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.


Photo Credit: RichardAsh1981 Flickr via Compfight cc


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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Hans Hansson | January 31, 2017

The White HousesIn 1981, President Reagan took office on a program of heavy domestic spending and fixing international trade disparities that were threatening American jobs. The economic problems of that time were very different. Interest rates were in the high teens, unemployment was in the double digits, and we were marred in a recession.

Today, we have historically low interest rates and unemployment rates. However, we also have the largest growing gap in our country between the rich and poor, with a quickly dwindling middle class.

President Reagan began with tax cuts which emphasized development through accelerated depreciation. Thus, commercial real estate projects of all types began to take place throughout the country. The idea was, "If you build it, they would come." In other words, if you spend money on development, then you will create jobs through the development process.

He also threatened tariffs on foreign automakers that were flooding the US with automobiles while killing American jobs in Detroit. To maintain business at home, Reagan put his foot down saying that they had to either build cars here in the US, or be willing to face heavy tariffs. This lead to the largest expansion of automotive growth, not in Detroit, but in states like Tennessee.

Coincidentally, the Chinese followed this same strategy to a whole different level, building out whole cities from scratch, but with no tenant or industry in mind to support them. Despite odds, this strategy worked to successfully accelerate China's economic growth.

Eventually such a program would be hard to sustain. And politically, the desire to have government join in on these domestic successes usually kills this kind of cycle. Case in point, as the economy grew at unprecedented rate in 1986 Congress passed a revised tax reform bill that essentially took away all the benefits to promote domestic growth and by 1991, we were back in a major recession.

Today, President Trump states that he wants to improve the lives of the middle class by promoting domestic job growth. "We will follow two simple rules: buy American and hire American," Trump said during his inauguration speech.

Just as we saw under President Reagan. We will likely see major tax cuts and threats of heavy tariffs. The intent would be to encourage US businesses to manufacture here at home and bring back American companies who are currently manufacturing overseas. Already we see GM, Chrysler, Ford, Apple and Amazon already announcing plans to either move some manufacturing back to the US, or keep existing plants here that were scheduled to move overseas.

How will "Made in the USA" efforts effect commercial real estate?

It should create an explosion of growth. Every foreign company that decides to manufacture here to keep US business will need offices, warehouses, and manufacturing facilities. We should see office growth in the large seaboard states, while manufacturing and warehouse space grow through the core of the country. Already states like Kansas are seeking spec warehouse development - which has been unheard of since World War II. We also may see a spur in college education as Americans entering the job market will need to be specially trained to in these fields.

Like anything, there of course will be potential pitfalls. With our current low employment rate, this means that as better jobs become available, we need to count on not just the unemployed but also the underemployed job markets.

Already we see both big cities and rural areas employers offering lower paying customer service work and not finding employees to fill positions. Everyone from Wal-Mart to McDonalds will be struggling to find help, which means that we could see more empty stores and a consolidation of these services.

If history repeats itself, then domestic spending could work. For how long? That will depend on whether congress continues to buy in.

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Hans Hansson | January 16, 2017

Interest Rates in 2017With a new administration entering office and discussion of corporate tax cuts, regulation cuts, and domestic job growth continue to be top of mind, we can rest assured that interest rates will finally rise. The question is how will this affect the real estate market?

Historically, low interest rates have helped the real estate market in accelerating growth in-turn for historically high prices. A lot of these high-water marks in pricing have occurred because of more affordable payments, therefore higher prices were justified.

If interest rates were to jump to 5 or 6 percent in the next 18 months, how would that effect commercial real estate prices? Certainly, cost of funds mean higher costs to finance. However, higher interest rates could also potentially drive down prices, since people would be seeking higher cap rate return adjustments to new interest costs.

Today you could purchase an office building for a 5 percent cap based on a 4 percent loan. If interest rates were to go up to 7 percent, which is more towards historical average, you would then have to buy the same asset at an 8 percent cap.

An example of how that could affect values is if you had a building generating $100,000 of net income and you purchased the building at a 5 percent cap today, then the building would be worth around two million dollars. If the same building were sold at an 8 percent cap, then the building would be worth $1,250,000 to $750,000 negative net difference.

If this is true, then raising interest rates could do real harm to real estate values, correct? Well, maybe.

There are still a few deciding factors:

Dollar Value
It appears that the dollar will continue to see stronger values against all other international currencies. If Japanese buyers for instance cannot only earn 1 to 2 percent in their country on investments, then a cap rate of 5 percent for an office building may look like an attractive alternative investment.

