By Ralph Benzakein LEED AP, SIOR – Cresa
CIBS Board Member 2018

Don’t Blink! Was it just yesterday we were standing in front of a building, waiting for a broker or client to show up and inspect our space? No cell phone…no way to reach him…no way to know how long we should wait…countless hours wasted. Doesn’t that seem like an impossible way to do business? Will the future stars in our business think of us as the dinosaurs? I can almost guarantee it!

Flash forward to today. Has WAZE changed the way you get from building to building? Are you showing up at a pitch meeting expecting to make a great first impression? Sorry…you’re first impression was made long before you showed up. In almost 70% of first meetings, your prospect has already visited your LinkedIn profile, probably even before he agreed to meet with you. They’ve also visited your company’s profile, so you better show up with something fresh and maybe update that headshot!

Are you trying to figure out how much space your client needs? Still counting offices and workstations? You may need to conduct a study with occupancy sensors; wireless devices installed at every workstation that tell us exactly how much each workstation, desk, office, or conference room is being used, when it is being used, and how much space your tenant is really using at peak and off-peak periods.

The questions we get are no longer just about plumbing and columns. They’re about connectivity and redundancies.

None of this is bad news for those of us who make a living earning commissions in real estate deals. It just means that we must assume that our clients have access to just about all the information that we have. They may already know about the building ownership, the financial state of the building, the connectivity, the average market deal, etc. All of this to say the following:
       1. You better be prepared; your client knows almost as much as you do.
       2. You need to leverage the information that is available to get a jump on the competition.
       3. You need to find a way to add VALUE, beyond just knowing the facts.

And most of the time the value is going to be YOU. It will be found in the relationships you’ve fostered and the reputation you’ve earned over the years. The trust you have earned from developers, landlords, architects, attorneys, vendors etc., is something that can’t be replaced by technology, but it can be accelerated by technology. The technology you use can help you strengthen relationships and understand business needs. Use LinkedIn to find common bonds with prospects (alma maters, previous employment, groups). News feeds can alert you to events that will have an impact on a company’s real estate (think layoffs, acquisitions and venture capital investment). Financial services (like Trepp) can help you understand a landlord’s motivation for making (or not making) a particular deal and why that might be an advantage (or disadvantage) for you.

We all have access to the same technology and tools. Technology will come and go and yes, it’s vitally important to stay on top of it and use it to your advantage (you might not want to be faxing leases to your clients anymore). But those who are the most successful will probably find the right blend of hi-tech and hi-touch to differentiate themselves in this market.