Episode #9 - Life of a Broker and Getting Started in the Industry
The Industrial Advisors sit down with Bob Santucci and Jack Murphy, two young superstars on the Industrial Advisors team, to discuss brokerage, getting started in the industry, and tips for success.
Bill Condon: Welcome, everybody, to our podcast on what it takes to survive brokerage. Myself, Bill Condon, and Matt McGregor are joined by our two young superstars on our team, Bob Santucci, who's been on our team for about five or six years.
Matt McGregor: I was going to say, he's not young anymore.
Bill Condon: He's not young anymore. He's not, just not.
Matt McGregor: Savvy veteran.
Bill Condon: He's a vet.
Bob Santucci: That's right.
Bill Condon: Bob was our rookie of the year after year one, and has continued to do great things in his career, so it's great to have Bob joining us today.
Bill Condon: We have Jack Murphy, who's about a year into the business, and doing some amazing things after year one. Guys, thanks for joining us. We're going to talk a lot about some of the successes that you guys have had, and some of the approaches that you're taking to have success early on in your career. Thanks for joining us, guys.
Matt McGregor: [crosstalk 00:00:55] Thanks a lot.
Matt McGregor: I'm really excited about this topic. I get a lot of calls from brokers and even clients that don't understand brokers, so I think this is going to be a great podcast for those two things.
Matt McGregor: First question, guys. What are the keys to surviving the first couple of years of brokerage, and why do some folks fail? You guys have been tremendously successful. What would you say are the keys to surviving those first couple years?
Bob Santucci: I would say it's really having the right mentors, and being on the right team, and understanding somewhat what to expect. It's kind of a sink or swim business in some ways, but I think being able to have the highs not be too high and the lows not too low is really important, because the first year, especially, there's a lot of ups and downs.
Bob Santucci: To me, it's really being able to have senior leadership in place, and being able to talk to folks that are going to give you good advice, like you guys, and understanding that there's going to be highs and there's going to be lows, and being able to ride those waves.
Jack Murphy: Yeah, I'll follow up on that. I would say just being a sponge, taking everything in, and looking at what your mentors are doing, and then also looking at what the competition is doing. Because that really teaches you what's going on in the market, how to be a broker, and how to reach out to the people that you're trying to serve.
Bill Condon: Yeah. Guys, I have the opportunity to interview a lot of people that are trying to get into the industry. They ask what does it take to have success early on. The points you guys certainly made are absolutely the case.
Bill Condon: But also, and people say this all the time, but work ethic. You get in and there's so much to learn. The only thing you can do when you're starting out is control what you can control, and that's how hard you work. We find all the time that guys like you that have success are in working extremely hard from the get go, and cold calling, doing all the things that you need to do to go have success. But nothing replaces hard work when you're starting out
Matt McGregor: That's a great point. As you guys know, I read a lot of sales books early on in my career and continue to do so. I don't remember who said this, so I won't take credit for it, but somebody did. They said there's two kinds of pain. There's the pain of discipline, and there's the pain of regret.
Matt McGregor: I feel like if you're disciplined, mostly early on in that brokerage career, because you have to be successful in your first couple of years. If you're not, it's going to be a long haul. You got to be disciplined and be okay with the pain of that discipline. You don't always want to make those cold calls, but the pain of discipline, I think, outweighs the pain of regret.
Bob Santucci: Absolutely.
Matt McGregor: What is the hardest thing about brokerage early on? Stories from you guys. What's the hardest thing?
Bob Santucci: It's those highs and those lows. Some days you come in, you make a couple good calls, and you get some momentum going, and you just feel so good. It just feels so good to make those early on connections, have some big wins in the business. But then you have those days where you have a loss. You feel like you thought something was going to go and it doesn't go.
Bob Santucci: One story I had, where I was way down the road on a deal with a ops manager. I thought he was the guy. We had toured. We had gone down the road. Then we were actually at least on a proposal, and then the CEO of the company came in and said, "What are you doing?" basically the ops manager, "You're not the guy who's got a relationship."
