Commercial real estate lead generation isn’t as simple as it once was.
Tenants, investors, and buyers spend more time online than ever researching commercial real estate deals and opportunities, so having a commercial real estate marketing strategy to attract attention and gain trust is paramount to convincing leads to do business with you.
You need a plan in place to build lists from existing databases, leverage real estate data sources, and optimize your website to capture visitors as leads.
Commercial prospecting relies not only on the quality of your marketing materials but on your ability to provide valuable information to visitors on your website. Quality matters, but volume is necessary to keep your pipeline full with warm leads you can nurture and close.
Let’s take a closer look at 20 tactics and ideas to help with your commercial real estate prospecting and lead generation.
1. Build a List from an Existing Commercial Real Estate Database
Mining your existing contact list is a good place to start and try to segment your contacts based on interest, profile type and level of prior activity.
Even contacts that have been inactive for several years may prove to be potential opportunities as their needs may have changed alongside what you can offer. Reach out via email, phone, or LinkedIn to re-engage these older contacts.
2. Research Contacts from Commercial Real Estate Listings Sites
Beyond your existing database, you can also create curated databases of potential leads from well known listing sites like LoopNet, Costar, Catylist, CREXi, Reonomy, Quantum Listing, Brevitas or Spacelist or other commercial real estate listings platforms available now.
LoopNet Property Records was a useful commercial property owners database including information about owners, property history, tenant rosters, and current and previous mortgages but currently is not available anymore for users.
There are other criteria you can use on the above mentioned websites if you put in the time and the effort to manually research leads.
3. Research New Deals in CRE News Sites
Keeping on top of recent transactions in your area and creating a list of brokers and owners involved in the deals can help you build an outreach list to use to generate new opportunities. News sites like Bisnow, The Real Deal and Commercial Observer are just a few of the national outlets that publishes information on recent transactions and the teams involved.
Tools like the Google extension Hunter can help you find the contacts’ email addresses right from their company websites.
4. Use Commercial Real Estate Prospecting Software
ProspectNow has a predictive algorithm that helps you identify properties that are most likely to be listed for sale in the next 12 months. The way the algorithm works is it looks at hundreds of data points each week on properties that are actually selling and then they apply the characteristics of properties that just sold to properties that have yet to sell.
Property Shark offers property reports for both the commercial and residential sectors in New York and it can help determine when the property was developed, who owns it, its exact characteristics, up-to-date sales history, property value estimates, information about current zoning, air rights, and more.
5. Use Commercial Real Estate Data Sources
There are some great commercial real estate data sources available that provide information about ownership, transactions, and investment opportunities. Here’s a few sources you can use to find potential prospects:
Real Capital Analytics allows you to identify potential investment opportunities by targeting properties that meet specific detailed criteria to help you find firms which could be potential joint venture partners.
Reonomy is a commercial real estate data platform that facilitates prospecting processes for CRE professionals and uncovers ownership information for over 49M commercial properties in the U.S. Reonomy sources its proprietary data
from a variety of public and exclusive private data source
CoreLogic offers commercial real estate data and analytic capabilities, with an inventory of data and analytic solutions for securitized and nonsecuritized properties through the U.S. The property details available include ownership and mortgages, mortgage maturity data, listings of distressed properties, and a snapshot of specific property owner and lender’s holdings.
6. Research Leads on LinkedIn
Use Linkedin’s people search to find prospects by location, industry, current company, and degrees of separation. You can then send direct messages to open doors and start your outreach efforts. If you want to get more serious about your lead generation, then check out Linkedin’s Sales Navigator tool. It is one of the most effective social selling platforms for CRE professionals that want to engage brokers, tenants and investors at scale.
7. Generate Leads Through your Website
The foundation of any inbound marketing efforts is a commercial real estate website that can be easily found and help successfully capture, engage and converts visitors into potential leads.
No matter who your target is (investors, tenants, landlords) building an effective website is the single most important marketing asset of any lead generation effort.
8. Capture Your Blog Visitors
A blog provides high value content to prospects, as well as a new avenue through which they can find your website. Articles covering topics related to local real estate, commercial real estate in general, state and local laws and financial news, and editorial insights on recent events establish you as a thought leader and will generate new traffic for your website.
