If you’re in the business of providing services and goods to commercial real estate companies, you know how much time it takes to find new business. In fact, think about this: You generate no revenue while you’re looking for new business, so every minute spent generating leads is costing you. The purpose of this post isn’t to illuminate where you’re burning up resources; it’s to help you work better, work smarter so you spend less time and money finding leads.
We'll explore some tried-and-true methods that you can use to get the leads you need to succeed in this business. From cold calling and networking to online lead generation, we'll cover everything you need to know to start generating commercial real estate leads today, plus we’ll introduce an innovative and cost-effective way to go beyond basic lead generation to generate quality leads. Data-driven sales prospecting is the new way companies generate leads in the CRE industry.
Buying CRE Leads
Lead brokers use a variety of tactics to acquire information that they can then sell to you to help you fill your lead pipeline. Some use pay-per-click, direct mail, surveys, and social media marketing to build their lists. Other tactics include creating paid online advertisements with landing pages that are really fill forms that feed into a lead list, which the lead generation company can then curate and sell. Another way lead companies build their lists is by buying and selling lists, building vast datasets. In the real estate industry, many lead generation companies use public records to collect data about property developers and owners.
CRE businesses and vendors are finding better ways to generate new business, in addition to or instead of purchasing stale lead lists. If you do plan to purchase lead lists, do your due diligence to vet vendors, which we cover next.
Questions to ask lead generation vendors
If you plan to buy commercial real estate leads, ask vendors about the costs per lead, as well as the following questions to ensure you’re getting a high quality lead list:
Where do they get their lead information?
How do they qualify leads?
How often is the dataset updated? (And when was it last updated?)
Can you get a sample of the data, to evaluate whether it’s what you need?
In what format are the leads delivered?
Do they offer multiple data points that allow your sales teams to quickly access CRE companies?
Not all lead companies may be willing to answer in great detail where they get their leads and how they qualify them. After all, that is the secret sauce that (you hope) makes their lead lists better than their competitors (and yours). But they should be willing and able to share their methodology for collecting and qualifying leads, so you can feel confident that you’re getting a good product.
Down sides of buying leads from lead vendors
Lead lists can become stale quickly. Also, because many of the lead collection techniques require companies to opt in, their names are added to the lead list only if they’ve “raised their hand,” so to speak. In other words, there might be many missed opportunities from companies that didn’t complete a survey, click a display ad or respond to a direct mail or email inquiry. The saying “don’t put all your eggs in one basket” comes to mind: Don’t rely solely on purchased CRE leads for generating new business.
Reaching purchased leads through direct mail
Direct mail can be a highly effective — but expensive — strategy to reach CRE leads. Make sure your direct mail pieces are targeted and well-crafted in order to maximize your chances of success. Here are a few tips for creating effective direct mail pieces for your commercial real estate business:
Keep your target audience in mind. Who are you trying to reach with your direct mail campaign? Make sure that your messaging is clear and relevant to your recipients.
Make sure your direct mail piece stands out. Consider using a professional writer and/or designer so your piece catches your recipients’ attention and makes them want to learn more about what you have to offer. Use strong headlines and compelling copy to grab their attention.
Use attractive visuals. People are visual creatures, so design your direct mail piece with attractive visuals that will grab their attention and make them want to read more.
Include clear calls-to-action. Your direct mail piece should include a strong call-to-action that urges the reader to take the next step, whether it's calling you for more information or visiting your website.
DIY Lead Generation
Can you find leads on your own? Sure, if you have the resources. In this section, we’ll cover best practices for generating leads on your own, rather than buying them from a lead broker. Following this section, we’ll introduce emerging technologies that go beyond basic lead generation.
Using your website to attract leads
Your website is your virtual storefront. Every page should be strategically created with your prospective buyer’s journey in mind. This website should be designed to attract the attention of potential clients and should include a contact form so that interested parties can get in touch with you.
What will attract them to your website? Create content that answers their questions, solves their problems and makes their days easier. Create content that speaks their language: Use words and phrases that are common to your and their industry.
This is called search engine optimized (SEO) content, which means when a prospect has a question and goes to Google (which about 90% of online searchers do, according to Kinsta), your content is found by Google and delivered to the user as a search result. Of course, you’re competing with other sites that have content optimized for those search terms, so there’s no guarantee your content will show up in search results. The more content you create, the better quality your content is, and the more unique it is, the more your audience will grow.
Once you’ve got them on your website, offer ways to keep them there. Link to other pieces of content and use lead-generation actions like pop-up fill forms, special offers, newsletter subscriptions, and free demos. When someone completes an action, they’ve become a marketing qualified lead, and they’re ready to be handed over to your sales team.
Using social media to generate leads
You’re well familiar with Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and other social media sites, all of which offer abilities to follow people, causes, interests and brands. What you might not realize is that when you build a following on a social media site, you’re building an audience for those social media channels. In other words, your Facebook followers are in Facebook’s lead pipeline, not yours. By liking your page, they’ve just told Facebook what they're interested in, so now Facebook’s algorithms can serve up targeted ads.
