Starboard Commercial Real Estate

Hans Hansson | May 19, 2017

Industrial SpaceToday, office vacancy throughout the Bay Area is on average at five percent. Planned office development is taking place in San Francisco, San Jose, and Oakland to meet the office market demands. Retail vacancy is also around six percent. We still see new retail projects underway, while larger retailers across the country continue to close their brick-and-mortar stores and try to find new ways to survive in the ecommerce marketplace.

However, the lowest vacancy factor in all available commercial real estate sectors is industrial. Today, the overall industrial vacancy rates are at around three percent. In industrial heavy markets like Hayward, the overall vacancy is under two percent. Yet, there are almost no industrial projects in progress to address.

As a commercial real estate firm, the highest requested space that we receive inquiries on is for 10,000-20,000 square feet of warehouse space in the Hayward market. Unfortunately, it simply does not exist.

Even more challenging is that our warehouse market overall is old and obsolete. For instance, in San Francisco, there has not been a large warehouse industrial project built since the 1980's. Most of our warehouse stock was built before and during World War II to address the need of building navy ships. Most warehouse units are underpowered and cannot address the needs of today's offices that are typically included with warehouse space. Today's industrial space calls for power, sprinkler systems, high ceilings, and the ability to stack three-four palates on top of one another. Properties with this checklist are almost non-existent.

Why then do developers not build warehouse space? The first reason is leasing costs. Warehouse tenants often have a lot smaller budget to work with. Therefore, the cost to acquire land and make economic sense of the development is challenging. The second reason deals with return on investment for developers. Warehouse space requires access for large trucks and requires larger parking areas. This requires more common area land that developers need to include in their planning, which means they will need to buy land at a much lower cost to accommodate– which is not easy to find.

If we do not develop warehouse and industrial space, we will face even more congestion on our freeways, as trucks will have to venture farther away into the central valley to bring in goods to the Bay Area.

Zoning restrictions have been implemented in Bay Area cities, including San Francisco, to try to force development of more warehouse space. However, in the end, land is simply too expensive and the process to get a project up and running will take years since all projects must go through the planning process (typically up to two years from start date). Without a regional approach from our government officials to support our need for more warehouse and industrial property, we risk impeding our economic growth.

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Hans Hansson | May 16, 2017

The Marathon Called SalesWatching the Golden State Warriors is a true testament to greatness. This team not only has individual star players, but an outstanding team overall with selflessness to share responsibilities on the court and ensure the team sustains their objective to win.


To achieve greatness in any competitive sport, you must perfect your skills, learn to work with others, concentrate on your goals and dig deep when things get tough so that you can find a way to get back on the winning track.


Sports championships are a lot like running a marathon. When the season starts, you and your team must learn how to pace yourself for the grueling games ahead, knowing that each game counts towards your eventual placement in the standings. It's important to remain consistent and challenge yourself every game to be as great as you can be.


In longer sport seasons, compliancy does set in at all levels from youth to professional sports. The ability to play lots of games with the same focus and energy throughout a season is extremely tough. Things happen. Athletes get tired, emotionally distraught from personal matters, or injured– which can take away the ability to remain "great."


Last year, Stephen Curry fell into the stands in an early playoff game and seemed to disappear as a factor throughout the remaining playoffs. News was that Stephen was fine, however his results were no longer there. Even the greatest fall from grace due to things often out of their control.


A successful sales career is also much like a long-distance marathon. The ultimate prize may not be a trophy, but it involves an everyday commitment to excellence to win their personal "brass ring." The sales people who have achieved success can easily fall victim to being too comfortable. They may allow age, exhaustion, or emotion to gradually drop their production level. To be a top salesman, time over time, year after year, requires a long view of addressing the tools and skillsets that not only you need to develop and maintain, but do so throughout one's career.


Great salespeople share all the characteristics of great sports figures. Champions of sales know that they are only as good as the last deal they closed. In basketball, players are only as good as their last basket. No one knows for sure when either will occur again. One accident or a missed step could end their careers quickly.


