30,626 city employees. How many workers is that? A little more than the population of Burlingame. Enough to provide one worker for every 28 San Francisco residents. Enough to fill three-quarters of the seats at AT&T Park, which — considering the way the Giants are playing — soon might be a great turnout.

The average San Francisco worker makes $108,774 in salary and $49,864 in benefits, including medical, dental and vision care and pension contributions. An income of $108,774 is just over 150 percent of the median salary in San Francisco.

Of course, San Francisco city salaries vary widely. A starting custodian makes $49,270, and a starting junior typist makes $44,798. That’s far less than the city’s top dogs, including the mayor ($302,400), fire chief ($311,194) and the police chief ($316,732). No wonder acting Police Chief Toney Chaplin wants the job full time.”

So, a city worker makes over 150 percent more than the average worker in the city? Yet, is the efficiency there? If not, can you reorganize these departments and can you create some mechanisms that tout servicing the citizens of the city first before worrying about job retention?


There is no way to fix this system if the politicians are controlled by the very workers and special interests that benefit from this budget.


Illinois is a very sad example that can easily happen here. We need government leaders with a backbone to see what is coming and find out a way to fix it before it’s too late.

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