Economy Growth
If our economy grows, commercial real estate leasing should also be in higher demand. Office, industrial, and retail tenants will look to expand. But if the demand is not met with supply, this will shoot up rental rates, which means higher net income to capitalize value.

Foreign Investments
Foreign investments however do not necessarily lead to ultimate adjustment of values. In the 1980s, the US was faced with a similar marketplace. Overseas buyers would purchase many of our trophy properties throughout the United States– including buildings such as the Rockefeller Center– only to see their building values tumble down when they needed to sell. At that time, no strategic buyers were willing to pay the cap rates lower than the current interest rates.

It's still too early to tell what direction the market will take until our new administration implements plans for the economy. My guess is that we are going to see much higher interest rates, but more foreign demand – which will curve any price value reductions due to higher interest rates. Only time will tell...

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Hans Hansson | January 9, 2017

Bbuilding trustThe moment that a stranger sees you, his or her brain makes millions of assumptions about who you are at the speed of light.

Are you friend or enemy? Do you have power and respect? Are you trustworthy or should you be avoided? These tiny and quick calculations are what build out a stranger's perception of you– all within the first seven seconds of seeing you.

In business interactions, particularly in sales, first impressions are imperative to one's success. While we can't stop strangers from making wrongful assumptions about us, we must know and understand that the human brain is hardwired this way and that there are decisions we can make to work in our favor.

An initial meeting with a potential client will be deemed successful or a fail based on the following criteria: eye contact, handshake, body language, the genuinity of your smile, facial expressions, what you say and more importantly, how you say it.

Within these seven seconds of interaction, your door for business will either swing wide open or slam shut. Yet, today face time as widely been replaced with impersonal emails, text messages, video-conferencing, and even instant messaging. How does one establish trust without ever seeing the individual you are selling to?

Trust achieved through written words is possible, but is far more difficult to do. In order to win one's trust entirely, you really need to show them your worth, which will require face-to-face interaction. Through written words, you can write a strong message to your potential client up front, which will help set the building blocks to earn trust. Your message will need to catch their attention and point to a pain or pleasure scenario that the client is familiar with. You can then follow-up with a proposition that will address a solution to their problem.

Attention spans continue to get smaller, so these actions will need to be accomplished in 111 words or less when reading your note, or the opportunity will be lost.

Building trust over the phone is done in a very similar process. Within the first seven seconds, you have to utter something intriguing that will keep your listener listening. Sales trainers often call this the "big fat statement." Not only what you say is important to keep the conversation going, but how you say it. Tone of voice is a big make or break in sales calls. Once you've got their attention, you will need to zero in on your sales pitch, which will create the pain or desire that the client is looking to learn more about to address their needs.

Another way to achieve trust comes from others selling who you are. If someone is respected and they refer another person there tends to be immediate trust, which is secured but needs to be maintained through action.

A salesperson's biggest reason for failure is that once trust is established, they fail to deliver on their promises or ensure that their client is still happy with the service. Some people will give second chances if the effort to perform was there, but if promises were made and not followed through– trust evaporates.

There are four key components to building long-lasting trust between yourself and your client:

1. Honesty
The truth always comes out. Failure to be honest with your clients will eventually show through either in a discussion or an action and will ultimately cost you the trust and client you've worked so hard to secure.

2. Reliability
You need to be reliable. If you say you are going to do something, you better do it.

3. Consistent
Be consistent in your actions. You can't do something right one time and then fail immediately after. You need to be consistent in your approach so that the potential client will feel confortable with you and therefore trust you.

4. Confident
Finally, you need to speak with confidence. Someone that speaks with a hesitancy will have the other party start to question your ability or your motives.

Ideally, a face-to-face meeting is the best approach for strangers to instill trust in you. To many, this is considered an "old school" approach, but nothing beats a personal touch. Video-conferencing is the next best thing if for whatever reason you are unable to meet your client face-to-face.

Without trust, your chances of closing a deal decrease and the ability to create a long-term relationship with a client is greatly diminished. You might be able to sell one time, but you will not develop the kind of relationship that will garner long-term sales plus referrals.

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Hans Hansson | January 4, 2017

SF building codesOn the heels of the recent tragic Oakland fire, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors is working to protect our artist community by preventing enforced building code inspections in an effort to avoid artist displacement and to protect similar use of buildings.

San Francisco needs to protect our artist community who have been struggling to pay the sky-high rents and with limited living space options. However, if we fail to enforce building codes and inspections, we will increase the potential risk of causing a similar tragedy to occur in San Francisco. It was confirmed recently that Oakland city officials revealed no building code enforcement inspector had been inside the warehouse that caught fire in at least 30 years– imagine the danger we will dismiss by preventing annual building inspections in our city.