I had a chance to speak to Vida Blue former Oakland A and San Francisco Giant's great. I asked him if he saw parallels in his career as a pitcher with Tim Lincecum's career, who at the time was facing his last year with the Giants. Both had amazing fast balls that disappeared. Vida could learn how to pitch instead of just learning to throw and continued to succeed at a high level. Lincecum lost his fast ball lost in command and his baseball career ended.
Vida explained that his era was much different than Lincecum's. Vida was always one pitch away from an injury that could end his career, one young pitcher away from stealing his position as a starter. Also, salaries did not protect players who started to fade. If you were out, you were on the street usually with little financial resources. In Lincecum's era, the big paydays protected him from the exit door, at least for a while. Each team held hope for a recovery long after it was possible because they had such a financial investment in him. Lincecum's career lasted at least three years longer than it would have during Vida's time simply because of the costs to admit that Lincecum's career was over.


Sales Champions face the same struggles. Recently we interviewed one of the top salesperson in the country during the 80's and 90's. Now, very late in his career, things happened in his life that requires him to come up to "bat" one more time. His skillsets are still there, but severely reduced from his top-level clip. His worst performance now would still be better than most salespeople in his field, but he is no longer a sales champion.


He ran his long-distance marathon in sales and finished first. Now, he wants to start a new race but will be faced with many challenges that will make it hard for him to win again.


If all salespeople remember to pace themselves, monitor their results regularly, and continue to push themselves every day, they too can win their long-distance race.


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Hans Hansson | April 24, 2017

Shopping CenterIn the 1950's, President Eisenhower launched the development of our national freeway system. This lead to the development of our suburbs and major urban cities throughout the United States. Shopping centers where created around this time and became an alternative to outdoor downtown malls.

Shopping Centers were built with typically two to three anchor tenants like a Sears, Macys or a JC Penny's. They typically paid little to no rent in favor of drawing traffic to the smaller retailers that paid high rent to be near the retail giants. At this time, it was the smaller retailers that made the shopping centers profitable.

Today, we see all major retailers are struggling to survive. Sears and JC Penney are at the end of their lifecycles, with Macy's not too far behind. These retailers in American malls are challenged with an oversupply of retail space as customers continue to rapidly migrate to online shopping, as well as fast fashion retailers like H&M and off-price stores such as T.J. Maxx.

As a result, about 400 of the country's 1,100 enclosed malls will fail in the upcoming years. As shopping centers lose large retail anchors, with no comparable prospects to replace them, it's only a matter of time before the smaller surrounding retailers also die out from losing shopper foot traffic.

Retail analyst, Jan Kniffen shared that about one-third of malls in the U.S. will shut their doors in the coming years. These vacant spaces will create large blocks of abandoned real estate that will take its toll on surrounding areas within urban cities and suburbs.

Developers and current owners of shopping centers are working to reinvent themselves quickly and appeal to a different demographic – the Millennials. Those born between 1982 and 2002 are living very different lives than previous generations, therefore have different needs and desires.

Millennials will typically not cook at home, yet seek healthier meals and fun ways to stay fit. They also remain single much longer while waiting to have kids. Thus, several shopping centers across the U.S. are starting to convert a portion of their space for residential use, while keeping retail on the ground level– housing convenient yet healthy food options and trendy fitness studios like Soul Cycle and Barry's Bootcamp.

In addition, collective shopping centers, also known as "emporiums" are back where a large warehouse space is divided into smaller micro-stores, selling food, art, clothes, furniture, and more. "The Mix" for example in Southern California is a current success story of this rising model.

Shopping center owners are also marketing to shoppers that they sell "anything that can't be found on Amazon." Stores like Nordstrom's and Petco are also offering "delivery pick-ups" within their store to support their own online sales. The ever-growing ecommerce giant, Amazon, is rumored to be testing a grocery store concept that would allow deliveries to come out of their brick-and-mortar stores.

We are entering a crossroads generationally that is causing retailers to question long-term strategies. The last of the baby boomers are now entering their 60's. They have the financial resources but many find they have everything they need and are not spending like previous generations that hit the later years and would like to reward their life efforts with luxuries.

