Darren Krakowiak: The questions to ask before you pitch

The ability to effectively qualify opportunities before you pitch for the business is an indispensable skill in commercial real estate.

Success in our business is not just about seizing every chance that comes your way, it’s about strategically selecting the right ones to pursue.

Here is an easy framework to help commercial real estate agents to navigate this process and make smarter business decisions.

Is it real?

In a previous Elite Agent article, I presented BANT – which is an acronym for a simple qualification framework: budget, authority, need and timing. 

These four factors should be present for a client to have a real requirement – and if any are missing, you’ll need to work with the prospect to create it.  

Before you spend any serious time on deciding whether to pitch, take a moment to assess if a transaction is likely to take place.

Do you want it?

The next question to ask when opportunity knocks is whether you truly want it.

Go beyond the surface level of the deal or its potential value and delve into its essence.

Is the client attractive to work with?

Have past experiences been positive, or are there red flags?

Evaluate the project size, location, and sector alignment.

For instance, if you specialise in large retail spaces, a small office project probably doesn’t reflect your expertise or interest.

Ensuring the opportunity aligns with your preferences and strengths is key to not just winning, but also enjoying the work (and then getting more of it in the future).

Can you win it?

Understanding your position in the race is crucial.

If you’re hearing about an opportunity at the RFP (request for proposal) stage, without prior knowledge or relationship with the client, it might indicate you’re making up the numbers rather than being a frontrunner.

A vital move here is to seek a meeting (or at least a detailed conversation) with the prospect.

If they decline this reasonable request, it might be a sign to reconsider your participation.

Assessing your competitive position involves understanding your relationship with the client, your market position relative to competitors, your ability to respond to the brief’s specifics, and your fee structure.

Should you chase it?

Deciding to pursue an opportunity is a function of both desire and capability.

If you want it, but doubt your chances of winning, consider if there are ways to improve your odds.

This might involve strengthening your proposal or building a better relationship with the client.

Conversely, if you can win it but don’t want it, think about passing it to a colleague or another team (and perhaps pick up a referral fee along the way).

It’s essential to balance your desire to win with the practicality of service delivery.

The capacity question

Often, the dilemma isn’t about winning or wanting an opportunity, but about having the capacity to deliver.

If you find yourself regularly turning down projects due to capacity issues, it might be time to expand your team or redistribute tasks.

Remember, being busy is good, but being too busy to take on profitable work signals a need for strategic adjustments in the work that you’re taking on.

Submitting quality proposals

When submitting a proposal, ensure it reflects the quality and standards of your work.

I can remember being told by a former boss to never decline an opportunity, because it’s “disrespectful”.

They said to instead submit a half-assed proposal (i.e. boilerplate with an unrealistic fee).

That was bad advice.

Half-assed proposals tarnish your reputation.

If you can’t commit to creating a compelling proposal, it might be better to respectfully decline the opportunity.

Honesty and integrity in your dealings can go a long way in building long-term relationships.

Summing up

The art of qualifying opportunities in commercial real estate is about asking the right questions and making informed decisions.

By assessing whether the project is real, if you want it, can win it, and should chase it, you set yourself up for not just more wins, but meaningful ones.

Because when you embrace the power of selective pursuit, both financial success and intrinsic satisfaction will flourish.

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Darren Krakowiak

Darren Krakowiak is the Founder of CRE Success. He helps commercial real estate leaders to get their businesses growing faster and is the host of Commercial Real Estate Leadership, available as a podcast and on YouTube.