When selling to a property manager you have to sell to more people than the property manager in front of you. You have to sell to everybody who might grant this property manager permission or consent.
Let's talk about the ecosystem of a property manager. For example, in a typical commercial office building investment setting, you'll have a portfolio manager who allocates capital for real estate investments and an asset manager who is given that capital to purchase the actual buildings.
A property manager is either in-house or hired as an intelligent third-party, presumably through a bidding situation. In many cases, they run the building’s day-to-day operations from a management standpoint. They oversee move-ins and move-outs. Sometimes they handle leasing.
Then you have another third party who's hired to handle building engineering. It’s not unusual to have 4 or more different players working in concert to make sure that building is operated as a safe and profitable asset.
You may enter the situation at the bottom of the food chain. You could be talking to the chief engineer or an assistant chief. Maybe your son-in-law is a porter in the building. Whatever it takes, get in, even if it’s through the boiler room. That's obviously not the best place to start; however, that’s where a lot of people find themselves as a consequence of previous sales efforts that aimed too low on the hierarchy.
In other situations, you'll enter at the property manager level. When you're talking to a property manager, it pays to understand what the property manager is up against.
What does a day in the life of a property manager look like? What is on their mind on their way to work? Is it how they are going to fill that last vacancy? Is it how they are going to deal with the complaints from a tenant experiencing acute and chronic thermal discomfort on the 14th floor? Is it whether or not there are any new code compliance issues that they need to be aware of? Is it how they're going to make the tenants feel safer after someone got their purse snatched in the parking lot? Any (or all) of these things may be going through a property manager's head as they head into the office.
Once they get there, the last thing they want is a vendor throwing what I like to call “bits, bytes and blinking lights” at them: "I've got the sexier product, it has all these features and all these benefits and blah blah blah.” It misses the point. Shouldn’t that vendor be talking about how a proposed energy project would reduce operating expenses and increase net operating income and asset value, or perhaps foster better thermal comfort or indoor air quality (especially nowadays), which would reduce (or ideally eliminate) tenant complaints?
It’s less about what you are selling and more about how your solution’s segment-specific value resonates with what that property manager really cares about and how he is held accountable.