Ever fantasize about being James Bond? Maybe Jason Bourne? Spies and brokers have more in common than you think. After all, spies spend their time navigating high-stakes environments, uncovering hidden opportunities, and building valuable relationships. Just like the brokers we know.
Today, we’re having a bit of fun and channeling our favorite Hollywood spies to reveal how you, a broker, can cultivate — ehem—“a very particular set of skills.” Whether you’re digging up intel on other people’s deals or going stealth for some undercover sleuthing, the following information is for your eyes only.
“What I do have are a very particular set of skills, skills I have acquired over a very long career, skills that make me a nightmare for people like you."
1. Know how to recognize good intel.
Spies are trained to pick up on valuable intel hidden in plain sight. The best brokers we know do this all the time, too, starting with other people’s deals. As Russ Duncan has pointed out, you can turn someone else’s deal to your advantage the moment it’s announced. Because at that point it’s not about the deal itself—it’s about the information that deal reveals to you.
First, it’s a valuable comp for other deals. Second, it signals who the movers in the market are, giving you a chance to swoop in and add value in the future. And third, it’s an opportunity to see who they’re connected to—and build up a nice prospect list. So the next time you hear about a deal someone else closed, think of it as a spy would: a valuable asset.
2. Go undercover now and then.
How do you get 100% accurate, up-to-date tenant info? There are brokers who go to CoStar, and then there are the brokers who go covert: they infiltrate their target building, breeze confidently past security, and pretend-talk on their cellphones while snapping stealthy photos of the building directory. Mission: accomplished.
There’s nothing quite like tracking down your own market intel, especially if you get to play Bond and get a valuable list of prospects to call once you’re back at base. And as helpful as technology can be, the broker who knows the field on a personal level is going to be much more valuable than one who simply observes it from behind a screen. Getting out there is how you get a real sense of what a building, its tenants, and the neighborhood are all about.
3. Make relationships your long-term priority.
Spies spend years cultivating assets in the field, building trust with people they can turn to for top-secret info and insights when the time is right. Brokers have to do a similar thing: they spend years cultivating relationships and building up their list of industry contacts before ever getting a return on investment. In the world of spies and CRE agents, it’s all about the long game. And in that game the more people you can win over, the more often you win.
To be a good broker (or spy), you have to be able to build rapport with just about anyone, and not just for the sake of a one-off transaction: relationship-building is a years-long endeavor that never really ends. It also doesn’t hurt to master a few persuasion techniques and to hone your listening skills. And remember, Bond never has to rack his brains for conversation-starters. Neither should you.
4. Plan for the inevitable.
Top spies spend as much time dodging bullets as top brokers spend fielding “no’s." It’s hard to recover from both kinds of beatings, but the professionals know that these setbacks are simply part of the job they signed up for. It’s the mental attitude that separates the amateurs from the pros: seasoned brokers expect the inevitable rejections just like Bond expects the inevitable brawl.
And when the inevitable happens, they don’t spend time feeling bad about it. They take action, because they’ve already planned for it: Bond brushes himself off and gets to back to work, just like the battle-hardened broker picks up the phone and dials again.