Mystery Shopper – The Commercial Property Agent

This one is not actually a mystery shopper, as I was genuinely looking for a commercial property. However, it seems the art of good conversation is a complete mystery to this particular agent! The following is a true story, although names have been changed… 

Author: Simon Tucker

My initial enquiry was via their website, through the online enquiry form. They were advertising a property I was keen to look at.


This was the response I had, by email;


Dear Simon,


            Many thanks for your enquiry.


            Please can you let me know what kind of property you are after and I will see  what we have for you.


            I look forward to hearing from you.


            Kind regards,



Now, I believe that my enquiry was about a specific property, but no details of said property attached?


The lack of detail’s attached is not a problem in itself; as I would always encourage a general response and then a further question, to dig a little deeper. However, in this case, the agent has completely ignored my initial request.


If nothing else, my enquiry, which included my email address and my mobile phone number, was an open invitation for the agent to start a conversation with me.

By thinking, just a little, about how to approach me, they already have a starting point for their questions. What they could have said is something like this:


Thanks for your enquiry, Simon.


Please find attached the details of the property you enquired about via our website.


In order for us to best help you, we’d love to find out a bit more about you and your business, so that we can ensure we find the best possible property to meet your needs.


When would be a good time to arrange a telephone or Video call with you?



This response would have shown that they had listened, were interested and that they really wanted to help me in my search.


Sadly, they didn’t really put any effort in. Here is how the dialogue continued…


I responded to their first question:


Dear Timothy,


This is the kind of property I am after. To buy or rent.


I am opening a vinyl record store so need retail space and room for expansion in the future




(I also attached a photograph of a property in the town centre that I really like – It has been empty for over two years…)


Their response:


Dear Simon,


Many thanks for your email.


What square feet do you need and what is your budget to rent or buy?  


I look forward to hearing from you.


Kind regards



Now, you may be thinking that is a sensible response, to gain some facts and that is true. However, as I mentioned above, it makes no attempt to engage me in a conversation about me, my business or my future plans. No attempt to build a relationship with me. A big part of building trust is through building relationships.


So, the email chain goes on…


My reply:


Hi Timothy,


As I mentioned before, I want room for expansion.


The location and footfall are the most important.


I see you are marketing Number 5 in the Arcade (Was Kath Kidston) – That would be ideal!


I am looking for a long rent-free period to begin with. The high street is decimated, as you know, but I am hopeful and ambitious.


Please let me know what landlords are looking for or believe is sensible.




With kind regards,




Their response:


Dear Simon,


Many thanks for your email.


So, are you only looking in Bournemouth Town centre? 


I look forward to hearing from you.


Kind regards


My reply:


Hi Timothy,


Yes, please.






Their reply:


Dear Simon,


Many thanks for your enquiry please find attached marketing details.


If you would like to have any further information or would like to view please do not hesitate to get in contact.


I look forward to hearing from you.


Kind regards


Note: The attached details referred to above were NOT for the property I had stated that I was particularly interested in, but something else entirely…


In conclusion, this is a classic example of a salesperson not ‘listening’ to the customer but simply responding in a robotic fashion.


I fully understand that property agents, like most salespeople, experience timewasters, but how can you possibly filter them out effectively if you don’t attempt to get to know them, at least a little?


Being in a sales role is a privilege. You are at the front of your business and many of your colleagues rely on your efforts and skills to keep the customers rolling in. It is your job to build relationships that last and that produce referrals. Being good at your job is key to the success of your organisation. Remember, without sales, there is no business!


It is my belief that being good at conversation is central to being successful in sales. Noting that the world’s best salesperson is the customer. Your job is to ask, listen, understand and respond appropriately. That’s it. All you have to do is put a little effort into thinking about your client. Put yourself in their shoes and ask some questions to open them up.



Here is how the conversation could have developed, if the agent had done as I suggested above and got me on the telephone or video call.


Agent:             Thanks for taking the time to take a call from me, Simon.


We’d naturally like to be able to help you in your search for a commercial  property and pride ourselves in matching clients with the ideal site.


In order to do that, if I may, I’d like to ask some questions to get to know you,  your business and plans for the future in more detail. Would that be OK?


Me:                  Yes, of course, ask away.


Agent:             Thanks. Your initial enquiry was for a retail site in the town centre. What’s the nature of business are you in?


Me:                  I am looking to open a vinyl record store and want to be in the centre of maximum footfall, if I can.


Agent:             That’s interesting. What has made you decide on Bournemouth as your location.


Me:                  I live just a few minutes’ walk from the centre and like the idea of not having  to drive to work, plus I’d like to try and revive a little piece of the high street.


Agent:             Sounds ideal! So, what has brought about the idea of a record store?


Me:                  I love music on vinyl and also the process of going into a shop and browsing through all the records, remembering artists and bands I haven’t heard for years, as well as chatting to the staff about their tastes in music. It’s a hobby.


I am sure I am not alone and believe that if I can make the experience a good one, a loyal tribe of like-minded music fans will enjoy it too.


Agent:             I sense you are thinking of this business as the dream job, if you can make it work. Is that so?


Me:                  Yes, exactly. I am not seeing it as developing into a multi-sited group. Just me and a team of like-minded music fans, having a business that is run for the pleasure of our customers and ourselves. At a small profit, of course.


Agent:             Well, passion for what you do is certainly a good way to start! So, tell me,  what does your ideal property look like…?


Now he has me talking…

Assuming he listens carefully to what I say, asks a few more probing questions, he will easily uncover my needs, wants and desires…


In Summary

The conversation needs to be all about the customer. If you spend time in conversation in order to truly understand what your potential client wants; asking good questions to get them to describe it in detail, then all you have to do is match your product or service to their criteria.

If you are able to offer the customer a solution that is very closely aligned to what they tell you the need, then the final discussion will be about whether they are willing to pay, appropriately, for that product or service.

In the example above, it is more than possible that my dream location is simply not affordable for my business model. It is, therefore, down to me as the customer to compromise and ask to see some different properties at a more affordable price.

The agent has done their bit by showing me my ‘ideal’ as I described it. If they are really good, they will already have a few alternatives ready to show me.

Why not get in touch and see how I can help?

If you think your team could or should be more effective, let’s have a conversation.

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