Leads Groups get a lot of bad rap. Some of time, the negative impression makes sense. Leads Groups can be super expensive if you end up joining; there are lots of rules and requirements that leave you wondering if you can really live up to all that – and then when you don’t gain business in a matter of a few short weeks, you cringe a little inside at having made a commitment to a group that is costing you money and providing miniscule results.
But really, Leads Groups aren’t all bad if you can leverage them in the right way. They can provide you with a new source of relationships right within the group. They can offer you opportunities for public speaking practice through presentations, and opportunities for leadership roles. And they can even lead to new business if you cultivate their advantages correctly.
With the help of Brenner’s Michael Eisner who has a 10-year history as a member of BNI, and John Sokolowsky who just got his second referral through BNI, our Blog Team decided to talk about how to properly make the most of Leads Groups, why we love Leads Groups for commercial real estate salespeople – and why you should too.
1. Leadership opportunities
Michael has used BNI to enhance his experience as a leader. He has served in the Membership Committee, which has cemented his business ethics and forced him to face challenges when managing members’ commitments. (Just as well as he has to manage clients. Michael has used BNI to enhance his experience as a leader. He has served in the Membership Committee, which has cemented his business ethics and forced him to face challenges when managing members’ commitments…which as a benefit, strengthened his ability to manage the needs of clients.
He has served as screener, vice president, and held a very important role as Mentor Coordinator. Being an officer in your leads group can give you the opportunity for public speaking, for increasing your organization skills, and also gives you the chance to work on your skills of persuasion, but most importantly an opportunity to showcase your value as a real estate professional.
2. Referrals really can lead to business.
Face it, the main reason people join leads groups is for new business. By cultivating relationships with other members, you too can build your client base. BNI referrals have led to new business for Michael, including:
Metropolitan Warehouse, a BNI referral, leased 19,500 SF of industrial space in Palm City
Michael sold Quantum Marine 2.5 acres at Port 95 thanks to a BNI referral.
He leased 50,044 SF in Dade County due to a BNI referral
One BNI referral produced six transactions representing $10 million in lease value and $300,000 in commissions
John has received two referrals thanks to BNI, which he is currently working on. The referrals don’t come immediately, he says – it happens after cultivating a relationship with fellow members.
3. Long term referrals
Business referrals are given when the recipient proves they will take care of the lead. Referrals can develop your business while you are in a leads group...but if you have done your job of cultivating relationships, that referral source can last long into the future. Michael is still getting referrals from chapter members who left the chapter years ago. Once you prove you will take care of a lead – you are likely to get leads far in the future as well.
4. Opportunity to share your qualifications
Michael is a CCIM – Certified Commercial Investment Member. He showed a slide during his BNI presentation that said, “Only 6% of the more than 150,000 commercial real estate professionals hold the CCIM designation.” That’s a powerful statistic. Your weekly spoken introduction in your leads group plus those opportunities for handing out promotional material or speaking for longer presentations gives you an opportunity to toot your own horn. Showcase your certifications, memberships and other involvement to show your grasp of real estate and of the South Florida market.
5. Personal relationship building
Meeting at a leads group and sharing that desire to grow your business can create lasting bonds of business relationships, but even more than that, of true friendship. After a while, you can get to know someone pretty well. And we definitely want to point out, it’s also just as advantageous to give a referral as well as to get one. Do everything in your power to help others in the Leads Group by giving them new leads. They will appreciate it, and you may even gain a friend. Meeting someone at a Leads Group can also help spread your reach to others in their company. It’s all about the connections.
6. Leads Groups allow you to ask for what you want
If you attended a leads group and met people but never got a chance to share with them the types of referrals they should watch out for on your behalf, what good would it do? In Michael’s case, he asked to be introduced to property owners, and asked for referrals including attorneys, CPAs, business brokers, owners of multi-tenant office buildings, businesses expanding to South Florida, local companies with leases expiring or up for renewal, or any client bragging about how great business is. Hopefully, your group will really listen when you tell them what could help you, and will go through their mental rolodex to see who they know now, and remember you when they meet a likely prospect in the future. Leads may be very high quality from a Leads group, because you have clearly explained your business and why you can meet the needs of a certain type of lead.
One of the last things we’d like to say about Leads Groups is that it is important to find the right fit for you. If you are a “leads group dropout” from a previous attempt, don’t count yourself out just yet. Consider it a step in figuring out what doesn’t work for you. Finding the right group is a process...it has to match your personality and goals. It needs to:
Work with your schedule
Contain people you actually like and admire
Clearly outline expectations you can live with as far as bringing in new members, providing referrals and leads, and attendance requirements
Match the financial investment you are willing to make
See? Taking advantage of a Leads Group the right way can be effective for you personally and professionally. Now that you know the five reasons why we love leads group for the commercial real estate salesperson, why not contact Michael or John and see if they can recommend a group for you?
What other Leads Group best practices would you suggest? Share your ideas with us in the comments below!
--The Brenner Blog Team