The process of securing listings and selling properties is easiest when you have one person to deal with and that person believes in you and likes what you say.
But commercial real estate brokers do complex, high-dollar-value, B2B deals. That means there are often multiple decision makers involved in the process.
Too often you don’t know there are multiple decision makers until you get late in the process. Sometimes that’s the fault of the client, but normally, it’s your fault. If the broker isn’t proactively asking the right questions and looking for other people who could affect the deal, the broker is not doing a good job.
It’s good practice to just assume there will always be other decision makers. That way you start to prepare for them. You can do that by asking key questions early in the process. Here are a couple you might try using:
“How have you made real estate decisions like this in the past?”
This one is good to ask early in the process because it’s a non-threatening, relaxed-sounding question. Plus, it makes you come across as “consultative,” which sophisticated clients appreciate when making expensive commitments. In addition to providing you with valuable, timely information, this question lowers the client’s guard and helps build trust.
“Who are some other people who might have some interest in this?”
Once you ask it, listen for names and titles. “Listen between the lines” as they answer, because they may give you little hints and clues as opposed to a lot of detailed, accurate information. Once your client answers this question, you want to be ready with this follow up: “Should we go ahead and talk with them?”
The key is to ask these questions EARLY, because we need your contact inside the client company to think proactively and not reactively. You might also have to ask them more than once – Not because your client wants to mislead you, but because clients don’t think the way brokers do. They think about their own interests, jobs, lives and companies. They don’t see the process through your lens because they have different goals and priorities. It’s your job to coach the client so he or she knows how they can help you help them.