When I started in the commercial real estate business in 1985 “cold calling” was the thing to do. I don’t mean calling someone on the phone; I’m talking about walking into an office, not knowing a soul and trying to get to the decision maker. Keep in mind there was no internet, no Google, no way short of courthouse records to search for businesses/decision makers. I learned in an office building to start on the top floor and skip floors so the security guard had a harder time catching me. It only took one tenant in the building to rat me out and call management to complain about a solicitor. This started the cat and mouse game of me vs the security guard! Also, it was better to take the stairs, not the elevator, as guards always take the elevator. I’ve been escorted out of many buildings and told not to come back numerous times!
My first couple of years in the business I worked for a company based in Dallas that owned 4 properties in the OKC area: one three-story office building and three multi-tenant industrial buildings. I was 24 years old and did not know anything, but at that time I did not know that I did not know anything! This Dallas based company wanted 20 “contacts” a day; meaning, I talked to 20 prospects about my properties, and we had a “log sheet” to keep these prospects organized.
The following are 3 true stories from my cold calling days:
Story 1: I sold my car
One day cold calling, I actually made it passed the receptionist to the decision maker, Marty Hendrickson, a mortgage broker. A nice guy and we chatted about his real estate needs (there were none) but I did learn he wanted to buy a good used car. I walked him down to the parking lot to show him my slick, blue 1982 Delta 88 with only slight hail damage. He loved it and within the week the D-88 was in his garage.
Story 2: The decision maker is dead
So, I’m going from office to office with my black and white flyers under my arm and I walked into an office and say, “Hi I’m Tom Fields and I lease office space for a living, I would like to speak briefly with the decision maker.” She had this bizarre look on her face and let me know Mr. Kramer died last week! I could feel my face getting red hot. I did not say another word and could not get out of the office fast enough.
Story 3: Whoops! It is the owner
I’m going door to door in an industrial business park handing out my marketing flyers somewhere in the Moore area. I was about halfway through and walked into an office and the gentleman was very friendly. He told me to have a seat and proceeded to ask me about the property I was working on. As I handed him one of the marketing flyers, I told him very enthusiastically where the property was located, the size of the available spaces, the lease rate, signage opportunities etc. He asked a question or two which I answered. He then stood up put both hands on his desk, leaned over and let me know he owned the industrial park and to never set foot on his property!!
Overall, cold calling was great experience and it taught me valuable life lessons. I believe the skills I learned helped turn me into the successful broker I am today.