Is there a difference between the way commercial real estate professionals should generate real estate leads from residential real estate agents?
The short answer is “no”.
The mistake I often see is that in the commercial real estate space, commercial real estate agent practitioners believe they are marketing to businesses and not to people.
They have been conditioned to believe that B2B marketing is different from B2C.
When the truth is in any kind of real estate marketing you still need to get the attention of the people behind the business.
This is why to generate commercial real estate leads is not that different from getting real estate prospects in the residential space.
As a commercial real estate agent your potential clients are still people, and people still want the same things: solutions to their problems.
Is a commercial real estate sales funnel different from a residential funnel?
The short answer is “yes”.
The real estate industry is a people business, but the problems the people have in it are different. And therefore the solutions should be different too.
Regardless of which side of the fence you’re on, you still need a steady flow of new leads. Your commercial real estate business depends on it.
But the way you get the attention and interest of new leads in the commercial property space will be different.
Instead of focusing on the emotional triggers that residential buyers are prone to (and that which dominates residential property advertising), your target market is predominantly analytical.
This means your marketing and real estate lead generation approach needs to appeal to their heads first, and then to their hearts.
But this doesn’t mean it needs to be boring either.
A successful commercial real estate agent knows that being bold and different in your marketing is the only way to cut through the noise and to capture the attention of your target market, and to successfully market your real estate listings.
Remember, your target market is still made up of consumers who are exposed to consumer marketing.
If your marketing is boring and clunky, you will simply never be seen, and neither will the commercial properties you’re selling or leasing.
How to build an effective real estate sales funnel to get commercial real estate leads
Forget the fancy stuff for a minute: the landing pages, the email marketing platforms, the Facebook ad or the Google ad, and all the technical jargon that comes with sales funnels.
These are simply enablers to effective marketing strategies. They exist to enhance your foundation.
Therefore, an effective real estate sales funnel is not about the tech, but more about the customer journey of your potential leads.
Your target market is engaged in their own, unique journey. Some of them are just embarking on theirs, while others have been at it for a long time.
And how you appeal to your target market (whether they are real estate investors, commercial building owners, single property owners or a local business) will determine how many leads you can turn into potential clients.
This is where customer segmentation in your real estate database comes in: identifying your ideal customer avatar is key.
And the way you communicate with them in your marketing needs to appeal to their level of understanding and experience: if it’s too simplistic you will lose the experienced customer; and if it’s too complex, you stand to lose the inexperienced potential client.
This is akin to knowing who you are targeting and creating a marketing journey aimed at them and their needs.
All too often I see practitioners in the residential real estate space trying to generate leads by marketing to everyone and not their intended market.
An easy example here is if they need seller leads, they still use the phrase: “whether you’re buying or selling, I can help you”.
This form of marketing is ineffective because it fails to properly address the intended target market and their needs.
Likewise in commercial real estate, your advertising should address the target market you wish to influence and help; with the same tone and messaging carried through to your website or landing pages.
Asking questions in your forms like: “How experienced are you in purchasing or leasing commercial real estate?” and then providing answers to the question for them to pick does two things:
- It shows them that you will deal with newbies differently from experienced clients, and
- It enables you to properly segment your database and assign different leads to different fulfillment teams.
Not only on the surface but also the backend of your marketing CRM you could place leads into different pipeline stages and customise different email journeys based on their pipeline stage.
Your target market will not only resonate with highly customised marketing but will also feel heard and seen (which will win you more trust and help your sales team close more clients more easily).
Which tools do you need for an effective commercial real estate funnel?
I’m not going to lie. This is one of my favourite things to talk about because it’s the tools you have in your tech stack that determine the ease at which you create and deploy your marketing machine.
The choices you make when deciding on marketing software are important for the simple fact that you could choose the wrong provider based on your needs.
This could result in paying for a lack of features and functionality or overpaying for software that looks good on paper, but that is overkill for your business needs.
If you’re not sure what features are important, I’ve put together a blog post filled with useful information on the 25 tools your marketing CRM should come with as a standard.
The long and the short of it are that your market CRM should be customisable, secure, integrated, and allow you to perform true CRM functions: automate mundane processes, sort and organise contacts into journey-specific lists, and communicate with them automatically and in a way that feels human and authentic.
If appointments are important to your business, and if this is your primary way of closing deals, then a built-in calendar booking system is key (or at the very least one that integrates with connection software like Zapier).
If email and text automation is important to your business, choose a system that has this functionality built-in as it centralises communication and links it with contact activity.
If pipelines and deal tracking are your jam, then make sure the system you go with has this as a standard as it not only sorts your leads into easy-to-search and find pipelines and stages but also makes your communication seamless and highly relevant to your potential clients.
And if your primary means of lead generation are social media or Google PPC, ensure that your software directly integrates with these platforms as it makes tracking and reporting on exactly how many leads you are getting from these sources and exactly who they are, that much more obvious.
What are the 5 stages of sales funnels?
While online sales funnels can be complicated, with upsells, downsells and cross-sells, there really are only 5 stages to an effective funnel.
1 The advert
The advert is your opportunity to cut through the noise online.
I remember my university professor telling us that the modern human being is bombarded with more messaging in a day than the caveman experienced in his lifetime. This was back in the early 2000s. Today, in the 2020s that stat is probably closer to a couple hours than a full day.
Your advert has two jobs: the first is to get the attention of your target market. The second is to get them to take action and click on the advert.
2 The sales page (or landing page)
Earlier I told you that your sales page needs to be highly targeted to your ideal target market.
This means that the same messaging needs to carry through to your landing pages that your target market expects to see and experience. If you deviate, you stand to lose those who you captured and convinced in your ad.
3 The confirmation page
Whenever someone fills in an online form, it’s a great idea to redirect them to a confirmation page.
This not only shows the lead that their submission was successful, but it also provides you with the opportunity to move them closer to your own objectives: whether that is to get them to book in your online calendar or to visit your listings page.
4 The email or text confirmation
Again, whenever we fill in online forms and enter our email addresses or phone numbers, our knee-jerk reaction is to go to our inbox and wait for an automatic reply.
All too often online form submissions do not give the potential customer the satisfaction of seeing an email from the company or one of their representatives.
The email autoresponder is vital in the online sales funnel because it makes the new lead feel acknowledged and it buys time for the humans in your business to get back to the lead in real life.
5 The human touch
Very little real estate business is done without the human element.
Real estate is a big purchase and requires a real broker or property owner to still follow up with a lead to ensure all questions are answered and all concerns are addressed.
It’s here where the rubber hits the road: if the brokers are not trained in listening to new prospects and adequately addressing their concerns, no amount of advertising and automation is going to cut it in your sales process.
Where to buy commercial real estate leads
There are a number of great ways for commercial real estate agents to buy leads.
One of the most effective methods is to join an online lead generation service.
These services allow agents to target potential leads that fit their specific needs, including budget and location.
In addition, many of these services offer a variety of lead capture tools, such as landing pages and contact forms, to make it easy for agents to gather information from interested buyers.