Commercial real estate is not a passive industry –far from it.
Success is there for those who seek it in a systematic, deliberate way. Good prospecting is essential, whatever your role. It’s most often associated with active brokers who make it a practice to reach out to potential partners and clients, based on solid information. It also works for developers, lenders, and investors, and by leveraging digital tools available for just that purpose, prospecting is more effective and worthwhile than ever.
The keys to successful prospecting are consistency and information.
Prospecting activities should be part of your routine, not something you check in on every few weeks. Considering how pressed for time we all are, it makes sense that technology can make it easier to cover these critical prospecting activities without dropping the ball in other areas:
1. Foster referrals
Your good reputation and prior success can go a long way toward convincing new prospects to consider your ideas. Keep in touch with people who can recommend you; let them know you appreciate their business. Digital tools help you manage correspondence and keep track of associates efficiently.
This is probably your least-favorite prospecting activity, but it’s also one of the most essential. Interestingly, with the technology we have available now, you don’t have to actually make a “cold” call anymore. You load up on information about the prospect and the marketplace ahead of time using digital tools. You can also create a relationship with many prospects through thought leadership, by providing useful information on your blog or website.
3. Monitoring trends
Knowing what’s going on in commercial real estate can help you effectively target prospects with a greater likelihood of being interested in what you are proposing. The data available to assist you here is staggering, and the challenge becomes how to manage and analyze it.
All of these activities can be streamlined through access to targeted information. Using data to advantage is the key to good prospecting.
Whatever role we play in commercial real estate, prospecting is all about going to find the business you want to do.
In an interesting piece this spring, Bo Barron described three approaches we can take to building a prospecting database. We can buy it, outsource it, or do it ourselves. We might add that it’s wise to combine the three approaches to create a customized strategy that works for your unique circumstance.
Consider your market, specialization, and existing connections as you select the digital tools that will streamline the prospecting process and make it an ongoing part of conducting business.
There are a plethora of excellent tools and services out there that can make prospecting much more manageable and effective. There are companies that specialize in research and statistics that will save you piles of time. They can provide verified information on ownership, analytics, transaction tracking, cap rates, and overall trends in the industry.
If you’re not taking advantage of this type of resource, your prospecting is probably hit and miss. The best of these services are not free, but time is money. Some of the top research services for commercial real estate:
CoStar– First of its kind and still number one, this information service tracks millions of properties and employs an army of researchers that verify and update the database daily.
REIS – In the biz for over 30 years, this is a trusted source for comprehensive real estate data. Information on 8 CRE sectors is categorized and analyzed to make it immediately applicable in helping to close the deal.
Real Capital Analytics –Includes real-time, interactive features that let you manipulate the data on the site and create personalized reports that serve you best.
If these comprehensive sites are more than your budget allows, you can choose from several lower-priced services that are more narrowly focused and designed to facilitate prospecting. They may specialize in providing property ownership information, or be able to provide a list of names and addresses for property owners in your geographic area. ProspectNow and PropertyShark are two great options.
Another way to get the information you need to make contact with likely partners is to hire a researcher yourself. The work required to gather and analyze data is time-consuming, so it can be very worth your while to retain the services of a professional researcher who can assemble the precise data you are looking for.
Depending on your geographic location and market, you may occasionally have to find some information on your own. When that’s the case you can sometimes utilize free public databases to get what you need. The National Assessor and Property Tax Resource will give you raw data on property values, and annual reports from professional groups, like the Urban Land Institute and the NAR can provide useful statistics as well.
Our industry is fueled by information. You can sit and wait for it to come to you, or you can go out and get it. Data help those who help themselves.
RealConnex is the meeting place for real estate professionals to find, connect, network and transact capital, investments and services. The platform enriches and facilitates connections and opportunities through its powerful search, post and concierge services. From development to investment, lending and crowdfunding, to design, engineering and marketing, participants can use RealConnex to identify potential partners from around the globe or down the street.