Commercial real estate investors, landlords, and tenants rely on brokers to take deals across the finish line. But few people are open to working with just anyone; instead, clients are understandably picky about who they’ll trust.
The first step to winning clients is understanding what they’re looking for. Once you know that you can boost your prospecting efforts by making yourself the ideal candidate for their business.
Fortunately, many investors have a similar set of criteria when it comes to choosing who they’re going to work with. From understanding the importance of referrals to fine tuning your communication skills, these are the first four things most people look for when choosing a CRE broker.
1. Strong referrals (they go both ways)
Given the stakes of CRE investing and the plethora of brokers in the marketplace, most people prefer to work with someone who comes highly recommended. That’s why it’s so important for brokers to stay in touch with past clients and do everything they can to end every deal on a positive note.
While not every deal will go your way, never give clients a reason to doubt your honesty or thoroughness. Your reputation is your most valuable asset and the foundation of every referral.
At the same time, many clients expect referrals to go both ways. One of the reasons people love working with a great CRE broker is to tap into their network. Are you someone who knows your market’s best real estate lawyers, appraisers, property managers and financiers? If not, work to build that network — many clients want a broker who's a one-way ticket for all their real estate needs.
2. The right experience
Before choosing you as their broker, clients want to know your experience level. While the more years you have in the industry is a plus, oftentimes what matters most is your area of specialization.
It’s true that most brokers are generalists, and there’s a feeling of safety that comes with tackling a bit of everything, but specialists make significantly more money per NAR research, according to Greg Schenk of The Schenk Company. That’s because clients feel more secure working with a specialist.
The reason for this is simple — if someone wants to invest in office properties, why would they prefer to work with a generalist over someone who specializes in the exact type of office properties they're interested in?
So while the number of years experience you have is important, clients want a broker with the deep knowledge they need to get the best deal in their niche. Keep this in mind when communicating your experience to put yourself in the strongest position possible.
3. Effective communication
Commercial real estate is a relationships business, and effective communication is the foundation of every strong relationship.
On a basic level, this means clients are looking for brokers who return their calls and emails quickly. On a deeper level, savvy investors know that CRE brokers sell their services, and how well you sell yourself to the client gives them an indication of how well you will represent their interests moving forward.
This also applies to how you communicate your fee structure. Whether a client is an industry first timer or a seasoned veteran, work to clearly communicate how a contract, your commission, or any fees work. Especially in an industry where so many things are negotiable, strong communication here will help cement your reputation as a leader in the market.
4. Comprehensive marketing strategies
Whenever you’re helping someone sell, lease or buy a property, clients will want to know your marketing strategies.
Are you using the latest technologies to boost your business? Are you subscribed to the largest CRE online marketplaces? Do you use the MLS? What’s your social media marketing campaign like?
These are a few of the questions prospective clients will have when it comes to your marketing strategy. To win their business, prepare your answers ahead of time and make sure you are using the most competitive CRE marketing strategies out there. And while some newer investors may not know much about CRE marketing, that’s no excuse to get lazy. Doing your homework and preparing a strong marketing campaign will help you win clients while boosting your business in the process.
Just like all aspects of business, top performers know success is a two way street. Commercial real estate brokerage is not a zero sum game — your clients are the foundation of your success. So from working to cultivate a network of referrals to practicing winning communication, energize your business by giving your clients what they’re looking for.