Offer your visitors a simple way to subscribe to your blog by providing invaluable information.
9. Include Lead Generation Forms on Your Website
Contact forms are vital to capture user information when they are looking for for general questions, a consultation or sales call requests.
10. Create Gated Documents
In addition to your contact forms, you should have gated content in the form of eBooks, white papers, checklists, case studies, and other documentation. These gated documents, also known as “lead magnets”, can be promoted on relevant pages of your website, linking to forms that capture user information before they can download the content.
11. Target Prospects with Google AdWords Campaigns
Google AdWords is a massive advertising platform that allows you to reach people through pay per click campaigns. By targeting the location and property-specific keywords like “office space Chicago” your prospects are searching for, you can rapidly expand your reach and drive people to your website or landing page to convert them into leads. Google AdWords is expensive though, and in our previous post we analyzed the most expensive commercial real estate keywords, so you’ll need to carefully calculate which keywords you can actually afford to get a positive return on investment.
12. Advertise on Facebook
Facebook ads allow a social alternative to Google, with targeting based on demographics, location, and interests as indicated in Facebook Profiles. You can also target by Page (ex. anyone following CBRE, JLL, Colliers, etc.) , audience segment, or retargeting from previous visits to your websites.
A well-optimized Facebook ad campaign can also be at times less expensive than Google’s larger platform. The goal of the ad is to drive a bigger audience to your lead generating page where they can download a piece of useful content or sign up and share their email with you.
13. Advertise on LinkedIn
More expensive alternative to Facebook ads are LinkedIn ads, that also allow you to target a very specific audience based on their job position, company, location, interests and skills.
For example, if you are leasing a large bio/pharma space, you could launch a campaign and have your Ads show to any C-level executive in the Pharma industry in San Diego, CA.
14. Exhibit at Conferences and Events
Exhibiting at national conferences and local commercial real estate events exposes you to a large audience of potential prospects, opening up new networking and partnership opportunities, along with direct lead generation opportunities.
Prior to the event, you can research who will be participating and setup as many meetings as possible to optimize your time while you’re in town.
15. Participate at Local Events
For events at which you cannot exhibit, attending and networking offers similar benefits. Local small business meetups, real estate seminars, or local conferences are all ideal locations to engage with prospective leads and partners as you build your personal and professional network.
Again, make sure to setup meetings well in advance before the day of the event and remember that follow-up is the key to convert those business cards into opportunities.
16. Get an Event Attendee List
As an exhibitor at a conference, most conference organizers will provide at least a partial attendee list with the option to pay for access to the full list. Take advantage of this opportunity to access already warm leads with whom you have a direct connection from that event. Combined with both the inbound and outbound tactics mentioned above, you can drive new leads rapidly after a successful event.
Organizations like ICSC make their attendees’ contact information on their website available for members.
17. Host a Networking Event
To ensure maximum exposure at an event, you can host it yourself. The focus of your event should be on providing value to attendees with a large turnout and ample opportunities to network with each other.
The exposure you gain alone is enough to generate new interest and produce new leads.
18. Reach Out to Your Personal Network
Your personal network is a prime resource you can tap to spread the word about what you do and is oftentimes an overlooked “quick win”.
While they may not represent potential commercial real estate sales leads, they can help to share details about your services, your listings, and may be able to provide referrals or new contact information for parties who are interested.
19. Ask for Referrals
Your most valuable list of potential leads is the one you’ve already converted to clients. Existing clients are most likely to recommend you because they are familiar with how you do business and can trust you.
Never overlook the value of reaching out to existing clients and ask for referrals.
20. Connect with Current and Former Colleagues
The people you work with now and have worked with in the past are a prime resource for accessing a wider audience of potential leads. They can help to share information about your newest listings and may be personally interested in pursuing a conversation either for their current company or on behalf of a client.
21. Join Commercial Real Estate Associations to Expand Your Network
Joining a local commercial real estate association is a great way to expand your network and build valuable relationships. There are a number of national associations such as BOMA, CCIM, CoreNet Global that also provide education and networking opportunities to widen your reach. Build your custom contact list and maintain regular contact with your network to make sure they are exposed to your newest opportunities.