Landlords, tenants, and investors depend on brokers to help them navigate the world of commercial real estate. But given all the competition in the market, what can you do to ensure prospects choose you over your competitors?
Start by understanding exactly what clients are looking for.
We all know prospecting is the key to finding new business, but prospecting is more than making phone calls and handing out business cards. While those are important parts, at its core prospecting is about becoming the type of broker clients want to work with.
And while no two clients are exactly alike, there are clear traits landlords, investors and tenants look for in a broker. From strong communication skills to keeping pace with changes in the industry, here are the things prospects want to see when selecting their next broker.
1. ResponsivenessIn the high stakes, fast moving world of CRE, everyone wants to work with someone who is responsive.
While it may seem like a no brainer to return calls and emails quickly, responding promptly to your client’s needs is one of the best ways to secure business. It’s one of the first things prospects notice about you, so work to provide useful information faster than your competitors and you’ll be in an excellent position to win business.
Ultimately, responding quickly will help you in the end too. Stay responsive throughout the deal’s lifecycle and you will cement your relationship with the client and push the deal across the finish line faster.
Effective communication will help you in every aspect of your business. After all, commercial real estate is a relationships business, and all relationships depend on communication.
Clients want to work with someone who understands their needs, so always actively listen to prospects and clients alike to ensure you’re on the same page. This applies to every aspect of the relationship, but it’s especially important when it comes to your fee structure.
Take the time to make sure prospects understand how any contracts, fees or commissions work. Not only will effective communication here help them trust you, but it will help eliminate any potential confusion at the end of the deal, making them more likely to work with you again.
On another level, clever clients know you can only represent their interests as well as you can communicate and represent your own. Sell yourself effectively to show them why they need you on their side.
When it comes to choosing a broker, prospects always want to work with an expert. In practice, that means specialists tend to win out over generalists.
If you think about it, we’re all like this. Whether it’s finding a doctor or a plumber, why work with a jack of all trades when you can work with someone who has deep experience in exactly what you need?
Landlords, tenants, and investors are no different, and although generalist brokers may feel safe knowing they cater to multiple segments of the market, they could be selling themselves short. Although most brokers are generalists, NAR research shows specialists make significantly more money, according to Greg Schenk of The Schenk Company.
While there certainly isn’t anything wrong with being flexible and evolving your business to meet market trends, brokers who effectively communicate a specialization will have an easier time converting prospects.
4. Knowledge of industry trends at largeThe CRE industry is changing faster than ever before. From understanding how e-commerce is impacting retail and industrial markets to using the latest technologies, clients want brokers who are up to date with industry trends.
Are you using a CRM to communicate effectively with contacts and close deals faster? Clients expect brokers to quickly pull up the information they need to make decisions, and given the capabilities of today’s CRE technology, clients increasingly expects brokers to use technology to enhance the process.
Prospects will also want to know your marketing strategies. Do you use marketing tools like MailChimp and EZ Texting to maximize your outreach, or do you rely solely on the MLS? They will also expect to see a comprehensive social media marketing campaign.
5. Excellent reputationWhile the above traits are critical considerations when selecting a new broker, the ultimate decision often comes down to referrals and reputation.
It’s true that it takes years to build a strong reputation and earn referrals, but it’s never too early or late to start. Whether it’s attending events or reaching out to share market research, take steps to stay in touch with past clients. Your never know when they will need your services again, and even if they don’t, keeping your memory fresh will make them more likely to refer you to others
When it comes to referrals, remember this rule: You have to give to receive.
Many people think of brokers as a one-way ticket to everything CRE, so they will expect you to have a robust network of everyone from property managers to real estate lawyers, financiers to appraisers. Refer clients, and even prospects, to trusted experts in your market and you’ll build a reputation as a key person to know. You’ll also generate referrals from both clients and the experts you referred them to, boosting your business while helping others in the process.
The commercial real estate industry is evolving faster than ever before, and to stay competitive brokers need to meet client expectations and outperform their needs. But before you can do that, you need to know why prospects choose one broker over another. From responding quickly to the first call to following up years after the final handshake, brokers who know how to attract clients and meet their needs will outperform the rest.