Matt McGregor: Oh no. That's the worst.
Bob Santucci: "This guy's out of here." Yeah. It was I think my sixth month in the business. It felt terrible.
Matt McGregor: For sure.
Bob Santucci: There are those big lows when you don't really know what you're doing all the way. Those things happen, I think. You just got to ride those lows. They'll come back around. Oftentimes you'll have things that look like losses, and they come back, and you end up getting them the next deal. You always have to have that mindset of it's okay. I'll go get the next one.
Matt McGregor: For sure, yup.
Bill Condon: Yeah. It's funny, because year one, deals fall apart.
Matt McGregor: All the time.
Bill Condon: They're losses at the time, but you actually learn from them.
Jack Murphy: For sure.
Bill Condon: You learn how to qualify more. You learn that, hey, in addition to the ops manager, I need to make sure that that person has executive approval to move forward. You learn from those losses, and then you become better and better from those things that fall apart.
Jack Murphy: Yeah, absolutely. I would say, one thing that was really difficult for me was coming to the understanding of how much time it does take, how much you have to learn, and how much work you have to put in from the jump. You expect these big things, that you're going to jump in and kill it right away, but you don't understand how much time and effort it actually does take to be successful.
Bill Condon: Jack, that's a good point. All really good brokers come into my office six, seven months into the industry and they say the same thing. "I'm frustrated that I don't have more traction." It's because you have that mentality that you are going to be successful.
Bill Condon: But you're right. It takes a good six to nine months to get going, because you think about people that are moving, they're planning a year in advance, and they have relationships. So it takes a little bit time to get going. But all the really good brokers are frustrated after six months, because they want to be further ahead.
Jack Murphy: Absolutely [crosstalk 00:05:54]. That's right.
Matt McGregor: That's right. One of the things I remember, being young, is getting big leagued by brokers.
Bill Condon: That's worse.
Matt McGregor: It is horrible.
Bill Condon: It's the wrong mentality.
Matt McGregor: Senior brokers out there, remember, we were all once young in the business. Treat the guys nice. I always try to make them look good in front of their clients, because I can remember some of the senior brokers, man, you bring a group through, tour one of their buildings. You ask the wrong question. They look at you like you're just an idiot. Then they'll call you kind of an idiot. So getting big leagued early on certainly it was painful.
Bill Condon: Yeah. I'm sure we all have stories.
Matt McGregor: Yeah.
Bill Condon: Sometimes, when you're young in the industry, you just won't get call backs from other brokers, which again ...
Matt McGregor: Painful.
Bill Condon: It doesn't help you be successful.
Matt McGregor: That's right. That's right. Guys, what about live cold calling? It seems to me to be a little bit of a lost art. Maybe I'm just old school, but early on in my career and I think Bill's career, we kind of split time a little bit. We spent a lot of time in the field. I feel like maybe with technology, just the way it's going, younger brokers don't do it as much. I don't know if that's because it's hard, or really it's not as relevant anymore. Talk to us about that.
Jack Murphy: I would say it's super relevant. I think it's super important in your first year in the business to really allocate about six to eight months of focusing on those live calls.
Jack Murphy: I would say that more than anything, you just learn so much from popping into someone's office, or learning about the warehouses, learning about how trucks come in and out of the parking lots. You get some valuable information by just talking to people who are in the office. You talk to warehouse workers. You talk to people who work in the business park. There's so much hands on knowledge that you don't know and you can't learn from Googling something or just looking something up.
Bob Santucci: Would echo that. I would say it's still relevant, certainly. I did it, probably didn't put in the full six to eight months where I was completely dedicated to it, like I know Jack did.
Bob Santucci: There definitely is benefit. Particularly you walk in, you may see really heavy parking. You may not be able to find a spot to park when you're going to go try and make a live call. That's a clear tell that they probably have some needs or maybe are outgrowing their facility. That's something you can bring up when you are able to connect with that decision maker.