The Millennials tend to want it all, without putting in as much work. Quality is less important than fast, cheap, and interesting. A step down in appearance is a death sentence for any men and womens apparel stores. Even "middle of the road" retailers such as the Men's Warehouse have been forced to slash prices of suits and traditional wear so low that the whole quality appearance of their suits is compromised.

Although it's inevitable that malls will be converted to new uses over time, city zoning regulations could impede the reconstruction of these sites, leaving cities and suburbs with major holes that could lead to blight. For example, in Reno there is a major economically valued street with a large shopping center that closed five years ago. The center was left abandoned and then demolished, leaving a major street with a large vacant lot surrounded by other retailers which are also quickly dying out.

The next generation of retailers will emerge and bring about very different ideas. But one thing remains certain– our local governments need to be able to streamline their ability to respond to developers and current shopping centers quickly when approached with new ideas. If they can't respond in a timely manner, there will be serious financial consequences.

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Hans Hansson | April 11, 2017

Time is money"Time is money" sums up the concept of opportunity cost – because time is money. It means time is a valuable resource (because our time in this world is finite), therefore it's better to do things efficiently. Alternatively, spend time and effort on things that get the results you are looking for.

Starboard TCN recently moved offices across the street from the building we worked in for over 12 years. The buildings are very similar, yet still different in key ways. In the new building, I no longer need to cross the busy traffic on Market Street. Instead, I can walk from the underground exit to the building entrance. In our old office, I would typically stop to talk to the building security guard for and discuss the latest sports news. Now, I just enter my building and take a sharp left straight to the elevator.

My old elevator stopped virtually on every floor before I made it to my office on the fourteenth floor. My new elevator now has "express control" so I rarely share the elevator and I zip straight up to the sixteenth floor, without any stops. When I leave the building, instead of going around the block to enter the underground train station, I now have a direct path from the new building to the entrance. As a commercial real estate broker, I typically use the underground at least four times a day, so this new location is very convenient.

If you add up all the time I'm now saving just by moving to a new office location, it's about an hour a day. That's five hours a week, 20 hours a month, and over 260 hours in one year.

As a salesperson, particularly if you work on commission, it's crucial to figure out how much money you will need to make in an hour in order to hit your financial annual goal. Assuming you want to make $200,000 and you work 40 hours a week, you would have to earn $96.00 an hour in order to achieve that goal.

Before the office move, I was losing five hours a week, which means at the time I was really only working 35 hours a week. Using the same $200,000 annual goal, instead of needing to earn $96.00, I now need to earn $109.00 an hour to achieve my goal. However, if you continue to work towards $96.00 an hour, you would earn $175,000 instead of $200,000 – a loss of $25,000 in annual income.

What's really interesting to me is that it was not my intent to move our office in order to save time. But what if I studied the effect of time savings or loss of time to determine our move? As one person saving that amount of time in a firm of 20, what is the potential gain for the company if each of our agents were expected to make $200,000 annually and they each saved five hours a week?

If you study your daily routine, like my daily chat with the security guard, making personal calls, or checking social media during the day, you will likely find the precious time needed that could be added back in your work day, increasing efficiency and overall productivity. All of us, whether we are successful or not, should take note that one of the easiest ways to improve your production is to study your daily habits.

Write down all of the activities and note an average time for each. Then study these numbers and see what you can eliminate or change to become more efficient. You might just find a spare $25,000 at the end of the year.

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Hans Hansson | April 7, 2017

Permit Delays in San FranciscoI was recently handling a retail listing in the Sunset District in San Francisco that had been vacant for over a year before I took over the listing. The owners said the space received interest, but could not secure a tenant.

The space was previously rented to a title company, but when I took over the listing, the only interest I could secure was from businesses that involved some type of food-use. All over San Francisco's districts, but particularly the Sunset district, there are either moratorium of additional food uses or a requirement that food uses need a variance from the city before a permit can be issued.

In my client's case, I secured an offer from a couple that wanted to open a Taqueria. The tenant had worked in her family's Taqueria for years and decided she wanted to open one of her own. This was a very typical "mom and pop" business. They had just enough funds to do some required improvements and get the business up and running. This couple didn't have prior experience or knowledge of dealing with the city's permit process and didn't realize the length of time it would take to secure the necessary permits before they could open their doors and start making money.

