Timing the Upgrade

My building lease of 39 months is set to expire on 5/31/2017.  On the past 2 locations I leased, I used a commercial real estate agent to help me with locating listings and negotiating the T’s and C’s of the leases.

Every few months, someone walks in to my office cold calling asking when our building lease is up.  We would tell them and pass them a business card telling us to follow up when we are 2-3 months out.  But I knew, I would likely reach out to the same agent we have used in the past.

One agent (lets call him “Tim”) cold called us about a year ago and then started a drip campaign of emails.  Right around the start of the new year, he stepped up his follow ups.  The emails were enough to give me some familiarity with him, but I was still blowing him off believing I was still too early to start the process of finding a new location.

Tim escalated from emails to calls and I eneded up on the phone with him 3 weeks back.  He was able to persuade me that the time is now to start the process of finding a new property.  I did not find his claims that inventory is going quickly and pricing is about to go up, those seemed like ploys to me and they had no effect.  What did work is how he explained the timeline of the process.  Understanding I will be looking for some landlord improvements/ building out, that process takes more time.  I still did not agree to act or do anything.  He asked me to give him an idea of what my needs will be for square footage and office layouts, which I gave as it helped get me off the phone with him.

A day later, I had an email in my inbox with a report listing 25 properties for me to look over.  It was at that point I became engaged in the process.  We have located a potential property and are currently in the negotiation stages for a June 1, 2017 start date.

I have not heard from my old Agent that I used for my last 2 transactions.  I had intended to use him again for this one, but he looks to be too late.  In comparing him to the new agent, I feel like my old one did not step up on my behalf on landlord improvements, which I could have used in the past.

In the second week of January, I reached out to my current landlord to see if he had any other properties we could be a good fit for.  He replied with a decent option and I proposed a minimal structural change and pricing a bit below market to see what we could get.  He said he would get back to me and that has been it.  I followed up one more time, nothing.  We are an ideal tenant.  Always pay our rent on time and copier storage is a use all landlords salivate over.  No machine tools, no grease, no woodwork.  We store copiers and keep the facility clean of dust and dirt.  My feel here is my landlord thinks he has time because I am in a lease until May.  He wants to hold out for a better rate.  If he is not able to get it, he will revisit when I am 60 days out.  Which is probably when my old Agent will resurface.

How does this translate over to upgrading a customer’s fleet of copiers?

  1.  Its likely the customer/ prospect has every intention of upgrading with the sales representative they signed their last deal with.
  2. The customer/ prospect will deflect you out to the date they are guessing is when it is appropriate to start considering new equipment.
  3. Soft sell a few great reasons why now is the right time for them to start considering new equipment.  Length of finding just right solution, demo, delivery, etc can take X months.  Manufacturer rebates to pay down old leases, etc.  Do not get caught up trying to sell them “now is the time to upgrade.”  Rather, sell them on working with you.
  4. If it is too early, send emails once a month or so touching base.
  5. When the time is right, send over some product info to get them in the mindset of upgrading.  The allure of new equipment will sell them on moving forward much better than your pitch on why now is the time to start looking.  If what you send them is not what they are looking for, they will tell you, and that is where you can hone in better on what it is they are looking for.
  6. Once they have their interest piqued from the equipment you sent over, then they just need a nudge to justify how now is the time to act.

If you wait for a prospect or to upgrade your own customer, it will be too late.  If you are going to error on being too early or too late, error on the side of being too early.

 

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