The limitations of the past two years have forced us to become more enterprising in efforts to forge relationships. With fewer people attending live events, traveling for business or even taking in-person meetings, it’s been harder to achieve chance encounters, let alone develop new business relationships. Technology has proved a major means to overcome such challenges and is likely to remain a long-term trend. After all, Zoom calls and webinars reduce travel costs and save time while still allowing meetings to be live.
But getting that first meeting—even via Zoom—remains more challenging than it used to be thanks to the diminished in-person facetime. A reduction in impromptu meetings means you need to make a bigger effort to attract interest. It also means first impressions are more structured and formalized. Even developing existing relationships requires more work.
For brokers, of course, both initiating and developing relationships are critical to building a strong book of business. Interactions, conversations and introductions remain important means of prospecting for clients.
And competition is heavy, as brokers strive to help investors place sidelined capital and tenants rethink their space use. Almost every brokerage firm that topped CPE’s 2022 Most Powerful Brokerage Firms ranking reported 2021 investment volumes and leased square footage that outpaced their totals for 2019. That’s despite the fact that office and industrial sales volumes remain below 2019 levels and are not likely to increase this year, according to CommercialEdge data.
So how do you make a memorable first impression, stand out from the competition and increase business today? Have brokerage prospecting strategies really changed that much? The answer is yes—and no. Some tried-and-true tactics remain relevant but require refinement.
Take research. It has long been beneficial to not just know the market (including which leases will soon be up) but at the same time understand the industries of prospective clients. Are they ebbing or flowing? Which companies are flourishing vs. floundering? What is the prospect’s credit rating? Knowledge has always been power, and that can make you stand out when you make prospect calls.
“Know who you are calling and get an understanding of their business model,” Matt Anderson, executive vice president & principal for Colliers, told our reporter IvyLee Rosario for her article “4 Ways for Brokers to Up Their Prospecting Game.”
Because everyone else may be doing the same thing, though, depth of knowledge has become more critical. Differentiation may require attending seminars, drawing on more data or bringing in key partners. It may also mean establishing yourself as a respected expert.
What are your prospecting tactics, and how have you adapted them? I’d love to hear about it!