I recommended that they first secure an architect who could handle not only designing the restaurant, but also address the requirements from the city that they will need to pass. The essential cost would be around $5,000. My client confirmed that although the proposed Taqueria was of legal use for the premises, that the variance process would take them a minimum of 4-6 months before they could even know if they will be accepted. The variance requires a posting and a notice circulated to the neighborhood, plus a hearing to determine if there is any neighborhood opposition to this use.

The tenant was clueless to this process and the costs associated with getting approval through the variance was unknown until they could learn if any neighborhood opposition existed.

The landlord was willing to wait four months before he would expect rent, however once permits are secured, the build out alone would take another four months.

The tenant was very excited about the possibility of opening their own Taqueria. After tasting their food and her reviewing her business plan, I believe they would have been a very successful business. Unfortunately, the couple decided to pull out of the deal and the space remained vacant for another six months until the owner decided to take the space back himself and put his own restaurant in there. The process took another year before the owner secured the necessary variance and built out the space. It took another 18 months before the neighborhood saw a vacancy released.

In this case, there was only one vacancy on the block. However, we see many blocks throughout the city with numerous vacancies on one block. Vacant spaces are detrimental to any neighborhood. They lead to foot traffic gaps, which impact neighboring businesses, taking away potential sales.

The challenge is that the city's authorities know this is a problem– our mayor, board of supervisors, neighborhood groups, and the Chamber of Commerce. All receive the same complaints, express sympathy, yet there is still no action.

Retail is being threatened with the competition of online stores, and continuously challenged with high costs of labor, lack of labor, rising delivery costs, and the lack of customers– which is a result of the lack of foot traffic that once populated retail blocks. We need leadership to take charge and streamline the permit process before all our neighborhoods fall into blight.

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Hans Hansson | March 28, 2017

AmazonAmazon continues to take center stage in retail thanks to a variety of things they've done right– great customer service, competitive pricing, unbeatable product mix, reliable user reviews and support, and the gold standard Prime program offering member discounts, same-day delivery, and vast entertainment options, to name a few.


Amazon is now expanding their services again to include delivery by drones. Though drones are being tested in the more rural areas, Amazon intends to use drones in urban hot spots across the U.S. In addition, Amazon is also opening up brick-and-mortar stores that will feature groceries and house products for online sale orders.


Amazon's goal is to eliminate the same-day purchase and delivery challenges that plague all online retailers, while providing the brick-and-mortar stores consumers still want. Searches for "locations near me" are on the upswing, indicating that consumers still want "hands on" before they buy. Many consumers still need the "touch and feel" of a product to see, touch, feel and/or try on before deciding to purchase. Brick-mortars will not only create equality in the market, but also give Amazon a competitive advantage.


Competing retailers aren't sitting on the sidelines, either. Companies like Nordstrom and Pet Smart are considering new ways to enhance their brick-and-mortar stores that will work in conjunction with consumers' online purchases, creating a designated pickup area for online orders in stores. Nordstrom is also considering real estate with 3,000-5,000 square feet so they can advertise new arrivals while also providing a pickup facility for online sales.


In a recent real estate conference I attended, a guest speaker stated that 80 percent of shopping centers in the United States will be closed in the next 15 years. Convenience and diversity aren't enough for shopping centers to survive today's consumer demands.


Millennial consumers are becoming not only the driving force, but leading as the majority generation in shopping. The baby boomers with money have all the clothes they need and all the tech gadgets they can use. They are not shopping for work or play like they used to. The Millennial consumer is more interested in dining out, and not at traditional restaurants. Millennials prefer to eat where they can play– at dining venues that include live music, movies, theatrical performances– the list goes on. Retailers will need to pay special attention to Millennials, who will continue to shift and morph the retail landscape.


The other challenge for retailers is that Millennials are always on the move. A report by Nielsen suggests 25% of Millennials plan to live in the same area they live in now over the next five years. Meaning, 75% of up-and-coming spenders plan to relocate, mainly to large cities and college towns. Therefore, retailers and manufacturers will need to invest in these rapidly growing cities that have less stability in a long-term market. In turn, overall costs will outweigh the uncertainty.