Bob Santucci: For me, I found I was so much more efficient making phone calls. One, just from a timing standpoint, because you can go one after the other to make five cold calls on the phone in one live call's time. That was one thing that was more efficient. Then two, it's a lot easier to get through to decision makers when you are on the phone, I find.
Matt McGregor: For sure.
Bob Santucci: I think there's still definitely a place for it early on, to Jack's point. You do need to do it. You need to get down. You need to see the buildings. You need to really see the market.
Bob Santucci: But I am pretty effective on Google Earth, using CoStar, looking at aerials, and being able to really see how things work even just online. So I do think, Matt, it has changed a bit with the technology out there, and how easy it is to find businesses on Google Maps, on Google Earth. You're able to be pretty effective without going down there live.
Matt McGregor: That's right.
Bob Santucci: But I do think a mixed bag approach is still necessary.
Bill Condon: To add to that, I don't think there's a wrong approach to cold calling. As long as you're cold calling, whether you're doing it live, or whether you're doing it on the phone, you're doing something right.
Matt McGregor: That's right.
Bill Condon: For me, and this was whatever, 15 years ago, back in my day ...
Matt McGregor: You were a great live caller. I remember that.
Bill Condon: Well, I just went down there. Every day, I'd pack a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and just spend the day down there knocking on doors and collecting business cards. But it helped me really learn the market. I didn't know where [inaudible 00:09:27] was when I got into the business. Now I'm in love with it. But I'd go down there the first six months, and just cold call every day. It helped me. Then after about six months, I took a Dave Hibbard cold calling training class.
Matt McGregor: The best.
Bill Condon: He's fantastic. Yeah, we had him in here what, a couple months ago. He's great.
Bob Santucci: Yeah, he's awesome.
Bill Condon: I just started calling on the phone. It was extremely efficient way to do it. But there's not a wrong way, whether you're calling live, in person, or you're doing it on the phone, as long as you're calling. That's a really good thing.
Matt McGregor: Going down there and seeing the physical real estate, noticing if a guy's over-parked, or noticing if a landlord's not taking care of the building or something. Then when you make that follow up cold call on the phone, you're talking about something relevant directly to that tenant. That's what I always try to do as well.
Jack Murphy: Absolutely. And when you're making that call, you have that mental image of the building you're talking about, the exact kind of cross streets that they're located at. There's so many things that you can pull that make those dials a lot easier.
Matt McGregor: That's right. You spoke, Bill, on Dave Hibbard. Dave Hibbard was just in here a couple of weeks ago. Dave Hubbard, for those that don't know, you can Google him, great author and motivational speaker on training brokers in our industry, mostly on cold calling.
Matt McGregor: Talk to us, guys, about the art of cold calling. How do young brokers learn this? It's a tough thing. You got to have thick skin. How do you build that up? What have you guys learned? Was Dave helpful? What has helped you guys become great cold callers, because you both are?
Jack Murphy: Consistency. Just trying to do it every single day. When you're really just getting started, and you are in your first year, you should allocate two to three hours a day of consistently cold calling. Obviously, as your career takes off, and you get a little bit busier with current clients that you're working with, that time may be cut down.
Jack Murphy: But I think just consistency. That builds the thick skin. That builds the wherewithal to keep going. It also does motivate you, because you start getting motivated by no. You start appreciating the word no a little bit more. It makes those yeses that much better.
Bob Santucci: I would echo that. It's definitely about consistency. It's definitely about continuing to make those calls. It's like working out. It's like doing anything else. The more you do it, the more comfortable you are, the better you are at it.