The reality is that most of our city's artist collective often times do not practice safe building code compliance. They habitually pack premises with people over-occupancy, using high-voltage entertainment systems, hosting not only unpermitted/illegal living quarters, but large concerts, raves, and other mass events.

Furthermore, there are state codes that our local officials are required to enforce. To arbitrarily choose not to enforce certain codes over others is against state law.

It's also important that we consider the fair factor. If we don't enforce codes and zoning laws on artists, then why is the city going to enforce zoning laws of tech tenants who are often using illegally zoned buildings in properties that they had earned legal building permits? What about zoning issues that effect retailers who have to go through an extensive variance process in order to secure their new storefront?

What about homeless housing? Buildings such as the old Laguna Honda Hospital could house hundreds of homeless people, but because the building is not seismic and does not meet today's code compliance, it's legally uninhabitable.

The underlining issue here is building usability. It's one thing to allow building owners to rent properties to anyone, regardless of use, safety and code compliance. But to allow a specific group of individuals to bend rules in order to prevent its demise is an issue.

The city has set up codes and regulations that all building owners need to comply with in order to carry out safety, a balance in building use, and a positive impact on neighborhoods. The city cannot simply identify one group and then somehow say that these rules and regulations to not apply to another group. It's not only unfair– it's illegal.

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Hans Hansson | December 14, 2016

Business Plan 2017What Worked, What Didn't, and What Will Change?

Driven salespeople annually review past results and plan ahead for the future. They keep track of past execution and compete with themselves to perform better each year. As we close out one year and begin yet another, it's time for self-reflection.

Most sales organizations will require each employee to complete an independent business plan at the beginning of each year. Most plans ask you to outline how much you expect to produce, the steps you will take in order to hit that goal, and what your personal and professional goals will be for the coming years.

If you are in a sales organization, they may also require monthly or quarterly reviews of your plans in order to make sure you are on track to meeting your goals and objectives.

However, if you are an independent salesperson or real estate agent, reviewing goals likely falls on you. A sales manager may ask you to develop a plan and meet for an occasional update, but since you are independent, your results are almost always dictated by you.

Every year, people look to the new year with hope and confidence. Often times, they see the new year as a way to wipe the slate clean from past underachievement. The problem is that if you do not develop a realistic and strategic plan to make fundamental changes, you will not see results by the end of the year. Here are four new year resolutions for salespeople who want to be successful in 2017:

1. Develop a SMART plan.
When writing a business plan, it's important to incorporate SMART goals– specific, measurable, agreed upon, realistic and time-based.

Creating a realistic plan is a key component– what goals are aligned with your skillset and strengths in order to be realistic and achievable in the long run? Every salesperson should internally evaluate who they are, what their strengths and weaknesses may be.

For example, you may set a goal to complete a hundred cold calls a day. But if your personality is similar to mine, your time may be better spent working on new opportunities through your existing relationships, rather than securing a couple of leads from a day's worth of playing telephone.

2. Commit to being committed.
Along with being specific, measurable, actionable, realistic and time-based, business plans will only be useful when there is commitment and intent behind it. Once you determine your strengths and weaknesses, address a plan that aligns with your strengths, you need to determine whether or not you are prepared to commit the necessary time in order to complete your necessary tasks.

3. Address your weaknesses.
Now that you have highlighted strengths and weaknesses– address them. Do you have strengths that offset your weaknesses? Not all weaknesses can be improved, but some can with time, reflection, and active work to progress. There are also a number of tools that exist which can help improve weaknesses, such as taking advantage of calendars, to-do lists, and spreadsheets. If getting to meetings on time is an issue, set up alarms ahead of your meeting, noting when you should leave the office and account for traffic. Today, there are smart technologies such as Siri or Amazon's Alexa that can remember to remind you and even call a cab to get you to where you need to be on time. If you find the right tool that can help improve your weaknesses, get in the habit of using it and it will eventually become second nature.

4. Review, assess and adjust as necessary.
Once your business plan is written with SMART goals, you've reviewed what is realistic and unrealistic, you've addressed your weaknesses– it's time to execute. Part of execution is making sure your goals are actually working. I'd suggest evaluating and reviewing your plan on a regular basis, at least once a week. Sometimes you'll see some results, but not as much as you intended, so slight adjustments to your plans will change the outcome for the better. Consistent evaluation of your plan will help keep you honest and can reveal holes you may not have noticed before.

Ensure that 2017 will be your best year yet by following the tips above. When you combine intent with a solid plan, followed by committed actions– you drive straight to success!

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