A unique consumer experience will be the key to separate brick-and-mortars from online retailers. Today's consumers want something different. Retailers that mirror another are going to have trouble, unless they create a unique selling strategy within their brand. This will not be easy or cheap. Gap Inc. once struggled to meet the necessary changes in the market but adapted by creating different brands (like Old Navy, Banana Republic, and Athleta) under the Gap umbrella to provide consumers with more options and expand their buyer pool.


Online retailers also have their challenges. Many economists believe that online sales will slow down to less than five percent growth in the next couple of years. This forecast may be why online retailers like Amazon are looking for ways to diversify their offerings. The drone strategy carries many risks, including the possibility of being rejected by local communities who won't accept drones flying around their town.


Companies like Nordstrom can play big and have the resources to compete if they can simply slow down online sales of competitors to single digits–they will then in fact have the upper hand.


Hans Hansson | March 13, 2017

Self-driving carIn recent years, particularly in the past few weeks, there have been some impactful statements released involving humans being replaced by robots.


Elon Musk, the C.E.O. of Tesla and SpaceX, recently shared his prediction that artificial intelligence (AI) could turn "deadly" in the next decade, suggesting that we may be living inside a "computer simulation" while we lose our jobs to artificial intelligence.


The transformation is already taking place today. In the transportation industry for example, we are seeing a rise in self-driving cars-including the recent addition to Teslas. Automakers aren't the only ones setting the pace when it comes to developing driverless cars. Enterprises like Google, Apple, and Uber have also been working on their own models to compete in the market.


Although most jobs performed by humans are capable of being performed by robots... should they be? Just late last year, Uber was testing out one of their driverless vehicles in San Francisco and the car ran straight through a red light, almost hitting a pedestrian. Last month the first driverless "Formula One" car also raced and crashed.


So, should we as salespeople also be worried that one day we will be replaced by robots?


Today anyone can ask a question out loud to AI assistant technology such as an Alexa, Siri, or Google Home and find office space in San Francisco. These devices have the capability to also provide a detailed list of availabilities and more details, if you ask.


We can also inquire about rent comparisons, information on neighborhoods, or what services are available around a specific area. The technology listens, thinks, and responds with useful and accurate information.


Technology and robotics can solve and perform well in doing specific analytical tasks. But have we really reached a point in time where technology will completely replace human impulsiveness and emotion? In my opinion, that's still far from reality.


I can certainly see the day in which a driverless car will take a passenger from point A to point B, or even change your mind and go to points C and D. But how will this technology react should you decide to take a road not recommended and simply explore? These types of decisions are based not necessarily on information, but on human whim.


Even with the most sophisticated technology available, at the end of the day, a buyer would rather want to speak to a human, not a robot. Especially when that buyer is about to spend a chunk of his or her company's money, and consequently put their own job on the line. Rest assured that the buyer will want to talk with a human who can address not only their questions, but their concerns. A human salesperson can also offer custom solutions and will be able to negotiate deals on behalf of the client.


In addition, firms have traditionally structured their sales teams to sell a product or service, focusing their pitch heavily on the benefits and differentiating features. But with the unprecedented amount of information available online, the needs of the customer have changed. Most customers already do their research and know what they want before they seek a professional. By the time they come to us, they are looking for someone who can provide counsel.


There is a growing need for a "consultative sales approach" which involves strong market knowledge, research, asking the right questions, thoughtful listening, and problem-solving. A buyer needs to know that their emotions, passions, concerns, and frustrations are not only recognized, but actively being reviewed and addressed to move forward.


For now, only a human salesperson can provide truly customized and curated offerings. Consultative salespeople not only close deals, but they build relationships. And it's the relationships that ultimately affect the business' long term health.


Alexa, Siri, Google Home, Cortana, and whatever comes next– don't count on replacing salespeople just yet.


