Before starting our tech startup for commercial real estate, Digsy, I was a partner at a brokerage firm in SoCal for 12 years. I was very successful at drumming up new business through a series of sales & marketing tricks which I affectionately called “Broker Hacks”.
As you know, brokers make their money by earning commissions. The commercial real estate broker salary is nonexistent. No one hands you pre-defined sales rulebook for brokers when you start in this business, so it’s up to you to figure out a way grow your client base. That’s exactly where my Broker Hacks system came in to aid my career.
One of my first Broker Hacks was in email marketing back in 2000. During this era, I was one of the first brokers who marketed listings by embedding an HTML property listing brochure in the body of the email. I did the same with image-rich email newsletters. This is before big Southern California competitors like CBRE started doing the same. In competitive markets like real estate, we know that once everyone starts doing the same thing — it’s time to change strategies.
The problem with coming up with a new strategy was that, at first glance, there was not much you could do besides creating a website to help you market your brokerage resume. Another option that came to mind was LinkedIn, which around that time was rising as a great way to market your skills & expertise, but it was hard for brokers to see how they could leverage it anyway beyond that.
However, one clever little trick I learned from a software recruiter friend was how he was actively using LinkedIn to find new customers. He showed me that as long as I had the name of the person I wanted to do business with, I could look up their profile on LinkedIn, identify any mutual friends we shared and then get a warm introduction to the prospect so I could improve my chances of doing business with them. My recruiter friend showed me that after he identified a mutual contact, he would then shoot them an email like this:
I noticed on LinkedIn that you know Jon Ferrara over at Nimble.com
I know their company is growing really fast and I’ve admired how he’s built such a successful business. I would love to meet him, do you think you could make an introduction via email?
With this clever email introduction strategy (recruiter hack…hehehe), he was able to turn what would have been a cold-call to the CEO of the company into a warm introduction through someone in their trusted peer group. Now think about that for a second: CEOs of companies get cold-calls from commercial real estate brokers every day. I, on the other hand, was warmly introduced to him by someone he knows and trusts.
Who do you think the CEO will do business with? The unknown broker guy cold-calling him, or the broker who was introduced to him by someone he trusts? If you said my chances are better, you are correct! That, my friends, is not only a Broker Hack, but a Social Hack that top salespeople at companies like Oracle use to close more deals. This helped me win a ton of business!
So how does Nimble fit into all of this?
Well, today commercial real estate brokers have to mine many social networks besides LinkedIn to find common ground with a prospect. Not every CEO has a LinkedIn profile that you can tap into to find the mutual contacts or interests to “warmly” connect with them.
So, you have to research Twitter, Facebook, AngelList and many other social networks to get the social information you need to frame a “warm” connection. After you gather this information, you then have to copy and paste the information into your CRM system so you don’t have to look it up each time you want to reach out to them. While it doesn’t sound like a lot of work, it is very time-consuming — and time is money.
This is why Nimble is a godsend. Nimble assists the commercial real estate agent by automatically sourcing all social information on a prospect and centralizing it into a single contact record. All you do is enter the name and email address of the prospect, and then Nimble finds and pulls all their social data to show you your mutual contacts, what interests them and what they talk about.
In addition, Nimble centralizes the communication tools you use to interact with your prospect. You can read and send emails to prospects right within Nimble. All you do is enter your email account information to hook it up to your Microsoft Exchange, Office 365 or Gmail email account. You can also send tweets & Facebook messages as well, so you never have to jump between applications to get your work done. This is productivity at its finest.
Nimble also automatically associates all of your communication with a prospect to their contact record so that you can pick up where you left off without you having to manually keep track of them. How cool is that? Huge time saver!
Under each contact, you can also create tasks or tell Nimble to remind you to keep in touch every week, month, quarter or year — you don’t have to manually create tasks or reminders each time. Brokers are busy people who are bound to forget to create a task. Nimble makes life easier by taking care of you in this regard. When you message a contact, Nimble automatically creates a new reminder to follow-up in the future.
Last but not least, Nimble makes it easy to keep track of potential listing or client opportunities for Tenant Rep assignments via their “Deals” module. You quickly create a deal right within the contact record.
The deals tab shows you all your Deal opportunities so you can quickly review them and take next steps toward winning the business.
A commercial real estate agency or agent can spend thousands of dollars each month paying a salary to an assistant to help you gather all the social data on your prospects and keep track of deal opportunities — or you can use Nimble to intelligently automate all this work for you. Nimble charges a low monthly fee for its service, and not only saves the commercial real estate agent time and money — but helps them close more deals.
If any of you have questions on how you can use Nimble in your CRE business, leave a comment below and I’ll be happy to answer. Happy dealmaking!
Header image courtesy of Flickr user Vivek Thakur