By Tanner McGraw, CEO & founder, Apto
You’ve got client info in an Excel doc, prospecting ideas in an email and market research in a company-owned database. Each one of those is a data source, whether or not you think of them in those terms. And if they were all connected in the same system, it would make your life as a commercial real estate broker a lot easier.
Taking a holistic view of the information at your disposal will make you (and your entire brokerage team) more organized, more efficient and better able to draw insights you might have missed otherwise. Those insights can give you a better view of the market, allowing you to provide more value to your clients and giving you an edge over the competition.
The Benefits of Aggregated Data
These days, there’s more data out there than ever before—and more tools to manage that data. Other industries are paying close attention to exactly how their information is organized, but commercial real estate is lagging behind.
Take a brokerage that specializes in a few areas: industrial, retail, and multifamily. Each of those groups houses data in their own system (let’s be honest, it’s probably an Excel spreadsheet). That means that information is siloed in that group and not easily available to outsiders. But if there were more connection between departments—the data and the people—one broker might learn about a few fulfillment centers popping up, which he could then use to build credibility with his retail clients. Or if there’s new retail, that would affect multifamily in the area.
In other words, each broker would have a more complete view of the market.
Here are some of the ways centralized, connected data can help commercial real estate brokers, both individually and as teams.
1. Better KPI management
Sales professionals and managers use key performance indicators to measure progress and forecast more accurately. To set the right KPIs, you need data. Lots of data.
For example, by tracking how many calls you make, you can determine how much outreach it takes to get a meeting. Then you can calculate how many pitches turn into business opportunities and, from there, how many closed deals. These stats become your KPIs, and they enable you to approach your sales goal more strategically. If you see your conversion rate from pitch to listing is low, perhaps you need to work on your presentation skills or pitch deck. Or if you’re stalling on generating new business, bump up your prospecting calls.
2. A more organized approach
Having all of your data in one place lets you manage deals more efficiently. Ideally, you can use a system where you set up events (ex. lease expirations) to trigger alerts so when the calendar reminder goes off, you can pull up the information you need without digging around your email or desktop.
If you’re running your deals from a central system, you can access additional information to help drive a deal forward. For example, you can see if any of your colleagues have worked with a given contact in the past. There might be some background information you can glean that will help you kick start the conversation.
3. More market data for pitches and negotiations
For brokers, having a rich database of comps can go a long way in helping you demonstrate your market expertise. You need the ability to pull this kind of information easily, and to run reports so you can identify trends and compare areas and industries to strengthen pitch material.
When you and your colleagues put this type of information in a central place, you all benefit. It raises the bar for the entire brokerage team, which can then produce better resources based on richer market insights.
4. Build better relationships
Any value you find in your data is value you give to your clients. By improving your approach to data storage and analysis, you can run more useful market reports and negotiate more effectively.
Remember, data can be anything from lease rates in a given area to the names of your client’s children. Both are important, but they’re only helpful to you if you can easily access the information you need at any given point in time. If you are making ad hoc notes in your phone but storing contact info in Excel and running market reports on a company database, the chances are greater that information will fall through the cracks.
By removing data silos, we also strengthen our relationship with colleagues and can collaborate more easily. And again, improvements in internal communication also benefit the client. For example, if a prospect already uses your firm for another service, you should be armed with that knowledge at the outset of the engagement, and you should use it to illustrate how you would take a coordinated approach to serving them.
To benefit from a holistic data approach brokers must:
● Recognize the information they use on a daily basis as valuable data
● Store that data in a centralized place, ideally a company-managed system
● Learn to use that data to more effectively run their business
Take down the silos and brokers will be more organized and informed—improvements that will benefit their clients and help them win more business. What a virtuous cycle.