‘Troubled Waters’ Mean More Opportunities for Smart Salespeople

November 7, 2022

As a commercial real estate broker, I am certainly seeing the signs of “troubled waters” ahead. Uncertainty as to whether we are or will be in a recession, war, rising interest rates, workers not coming back to their offices, and much more are leading to many sleepless nights for many of us. 

I have been around a while. If we do run into a recession, this will be my fourth downturn. I have been in office markets where there appeared to be no hope of recovery, yet recovery and another boom market would follow.

Smart salespeople understand that uncertainty among our clients means opportunity for us. Our clients need us more than ever to propose a smart plan of action to help navigate them through these rough waters.  They need to hear from us regularly, even if there’s been no change in the market.  Now more than ever, you must relate to your clients and prove to be valuable. When things turn around, they will not forget you.

As cliché as it may be, the most important thing you can do right now starts thinking outside the box.  For every loser in a down market, there is a winner. That winner could be a distressed buyer, it can be offering a new repositioning play for an asset, or it could be moving assets from one market to another. There are opportunities if you choose to think differently.

Today, salespeople need to be more advisors to their clients. Right now, clients do not need to be sold on anything, they need to know that they can trust you and value your opinion and strategic guidance.

In the early 90s, after the perfect storm of a major earthquake in the city followed by a near depression that hit our nation, nothing appeared to be happening in San Francisco’s commercial market. But I did not see it that way.  I saw an opportunity where most lost hope.  I was able to identify three buyers who agreed with me that San Francisco’s market would bounce back (eventually) and prices at the time were so depressed that it was worth the risk to buy.

We partnered together and began executing a major acquisition plan. Some assets we bought at the time were only ten cents on the dollar. This enabled us to undercut the commercial leasing market and close deals with a handful of tenants who were still looking for commercial space. These few deals increased the value of our assets through tenant rent. Once the market started to come back, I was able to enjoy more clients on my roster, more money in my pocket, and some of the best years in my career.

Only a few salespeople reading this article will end up doing what is needed. There will be a major decline in competition, leaving only the best to compete against.

Don’t retire and hang up your hat just yet. Now is the time to get ready for a very good opportunity and grow your business.

Written by: Hans Hansson

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Hans Hansson is the President of Starboard Commercial Real Estate. Hans has been an active broker for over 35 years in the San Francisco Bay Area and specializes in office leasing and investments. If you have any questions or comments please email [email protected] or call him at (415) 765-6897. You may also check out his website, https://hanshansson.com