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Hans Hansson | March 6, 2017

San FranciscoFor years, San Francisco has been tackling a major housing crisis. At an average of over $4,500/month for a two-bedroom apartment, San Francisco has become the most expensive city in the US. As reported by CITI bank, the cost of housing is unaffordable for 73% of San Franciscans and Federal and State support for affordable homes has declined significantly over the last decade. So, what is being done to solve this issue?


Across various stages of the permit process, there are over 40,000 potential affordable housing units yet to be built today. With rents still sky-high, several people have been evicted from their homes and often forced to live in smaller quarters with more tenants. Otherwise, they are simply priced out of the market altogether.


Last year 5,000 new units were added to date and overall residential rents have also dropped eight percent, proving that the more units we build, the lower rents will drop.


HIGH RISK, LOW RETURN


Today, a developer starting from scratch would be waiting over two years to just secure a building permit. They start the process with absolutely no guarantees of receiving approval to build. In turn, the development process gets more expensive, increasing overall costs at completion, which calls for a higher sale price and rental rates to justify the risk and overall investment.


In New York City, similar projects would take between 18 months and two years. That includes securing necessary building permits and construction. So, why does it take so long in San Francisco?


The common response to this question is "understaffing," but if the city truly has a housing crisis, we should be able to solve a staffing issue.


THE PRESSURE CONTINUES


The City continues to push for more affordable housing, with recent public support of The San Francisco Housing Accelerator Fund, who's mission is to accelerate the preservation and production of over 1,500 units of affordable housing over its first five years.


This will require developers to take on more risk while cutting more profit out of projects. As a result, there are several development sites available on the market while others have dropped out altogether. Click HERE to see a complete list of San Francisco's plans and projects.


With such a simple solution to expedite permits and get more units built sooner than later, why is the city pushing for more affordable housing units?


The real answer is because they know there's no real growth. City officials want to stop housing growth to stop what they perceive to be the continued gentrification of our city. By pushing affordable housing, it appears that the City wants to solve the lack of affordable housing issue, however it's inevitable that the exact opposite will occur.


As a native San Franciscan, I too am concerned about the growth of our city and how our city has already changed in many cases for the worse due to our growth. However, I am also aware that is ultimately the ebbs and flow of our City's "supply and demand" in which we fail to control, particularly when economies enter a retraction.


Anti-growth finds its equilibrium, letting supply and demand take its course. If all 40,000 units were built now, then rents and sale prices would go down as well. We need to remove bureaucracy, expedite housing permits, and let the market correct itself naturally.


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Hans Hansson | February 27, 2017

Retail shop windowThe counties of San Mateo and Marin reported rates of 2.7 percent and 2.9 percent. San Francisco reported unemployment of 3 percent, while Santa Clara County reported unemployment of 3.3 percent.

Although the Bay Area is in a healthy state, we are constantly seeing understaffed businesses. Lines wrap around corners for our favorite dining spots, while tables are available inside. It's next to impossible to find help in clothing stores like Nordstrom's or even your local retail shop. Car wash operations in San Francisco are closing mid-week just because they can't find enough workers to keep their business open.

Local restaurants complain that they cannot hire full time employees and instead rely on part time workers. Part time employees will often take a couple of shifts here and there, but leave key shifts open, leaving holes in coverage.

Our Biggest Hurdles

So, what is the cause and what can be done to fix it?

  1. The biggest problem we have are wages. The minimum wage in San Francisco is $13.00/hour, which simply isn't enough to support overall costs to live here. As of this year, the average apartment rent within the city of San Francisco, CA is $3,871. Real minimum wages have pushed beyond $15.00 an hour throughout the Bay Area, but it's still simply not enough.
  2. The next challenge is that most employees of entry level jobs typically come from high schools and universities. Most students don't live in the city anymore to save money and are more interested in securing strategic internships in their desired professions versus taking a job that will simply provide a base income– not a career.
  3. Local government requirements on businesses are also job-killers. The rise in "paternity leave" as a benefit has cut business margins down further at a time where both rent and wages continue to increase. In addition, building and zoning requirements a re prolonging the process for new businesses to get up and running. They end up spending a lump sum of time and money with uncertain results, so they pass on opportunities to lease in new locations. For example, we see San Francisco's Post street downtown with a large number of vacant spaces and Union street with over 18 vacant stories just this year.

