There are tried and true ways to find commercial brokerage clients and there are some creative strategies as well. The difference in a standout broker is that she consistently takes action, leverages the tried and true methods, and deploys creative strategies to win clients.
Here are seven creative ways to find new brokerage clients in any market. Add these to your tried and true arsenal and you’ll be building a powerful book of business in no time.
1. Talk to other brokers in your market and surrounding markets
Get to know the other commercial brokers in your market. Become friends with your peers and a few things will happen:
- You will build a relationship that helps deals move smoothly when working across from them
- Your direct line of communication to the brokers will help you hear about opportunities faster
- You could even land another commercial broker as a client. (My first deal came from a broker who couldn’t represent his own investor group.)
You can practice this with residential brokers, retired brokers, or brokers outside your target market to help build a network that actively brings you opportunities.
2. Spend the time to define and refine your target client
The better you define who you want to be your client, the better you will find, convert, and serve them. If you don’t know who you are trying to find with your prospecting efforts, how will you ever find them?
Take the time to define your target brokerage clients. Find an exercise that works for you and commit to revisiting the exercise quarterly.
Leverage data from your weekly conversations and the deals you work on to define what motivates them, the stakeholders involved, and their personal motivations.
Use this exercise to inform every action you take in finding new clients. Refine your cold call script, update your website, or launch new marketing materials.
3. Tap into vendors across the commercial real estate industry
Vendors are those who serve your client but are not central to all projects. Vendors include the title company, appraiser, architect, digital marketing agency, flooring company, insurance provider, municipal planning team, etc.
These vendors are a wealth of information about specific details of commercial real estate. Don’t underestimate the value of a strong vendor relationship. You may end up sharing leads, building a business together, or simply enjoy working with them.
One word of caution: you will receive unwanted sales pitches from some vendors. Some are deal-chasers not relationship-builders, so expect that going in and know those vendors probably aren’t the people who will creatively collaborate with you.
4. Send a newsletter
Sending a newsletter to your current client, prospecting, vendor, and personal list is one of the best ways to stay top of mind among your network and executed correctly, and can directly convert into clients.
I’m not suggesting you hire a marketing agency or spend hours on a fancy-formatted email. This can distract from the data you have to share. It can also give you too many excuses to delay launching the campaign.
A newsletter is effective as a plain text email that provides ongoing market updates.
Leverage market data, include insights from conversations you've had, invite people to reply and reach out, and give them a reason to do so. I start my newsletter with an intro and hook, then add a few bullet points covering the overall market, multi-family, industrial, and development. I close with a final call-to-action.
This should take you about 20 minutes to write if you know your market well and are keeping strong notes throughout the month.
You’ll quickly establish yourself as a market leader in your prospect and current client’s mind and you’ll stay top of mind. This should lead to new business walking through your door regularly.
5. Publish your work
Many brokers fear that their value decreases if they share information outside their client list. I believe the opposite. The more you share your work, the better you will serve your clients and gain new clients in doing so.
First, your clients will have faster access to the information you currently hold hostage and they will more regularly see the value you provide as their broker.
Second, you will attract clients to your doorstep by publishing your work. Instead of going out to find clients via prospecting, they will find you because the information you're sharing is valuable.
Before ever speaking with a prospect they will feel like you’ve helped them as their broker. Now, when they ultimately reach out, you’re five steps ahead of where you would have been if you tried to reach them via cold outreach.
Some examples of work you can share are market deep dives, underwriting models, neighborhood-level analysis, and data from conversations in the market.
6. Refresh your cold call script
Prospecting is the bread and butter of a brokerage business. The number one prospecting tool is cold calling. You can learn your market, build, and farm a list, turning cold leads into warm leads and ultimately into clients.
If you consistently refine your target client as I mentioned above (point #2), then leverage that exercise. What would your target client be most interested in learning? Leverage this information to develop an opening line that breaks the ice.
Lastly, measure the results of these calls, whether with data in your CRM or with a gut feel for how owners are responding to your script. Make adjustments where necessary and when you find the sweet spot you’ll find you’re turning a prospect list into clients in no time.
7. Get in touch with businesses you already patron
If you’re a leasing agent, you are constantly on the lookout for expanding, contracting, or new businesses to occupy space in your market. It can be difficult to know where to begin looking for businesses in your market.
To start, list out the businesses you already frequent as a customer. These may include the
- Grocery store
- Coffee shop
- Gas station
- Clothing stores
- Fast food
- The list goes on...
Then move to the businesses you patron less frequently, but still know something about their business:
- Who baked your wedding cake?
- Sold you your car?
- Completed your home renovation?
- Manages your landscaping?
- Sold your home appliances?
- Hosted a recent event?
- The list goes on again...
Commit to visiting each location or working to get in contact with the owner via the phone. Discuss their business, expansion plans, or frustrations with their current location.
You’ll be surprised how many business owners think it’s their job to find property, space, negotiate leases, or any other details of expanding or contracting their business. They need an ally, your support, and you can add value via your services almost immediately.
Now get to work!
There you have it. Seven creative ways to find new brokerage clients in an ever-changing market.
Some of these may be principles you’ve been aware of for quite some time but haven’t revisited in a while. Hopefully, you walk away with a new idea to implement in your day-to-day business.