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Why Successful CRE Brokers Need Excellent Persuasion and People Skills

There’s a direct correlation between how effective commercial real estate brokers are in persuading other people and how successful they are in the CRE business. Think about it: brokers need to persuade other agents to co-broker or pay a referral fee. Clients need to be convinced to contract and listing terms and to pay a fair commission. Managing brokers need to be persuaded to keep commission splits and office fees low. Last, but not least, influencing lenders, title companies, property inspectors, and many other parties involved in a commercial real estate transaction on countless unexpected issues to keep a deal on track.

Here are six outcomes all CRE brokers need to achieve and the persuasive skills to use to get what you want:

Outcome #1: People give you more than they get

Also known as “payback time”, the persuasive skill of reciprocity makes people want to return favors and pay back what they owe.

Reciprocity doesn’t have to be simply a quid-pro-quo. In fact, the most skilled persuaders get people to perform much bigger favors – such as giving them a solid referral – in exchange for a smaller favor received such as being featured on their blog or taken out to dinner.

Outcome #2: Prospects do what they tell you they’re going to do

Getting people to follow through on what they promise to do is accomplished with the persuasive skill of commitment and consistency. The more people publicly commit to saying they want you as their broker, the greater the likelihood is that they’ll be motivated to choose you.

It’s good to get people used to making small commitments to you first, things like subscribing to your newsletter or attending a free seminar. Once they receive consistent value from you, they’re much more likely to commit to buying the office building you have listed or leasing your coworking space.

Outcome #3: Make it easy for prospects to choose you

Using social proof is another persuasive technique that successful commercial real estate brokers use. Think of social proof as a “following the herd mentality”. The more people see other people doing something, the more likely they are to do that same thing. And the ‘thing’ that you want them to do is to do business with you.

Some examples of using social proof online and offline include listing the number of people following you on Twitter, testimonials from satisfied clients, and CRE industry recognition rewards or certifications you’ve recently received.

Outcome #4: Convince people you’re just like them

It’s human nature that people want to be liked. They like other people who like them and who have the same traits and values as themselves. Either online or in-person, the persuasive technique of liking is used in a few different ways:

  • Familiarity is used to build a relationship by bringing out positive emotions from your prospect
  • Similarity can be used to let people know you’re just like them and have the same interests and background they do
  • Shadowing is used to develop a rapport when you’re face-to-face with your client by naturally mirroring their body language and movements

Outcome #5: People view you as a leader

People are taught to accept authority. The Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization notes that compliance to authority can be an important motivating mechanism to get people to do what you want them to do. Prospects already view you as an authority figure because you’re a commercial real estate broker dealing with multi-million dollar properties. Use the persuasive technique of authority to prove them right and get what you need from them.

Outcome #6: Make people want more

Using the persuasive technique of scarcity makes people want more of what you have. In the commercial real estate business, scarcity is very real. For example, there’s only so much LEED-certified Class A office space to go around, and there’s only one Pioneer Building in Downtown Brooklyn.

Things that are in short supply are automatically worth more. Some ways to show people you’re an expert in commercial real estate by using the scarcity technique include:

  • Average time on market and asking price/selling price ratios
  • Amount of office space absorption in the submarket you specialize in
  • Trending vacancy rates and leasing rates
  • Rising interest rates and how they affect yields and cap rates
  • How property in opportunity zones is becoming more expensive and harder to find

Success is never a sure thing

These persuasion skills alone won’t guarantee your success in commercial real estate, but they will exponentially improve your odds of getting people to do what you need them to do, for best results.

Sometimes, despite your best efforts, the other party will still want to do something different. If that’s the case, never give without getting something in return. If your client wants a shorter listing term, get them to agree to pay you a higher commission. Or, if they demand a lower fee, get them to pay you the fee plus a performance bonus.

At the end of the day, by using these persuasion and people skills in your commercial real estate business you’ll do a better job for yourself and the people you work with.


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