What Needs to Change

  1. Government needs to adjust regulations. We need the government to take note and make real changes in regulations that take too long to comply with an are too expensive.
  2. Create real job programs within our inner cities. We need programs that highlight opportunities that are available to the most unemployed or underemployed and then create job training that fits training to jobs. An example of this is how Germany trains people to enter retail jobs. Germany requires interested citizens to go through extensive training on how to service and sell in retail. These training programs would need to be promoted to our high schools, where young students would be interested in an entry level job opportunity.

    These entry level jobs teach the basics of learning how to work. From serving clients to selling to inventory, handling cash and credit cards, to learning how businesses operate, training would be beneficial for both the employee and the employer.
  3. Government needs to partner with retailers. If government and businesses form a partnership, they can be proactive together and help find more employees. If we don't, businesses will not be able to run operations and will eventually fail – which will affect everyone.

Change is in order. Otherwise, we will continue to see a steep progression in understaffed businesses and will eventually see these operations close shop.

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Hans Hansson | February 9, 2017

SalesmenThe Strengths and Weakness of a Great Salesman

I was recently involved in a very complicated real estate deal that involved four top real estate agents. We all had to read and study various documents before we came together to discuss.

In our discussion, it was clear that all of us had scanned the various documents and picked up an understanding of parts of the document, but not all of it. All bullet points were read and discussed but the details were clearly not. In my opinion, this is exactly why good real estate attorneys are necessary, as they are trained to review such important details that real estate agents tend to overlook or misunderstand.

Real estate agents, like all great salespeople, have a certain skillset that sets them apart from the pack. However, it's important to understand their weaknesses as well.

Outstanding salespeople have the following strengths:

  • Think quickly
  • Abe to develop proposals and solutions "on their feet"
  • Ability to multitask
  • Have tremendous energy and come across as relatable and personable
  • Are always "on the go"
  • Never down on themselves
  • Able to adapt in any situation
  • Can make strangers their best friends
  • Enjoy challenges that rely on quick decision-making
  • Compete to win

Great salespeople also have the following weaknesses:

  • Get anxious and unable to sit still
  • Has a hard time paying close attention to details
  • Can develop a plan, but often won't follow- through with execution
  • Often won't dive too deep into a conversation, as great salespeople move on quickly between conversations
  • Don't expect files to be perfect
  • Not the most team-oriented and work better solo
  • Can't take no for an answer, which can sometimes lead to tarnished relationships

In today's larger firms, individual sales efforts have been replaced by collaborative sales teams. Collaborative teams can mix and match strengths and weaknesses to create a more effective sales approach, while also allowing these firms to have better control over the client. However, organizations such as Salesforce, are beginning to understand that these teams fail in the same ways that individual top salespeople can perform.

Many companies don't provide professional sales training. And those that do, most of the time the training is incomplete, outdated, and/or focuses on the wrong things. That's why enterprises like Salesforce are working hard to partner with colleges and universities to incorporate sales training into classes. In the past, sales have never been a part of a college's curriculum. Schools have always regarded sales as a skill that wasn't "teachable" and therefore not a profession to educate. Yet, the top firms are asking for sales training because the employee pool lacks qualified candidates.

The fact is that the great salespeople were naturally gifted with the ability to sell. These skills can be enhanced through education, but the basic skills are built into salespeople from birth.

Those who "fall" into a sales position may be good at building strong relationships, but they also may lack the "sales DNA" – a skillset that supports successful sales outcomes. If you have salespeople, and you have repeatedly had to coach them on the same issues, it's more than likely sales DNA that is causing the problem, not a skill gap.

Corporate America wants to streamline sales efforts and has ignored the very nature of what great salespeople are all about. They have ignored a study of salespeople's strengths and weaknesses and have tried to change the way the sales process is performed.

All of us in sales and those that rely on sales must grasp each of their salespeople's strengths and weaknesses to create environments where each of us can excel. In today's world, we need great salespeople more than ever and with a pool of qualified candidates quickly declining, those who have the sales DNA can truly "knock it out of the park."

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