There are a lot of changes going on in CRE that are inextricably tied to the evolution of technology. The digital age is bringing with it a new culture, a new workforce, a new real estate market. How you prospect for leads in the digital age depends on how well you can adapt to an ever-changing CRE landscape.
According to data by Forrester Research from 2015, 20% of all CRE leases from 2014 to 2015 of 20,000 square feet or more were signed by technology companies. Tech hubs like San Francisco and Silicon Valley where the average tech employee is a millennial aged college graduate have seen the biggest influx in this sector over the last decade.
What this means is that the new target for CRE prospects is now the growing millennial population. As they near their 30’s and 40’s, they are the building owners, investors, renters, and property managers that you will be dealing with.
They have a more intuitive understanding of technology and are better able to use it to their benefit than previous generations on the whole. Just take a look at some of these statistics:
- E-Commerce and app technology helped achieve the lowest national industrial vacancy rate in ten years.
- In less than a decade, 75% of all workers will be part of the millennial generation.
- The majority of millennials (74%) are single, compared to 52% for Gen X and 35% for Baby Boomers at the same age.
- Nearly 30% of millennials do not subscribe to any religion and 50% have no political party.
- Millennials are the most diverse generation, only half of whom are white.
Now, in order to compete in CRE, you must also be able to attract leads in this demographic by understanding the digital world as intuitively as they do. Furthermore, you have to understand the world that they live in from their perspective to understand their behaviors for better prospect targeting.
Types of High Value CRE Prospects are Changing in the Digital Age
A trend over the last few years in CRE is for old industrial buildings to be converted or retrofitted to serve a new purpose. Former assembly plants are being converted to apartment buildings. Former dilapidated apartment buildings are being turned into office spaces.
If you understand one characteristic of this group, it can help you land more prospects. Millennials more than any other generation care about the planet. They influence each other and reducing their carbon footprint is big on that list.
Promoting your space as a new green building, repurposing the materials as part of your conversion can be very attractive to prospects in this group. Another characteristic of millennials generally speaking is the need to enjoy more of life. The result is that more commercial real estate is being erected in traditional suburbs and urban centers are becoming more residential.
Millennials want the shortest commute from home to work. They want things fast and they want them easily accessible. Being positioned near public transportation, shopping or grocery stores, the office, etc. are all features that millennials are looking for in CRE.
New Ways of Prospecting for CRE Professionals
Urban flight has become suburban flight. In a lot of ways the CRE market has been turned upside down. As such, finding new ways of CRE prospecting is imperative for all CRE professionals. Long followed rules and norms are no longer the case.
It used to be that you had to wait until the lease was up for a prospect before you approached them with your proposal. Now with instant data about rates, property values, and trends, you can begin prospecting anytime the numbers say it is a good time. Here are some more new ways of CRE prospecting that will land you more leads.
Landing New Leads
If you consider that 20% of big CRE is being swooped up by millennials in the technology sector, you should begin fishing in this lucrative pond with the right bait. That is more tech savvy solutions; smart buildings, flexible lease structures, creative conservation, creating urban gardens, tech-centric amenities; the list goes on and on.
Networking for CRE Prospects
But today there are dozens of online networking sites created specifically for CRE professionals that will help provide additional lead prospects. Here are just a few:
- LinkedIn: It’s not specifically designed for CRE professionals, but LinkedIn is the most widely used professional platform. It is a great resource to build up your own personal CRE network.
- Brevitas: This platform is specifically geared toward connecting CRE investors with a network of thousands of prospects and exclusive information about investment opportunities.
- ProspectNow: Unlike some other CRE platforms, ProspectNow is simply a database full of both commercial and residential real estate prospects with expiring leases and property owners in need of refinancing.
- Catylist: Property owners looking to sell their building can find those looking to buy it on Catylist.
- CompStak Exchange: CompStak is unique in that it is a place for CRE professionals to exchange information about lease comps and lead prospects.
Using Technology to Attract New CRE Prospects
Networking is great for finding the buildings that you are interested in but technology will help you find the people. Again, as with most marketing in the digital age, your target demographic is millennials.
With this group, using visual technology to attract new CRE prospects is a smart strategy. Some of those tools include:
HD and 360° Video: Property videos that are either in HD or better 360° video are much more attractive to millennial age CRE prospects.
Virtual Assistants: Whether contacting you from their Smartphone or laptop, a virtual assistant can always be there to answer inquiries from your website visitors.
IoT Marketing: As everything is now connected, expect video shares and advertisements to be crafted for each different device in the IoT (Internet of Things, i.e., mobile, Smart Cars, Smart Watches, Internet-Enabled TVs, etc.).
3-D Modeling: Particularly for multinational CRE professionals, 3-D modeling can help better illustrate your properties for foreign investors.
Virtual Reality Tours: Soon the technology will be prolific to conduct virtual reality property tours for CRE. The technology exists and you can really impress a tech savvy prospect with this marketing tool.
Game Marketing: Over half of all millennial aged men are “gamers” and 48% of women are. Gamification can play a huge part in helping to attract younger prospects when crafting your marketing campaigns and building your promotions strategy.
The Added Value of the Personal Touch in the Digital Era
Keep in mind that as technology will play a bigger and bigger part in how you craft and execute your CRE prospecting strategy, there is a growing value on the personal touch in this new digital era. A lot of people, even millennials, are tired of the robotic operator on the other end of everything.
The more ways that you can incorporate person-to-person engagement in a way that isn’t inconvenient for your prospects the better. Think community events or participating in a local walkathon to help raise money for a cause that is shared by many in your target demo.