This concept is known as “owning your audience,” and with the exception of LinkedIn, most social media sites do not enable you to “own” your social media audiences. You can’t directly market to them outside of their platforms. LinkedIn does allow you to download information about your contacts. The biggest limitation with this is that you’re limited to contact information for only people who’ve agreed to connect with you; you won’t get contact information for anyone you’re not connected with.
We’re not saying you shouldn’t use social media, but we are saying be smart about it. The goal is to move your audience from Facebook and other sites into YOUR lead pipeline. How? Publish clickable content on your social media channels that drives traffic to your website. You can also use social media to run targeted ads that reach people who are interested in commercial real estate.
Using public records to find CRE properties
This tactic works well if you are focused on finding commercial real estate property owners, managers, and developers near you or in a specific geographical area. Property records, as we discuss in a related post, “How to Find and Contact CRE Owners,” are part of the public domain, which means anyone can walk into a county assessor’s office and ask for property information. From there, it’s a matter of detective work to track down the actual contact information for the property owner. But it is do-able.
Comb through CRE listings
You can use current and expired commercial real estate listings to find brokers and agents who are handling CRE transactions. Beware, though, that when a broker lists a commercial property for sale, the bigger and better it is, the more solicitations they’re going to get. Loopnet is one of the country’s largest online CRE websites, featuring commercial property for sale and for lease.
Also, the information on these listings is for the brokers and agents who are handling the real estate transactions, not necessarily for decision makers who manage the property.
Network with local real estate professionals
Join local business networking groups, including industry-related groups, and go to their events. This is a great way to meet people and get involved with your local community. It’s a slow burn, making these acquaintances and turning them into leads, so don’t put all of your eggs in the networking basket. That said, word of mouth remains one of the most powerful tools for generating high quality leads. And don’t stop with networking groups and real estate professionals. Look for those groups on LinkedIn. Join CRE groups on LinkedIn, share content, like content, and get into conversations.
Here are some national CRE organizations that you might follow, some of which offer local chapters:
BOMA International (Building Owners and Managers Association International)
CCIM Institute (Certified Commercial Investment Member)
Commercial Real Estate Development Association (formerly National Association of Industrial and Office Parks)
CREW Network (Commercial Real Estate Women)
ICSC (International Council of Shopping Centers)
NAR Commercial (National Association of Commercial Realtors)
NMHC (National Multifamily Housing Council)
SIOR (Society of Industrial and Office Realtors)
Go Beyond Basic Lead Generation
Today, Big Data is changing the way everyone does business, from local mom and pop storefronts to huge enterprises. Commercial real estate is no exception. Today, enough information exists — if you know where to find it, how to mine it, and have the methods and means to transform raw data into actionable information.
Data-driven sales prospecting is the new way companies generate leads in the CRE industry.
Using CRE-specific search criteria, these smart databases enable you to locate commercial real estate prospects and access the information you need to make and close deals. The data includes full names, titles, and contact details, including direct phone numbers, email addresses, and more. In a matter of seconds, you'll learn more about your target, and with just one click, you'll be able to connect with them. This makes prospecting and lead conversion more effective, and you see a higher return on your investment.
How does intelligent prospecting net a higher ROI?
A tool like Biscred, for example, uses over a decade’s worth of CRE data on companies, properties, and professionals, to provide an intelligent prospecting tool for proptech, architects, CRE brokers, developers, builders, operators, property managers, and more. Beyond basic NAP (name, address, phone), these databases contain valuable information so you can reach the right person at the right organization.
Biscred has millions of CRE data points that have been gathered, categorized and cleaned using a blend of automation and human learning. Someone in business development for a proptech company, for example, can look for industry professionals based on company size, level of seniority, and experience in a particular asset class within a particular region of the country.
How to work with lead prospecting tools
Is there anything more flattering when you reach a prospect than to show them that you’ve done homework and taken time to learn about them and their organization, before reaching out?
That’s what prospecting databases do. They are built for sales teams to discover prospects that meet specific needs or match with specific opportunities. Before they reach out to cold call, your business development team can learn more about prospects, so they can make personalized, intelligent outreach efforts.
The data can replace or complement your existing commercial real estate sales enablement tools, and they fit seamlessly into your sales pipelines.
To illustrate how prospecting works, in a related post we explain how solar companies use prospecting tools to find CRE leads. Solar is a highly competitive market, especially in areas like Arizona, California and the Southwest. With a prospecting tool like Biscred, solar manufacturers, installers and service providers can drill down to the exact business type (apartment buildings, healthcare facilities, office parks to name a few) and location, plus the names of decision-makers associated with the properties.
Should you ditch lead lists?
Many of Biscred’s users find that a prospecting tool is the perfect complement to their DIY lead generation efforts. Again, think of the “don’t put all your eggs in one basket” idiom. A prospecting tool helps sales teams work better and smarter so they spend less time chasing down contact information and more time nurturing qualified leads.
Prospecting tools transform cold calling into relationship building.
Are you ready to ditch your purchased lead lists? Get in touch with Biscred now, and schedule a demo so you can see for yourself how it works. We’d encourage you to schedule the demo with your business development manager, so they can see how powerful this data-driven tool is.