Bob Santucci: Sometimes we will get busy, or you'll have a period of time where there's a lull in your calling activity, and then jumping back can be a little bit like jumping into cold water. It can take a little bit to get back in a good rhythm or groove. But the key is to continue doing it daily. Don't let those lulls where you're not making as many calls go on for too long, because otherwise you will get a little bit rusty. It's like getting out of shape. You need to stay on it and just keep after it.
Bill Condon: Yeah. Bob looked at me when he said getting out of shape. I don't know what was for. But on that note, I think that the mental approach to cold calling is equally important as anything else. You mentioned working out. You can go through the motions, and go to the gym, and just get a workout in, or you can go really get a workout in.
Bill Condon: When you go cold call, you can go through the motions, or you can really go cold call and go get some meetings, and have the mental approach of, "I'm going to go lock myself in this room and make 50 calls," or however many calls I need to make, "but I'm going to get four meetings before I get out of this room." The mental approach of grinding through and really saying, "I am going to get a meeting here," I think is really helpful as well.
Bob Santucci: Yep. I would agree with that. Dave Hibbard does a great job in his training on mindset and really setting an intention before you make calls. Because just like Bill just said, you can get in the habit of where you are just going through the motions, and then you're just going to get no after no after no. But if you make a call with intentionality and saying, "I'm doing this because I'm good at what I do. I enjoy brokerage. I am the right broker for this company," you make that call with that mindset, and you're going to get a lot further. Over time, that's going to add to a lot of wins and get you a lot more clients.
Jack Murphy: Echoing what you were just saying about the mindset piece from Hibbard's training. He echoed that everything that we do in life really is our choice. We can play ... Within our career, we can be at a certain level, but we can also choose to work harder and get to that next level. That was probably my favorite part, the piece that I took the most from.
Matt McGregor: That's great. Everybody in this room had a great year one, worked hard. Looking back on it, if you could go back and do year one again, what's the one thing you would do differently?
Bill Condon: For me, I would have done a better job of qualifying. You start out, you're making calls, somebody will meet with you, you get them in the car, and then you find out, okay, well you know what, his boss or her boss has a relationship with somebody else. So I think the one thing that I would've done differently is just qualifying to make sure that whoever it is that you're working with is the decision maker or has the authority to make real estate decisions.
Matt McGregor: For sure.
Bob Santucci: You heard my story from year one. Six months in, I had a experience where I went all the way down the road with a guy that really wasn't the decision maker, didn't have the authority. So I would agree with that, Bill, certainly.
Bob Santucci: For me, that in addition to just making even more calls, working even harder, because I think you can always work harder than you did. That's what I've tried to do moving on from year one. But in hindsight, there were moments where I wasn't making as many calls as I probably should have or could have.
Bob Santucci: I certainly think that if I had that right mindset, I talked about some of the things I learned from Hibbard and his training, and some other things, I think I could have had even a more, an approach where I was making more calls, and really acknowledging that I could make a difference.
Bob Santucci: I think early on in your career, you don't really know how you can add value. I think you learn that as you go. In some sense, I guess that's a challenging one, because I maybe didn't know what I didn't know, but I certainly probably would have made even more calls.
Bill Condon: Not having the knowledge can sometimes actually be a good thing, because when you're just cold calling, when you're early on in the career, you don't know if this company's working with somebody already, and sometimes you might talk yourself out of making a call if you have knowledge. Whereas if you just go in, and you don't have that knowledge, and you're calling like crazy, or you're willing to pick up the phone and dial anybody's number, that can lead to really great accounts as well.
Jack Murphy: Yeah, so my point that I was going to make, actually, is a really good tie into what you were just saying. It's something that Bob harps on all the time, but it's never making assumptions.
Jack Murphy: I would say that in my first year, I always would make an assumption that maybe this group is working with someone else, or this group doesn't have a need. That assumption would build up reluctancies, and I wouldn't make the call. So just never making an assumption, and sticking your neck out there, is always something that I need to improve on, and something that I wish I did better over this last year.
