How to generate commercial real estate leads

November 15, 2021

Most people think that being a commercial real estate broker is all about helping people buy, lease, sell, and invest in commercial real estate.

Most people aren’t commercial real estate brokers.

The truth is that successful commercial real estate brokers have mastered how to get leads to help them grow their business. In a feast or famine industry, successful prospecting and lead generation can be all the difference between a healthy year or a not-so-strong year for a CRE broker.

Download the 8-point CRE prospecting checklist

Understanding markets and the assets that define neighborhoods are both important, but you could have the most in-depth market intelligence and insight and still completely fail because you don’t know how to get real estate leads on a consistent basis. Consider this a great resource for any new CRE brokers in the industry, or a refresher for any CRE brokers looking to strengthen their prospecting efforts.

Nothing will benefit your business more than learning how to generate real estate leads the right way.

The following five methods are already being used by commercial real estate agents and brokers all over the world to attract leads.

1. Become a recognizable member of the business community

One of the most common ways “experts” tell how to get real estate leads for agents and brokers is by joining their local chamber of commerce and other business organizations in order to network.

The logic is simple and not remotely limited to commercial real estate: hand out enough business cards over the course of enough meetings and eventually someone will hire you. It’s the classic “numbers game.”

That’s not terrible advice for some, but you work in commercial real estate. No one is going to hire you because they like sitting next to you at the Rotary meetings.

Instead, you need to become recognizable. This means actively searching out opportunities to get up in front of these groups and talk to them about what they need to know when it comes to commercial real estate.

To be clear, this isn’t a slick opportunity to sell yourself as their broker. You really do have to give away free, helpful advice. Do that enough times and someone will definitely call you with the opportunity to have their business.

LinkedIn can be extremely effective for this purpose, too. Definitely connect with anyone from these get-togethers. While this may prove to be the best lead generation of realtors, real estate agents and brokers can definitely benefit from the same.

Ideally, you want to network well enough that you can host your own events and even welcome other local business owners to speak. If you invest in building your LinkedIn network, inviting all the people you’ve met along the way will be simple.

2. Keep tabs on up-and-coming companies

While outreach remains a powerful strategy, most real estate lead generation ideas that involve this method end in disappointment.

That’s because “outreach” means spending thousands of dollars on hundreds of mailers and hoping it works.

Instead, what you want to do is “predict” which local companies will soon need your business. If you follow the first tip and become sufficiently involved in your city’s business community, this will be much easier.

You should also pay attention to local business news, too. Everyone’s busy these days, so one really easy method is to set up Google Alerts.

In short, you’ll receive an email whenever a new post is published that features the words you’ve chosen. Perfecting this practice will take a little time.

For example, you might find that your local media overuses certain terms, which makes them a waste to follow. However, Google Alerts gives you a lot of options for customizing your results. Among other things, you can tell Google about:

  • Exact phrases you’re interested in
  • Similar words you want to know about
  • Specific sites you want to monitor for certain terms
  • Sites with certain keywords you want Google to ignore

The list goes on and on, but the point is that Google Alerts will allow you to revise your parameters until it’s feeding you the information you want on a regular basis.

Whenever you find out that a local business is doing really well (always read local lists of the “Top Companies to Work For” or “Best Companies of 2018”, etc. for easy wins here), reach out and introduce yourself.

Now isn’t the time to go for the sale, though. The best way to generate leads for real estate almost always begins with simple introductions and the promise of free information when/if the company is interested.

By targeting companies that are on the way up, instead of any with an address, you’ll see much better ROI.

3. Start a local blog aimed at local businesses

Blogs are still great for generating traffic to your website. Spend enough time on yours and you could end up enjoying a passive form of real estate leads to you and/or your agents. Wouldn’t it be great to get to a place where you’re spending all day answering the phone instead of cold calling?

Unfortunately, most blogs designed for real estate online lead generation fail because no one is interested in reading them. They only talk about commercial real estate and it’s usually very apparent that the writer doesn’t really care about the reader. They just want their business.

Don’t make the same mistake.

It’s okay to post about commercial real estate—just like it’s okay to speak about it—but, again, make sure you’re giving helpful advice. Anyone who reads your post should legitimately feel more confident about their ability to make smart decisions regarding commercial real estate.

Then think about all the other topics local businesses care about. You could also post articles on:

  • Local laws impacting businesses
  • Your city or state’s economic outlook
  • Business tips specific to your area

Feel free to interview local experts (provided they’re not competitors), as well.

For example, you could talk to a local accountant about challenges companies face as they expand. On top of creating that helpful content, you’ve also just expanded your network. If that accountant ever needs a bigger office—or if one of their clients does—your chances of getting a referral just went up.

This strategy also helps you cast a wider net when it comes to searches. Some companies don’t need help with commercial real estate right now. They want to know about what a certain law would mean for their business. Still, if you help them out and get on their radar, they’ll remember you down the road.

Just think of all the people that tenants and commercial building owners rely on and you’ll have a huge list of locals you can interview on your site. Here are some more ideas:

  • Local and National Retailers
  • Business Lawyers or Doctors
  • Construction Professionals
  • Restaurants
  • Software Companies
  • IT Service Providers
  • Janitorial and Maintenance Suppliers
  • Coworking Owners
  • Manufacturers and Distributors

4. Don’t forget about commercial real estate investors

Remember, figuring out how to get clients in real estate also means including commercial real estate investors in your list. 2018 will offer commercial real estate investors a number of opportunities, so don’t forget about them. They can become a very valuable source of recurring business.

Whether you already have investors on your client list or hope to soon, it’s a good idea to reach out to them about new opportunities, especially on the anniversary of their most recent investment. Typically, this is when they’ll be ready for another one.

Ideally, set up a meeting with them to discuss a new opportunity or, at the very least, put together some highly-targeted marketing materials to engage them.

5. Celebrate your wins (publicly)

We were all raised not to show off, but it’s hard to argue that show-offs generally get lots of attention. While humility may be a virtue in many areas of your life, as a commercial real estate agent, it’s okay to toot your horn a bit, especially when you’re figuring out how to generate leads in real estate.

Whenever you close a deal, make sure that LinkedIn network of yours knows about it. Again, you don’t need to cross into being obnoxious, but you also don’t want to miss your chance with one of the best real estate lead generation methods, which is simply speaking up and letting the world know of your success.

Then, make sure you get a testimonial from your new client. This should be something you do every single time.

As time goes on and you have more and more of these testimonials, you can coach your new clients a bit by showing them examples to help them create their own. Of course, you’re only choosing the most flattering ones.

Testimonials only take a minute or two—this is not a big ask. You should even feel comfortable asking a satisfied client to leave you a review with the Better Business Bureau, too.

However, from time to time, you should ask a client to take part in a case study. You only want to do this when a client is clearly over the moon about your help or it’s someone you’ve worked with multiple times now. The case study will show your leads exactly what they can expect from working with you.

Putting the best real estate lead generation tactics to use

Although each of these tactics is a bit different, the one thing that they all have in common is that they’re going to take time.

Even setting up Google alerts and prospecting local companies on the cusp of needing larger spaces will require some patience.

That’s how commercial real estate works.

Fortunately, these are proven methods. If you get started on them now, you will see results later.

Download the 8-point CRE prospecting checklist

You might also like