The profession of brokerage is a lot like fishing. From an outsider’s view, it seems like luck whether or not you catch anything. But, any successful broker will tell you that’s not the case — that the opportunity to sell an exciting institutional asset or represent a high-profile building or tenant is the result of an enormous amount of effort.
One of the earliest lessons I learned during my six years in commercial real estate is just how important it was to be excellent at the RFP pitch. It is the lifeblood of your business.
But, with the proliferation of technology and third-party market data, differentiating oneself is harder than ever before for brokers. Here are six tips for an RFP or listing pitch that can help set you apart from the pack:
Be a consultant, not a pitch man
Many brokers employ the shiny “bells & whistles” presentation. But those same brokers are the type who will likely do more talking than listening. A highly successful pitch should demonstrate both your understanding of the prospect’s pain points and that you can ask great questions to uncover their true motivations and goals: Why exactly are you selling? What are your leasing objectives?
Don’t be afraid to ask questions in a pitch, doing so can also help you avoid any potential pitfalls or save you from working with a prospect that may not be worth the time and effort (it happens).
Teach the client something
Beyond listening to and addressing the needs of your prospect, a successful pitch is an opportunity to teach them something new. Don’t spend all your time reiterating that you’re the right team, instead, show them that you are by bringing unique knowledge and insight to the table to educate the prospect, beyond generic market data. Maybe it’s the history of the building you’re seeking to represent, or an article about the fast food industry for the burger chain you want to work with. Or, maybe it’s helping your prospect better understand how to evaluate a brokerage team, highlighting some of the specific things they should look for in a partner.
Show me the communication
I’ve seen countless brokers in the past fail to maintain consistent communication with their clients, especially if there wasn’t anything new and positive to report. The result is often, to their surprise, that they get fired from a listing. Sure, not all clients care about constant communication, but regardless, it’s important to demonstrate in an RFP that you are a team that is organized and communicates well, even if there isn’t any new deal activity. Many brokers on Hightower utilize the platform’s leasing activity reports in an RFP pitch to show owners and tenants how and what exactly they will communicate, and when. You want to more often be an over-communicator than an under-communicator.
Never lead with references, but never leave them out
Today’s consumers expect some social proof when making a decision — from peer reviews of local restaurants to the gym you’re looking to join. Unfortunately, Yelp doesn’t really exist for client services, so prospects rely on references to establish a broker’s credibility. Be prepared to talk in-depth about every case study/reference you include, and be able to provide others. However, never lead a presentation with references. You still need to demonstrate why all those other companies chose you in the first place.
The “Only Prospect” effect
Many brokers stay successful because they have a rare ability to make clients feel like 100% of their time is dedicated to the client’s needs, even when the reality is far from it. For underdog brokers, emphasizing that you have the time to give a listing the attention it deserves should be a big competitive advantage for you. Show exactly that you can and will go above and beyond to deliver exceptional customer service.
Be authentic and honest
Above all, prospects want to work with someone that will deliver on what they promise. Time and time again competing brokers will over-promise in a listing competition to win the business, don’t be tempted to follow suit. While they may win this listing, their failure to deliver could cost them many more in the future. Real estate is a small world and a long game, reputation matters.
Time to go fishing! Best of luck.