4 Practical Tips & Best Practices for Tenant Prospecting

Property manager's wear many hats—one includes that of a salesperson. While you do not necessarily need to have the stereotypical, slick sales personality, you do need to know your building and the market conditions. You must also be able to convey the correct message to the right prospective tenant at the right time.
As a career move, having sales experience is an asset that makes you more valuable as a property manager. In many organizations, the road to the top is through sales. This post discusses 4 ways to find and sell to tenants, including:

1. Tenant Referrals
2. Walk-ins
3. Phone Inquires
4. Networking

Tenant Referrals

Prospecting for tenants can begin with your current tenants. Make sure to get the word out and be creative about it. The most common ways to do this are by:

1. Speaking with each of the decision makers in your building.
2. Sending out letters to the decision makers, as well as the executives of each firm.
3. Asking for referrals, possibly as a postscript, in any general letters to tenants (for example, boxing it as an ad in the building newsletter).

You can offer a bounty, such as a one-time reduction in rent, or a gift, to anyone who refers a lead for a new tenant that turns into a successful lease.


Walk-ins are a gift! They show up at your office and want to know about leasing space in the building. This is one of the best—and easiest—ways to lease space, because the prospect comes to you. Nevertheless, working a walk-in is a lot like fishing: it is not hooking the fish that is hard; it is getting the fish into the boat without having it fall off the hook. Try not to let your walk-ins walk away.

When a walk-in happens, and it can happen at any time, you and your office staff must be prepared in the following ways:

1. If space is available, then it should be in good condition and ready for showing.
2. The building’s common areas should be clean and presentable.
3. Have building plans, including graphical floor plans, ready to show.

It is also important that you carry a pager or cell phone when you are away from the office so your staff can reach you immediately. In the event that you are not available, be sure your staff knows to do the following:
  • Get the person's name, company, and current location.
  • Ask for a business card.
  • Schedule an appointment for the person to meet with you.
Other questions that staff (or you, if available) should ask include:
  • Is the person working with an outside broker?
  • Why is the person looking for space?
  • How much space does the tenant need?
  • When does the tenant need the space?
Make sure to have building brochures available at the receptionist’s desk. Above all, never let anyone quote a rental rate, concessions, or any terms of a lease for a walk-in inquiry.

Phone Inquires

This type of inquiry occurs more often than the walk-in. Your primary strategy should be to get this person in for a tour of the building.

At the beginning of every conversation, make sure to fully introduce yourself and ask for the person’s name and title, or position held in the company. If it sounds like their position may be a lower level job (they may be just a scout assigned to gather information), find out the name of the boss or whoever makes the decisions.

Questions to ask a prospective tenant include:
  • How much space is needed? This helps you learn how big a deal this may become.
  • What configuration of space is required? This question helps you learn how much work is required to adapt the space to the prospect’s needs.
  • When will it be needed? Now you can figure out space availability due to expiring leases.
  • Why is the person looking for space? This important question helps you learn the motivation behind the call.
  • Where is the person’s present location? This not only reveals the distance, it also indicates whether the tenant is moving upscale or downscale.
  • What is this person’s type of business? Certain office space uses may not be compatible or desirable.
  • What will the space be used for? Will it be administrative, sales, storage, or some other type of use? 
Once you have gotten as much information as you are going to get, ask for an appointment to show it. Be direct. Ask something like, “I would like to show you the building. What time would be convenient for you?”


One way to get to know the right people is to plug into your community. This is fun work, often involving such activities as playing golf with the right people, attending appropriate civic meetings (including planning commissions, zoning boards, and Chamber of Commerce meetings), joining social organizations, and serving on committees of charity organizations.

When you attend these functions, introduce yourself to people and ask if they know of anyone who is thinking of making an office move. Of course, having this information does not guarantee that you will get a signed lease. But it does give you the chance to be the first to get your foot in the door and a proposal on a desk.

The purpose of all the work that goes into tenant prospecting is to get a potential tenant into your building so you can show off the space. The more you can make the process personal—introducing yourself, establishing relationships, meeting in person, pushing to show the physical space, and so on—the greater your chances of closing on a deal down the road.


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