If you work as an agent or a broker in commercial real estate, you should well understand the importance of your database in building market share and a stable client base. From your database just about all of your valuable leads and listings should evolve; it takes time but the process does work well.
It directly follows that the database has to be optimised and expanded with quality prospects. I strongly recommend that all agents prospect for new business comprehensively and maintain their own database (do not pass it on to some administrative support person); there is a reason for saying that, and most particularly it is for the agent to take ownership of the process. When they do that, they can maintain contact accuracy and fully utilize the capability of the software as a CRM program.
It is a sad fact that many agents will avoid the data entry maintenance process; therefore their client list is slow to grow and usually out of date. If you are going to do something, then do it very well. ‘Accountability to self’ is an essential element of commercial real estate.
Given that there are plenty of computer based CRM tools to help us today, you just need to choose the one that you are comfortable with. From those tools you can grow and connect with your database regularly and professionally.
There are plenty of simple tools to get going with your personal marketing plan; in fact to get started you can use a simple contact management list such at that in Microsoft Access, Gmail, or Outlook. These programs let you export data comfortably and accurately. When you have found a better CRM program to use you can then move the data easily.
To take this concept further and build your database, can you write interesting articles about your property market and property type? If you have the gift of ‘creative writing’, then you can do something with it to help your commercial real estate profile and career.
Here are some ideas from my experiences that can help with that client contact matrix and list building:
- Create a blog about commercial real estate in your location. Write a few property articles per week and load them to your blog. The information that you write about should be helpful to the market and all the prospective clients seeking help.
- Choose an auto-responder to put on your blog as a capture point for visitors to your site. The more interesting your articles, the greater the chance that you will get visitors; you can convert those visitors to Newsletter subscribers. There are some very good auto-responders available at very low cost to use today. Some good ones to try are http://aweber.com/ or http://mailchimp.com/ The auto-responders can be configured to send your blog feed to the people in your database.
- You can automatically link your blog posts to your social media portals such as Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Pinterest. That then gives you plenty of potential for spreading the word online about property issues and your local market knowledge.
- Write some short articles about your local property market and load them to a few high profile article directories. Some good ones to try are http://ezinearticles.com/ or http://goarticles.com/ ; from regular posting on those article directories you will be attracting further readers to your content and hence spreading the word about your knowledge and experience. You can also link those articles to your website or your blog.
- Link some of your ‘content rich’ articles on your blog to your email newsletters. Make the topics of relevance to the market today and useful for your targeted sellers, buyers, or tenants as the case may be.
- Regular posting of articles and blogs will easily be seen by the search engines and that will help your personal exposure as a property professional. Always write your content to cover your specific niche and your location. This is a very simple way of achieving a version of ‘search engine optimisation’ for you personally.
- From every meeting and conversation with a qualified prospect or client, capture the data on a simple ‘standard form’. At the end of the day you can capture the comments from the form onto your CRM list. Carry some paper clips with you to organise your ‘standard forms’ from the day. Many agents have asked why I have not suggested that a person can ‘enter the data at the time of conversation’. Perhaps you can, although the standard form approach works a lot better. Simplicity and functionality are my preferences.
- Every property marketing campaign, and particularly those that occur with exclusive listings are very good sources of contact and prospect information. Use the ‘standard form’ approach to simplify the capturing of information.
A special note should be made here that most agents struggle with finding the time and the energy required for these things. That fact then ‘opens up the field’ for those that can do it well.
These strategies are all simple for agents to implement and valuable for the long term. They do not however replace the high value of personal contact with your clients and prospects. Use these strategies to further enhance the involvement that you already have with your selected quality clients and prospects.