Matt McGregor: Looking back on my first year, the one thing that I wish I did differently, and I would encourage young brokers to do differently, is I was so fixated on getting revenue in the door that, when I was cold calling, I was fairly efficient with it, because I had come from a previous 10 years of sales background, that I would only get excited and really charge forward if there was an immediate requirement.
Matt McGregor: It's a relationship business. I wish I would've had more thought on longevity of that, because it doesn't matter if somebody has a requirement right now. You build a relationship if they want to have a meeting with you. I was a little too fixated on getting revenue in the door, I think.
Matt McGregor: So, Bill, through the years, now we're kind of the old guys.
Bill Condon: Yeah.
Bill Condon: Yeah, you're old. You're a lot older. [crosstalk 00:17:05] Yeah. You do.
Matt McGregor: Every generation says, "Gosh. These young guys just don't do it like we did." The old guys that are older than us, they say that about us. What's the biggest difference between the generation across the table from us, and the way we approach the business?
Bill Condon: Well, I think a lot has changed. Technology has allowed the younger generation to come in, and utilize LinkedIn, and utilize social media to be able to put better call lists together, not necessarily call as cold. You're making warm calls. Whereas, when we started, we'd just call anybody, and go down, knock on doors, call anybody up, and go do it way. Whereas now, you can look up, okay, does this person on LinkedIn have a relationship with somebody that I know. You can establish a connection that way.
Bill Condon: So I think what's great is technology has allowed us to make a lot smarter calls. I will say, I don't think that people today call as much as the generation when we started.
Matt McGregor: Agreed.
Bill Condon: When we started, there was multiple brokers down there, cold calling like crazy. You'd run into people in parking lots. You'd run into people on the ... You call somebody, and they will tell you, "Hey, we've heard from five or six different people today."
Bill Condon: I think we're really lucky to have two people on our team, Jack and Bob, that do actively still put their head down and cold call like crazy. They're not afraid to do it. I think we're fortunate in that sense, because that's the name of the game when you're starting out. You have to call.
Matt McGregor: That's right. Exactly.
Bill Condon: Matt, let me ask you something. You, two time industrial broker of the year for Washington State. You're as successful as anyone really in Colliers from the brokerage standpoint. What do you think it takes to be successful in the industry? Not just ... Maybe walk us through early on in your career, and then as you develop, what does it take to be king of the hill?
Matt McGregor: Well, I'm definitely not king of the hill, and I think you're only as good as the team that you build around you. You've got to have a great partner like you, Bill. You got to have great partners like Bob and Jack. You got to have wonderful support like Bethany and Sydney and the rest of everybody at Colliers. I think sometimes brokers get big egos. We're only as good as the team. We're only as good as the company.
Matt McGregor: But it takes, obviously, hard work. When you're young, you've got to be piling those 60 and 70 hour work weeks in. Certainly, I think, gaining skillsets that your other brokers don't have. It's sometimes hard to differentiate yourself, and sometimes clients see us as a commodity.
Matt McGregor: Bill, you and I both know, we've spent our careers adding to our tool belts to separate ourselves from the competition. I think early on, doing things, getting different certifications, even getting your CCIM, and going through supply chain certifications, and understanding the ins and outs of our business on the technical side.
Matt McGregor: Any good broker can cold call somebody, and negotiate another month of free rent, or another penny or two off the [inaudible 00:20:15]. But it's the sophisticated broker that understands logistics and supply chain, and all the technical things to really, really help clients. So I think the old adage is, "Work hard and it'll pay off."
Bill Condon: Definitely. Well, Jack and Bob and Matt, awesome job today. We hope everyone found this insightful. Brokerage is a wonderful, wonderful industry. I don't think any of us would do anything differently. I turned down an NFL career to do brokerage. But it's great. Guys, very insightful stuff today. Hope everybody enjoyed it. We'll be coming out with another podcast here soon.
Matt McGregor: Thanks everyone. Thanks, guys.
Bill Condon: Thanks, guys.