Many millennials and younger generations are just beginning their careers as commercial real estate sales brokers and are trying to figure out how it all works. In a business that is relationship driven, it can be difficult for new brokers to know where, or how, to get started.
Someone new to commercial real estate might not yet have the right contacts to secure listings or find buyers for a property. Technology is a great leveler as well as a differentiator, especially with the number of PropTech solutions in the market today.
Both new brokers and established tech-savvy brokers can leverage technology to differentiate themselves and accelerate their production. From managing day-to-day activities and customer relationships with CRM solutions, to new tools that provide data and insights, brokers now have a whole ecosystem of commercial real estate solutions from which to choose.
Overview on the PropTech Ecosystem
2018 was a pivotal year in the real estate tech space with regard to funding and investments, the number of startups launching and the talent entering the space. In addition to VCs and private equity continuing to invest in PropTech, traditional brokerages are increasingly investing in technology solutions as well, either through acquisition, partnership, or through separate venture funds such as JLL Spark, Colliers’ PropTech Accelerator or C&W’s partnership with MetaProp.
Industry influencers have divided the PropTech ecosystem into subcategories based on function. With so many players in the space, it is imperative that brokers fully understand their desired business objectives before jumping into a solution. Some of the categories include:
· Listing marketplaces
· Leasing management
· Marketing and CRM
· Research and analytics
· Operations platforms
· Tech-enabled brokerages
· Property/energy management
· Transaction platforms
· Coworking/space utilization
· Financing and crowdfunding
Using Data to Generate Leads
Access to data used to be a differentiator in the commercial real estate space – either you had access or you didn’t. Now that PropTech is transforming the industry and data is readily available, differentiation comes from how one interprets and utilizes data for targeted outcomes. Data-driven technology tools and platforms are critical for new or tech-savvy brokers to quickly generate the right leads and grow their network.
For example, a platform like the one we have built at Ten-X Commercial can help accelerate a broker’s ability to reach a global audience. Our online transaction platform increases brokers’ reach by moving the transaction online and eliminating geographical boundaries. But it does more than just provide an online marketplace to transact commercial real estate. Being a data-driven platform, we have worked hard to bring data-science and behavior analytics into the mix.
We have written and trained algorithms can help brokers not just generate leads, but generate the right leads. Based on historical transaction data, preferences and behavioral analytics it intelligently matches and targets the most likely buyer for a particular property on the platform. By surfacing the most likely buyers, brokers can focus their time on the best where they’re more confident, achieving efficiency and increasing productivity. Essentially, the technology supercharges the process making lead generation easier so that brokers can build relationships with new buyers most likely to purchase their seller’s property.
When brokers, especially those just starting their career, combine the power of a data-driven platform like ours and its marketing capability with local market knowledge and expertise, they can accelerate lead generation and differentiate themselves.
Though it’s not specific to the PropTech ecosystem, platforms like LinkedIn are a great resource for brokers to make new connections and build their network. LinkedIn provides a way to follow notable people in the industry, connect with industry leaders, and share and consume content. Many savvy brokers have sourced deals or buyers through LinkedIn and have used the platform to establish themselves as industry influencers.
Successfully utilizing LinkedIn goes beyond clicking to add someone as a connection. Some top tips for using LinkedIn include:
· Follow industry influencers and check out the content they share to stay up to date on the latest trends in the commercial real estate space
· Engage thoughtfully with content shared by influencers and peers in the commercial real estate space as it can be a way to build new connections
· When posting current listings, include quality photos, key details and contact information so that if the post is shared, interested parties can easily find listing highlights and know how to get more information
· Join relevant groups and contribute to the discussion, as it’s another way to build new connections and establish oneself as a thought leader in a particular area
The Right Mindset
Technology is not the only way new brokers can differentiate themselves and grow their business. One intangible characteristic is having a data-centric and analytical mindset. Brokers should make it a practice to base decisions on both data and market expertise when providing insight and recommendations to clients.
Given the increase in tech solutions and tools, another key element for a broker is willingness to adopt and apply new technology. While millennial brokers might be more naturally at ease using technology, all brokers who adopt and leverage technology will position themselves for success. With the rapid rate of technological change happening in the commercial real estate space, it’s also a good idea to follow PropTech publications and influencers to keep up to date with the latest and greatest.
Finally, it’s all about being client-centric. Brokers who place the customer first will further set themselves up for success. Building successful client relationships is the key to becoming a successful broker. It takes a while to build a network and establish oneself in the commercial real estate space, and brokers that keep at it will ultimately set themselves up for success.
No matter where they are in their career, brokers that couple client centricity, with data and new technology solutions will differentiate themselves and quickly expand their network, leading to long-term success.